AABA Newsletter - March 2019

In this issue:

President's Message 
AABA's 43rd Annual Gala
ALF Scholarships
AABA Members Attend Cal-APABA Lobby Day
A Tribute to Jeff Adachi
AABA Officer ProfilesEvent Photo Galleries
Event Calendar

If you are interested in contributing to a future newsletter, please contact the Newsletter Committee Co-Chairs Kathy Aoki (Kathyaok@aol.com) and Alice Chin (linus28@gmail.com).

President's Message

On behalf of AABA, we feel deep appreciation for our founders, sponsors, and members who made our 43rd Annual Gala possible. First-time attendees and out of town visitors to AABA commented on the special feel of AABA's gala--there was an evident sense of purpose in the room. This is because AABA is not just about self-advancement--at its heart, AABA is about fostering community, mutual support, and making a positive difference.  

With your help, AABA is achieving ever higher goals: the 2019 Gala had record-setting sponsor support. Our membership numbers continue to reach new heights. And we are putting to good use the resources and interest: AABA is investing in the professional development of our members with innovative and long-term programs. We are improving the operations of our organization. And we are taking tangible actions to move the needle.

At the Gala, we launched a long-term advocacy project, #NationOfImmigrants. #NationOfImmigrants gathers and tells in our own words the stories of immigrants, family members of immigrants, and supporters. We launched #NationOfImmigrants at the Gala and ask you to join us by telling your story.

With deep appreciation,

Charles H. Jung

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Click the image to view our Nation of Immigrants video.

AABA's 43rd Annual Gala - A Night to Remember
by AABA Staff

AABA's 43rd Annual Gala was an evening of friends, fun, camaraderie, purpose, remembrance, and rededication to our work. It was a night when almost 800 of our closest friends gathered to celebrate the many successes of the past, and be motivated for the struggles that still lie ahead. AABA President Charles Jung aptly described the organization's impact on those in the room by saying it serves as "an emotional home for our members." A home where they can lift up the next generation of APA attorneys, and have fun at the same time. From the start of the evening, a moving tribute and moment of silence to S.F. Public Defender Jeff Adachi, until the final charge from the AABA President to celebrate America's status as a nation of immigrants, the program entertained, informed, and motivated everyone in attendance.

The event saw honors given to Stewart Kwoh, the founding President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles and Daryl Davis, activist, author, and musician who is the subject of the award-winning documentary Accidental Courtesy. Mr. Kwoh was the very first recipient of the Dale Minami Impact Award, named after AABA pioneer Dale Minami.

AABA thanks all our sponsors, our speakers, and attendees for making this special night. 

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AABA Law Foundation Awards Scholarships

AABA congratulates the 2019 AABA Law Foundation scholarship winners and the organizations that received Public Interest grants that were honored during AABA’s 43rd annual gala held March 6, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco.

The 2019 AABA Law Foundation Scholarship recipients are featured below. All the scholarship recipients will be featured in upcoming 2019 AABA Newsletters.

Chloe Marie Ramos Czabaranek — Raymond L. Ocampo Jr. Family Scholarship recipient (Santa Clara 2L)
The Raymond L. Ocampo Jr. Family Scholarship was established by Mr. Ocampo in memory of his parents, and in honor of immigrants like them, for the enormous sacrifices they made and the untold hardships they endured in search of a better life for their families. Chloe is currently externing with Pangea Legal Services in San Jose, advocating policy and making court appearances for clients facing immigration removal proceedings.

So Young Lee — Joe Morozumi Scholarship recipient (Hastings 3L)
The AABA Law Foundation awards the Joe Morozumi Scholarship to honor his spirit, passion for justice, and advocacy for the poor and underrepresented. The Joe Morozumi Scholarship was established through the generosity of Michael G.W. Lee, Joan Haratani, and Dale Minami. It also has the support of AABA leaders in the legal community who are past recipients of the Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy. So Young worked for two years as a strategic leader with the Asian Law Caucus on the ASPIRE program advocating for immigrant rights.

