AABANY Celebrates 30th Birthday at NAPABA Convention

On Thursday evening, Nov. 7, AABANY celebrated its 30th birthday at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, just around the corner from the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas, at which the NAPABA Convention was taking place. AABANY members who were attending the Convention came out in force and brought friends from various affiliates from around the country. Over 60 attendees filled a section of one of the event rooms on the second floor. Among the attendees were members who were there at the start of AABANY, including Rocky Chin, Hon. Marilyn Go, Hon. Denny Chin (who served as President from 1992-93) and his wife Kathy Hirata Chin. Past Presidents Vincent Chang, James Chou, and Dwight Yoo also attended, as did current President Brian Song. Membership Director Beatrice Leong organized the celebration; she secured the venue and placed the food order, and she also ordered the cake. The authentic
Texas barbecue fare was a big hit, and the cake came out with sparklers.

Thanks to all our members and friends for coming out to celebrate with us in Austin!

AABANY at NAPABA Gala Dinner

Congratulations to NAPABA on a successful National Convention in Austin, Texas. Affiliates from around the country gathered to celebrate with NAPABA at its 31st Anniverary Gala Dinner held on Saturday night, Nov. 9, in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott in Austin. Comedian Sheng Wang hosted the evening, and the Keynote Speaker was Chef Kristen Kish, owner of Arlo Grey, in conversation with restaurant critic Soleil Ho. Congratulations also to all the honorees who were presented with awards at the Gala:

  • Military and Veteran Service Award – Capt Lia Mitoko Reynolds
  • APA Owned Law Firm Award – Willenken LLP
  • Law Firm Diversity Award – Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Pro Bono Award – Karen King
  • Women’s Leadership Award – Debbie Shon
  • Presidents Award – Dale Ho

AABANY was honored to be presented with the Affiliate of the Year Award. Read more about that here.

AABANY members could be found filling a few tables at the Gala Dinner … but where was Executive Director Yang Chen? He was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. That did not stop Membership Director Beatrice Leong from creating a cardboard version of our ED to attend the Gala and then join the AABANY group photo at the NAPABA Convention. Thank you, Beatrice!

AABANY Presented with Affiliate of the Year Award at NAPABA Convention

On Saturday, November 9, 2019, AABANY was honored to be presented with NAPABA’s Affiliate of the Year award at NAPABA’s National Convention in Austin, Texas. AABANY was selected to receive this award for its best practices and accomplishments in our community.

President Brian Song accepted this honor at the Dinner Gala, but he did not do so alone. He called upon Board members, Past Presidents, and founders, including Rocky Chin, Hon. Marilyn Go (Ret.), and Sylvia Chin to join him on stage to accept the award together on behalf of everyone at AABANY.

For three decades now, AABANY has been working tirelessly to support Asian Americans in the legal profession in New York. It means a great deal for the hard work of AABANY’s Board Members and Committee Chairs, the dedication of our members, and AABANY’s commitment to the overall Asian American Community to be recognized.

We congratulate and thank our entire AABANY family and our sponsors for supporting our mission and bringing AABANY to this Point. As Executive Director Yang Chen said in the video played before the award was presented, “this award is for everyone at AABANY.” 2019 marks the second time that AABANY received the Affiliate of the Year Award. AABANY first received this honor in 2008.

AABANY Reenacts Korematsu v. United States at NAPABA Convention in Austin, Texas

On Friday, Nov. 8, during the Plenary Lunch Session at the NAPABA Convention in Austin, Texas, AABANY’s Trial Reenactment Team performed “Fred Korematsu and His Fight for Justice,” reenacting Korematsu v. United States. AABANY had performed an earlier version of this reenactment at the NAPABA Convention in Washington, DC, in 2017, to mark the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 which sent some 120,000 Japanese American citizens to internment camps without any due process. This year, to mark Fred Korematsu’s 100th birthday, AABANY’s Trial Reenactment Team performed an updated script which took into account the developments that occurred since 2017. The Korematsu case was nominally overruled in a footnote by Chief Justice Roberts in Trump v. Hawaii (2018), which upheld the Muslim Travel Ban in part. This reenactment included modifications that featured text from the majority and dissenting opinions in that case, and concluded with words from an Op-Ed written by Fred’s daughter Karen, lamenting that the United States Supreme Court had replaced one bad precedent with another.

