Press Releases

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  • 18 Jul 2017 10:14 AM | Anonymous

    July 18, 2017
    San Francisco

    Asian Americans have been the fastest-growing minority group in the legal profession for the past three decades, but they have made only limited progress in reaching the top ranks of the profession, according to a new report released today by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and Yale Law School.

    The report, titled A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law, is the first-ever comprehensive study of Asian Americans in the legal profession.

    According to the study, there are over 50,000 Asian American lawyers today, compared to 10,000 in 1990. Asian Americans comprise almost 5 percent of lawyers in America and roughly 7 percent of law school enrollment. But Asian American first-year enrollment is declining, and the number of Asian Americans who started law school in 2016 was at its lowest in more than 20 years.

    For nearly 20 years, Asian Americans have been the largest minority group in major law firms, but they have the highest attrition rates and the lowest ratio of partners to associates.

    Asian Americans comprise 3 percent of federal judges and 2 percent of state judges, compared to nearly 6 percent of the U.S. population. Only three out of 94 U.S. Attorneys in 2016 were Asian American, and only four out of 2,437 elected district attorneys nationwide in 2014 were Asian American.

    The two-year study — authored by California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin H. Liu, recent Yale law graduates Eric Chung, Xiaonan April Hu and Christine Kwon, and Yale law postgraduate associate Samuel Dong — included a dozen focus groups and a national survey of over 600 Asian American lawyers.

    The survey revealed that Asian American lawyers identify lack of access to mentors and contacts as a primary barrier to career advancement. They also report being perceived as careful and hard-working, but not assertive or creative. “Whereas Asian Americans are regarded as having the ‘hard skills’ required for lawyerly competence, they are regarded as lacking many important ‘soft skills,’” the study found. More than half of the Asian American lawyers surveyed said they “sometimes” or “often” experience implicit discrimination in the workplace. Women were more likely than men to report experiencing discrimination on the basis of race and barriers to career advancement.

    “Our study shows that Asian Americans have a foot in the door in every sector the legal profession,” said Justice Liu. “The question now is how wide the door will swing open. Despite much progress, Asian Americans still face significant obstacles to reaching the leadership ranks.”

    “This important and timely study uncovers the facts behind implicit biases, stereotypes, and other challenges faced by Asian American lawyers,” said Miriam Kim, president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) and partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson. “By understanding the obstacles Asian Americans have overcome to gain a foothold as law practitioners, we are reminded that our work is not yet finished. The report will serve as a tremendously helpful guide as we continue to empower Asian American lawyers to attain positions of leadership in the legal profession.”

    “This is the first comprehensive and a long overdue report with some surprising conclusions about the API American attorney world,” said Dale Minami, a partner with Minami Tamaki in San Francisco. It is “both a clear description on the current state of API attorneys and a call to action to achieve parity.”

    “This is a groundbreaking study of Asian Americans in the legal profession,” said Eumi K. Lee, Clinical Professor of Law at University of California Hastings College of Law. “No other study has tracked Asian American lawyers across the various sectors and examined their development over the course of this many years. This study will provide an empirical framework as we seek to find solutions for the advancement of Asian American lawyers and law students.”

    “This report is incredibly eye-opening and confirms what we have been feeling,” said John W. Kuo, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Varian Medical Systems.  “This phenomenon is also present in the corporate world, as evidenced by the fact that only a small and under-represented percentage of the F500/1000 companies have Asian American General Counsels/Chief Legal Officers at the helm of their legal functions.”

    Justice Liu will present the findings of The Portrait Project at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Western Regional Conference on Friday, July 21, 2017 in San Jose, California.

    For more information, the media may contact Miriam Kim, AABA President, 415-512-4041, president@aaba-bay.com. Questions about the study may be sent to portraitprojectresearch@gmail.com.

    About AABA

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country. Its members include lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since its founding in 1976, AABA has had a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to empowering and promoting Asian Pacific Americans to advance to the highest leadership positions in the legal profession.

    To learn more about AABA, visit www.aaba-bay.com or like us on Facebook.


  • 03 Jul 2017 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    July 3, 2017

    On Monday, the Supreme Court partially lifted the stay of Executive Order 13780 (also known as the “Muslim ban”).  The Court is allowing the Trump Administration to suspend entry of nationals from six majority-Muslim countries while the Court prepares to hear appeals from rulings that largely blocked enforcement of the order. 

    Travel visas will be denied to foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, for 90 days, with an exception for foreign nationals “who have a credible claim of bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”  The U.S. refugee program will similarly be suspended for 120 days to those who do not have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity” in the United States. 

