On Wednesday, August 25, 2021, the Membership Committee hosted a Mixer at Sour Mouse, a fun venue in the Lower East Side that first opened up a year ago. It is an inviting space for people to gather to eat, drink, and play. AABANY members and friends who joined us were able to mingle and meet over a few games of pool, drinks, and pizza, surrounded by works of art from local artists and a live comedy show in the performance space on the far side of the room. All this was available without a cover, and the Membership Committee paid for a pool table and pizza. The bar offered plenty of drink choices. Guests also could opt to play ping pong or foosball if billiards were not their thing.
Sour Mouse is Asian owned and operated. They have daily events, foosball, pool, ping pong and a full bar. Please show your support! For more information, visit https://www.sourmousenyc.com/. The Membership Committee will be planning future outings at Sour Mouse, so stay tuned!
There’s one week left to apply as in-house counsel as part of NAPABA Connects, an exclusive program available to in-house counsel convention registrants and Solo and Small Firm, Gold, or higher-level firm sponsors.
Through NAPABA Connects, diverse law firm attorneys are given a forum to meet one-on-one with in-house counsel to make meaningful connections and cultivate a business relationship. In-house counsel can grow their diverse preferred provider portfolios.
In-house counsel and law firm participants will be matched for one-on-one meetings during NAPABA Convention. All participants are invited to attend the exclusive Sponsor Breakfast and NAPABA Connects VIP Reception during the NAPABA Convention December 9-12, 2021.
To participate as in-house counsel, you must fill out NAPABA’s brief application form. You can be matched with diverse law firm attorneys to cultivate new business relationships, or you may choose from a list of participating firms to expand your network with existing provider firms who may be in your preferred network. NAPABA will also send a list of all certified minority or women-owned firms to participating companies that may already have a preferred provider firm list.
The deadline to submit an IHC application is August 25 at 8 pm ET. For questions, please contact Operations Director, Maureen Gelwicks, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAPABA Connects participants are eligible to receive a $750 reimbursement to the 2021 NAPABA Convention. You are encouraged to register by September 20, NAPABA’s early bird deadline. Attendees of the NAPABA Convention can earn up to 14 hours of CLE Credit, which will be focused on changes unfolding in this turbulent year as well as challenges lawyers have faced for decades.
WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) expresses its grave concern at the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. The United States has historically been a beacon to those fleeing oppression and persecution, and NAPABA has long championed resettlement and humanitarian protections for refugees and asylum seekers. In the case of Afghan nationals who have risked their lives to support the efforts of the United States government or the International Security Assistance Force, including as interpreters, NAPABA urges the Administration to expeditiously safeguard, evacuate, and process at-risk Special Immigrant Visa eligible persons and ensure that our refugee and asylum system is equipped to handle the influx of those facing immediate threat by the Taliban, including women, children, and religious, and ethnic minorities.
“As a former flag officer in the United States Navy, I greatly appreciate the danger and risk that our Afghan colleagues assumed in order to support the global war on terrorism in Afghanistan and to secure the country from the repressive rule of the Taliban, who banned education for girls, and severely restricted the rights and freedom of women,” said A.B. Cruz III, President of NAPABA. “We must ensure that those who risked so much to support our mission are not forgotten or left behind, and that women, children, and others at risk can be protected.”
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
In “For Asian American Lawyers, Good Mentorship Is Crucial,” a Law360 Guest Column published on August 16, Paul, Weiss partners Jeannie Rhee, Lawrence Wee, and Jennifer Wu discussed the importance of mentorships and common setbacks and stereotypes faced by Asian American lawyers. Wee and Wu are both AABANY members. Wee is a co-chair of AABANY’s Corporate Law Committee and a former AABANY Board Director, while Wu is a co-chair of the AABANY’s Women’s Committee. Rhee, Wee, and Wu stated that finding good mentors is vital for professional development and career advancement, but also took care to note that the mentor-mentee relationship is two-sided. The authors recommended that mentees find ways to anticipate their mentors’ needs and assist them, while also encouraging mentors to be good listeners and step into their mentees’ shoes. While they maintained that these relationships can help young lawyers learn to manage some challenges associated with being an Asian American in the legal profession, they also recommended that Asian American lawyers should seek out a range of mentors, whether they share the same cultural background or not.