Jessica Yu — Judges’ Scholarship recipient (Hastings 1L)
The Asian Pacific American Judges’ Scholarship is made possible by contributions from Asian Pacific American judges to support law students who have demonstrated leadership and public interest advocacy. Jessica has interned for Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Mike Honda and Assemblyman Kansen Chu. She also interned with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office in the Real Estate Fraud unit.

Mohsin Mirza — AABA Scholarship recipient (Berkeley 1L)
The AABA Law Foundation Scholarship is awarded to law students who have demonstrated a commitment to legal advocacy for the APA community and public interest law and is made possible through the generosity of AABA members. This year’s recipient, Mohsin, worked for two years prior to law school for the Asian Law Caucus as a Voters’ Rights Program Coordinator and continues to serve as an Immigration Clinic volunteer.

The 2019 AABA Law Foundation Public Interest Grants were given to:

Asian Law Caucus (ALC)
Founded in 1972, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus is the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving the low-income Asian Pacific American communities. ALC focuses on housing rights, immigration and immigrants’ rights, labor and employment issues, student advocacy (ASPIRE), civil rights and hate violence, national security, and criminal justice reform. As a founding affiliate of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the organization also helps to set national policies in affirmative action, voting rights, Census and language rights.  ALC’s strategy is to integrate the provision of legal services, educational programs, community organizing initiatives and advocacy.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice - LA) is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice - LA serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year.  Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice - LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.

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AABA Members Attend Cal-APABA’s First Annual Gala and 2nd Annual Lobby Day
by AABA Staff

On March 18-19, AABA members were proud to join California’s bar leaders in Sacramento for the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s (Cal-APABA) first annual Gala Dinner and its second annual Lobby Day.  At the Gala Dinner, Cal-APABA honored former AABA President and Assemblymember David Chiu as Community Champion, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye as Judge of the Year, Maeley Tom as Trailblazer, Robin Jung as Bar Leader of the Year, and APABA Los Angeles as Bar Association of the Year.  At its Lobby Day, attorneys from around the state advocated for improved language access in preparation for the 2020 Census, a Dreamer liaison on college campuses, and implementing the recommendations of the State Hate Crimes audit.  Before Lobby Day, AABA members Dale Minami, Ben Hur, and Charles Jung met with Justice Martin Jenkins (ret.), who is Governor’s Gavin Newsom’s Judicial Appointments Advisor. 

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A Tribute to Jeff Adachi
by Kathy Aoki

For someone who held an intense job, Jeff Adachi was cool, calm, and collective.

I remember Jeff telling me when I first met him over 30 years ago about his dream to become the public defender of San Francisco. At the time Jeff was an assistant public defender who had an excellent reputation from the time he began working in San Francisco’s Public Defender’s Office.

My first interaction with Jeff came when someone in the San Francisco Japanese American community suggested I write a profile of him for the Nichi Bei Times. I did not know Jeff at the time but I heard a lot about him. To me, Jeff was a renaissance man – not only a talented lawyer, but also a teacher (taught Bar Review classes), musician, writer and filmmaker.

After my story about Jeff was published, I recall it caused quite a stir around the courthouse where Jeff worked. One of the people I interviewed about Jeff was an assistant district attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office who described Jeff’s greased back hair as being “slick and slimy.”The highest compliment I received was from Jeff’s mother who told me how I knew Jeff and was able to capture who he was in my newspaper article.

But, without Jeff, my interest and volunteerism in the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) would never have occurred. Jeff calling me and told me he was going to be the president of AABA in 1991 and asked if I would help him. Of course I told Jeff:”Yes” but also told him that “I’m not a lawyer.” Jeff responded, “You don’t have to be a lawyer and he would find me something to do.”

The next thing I knew Jeff paid for my AABA dues along with Kathy Asada, another attorney who worked in his office and now a former AABA President.  Jeff’s installation dinner at New Asia Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown is an event I will never forget and treasure. I was in awe with this young, sansei lawyer who had charisma and was able to connect with people to get them involved in AABA. When Jeff delivered his president’s message there was a lot of clapping and cheering. The admiration and respect Jeff received from the attendees was incredible to me.