    These travel restrictions are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to block Muslims from entering the country.  We live in a country that thrives on the contributions of millions of Muslim Americans, immigrants and their families. As the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals remarked, the executive order “speaks with vague words of national security but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” 

    AABA President Miriam Kim stated, “The discriminatory call for ‘additional scrutiny’ of foreign nationals—under the false pretense of supporting ‘national security’—is divisive and indefensible.  President Trump’s Muslim ban is a reminder of the Chinese Exclusion Act, a stain on American history.”

    AABA also condemns less publicized aspects of President Trump’s immigration policies, including its plan for “extreme vetting.”  The administration’s “extreme vetting” proposal would allow the Department of State to collect an unprecedented amount of highly personal information from U.S. visa applicants, including information from all social media platforms and identifiers during the last five years and detailed information about all domestic and internal travel during the last fifteen years.  “AABA has serious concerns that this type of unfettered discretion and invasion into the personal lives of any visa applicant may lead to increased religious and racial profiling,” AABA President Kim stated.

    Travelers needing assistance in California should contact OneJustice at airports@one-justice.org.

  • 06 Jun 2017 10:39 AM | Anonymous

    June 6, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) grieves with the families of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, who were stabbed to death on May 26, 2017 while defending two teenage women aboard a train in Portland, Oregon. According to news sources, Mr. Best and Mr. Namkai-Meche intervened when Jeremy Joseph Christian, a known white supremacist, shouted racist epithets at Destinee Mangum, a 16-year old, and her Muslim friend who was wearing a hijab. 

    We stand in solidarity with the victims' families and the two brave teenagers who were subjected to this senseless act of hate. And we honor the heroism of Mr. Best and Mr. Namkai-Meche who stood up to blatant racism and xenophobia.

    AABA urges federal authorities to prosecute this violent act as a hate crime. “We are alarmed by the growing number of incidents of hate crimes and bias-motivated violence towards Muslims and persons suspected of being Muslim,” said AABA President Miriam Kim. “When hate and intolerance escalate to murder, it must be punished to the greatest extent of the law.” As a bar association founded over 40 years ago to serve the interests of Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys and the broader community, AABA calls on all elected officials and its members to condemn all forms of hate crimes, bigotry, and xenophobia as irreconcilable with this country's values of equality and justice.

  • 23 May 2017 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    May 23, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) congratulates Somnath Raj Chatterjee and Benjamin T. Reyes II on their respective appointments to judgeships in the Superior Court of California yesterday.  Chatterjee will be the first judge of a South Asian background to serve on the Alameda County Superior Court, and Reyes will be the first Filipino-American judge to serve on the Contra Costa County Superior Court.

    Chatterjee had been a partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP for twenty years, before recently leaving to start a litigation boutique, Antolin Agarwal and Chatterjee LLP.  Chatterjee has defended high-profile clients, including former Hewlett Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, and John Walker Lindh, one of the first U.S. citizens to be charged with aiding the Taliban after September 11th.  Chatterjee also represented plaintiffs who sued the FBA in 2010 seeking the release of records regarding its investigation and surveillance of Muslim communities in the Bay Area.

    Reyes is a principal at Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver and Wilson PLC, a public agency law firm in Oakland where he is chair of the Public Contracts Practice Group.  Reyes is the City Attorney for Pinole and Union City.  He also serves as General Counsel for the Stege Sanitary District and Assistant General Counsel for the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee. 

    Both Chatterjee and Reyes are leaders in the Asian American legal community.  Chatterjee served as President of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California and as a member of the Board of Directors of Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Asian Law Caucus.  Reyes has held leadership positions in the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California, serving as Vice-President and continuing to serve as a member of the advisory board. 

    “AABA applauds Governor Brown for appointing Raj Chatterjee and Benjamin Reyes to the bench.  Their deep legal experience, sustained community leadership, and diverse backgrounds will be major assets to the communities they will serve,” said Miriam Kim, President of AABA.  “Their historic appointments are also an important step in addressing the underrepresentation of Asian American judges.”

  • 28 Apr 2017 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    April 28, 2017

    San Francisco – The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) stands with U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick’s decision to block President Donald Trump’s executive order to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.  San Francisco and Santa Clara County are sanctuary cities that stood to lose $1 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively, in federal funds due to the executive order.  They filed suit earlier this year to enjoin its enforcement and were successful in showing that the loss of federal funds would cause the cities to suffer irreparable harm.  In his order, Judge Orrick found that “[t]he Counties have demonstrated that their sanctuary policies reflect their local judgment of what policies and practices are most effective for maintaining public safety and community health” and that the executive order is likely unconstitutional. 

    Sanctuary cities provide a safe harbor to undocumented immigrants who face deportation by limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.  AABA recognizes the value of sanctuary cities such as San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and Richmond, California, which ensure that immigrants are also provided equal and fair administration of justice.  