As mentors, Rhee, Wee, and Wu encouraged younger lawyers to take risks, speak up during meetings and challenging cases, and actively seek out promotions and leadership opportunities, especially since Asian Americans can be seen as risk-averse and face obstacles such as the bamboo ceiling. The authors also cautioned young Asian American lawyers, warning them that they will encounter stereotypes and that not everyone would acknowledge that they are minorities. However, they urged young Asian American lawyers to be their best, most authentic selves and to engage in positive, open communication about race-related issues. They also encouraged Asian American lawyers to become active in affinity groups and seek out organizations dedicated to the Asian American community and the career advancement of Asian American lawyers. The link to the full article is here.
The 44th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) rolled into town on August 11, billed as “the nation’s first and longest running festival dedicated to celebrating independent Asian, Asian diaspora, and Pacific Islander cinema.” Because we are not yet entirely out of the pandemic, AAIFF is being presented as a hybrid event with some screenings held in person and others made available on demand. One of the in-person programs took place on the third night, August 13, an evening featuring AAPI comics performing stand-up, fittingly called “Comedy Night.”
In a part of Brooklyn that the current generation calls Gowanus, nearly two dozen AABANY members joined a standing room crowd at Littlefield, a performance space that once was a warehouse (probably back in the days when this part of town was still known as Park Slope). The show was produced and hosted by Claire Yoo, an Events Coordinator for AAIFF who also happens to be President of Harvard College Stand Up Comic Society. Before you can say, “What? Harvard Students know how to laugh?” Claire took to the stage and launched into a profanity-laced opening monologue that filled the room with appreciative laughter, getting the entire audience properly riled up for the hilarity to come. (And don’t worry, Claire, we won’t tell your dad — who was in the audience — about your foul mouth.)
The line-up featured an assortment of top comedy talent, including award-winning writers from popular shows such as “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “Patriot Act with Hasan Minaj,” and NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me.” The diversity of the comedians reflected East Asian, South Asian, and HAPA voices as well as LGBTQ+ perspectives that we rarely hear from in mainstream media. As one of our attendees, Lauren Kim of Fordham Law School, deftly summarized, “It was excellent, tons of fun, and every single comic was hilarious.” Indeed, they were! None of our performers bombed on stage. If anything, the level and quality of the comedy seemed to go higher and higher from one comic to the next. (Apologies to Moss Perricone, the first comic to go. We don’t mean to say you weren’t funny or that the other comics were funnier than you. Oh, wait … maybe we are saying the second part.)
By the way, we should mention that our host, Claire, was an AABANY intern during Fall 2020. During her internship she learned that AABANY is a community partner of AAIFF and asked how she could get involved with Asian CineVision, the non-profit that organizes AAIFF each year. We hooked her up, and just a few months later … she is the producer and host of the largest comedy show she has ever put together. Congrats, Claire! Great job! (And Asian Cinevision, you are welcome!)
Thanks to all the AABANY members and friends, including President Terry Shen and his wife, Stella, who joined us. We hope everyone will support AAIFF and its mission to promote and spotlight AAPI artists, writers, performers, producers, and filmmakers. Read about the AAIFF films we are co-sponsoring this year here.
The deadline to apply for the NAPABA Prospective Partners Program (PPP) is two weeks away! PPP aims to increase the number of Asian American and Pacific Islander partners at major law firms through introduction, mentorship, and relationship building. In anticipation of the program’s eleventh year, the PPP is inviting candidate applications and nominations for participation in PPP sessions taking place at the 2021 NAPABA Convention in Washington, D.C., from December 9-12, 2021.
On August 3, the AABANY Real Estate Committee presented a “Cannabis Law and Real Estate” CLE, which explored the current state of real estate in New York State, within the context of recent cannabis legalization and a growing cannabis industry. Real Estate Committee Co-Chair Margaret Ling moderated the webinar, welcoming four speakers to introduce and explain current cannabis law and real estate practices, before opening the floor for a Q&A session.