After Jeff became AABA president he introduced to the AABA newsletter editor Alan Huie, whom he told “to put Kathy to work.” This began my long tenure on the AABA newsletter committee. I also spread my wings by joining different AABA committees to see where I could also volunteer. Although I never seriously considered going to law school and becoming a lawyer, my interest and law and government would eventually lead me to studying to become a paralegal.

Before I met Jeff I never gave much thought to what a tough job a public defender has to do every day. Thanks to Jeff I learned more about the work public defenders do and had the opportunity to interview other Asian American lawyers in his office. Jeff never denied the fact that many of their clients have done bad things but that does not necessarily mean someone is guilty of an alleged crime he/she has committed. Everyone has the right to legal representation and in the United States a person is innocent until proven guilty. I know Jeff worked on many high profile cases where the defendants were found not guilty.

What I will miss the most about Jeff is how he cared a lot about people, his warm smile, his wit, his greased back hair and his leadership abilities. Jeff was not only active in the legal community but also the Japanese American community.

I am sure many AABA members have their special memories to share about their relationships with Jeff. AABA lost a wonderful former president, friend to many and inspirational leader.

For me, I lost a special friend who meant a lot to me from the time we first met years ago. One of the best things Jeff taught was how to stand up to intimidation – Jeff always told me “I am too nice for my own good.” Journalists have to learn how to deal with intimidation or you will not survive in a tough business.

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Get to Know AABA's Officers

This month the AABA Newsletter membership profiles features the 2019 AABA officers President Charles H. Jung, Vice President John Hamasaki, Secretary Michelle Park Chiu and Treasurer Lisa Mak.

AABA President Charles H. Jung

First job: Ineffective security guard in my mom’s store in Flint, Michigan. 
What annoys you the most? Pettiness.
Hidden talent: Flinging rocket-passes that are a little too hard to catch in pickup basketball games. 
Favorite food: My mom’s spicy crab stew.

Most memorable AABA event you attended is:  A weekend workshop on leadership put on by Ascend.

AABA Vice President John Hamasaki

First job: My first real job was as a bag boy/stock clerk at a small local grocery store in Miami. To this day, I still can’t stand to have other people bag my groceries. Bananas go on the top!

What annoys you the most? Hipsters. Poorly bagged groceries. Hipsters bagging my groceries poorly.

Hidden talent: Not having a hidden talent. I’ve asked friends, family, no one can come up with one. Either I have a talent that is completely hidden from everyone including myself or I’m just boring. Which seems the more likely option. 

Favorite food: Just about any version of noodle soup – pho, ramen, udon, saimin, is my favorite comfort food. After a long day, home sick or in cold weather, there is nothing better than a bowl of noodles in broth. 

Most memorable AABA event you attended is: Now that I have a 4 ½ year-old, my favorite event is the AABA picnic. I love getting out with all of our members, their kids, and hanging out. Also, the food has gotten really good the last few years!

AABA Treasurer Michelle Park Chiu

First job:  Cashier at The Gap

What annoys you the most?  Hypocrisy

Hidden talent:  Packing. I’ve moved several times in my life and so far nothing I packed has broken. 

Favorite food:  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but probably Korean BBQ.

Most memorable AABA event you attended is:  My first AABA Gala when I moved to the Bay Area, it was amazing to see so many inspiring leaders gathered together!

AABA Secretary Lisa Mak

First job: McDonalds, during one of my high school summers. I got really good at asking, “Would you like to Supersize that?”

What annoys you the most: Hypocrisy. Followed closely by bad grammar and punctuation.

Hidden talent: Cooking

Favorite food: Japanese

Most memorable AABA event you attended is: The annual Pathways to Law pre-law conference (formerly known as “Legally Asian”). It is always so inspiring to see diverse high school and college students engaging and learning about law school and the legal profession. This is one way that AABA is helping to build a diverse pipeline in our profession.   

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Event Photo Galleries

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