    “AABA commends Judge Orrick’s decision to respect the decisions of local cities and counties,” says Miriam Kim, President of AABA. “Judge Orrick’s decision makes clear that a president may not use funding as ‘a weapon’ against jurisdictions that disagree with his immigration policies.”  We stand with Judge Orrick’s admonishment of unconstitutional executive orders that harm immigrant individuals and families without providing due process.

    For more information, contact AABA at info@aaba-bay.com.

    AABA has a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas and information among its members and the public. AABA is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country, and counts lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders among its members, representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • 26 Apr 2017 2:38 PM | Anonymous

    April 26, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) has joined 42 Asian Pacific American bar associations in the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s (NAPABA) amicus briefing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to support the preliminary injunction of President Trump’s March 6, 2017, revised executive order barring individuals from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees from entering the United States.

    The Trump Administration’s appeal in the Ninth Circuit case, State of Hawaii v. Trump, arises from the first legal challenge to the revised executive order, which was brought on March 7 on behalf of the State and Ismail Elshikh, Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. On March 15, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii granted the temporary restraining order, which he converted into a preliminary injunction on March 29 to extend the block on the travel and refugee restrictions. The Ninth Circuit will hear argument in the case on May 15.

    The lawsuit in the Fourth Circuit, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, was brought on March 10 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Maryland and the National Immigration Law Center in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on behalf of HIAS, the International Refugee Assistance Project, the Middle East Studies Association and individuals, including U.S. citizens, impacted by the Muslim ban. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang issued the injunction on March 16. The Fourth Circuit will hear argument in the case on May 8.

    “The unprecedented involvement in this amicus brief across NAPABA’s national network speaks of our collective investment in ensuring this executive order is permanently struck down by the courts,” said NAPABA President Cyndie M. Chang. “Asian Pacific Americans have historically been targeted by exclusionary laws, giving us first-hand perspectives on the harms this order inflicts upon Muslim and immigrant communities. NAPABA’s community has stepped up to strongly oppose this attack on core American rights and values.”     

    The amicus brief filed in both cases describes decades of statutory exclusion of people from Asian and Pacific Island countries under early U.S. immigration law, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — the first federal law to ban a group of people on the basis of their nationality. The Civil Rights Era marked a dramatic turning point that saw Congress dismantle nationality-based discrimination with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The brief explains that presidential discretion in the area of immigration and refugee admission, while broad, is limited by statute. NAPABA argues that President Trump’s revised order, with its anti-Muslim underpinnings, violates the unambiguous prohibition against discrimination established by Congress.

    “AABA is proud to join NAPABA and our sister bar organizations in this amicus brief against the discriminatory Executive Order, ” said AABA President Miriam Kim. “The revised Executive Order, just like the prior order that was struck down by the Ninth Circuit, bears a painful resemblance to historical bans on Asian immigration. We will continue to work to do everything we can to ensure that the order is permanently struck down. We stand with the immigrants, refugees, and families impacted by the order.” 

    AABA is one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the nation and one of the largest minority bar associations in the State of California. From its inception in 1976, AABA and its attorneys have been actively involved in civil rights issues and community service. AABA is an affiliate of NAPABA, the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of almost 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities.


  • 05 Apr 2017 3:42 PM | Anonymous

    April 5, 2017

    San Francisco –  The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) stands with Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court in demanding that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly cease the practice of stalking and arresting undocumented immigrants in California’s courthouses. We share the Chief Justice’s concern that such stalking and arrests are jeopardizing the ability for courthouses to serve as a vital forum for ensuring access to justice and protect public safety.

    On March 16, 2017, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye issued a letter to Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Kelly expressing concerns that courthouses were being used as “bait” in the enforcement of immigration laws.  “Our courts are the main point of contact for millions of the most vulnerable Californians in times of anxiety, stress, and crises in their lives,” wrote the Chief Justice. “Crime victims, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, witnesses to crimes who are aiding law enforcement, limited-English speakers, unrepresented litigants, and children and families all come to our courts seeking justice and due process of law.”

    In a joint letter, Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Kelly responded to the Chief Justice, defending the practice of making federal arrests in state courthouses. 

    “As attorneys, we know all too well that our judicial system depends on the cooperation of victims, witnesses and litigants,” said AABA President Miriam Kim. “The practice of making federal arrests of undocumented immigrants in state courthouses raises the risk that individuals will fear appearing in court.  When a victim of domestic violence or human trafficking fears testifying in court because of immigration enforcement tactics in courthouses, we undermine a court’s ability to ensure equal access to justice and protect public safety.”

    AABA recognizes that courthouses must be free and open to all people to ensure the equal and fair administration of justice. We support and applaud Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s admonishment of policies that undermine access to justice and public safety.

