On May 21, 2020, Global Investigations Review published an article co-authored by AABANY Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair Jian Wu. The article is titled “Why Anti-bribery Enforcement Scrutiny in China Is Here to Stay.”
The article discusses how the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are increasingly enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) against US public companies with operations in China. Following the DOJ’s announcement of the new “China Initiative” in November of 2018, priority has been given to identifying FCPA cases involving Chinese companies that compete with American business. Recently, it was reported that a US-listed health nutrition company was nearing a $123 million settlement with the DOJ and SEC related to an anti-corruption compliance investigation in China. The article highlights that such FCPA investigations and cases are likely to increase in the US. However, it still remains to be seen if China will follow up enforcement measures with a parallel focus.
The article notes that because “…the China Initiative puts Chinese companies and individuals in the spotlight, multinational corporations should carefully deal with their ongoing business relationships involving Chinese companies. At the same time, multinational corporations should not take enforcement by the Chinese authorities lightly. Chinese authorities are increasingly exercising closer supervision over bribery activities involving multinational corporations.”
With recent and ongoing policy changes and rising tensions between the US and China with the COVID-19 pandemic, multinational corporations need to focus on corporate compliance in 2020, remain informed about any new FCPA related developments, and get ahead of any challenges that may arise ahead of time.
On May 21, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) presented its “Fortune 500 General Counsel Panel: Leadership During Crisis,” part three of NAPABA’s General Counsel Webinar Series. The event highlighted prominent General Counsels working in various industries and discussed the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace along with advice for aspiring General Counsels. The panelists included Damien Atkins, General Counsel of the Hershey Company; Peter Beshar, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Marsh & McLennan; Elisa Garcia, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of Macy’s; David Hyman, General Counsel and Company Secretary of Netflix; Alan Tse, Global Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of JLL; and David Yawman, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of PepsiCo. The panel discussion was moderated by Michael Wu, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of Madewell.
The panel discussed the immediate challenges faced by General Counsels in light of the current pandemic and the transition to an online work environment. Emphasis was placed on adaptability and flexibility as General Counsels and legal departments across all industries have had to quickly put together plans for long-term financing and shifts in day-to-day operations. This emphasis on adaptability also stresses greater cooperation between the legal team, the board of directors, and C-suite executives in forming a coherent strategy in both dealing with the pandemic and also pursuing non-COVID-19 related objectives. As Alan Tse stated, companies are, more than ever, looking toward their legal teams for leadership in navigating through economic uncertainty and changes in corporate governance.
Additionally, the importance of communications and integrating technology into the workplace are vital as General Counsels need to be able to coordinate all the moving parts of the company in making the localized decisions necessary to ensure compliance with local regulations and sustainable growth. While it is important to have contingency plans during times of crisis, General Counsels need to be vigilant and flexible in their approach toward unpredictable and complex problems in the future. Peter Beshar stated that General Counsels should also prioritize “collective cyber resilience, not just of our company, but of broader society” by protecting critical online communication channels. Additionally, General Counsels should form effective response plans to prepare companies from destabilizing cyberattacks.
Recent changes in legislation and the regulatory environment have also driven General Counsels to be more proactive in how they view the relationship between what David Yawman describes as the “great continuum… between the legislative environment and policy issues coming out of societal trends.” Ultimately, General Counsels should recognize that changes in corporate governance are facilitated by both government legislation and company policies and that, as legal professionals, they have a crucial role to play as both a guide for their clients and a trailblazer for corporate policy.
Lastly, the panel discussed efforts to promote diversity within their organizations and the role General Counsels play in ensuring inclusion in the workplace. Inclusion championship should be a fundamental, core value of corporate governance and thus, should be, as David Hyman describes, a “top-down” process embodied by all corporate executives. Individuals and legal teams should be empowered to take initiative in leading pop-up conversations and workshops that champion inclusive leadership that stresses not only diverse participation, but diverse leadership. Companies should also hold individuals accountable and translate inclusion policies into action.
The panel attracted more than 500 registrants, making it the single biggest AABANY Zoom meeting to date. Attendees were eligible to receive 1.0 New York CLE credits, with 0.5 credits fulfilling the Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias requirement and 0.5 credits fulfilling the Law Practice Management requirement. We thank Michael Wu for organizing the panel and for moderating a highly informative and substantive discussion. We thank all the speakers for sharing their insights, knowledge and perspectives. The event was covered by Corporate Counsel. Read the article here (Law.com subscription required).