Kristin Jordan spoke first, giving a broad overview of New York State’s adult use cannabis bill, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”), which was passed on March 31, 2021. Kristin is the Executive Director of Asian Cannabis Roundtable, a NYC-based professional networking community for those engaged in the cannabis industry, and Founder of Mannada. She explained how the bill positioned the state’s new cannabis regulatory body under the State Liquor Authority, because developing an entirely new agency would take too long. The new body comprises three agencies, the Office of Cannabis Management, the Cannabis Control Board, and the Cannabis Advisory Board. She also enumerated the different kinds of cannabis licenses available under the MRTA:
In terms of New York real estate, Kristin noted that cannabis legalization and its budding industry would exact the most tangible effect on leases for retail stores, warehouses, and distribution facilities, because they provide the brick and mortar for cannabis businesses. Finally, she emphasized that since cannabis legalization is so recent, cannabis law and best practices promise a steep learning curve, with so much uncharted territory.
Steve LaFredo, Chief Banking Officer at Piermont Bank, discussed cannabis and real estate specifically as it relates to banking. He emphasized that “banks are safety, soundness, and risk organizations first”; in other words, banking is a slow industry, and it would take time for banks to adapt to the growing cannabis industry. He underscored the difficulty of navigating often differing state and federal law when dealing with cannabis businesses, though he noted that New York State has been relatively progressive, as the first state to create cannabis banking guidelines under the Department of Taxation and Finance. These guidelines aim to preserve the safety, soundness, and security of businesses involved with cannabis. Steve explained that in states that have legalized cannabis, the banking industry tiers cannabis businesses into 3 categories: Tier A, those with direct contact (e.g. growing, producing, selling); Tier B, those that derive more than 25% of their business from the cannabis space; and Tier C, those that derive 25% or less of their business from the cannabis space. Banks are most likely to be receptive to working with Tier C cannabis businesses.
Since they lie precariously between state and federal regulators, most banks have a zero tolerance policy for cannabis. Disclosure and transparency are critical for finding a financial institution with which cannabis businesses can safely operate; smaller, private banks and credit unions will be most likely to open their doors to cannabis businesses. Unfortunately, cannabis businesses are still largely relegated to cash transactions, and since mechanisms for depositing and delivering cash are scarce and expensive, banks are hesitant to get involved. After the federal decision to stand down in states that have legalized cannabis, however, banks have slowly begun entering the cannabis space. Steve expressed optimism about the future of cannabis banking.
Kathleen Deegan Dickson and Danielle Tricolla of Forchelli Deegan Terrana spoke last, focusing on the role of the law firm in the cannabis space. Kathleen is a Partner and Co-Chair of the Cannabis Group at Forchelli Deegan Terrana, and Danielle is an Associate and Co-Chair of the Cannabis Group at Forchelli Deegan Terrana. They underscored the importance of “knowing what you don’t know,” since cannabis legalization not only means new legislation but also changes to existing legislation. Specifically, cannabis legalization involves changes to Public Health Law, Penal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, Civil Practice Law and Rules, Labor Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, and General Business Law. Like Steve, they touched on the interplay between state legalization and federal prohibition of cannabis. Devoting special attention to law firm clients interested in cannabis, they explained that “cannabis law” is a multidisciplinary practice area, since it affects real estate transactions, leasing, land use, zoning, banking, labor, and employment, among other areas.
The intersection of cannabis law and real estate presents a new and exciting business area, and AABANY thanks the Real Estate Committee Co-Chairs Margaret Ling, Wendy Yu, and Jane Chen for putting together such an informative and current event. To learn more about the Real Estate Committee, visit https://www.aabany.org/page/120.