This updated Korematsu reenactment was made special by the participation of new cast members, including Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, Peggy Nagae, and Hon. Edward Chen, members of the legal team that brought the coram nobis proceeding which overturned the wrongful conviction of Fred Korematsu. Dale, Don, Peggy, and Judge Chen played themselves. Also playing herself was Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, the United States District Court Judge who presided over the case. Karen Korematsu played herself and closed the show with moving and inspiring words from her June 28, 2018 New York Times Op-Ed article.

The 2019 Korematsu reenactment played to an audience of 900 at the NAPABA Convention Friday Plenary Lunch session, and it is easily the largest single audience for any AABANY Trial Reenactment. Judge Chin moderated a panel discussion about this case and its continuing relevance immediately after the lunch session, featuring a panel that included Don Tamaki, Dale Minami, Karen Narasaki, Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel, Hon. Edward Chen and Karen Korematsu.

Thanks to everyone who took part in performing in this historic reenactment, especially those who were part of Fred Korematsu’s Fight for Justice. We are grateful for the leadership of Kathy Hirata Chin and Hon. Denny Chin for leading AABANY’s Trial Reenactment Team. To learn more about AABANY’s Trial Reenactments, visit the reenactments website at reenactments.aabany.org.

PRESS RELEASE: THE ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK IS RECEIVING THE AFFILIATE OF THE YEAR AWARD FROM THE NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION AT ITS NATIONAL CONVENTION IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

NEW YORK – November 5, 2019 – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) has selected  the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) as its Affiliate of the Year. This award recognizes outstanding NAPABA affiliates that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to NAPABA, the legal community, and the greater Asian Pacific American (APA) community. AABANY will be presented the Affiliate of the Year Award during the 2019 NAPABA Convention in Austin, Texas, taking place November 7-10, 2019. AABANY President Brian Song will accept the award on behalf of the association at NAPABA’s Gala Dinner to be held on Saturday, November 9.

AABANY was formed in 1989 as a not-for-profit corporation to represent the interests of New York Asian American attorneys, judges, law professors, legal professionals, legal assistants, paralegals and law students. The mission of AABANY is to improve the study and practice of law, and the fair administration of justice for all by ensuring the meaningful participation of Asian Americans in the legal profession.

Over the past three decades AABANY has worked tirelessly to accomplish its mission. For example, we have regularly conducted student outreach and held workshops throughout the year on resume writing, interviewing and networking skills to help law students succeed. We are also into the ninth year of our Mentorship Program that provides individual professional development specifically tailored to the needs of mentees, many of whom are law students. In addition, now in its second year, the AABANY Leadership Development Program assists and guides senior APA law firm associates and in-house counsel through an interactive leadership training program designed to develop and promote qualified APA attorneys for partnership at law firms and leadership positions at companies.

AABANY also plays an integral part in creating diversity on the bench through our Judiciary Committee’s initiatives. AABANY’s Judiciary Committee assisted dozens of judges of Asian American, South Asian, and Pacific Islander heritage in ascending to the bench.

In addition, we collaborate with the South Asian Bar Association of New York, the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York and Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York to further the interests of APAs in the legal profession by offering CLE accreditation, co-sponsoring networking events, and supporting each other’s programs and activities.

Furthermore, we serve the APA community by holding a monthly Pro Bono Clinic in partnership with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of NY. We mobilize the expertise and language skills of AABANY’s diverse membership to provide high quality and accessible legal assistance to the Asian community on the second Wednesday of every month, at Confucius Plaza in Chinatown. In 2018-19, the Clinic served between 21-51 clients with the help of 11-21 volunteer attorneys and 5-12 interpreters each month.

Moreover, in addition to providing free legal assistance to the Asian community, we promote APA history and awareness through our historic trial reenactments. The Hon. Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin have spearheaded this project for twelve years. The most recent reenactment, “Alice in Chinatown: Chol Soo Lee and His Fight for Freedom” retold the story of Chol Soo Lee, a young Korean American who was wrongly accused and imprisoned for a gangland murder in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1970s. AABANY has made these reenactment scripts available to schools, community groups, other bar associations and anyone who wishes to perform them. AABANY’s reenactments project has become a template for other groups to encourage civic education and engagement in our communities.