    For more information, contact AABA at info@aaba-bay.com.

    AABA has a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas and information among its members and the public. AABA is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country, and counts lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders among its members, representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • 09 Mar 2017 10:15 AM | Anonymous

    March 9, 2017

    San Francisco, CA – The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area denounces the executive order released on March 6, 2017.  The revised Executive Order is premised on the misguided assumption that barring Muslims and refugees from entering the United States will increase national security. Although revised, this executive order has maintained the core unlawful elements of the earlier executive order that discriminate based on nationality and religion.  The original and now revised executive order will not enhance our national security, but instead will fuel anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments at home and fuel anti-American sentiments abroad.

    The revised order will take effect on March 16, 2017.  Like the earlier order, the revised order bans refugees from entering the United States for a 120-day period and continues to impact individuals from six predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen).  Entry of nationals of these six countries is suspended for 90 days, with some exceptions. 

    The ban will not apply to certain individuals, such as lawful permanent residents and dual nationals who travel on their passports from non-designated countries. Certain visa holders and status holders will not be affected and waivers will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

     “The revised Executive Order, like the original one, is an attempt to effectuate racism and discrimination under the guise of ‘national security’ – a justification which bears a disturbing resemblance to the ‘military necessity’ used to justify the incarceration of Japanese Americans,” said AABA President Hung Chang.  “The revised order is yet another inhumane, unlawful attempt to discriminate against Muslims and immigrants, and it strikes against the core values of this country.”  

    AABA remains committed to standing up against discrimination and injustice. We applaud our members who are on the front lines advising refugees and immigrants affected by the Executive Order. 

  • 28 Feb 2017 11:24 AM | Anonymous

    February 28, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) grieves with the family of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed on February 22, 2017, at a restaurant bar and grill in Olathe, Kansas. According to multiple news articles, while he was dining out with his friend and colleague, Alok Madasani, a white gunman shouted racist and xenophobic remarks at them, such as “get out of my country” before the gunman fired multiple shots at them. A bystander who attempted to deescalate the situation, Ian Grillot, was also shot and injured by the gunman. We stand in solidarity with the victims' family, friends, and community, to seek justice for this senseless act of hate. And we give heartfelt thanks to the heroism of Mr. Grillot who stood up against hatred.

    AABA urges the District Attorney of Johnson County, Kansas and the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute this brutal hate crime to the fullest extent of the law. “To call this crime for what it is – a hate crime -- is critical. It stokes fear and violence against immigrants and people of Muslim faith, and we must all stand up against it,” said AABA President Hung Chang. As a bar association founded over 40 years ago to serve the interests of Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys and the broader APA community, AABA understands the dangers of bias-motivated violence.  AABA calls all elected officials and its members to condemn all forms of hate crimes, bigotry, and xenophobia as completely inconsistent with this country's values of equality and justice.

  • 31 Jan 2017 12:10 PM | Anonymous

    January 31, 2017 

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) denounces the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017 that bans people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for at least 90 days, suspends the admission of refugees for 120 days, and suspends the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely. We join the seventeen state attorney generals who have called the Executive Order “unconstitutional and un-American” and have vowed to “work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution, respects our history as a nation of immigrants, and does not unlawfully target anyone because of their national origin or faith.”  

    “The Executive Order is effectively a Muslim ban and threatens fundamental American values,” said AABA President Hung Chang. “We praise the lawyers who quickly descended on airports to help immigrants detained under the Executive Order, including children who were separated from their families.  We reaffirm our oath to support the Constitution, and pledge to stand with immigrants, refugees, and families affected by the Executive Order.” 

    As one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the United States and one of the largest minority bar associations in California, we know the dangers of discriminating on the basis of national origin or religion. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese laborers from entering the United States under penalty of imprisonment and deportation. In 1942, Executive Order 9066 permitted the mass incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, the majority of whom were U.S. citizens, under the guise of military necessity.  After 9/11, our nation experienced a surge of xenophobia and members of our community faced an increase in hate crimes and incidents. We urge our nation’s leaders not to repeat these tragedies of American history. 

    As a bar association that includes refugees, we oppose efforts to reduce the number of refugees entering the United States. We know firsthand the importance of America’s leadership role in welcoming refugees fleeing violence, war, or persecution. Refugees already face a rigorous screening process, and we have witnessed how refugees have enriched our communities and culture.  

    AABA urges the President to rescind the Executive Order. We urge the Legislative branch to protect our great nation by performing its duty to serve as a check and balance to the Executive branch of government. We urge officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to comply with court orders staying the Executive Order and to ensure that all detainees have access to counsel. 

    We call upon our members to take action against the Executive Order:


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