NAPABA will be featuring 25 CLE sessions, plus the International Law Symposium, Solo & Small Firm Bootcamp, and Women’s Leadership Workshop at the 2021 NAPABA Convention! Below is a sample of the sessions we have on the schedule:
1:00 – 2:15 pm | Going Global—Insights on How to Succeed in an International Legal Career Part of the International Law Symposium
2:30 – 3:45 pm | Automating Law Practice: Sales, Marketing, Social Media, and Customer Service Part of the Solo and Small Firm Bootcamp
2:45 – 3:45 pm | Growth, Leadership, and Intentional Visibility in a Hybrid Environment Panel Discussion Part of the Women’s Leadership Workshop
9:00 – 10:15 am | Portrait Project 2.0 AAPIs in the Legal Profession—Judicial Clerkships
10:30 – 11:45 am | Coming to America: How Current Immigration Policies and Reforms Will Impact AAPIs
1:30 – 2:45 pm | The Hidden Epidemic of Elder Abuse in AAPI Communities
9:15 – 10:30 am | Emerging COVID-19 Employment Challenges: The Civil Rights Issues We Should Have Seen Coming 10:45 am – 12:00 pm | Reaching Beyond the Brass Ring—Understanding Your Career Options Other Than GC
Is the cost of attending the 2021 NAPABA Convention adding up? Apply for a Convention scholarship! The scholarship may be used towards Convention registration (Gala Admission Only not covered), reasonable travel and lodging, and ground transportation from the airport to Convention hotel. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at 5 pm ET. You must be a NAPABA member to apply.
Have you registered for the 2021 NAPABA Convention yet? We would love to see you in Washington, D.C. in December! Register now to take advantage of our early bird rates! Early bird rates are available until Monday, September 20, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET.
NAPABA remains committed to the safety and well-being of its members and invited guests at its annual Convention. As such and given the continued existence of COVID-19, NAPABA will observe a COVID-19 safety protocol at this year’s Convention. To learn more about our COVID-19 Safety Protocol for the 2021 NAPABA Convention, click here.
The 2021 NAPABA Convention is generously supported by our Title sponsor:
AABANY congratulates Director of Technology Francis Chin, Ben Chan, past Student Outreach Committee Co-Chair and former AABANY member, and Sally Woo, Administrative Law Judge and current AABANY member, for winning best screenplay in this year’s 72 Hour Shootout Competition organized by the Asian American Film Lab (“AAFL”). The 72 Hour Shootout Competition is held annually, accepting submissions from across the globe. The AAFL states:
The competition creates a valuable opportunity for filmmakers of color – focusing on Asian American filmmakers – and women, as well as other underrepresented groups, to demonstrate their talent, gain exposure in the entertainment industry and impact the visibility of diverse stories and characters in film. One of the Shootout requirements is that at least one key production member (e.g., director, producer or writer) and a principal actor from each team must be of Asian descent.
Participating teams have 72 hours to write, shoot, and edit a short film of up to 5 minutes long. This year’s competition theme was “BE A HERO.” Francis, Ben and Sally formed Team Triscribe to produce Better than Sliced Bread, a short film which takes a close look at a young father-daughter relationship following the height of the pandemic. Gifted with free bus tickets to venture beyond the confines of their home, the father-daughter duo rediscovers the pleasure of enjoying a sandwich, a simple meal with endless possibilities, as well as a fantastic upgrade from the plain sliced bread one reliably finds at home. The featured sandwich, a bánh mì, made of “pickled vegetables, pâté, Asian luncheon meat, mayo, and peppers on a crusty roll” is distinguished by its bright colors, flavors, and textures, encapsulating the simple way sliced bread can be revitalized and made exciting with a little extra care, much like our post-pandemic relationships with family.
Team Triscribe dedicated their film to the memory of Corky Lee, one of the most significant contributors to the photographic documentation of Asian American history; his work spanned momentous events in Asian American history like the protests following the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin to everyday life in New York City’s Chinatown.
Ben helped write Better than Sliced Bread and played Dr. Apollo. Sally also helped write the short film and was a narrator. Francis played the father, Harry Ong, in addition to producing and directing the film.
Congratulations to the Better than Sliced Bread team! Watch the short film here.
AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok had the pleasure of interviewing Hon. Randall T. Eng (ret.) on May 7, for the Historical Society of the New York Courts’s podcast. Justice Eng was a pioneer in many respects for Asian Americans pursuing leadership roles in the legal profession. He became the first Asian American judge in New York State, one of many firsts for this trailblazer. Chris Kwok and Justice Eng discuss his life from his earliest days in Queens and China, the transition to becoming a lawyer, and the many obstacles Judge Eng faced as an Asian American in the legal profession, during a time when there was far less diversity in the profession. Today’s surge in anti-Asian hate and violence around the country renders Judge Eng’s life story more salient than ever.
To watch or listen to the recording of the interview, click here.