Each new historic trial reenactment premieres at the annual NAPABA Convention, but this year, the AABANY Trial Reenactment Team will be reprising “Korematsu v. United States: Fred Korematsu and His Fight for Justice” in celebration of Fred Korematsu’s 100th birthday. The cast will include luminaries such as Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel (Ret.), the judge who decided the coram nobis proceeding that overturned Korematsu’s wrongful conviction, and Dale Minami, the iconic attorney who led the team that brought about this historic outcome. Judge Patel and Dale Minami will be playing themselves, as will Karen Korematsu, Fred’s daughter, in the reenactment, which will be performed on November 8, at Friday’s Plenary Lunch Session during the NAPABA Convention.

Because of these significant contributions and achievements over the decades, AABANY has become one of the most prominent bar associations in New York and has been selected to receive the Affiliate of the Year Award from NAPABA for a second time. AABANY first received this prestigious honor in 2008 under the leadership of then-President and now Executive Director Yang Chen.

“AABANY thanks NAPABA for this important award and its recognition of our innovative efforts to engage our membership and the community,” states AABANY President Brian Song, a Partner at BakerHostetler in New York. “We are grateful for the leadership and dedication of our current and past Board Directors and Officers for bringing AABANY to this point. We especially thank and acknowledge our sponsors and our members for their support of our mission to promote the interests of APA lawyers and legal professionals and the larger community they serve. AABANY could not be NAPABA’s Affiliate of the Year without the involvement and participation of everyone in the legal profession and community who have been integral to our growth and success over the last thirty years.”

For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212) 332-2478, or direct any inquiries to main@aabany.org.

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

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Art Exhibition by Siyan Wong: Five Cents a Can: Making the Invisible Visible

Former AABANY Labor & Employment Law Committee Co-Chair Siyan (Joane) Wong is holding an art exhibition entitled: “Five Cents a Can: Making the Invisible Visible” at the New York Arts Center (78 Bowery, Manhattan) from November 10 through December 1, 2019.

Siyan’s oil paintings of people who collect cans to survive (“canners”) together with a sculpture built of thousands of gold cans, other conceptual art pieces of the tools used by the canners, and video installations made in collaboration with filmmaker and artist Alvin Tsang will be on display. The exhibition is being held to shed light on the powerful story about the people who occupy the lower strata of our current society.

Siyan, a New York City based artist, focuses on the working poor, the homeless, women and the elderly. As a workers’ rights lawyer, her contact with everyday working people informs her empathy and artistic vision. She is committed to finding help for the canners, and fifty percent (50%) of the proceeds from the sale of her paintings will be set aside for the benefit of the canners.

We encourage AABANY members to attend the exhibition and support Siyan in this noble cause.

Please contribute via Siyan’s Kickstarter Campaign at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/siyanwong/five-cents-a-can-making-visible-the-invi sible-art-exhibit.

Siyan will be holding a Press Conference on November 10, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at the New York Arts Center.

For more information, you can connect with Siyan at artistsiyanwong@gmail.com.

AABANY Presents Pathways to Government Service and Public Interest Career Panel

On October 29, 2019, AABANY’s Government Service & Public Interest Committee, Career Placement Committee, Student Outreach Committee, and New York Law School’s APALSA teamed up to present Pathways to Government Service and Public Interest Career Panel.

Panelists included:

Mihea Kim, Staff Attorney, Homicide Defense Task Force, The Legal Aid Society;
Hon. Donald Leo,  New York City Criminal Court Judge, New York Supreme Court;
Nelson Mar, Senior Staff Attorney, Education Law Unit, Bronx Legal Services 
Kin Ng, Bureau Chief of the Red Zone Trial Bureau, Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office;
Won Shin, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York

Moderator: Hon. Grace E. Lee, Administrative Law Judge, New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

The panelists shared what experiences led them to their current position in the public interest/government sector. Fun tidbits were also revealed — two of the panelists litigated cases against each other, while two other panelists went to high school together. Attendees and panelists enjoyed friendly banter and discussion after the panel. 

We thank the Government Service & Public Interest , Career Placement, and Student Outreach Committee Committees for hosting this panel. To learn more about the GSPI Committee, go here. To learn more about the Career Placement Committee, go here. To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee, go here.

AABANY October Membership Mixer

AABANY ended October with our Monthly Membership Mixer at Atwood. We were excited to see a lot of new faces as recent law school graduates and practicing attorneys met with some of our members and learned more about our organization. Thank you to all those who made it out and check out our calendar at aabany.org for a full schedule of our exciting upcoming events.