On May 20, 2020, the Judiciary Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and the Public Interest Committee of the South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY) co-hosted a panel on how to become a Magistrate Judge. Recently, the Eastern District of New York announced vacancies for four US Magistrate Judge positions, the first time so many opportunities have been simultaneously available since the positions were created. The webinar provided important information and advice for individuals who might be considering a career as a Magistrate Judge.
The event featured panelists Hon. Sanket Bulsara, Hon. Peggy Kuo, and Linda Lin. Judge Bulsara was appointed as a Magistrate Judge of EDNY on August 28, 2017, and previously served as Acting General Counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Judge Kuo was appointed on October 9, 2015, and prior to her appointment, she served as the Acting Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Division Criminal Section at the U.S. Department of Justice; litigation counsel at Wilmer Hale, LLP; Chief Hearing Officer at the New York Stock Exchange; and Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel of the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Linda Lin is the General Counsel of Business Unit Support at QBE North America and a member of the EDNY Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel. Austin D’Souza, Principal Law Clerk to Hon. Faviola A. Soto at the New York Court of Claims and Vice President of Public Relations at SABANY, served as the moderator.
Judge Bulsara and Judge Kuo discussed their responsibilities as Magistrate Judges. They emphasized that though their docket is heavily civil, varying between 400-500 cases per judge, they also play an important role on the criminal side. Magistrate Judges are on criminal duty approximately once every ten weeks, during which they preside over arraignments, initial appearances, and bail hearings. They also conduct jury selection in felony cases. Judge Bulsara noted that his favorite part of being a Magistrate Judge is presiding over naturalization ceremonies and interacting with wonderful colleagues.
Linda Lin described the application process and how potential candidates are evaluated. Members of the Selection Panel independently review the applications and decide on which candidates to interview. Prior to the interview, the panel conducts due diligence and may reach out to references beyond those mentioned in the candidate’s application. The Selection Panel also requests writing samples, preferably those that demonstrate analysis and are centered around advocacy and litigation. Finally, five names are presented to the Board of Judges, who decide whom to appoint as a Magistrate Judge. While reviewing applications, members of the Selection Panel look for the following qualities: scholarship, from academic records to achievements; active practice of the law, including breadth and depth of experience, professional competence, and pro bono and public service activities; knowledge of the court system and recent experience in front of the federal bench; and personal attributes, or judicial temperament.
Judge Kuo advised individuals applying to become a Magistrate Judge to prepare for their interviews by going back and reading their application and writing samples, looking up the biographies of members of the Selection Panel, and reviewing the Rules of Civil Procedure. Judge Bulsara urged candidates to take advantage of the mock interviews offered by AABANY and sit in on proceedings in court.
We thank our panelists for speaking on the program and sharing insightful advice about the process of becoming a United States Magistrate Judge. Thanks also to Austin D’Souza for serving as an excellent moderator. For more information on AABANY’s Judiciary Committee, please see https://www.aabany.org/page/115.
On May 29, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Mixer Membership Mixer, with 29 participants in attendance. In honor of Membership Director Beatrice Leong’s birthday, the icebreaker question posed to the participants was: “What was your favorite or most memorable birthday memory or gift?” The overwhelming answer by most participants was “getting drunk on their 21st birthday.” Other answers included a one-week alcohol bender, birthday parties in McDonald’s with childhood crushes, Tokyo birthdays, birthdays where members took the LSAT and passed the bar exam. Members’ favorite gifts included a Voltron toy, a song written in their honor, and a 3D printed toy of the member’s likeness.
This mixer featured Trivia Night hosted by Sal Chan. Sal is Chief of Operations at the trial boutique Mukasey Frenchman & Sklaroff. Thank you, Sal! Anyone interested in joining Zoom trivia nights every Thursday can email Sal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We had enough attendees to form four teams. Three of the teams stayed through two full rounds of quetstions. The winning team was “Taking Back Monday.” Congratulations to team members Andrew Kao, Puja Sharma, Kevin Hsi and William Lim. During the game, we encouraged participants to donate to a fund, with the winning team getting to pick which charity or cause they wished to support. Taking Back Mondays kindly agreed to donate to AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic. Thank you, Taking Back Mondays!
The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc., but due to COVID, we moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but people have stayed on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.
We are giving away door prizes during some weeks. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on aabany.org to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. Mixers are not recorded, and are LIVE, so don’t miss out.