WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jennifer Sung to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Sung is the first AAPI to serve on the Ninth Circuit in Oregon—a state where Asians are the fastest-growing group and now make up six percent of the state’s population.
“NAPABA congratulates Jennifer Sung on her historic confirmation to the Ninth Circuit to become the first AAPI to serve in Oregon,” said Sid Kanazawa, president of NAPABA. “Judge Sung has a long career serving as an advocate for AAPIs and workers across the nation. We are thankful to Leader Schumer for bringing her nomination for a floor vote, Senators Wyden and Merkley for recommending Judge Sung, and President Biden for nominating her.
“Today there are twelve AAPI federal appellate court judges out of 179 and there has never been a AAPI on the U.S. Supreme Court. The confirmation of Judge Sung highlights an important and urgent need for greater representation of our community on the courts.”
Judge Sung is a member of the Oregon Employment Relations Board and was previously an executive board member of the New York chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. She was a partner at McKanna Bishop Joffe, LLP in Portland. Judge Sung is a graduate of Oberlin College and Yale Law School.
Judge Sung’s confirmation follows the confirmation of Judge Lucy H. Koh to the Ninth Circuit on Monday.
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.
The Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, NAPABA’s premier lifetime honor, recognizes Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) attorneys who have spent their careers advocating for AAPIs within the legal profession, becoming pioneers in their field of practice. This year, Andrew (“Andy”) T. Hahn Sr., one of the 2021 Trailblazer Award recipients, will join the ranks of those distinguished for their contributions.
For Andy Hahn, leadership and service have always been integral components of his career path. Andy has accumulated a plethora of impressive accolades and achievements over his career spanning more than three decades, such as: US Army JAG officer, successful commercial litigator, and President of NAPABA, AABANY, and KALAGNY.
Andy has continually had to prove, both to himself and to others, that, as a son of Korean American immigrants, he could succeed in his career and find a place within American society as an Asian American.
“Growing up as a kid…I stuck out like a sore thumb,” Andy recalls. “I was subject to a lot of bullying and bigotry.”
It was this resentment of ostracization (as well as a fascination with guns and explosives in his youth) that motivated Andy to enlist in the military. He quickly found his niche in the armed forces, graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate from Cornell University, with ambitions to pursue a full-time military career in the Special Forces. Andy’s mother, disagreeing with his choice, instead encouraged him to aim for a career in law. Fortunately, becoming a lawyer was Andy’s additional career interest. After being granted a deferment from active duty, Andy completed his legal studies at Cornell Law School.
With a desire to meet more Asian lawyers with similar backgrounds as himself, Andy discovered AABANY early in his career. As an AABANY member, he met Chris Chang, one of the founding members of AABANY and a former chair of the Judiciary Committee. Chris became a valuable mentor to Andy as he explored the workings of the New York court system.
In the past, many Asian Americans practiced law within the transactional fields, such as corporate law and real estate law, and as Andy noted, “none of [the fields] which involved the adversarial process.” In Andy’s view, language barriers and improved career prospects in transactional law contributed to the lack of Asian Americans within litigation. As he gained litigation experience, Andy continued to stand out in becoming one of the first waves of AAPI attorneys to attain partnership at a big law firm in New York City.
Andy remains a firm believer in the power of mentorship and guidance for those just starting out in their careers. Recalling his experience meeting and mentoring law school students and graduates, Andy observed that many Asian Americans remain as “first generation Asian lawyers” within their families; these students or graduates could point to no one in their family who had been involved in the legal profession. At a time when Asian American interest in law is increasing, creating more opportunities for mentorship becomes even more critical.
Andy believes that anti-Asian hate remains the single greatest threat to the AAPI community and AAPI legal professionals today. Until the onset of the pandemic Andy has never seen a high prevalence of anti-Asian hate during his decades of involvement with AABANY and NAPABA, but he notes that there always has been an “undercurrent” of perceiving Asian Americans as foreign. Despite the widespread social movements that have catapulted issues of race and diversity into the national spotlight, Andy feels that big law firm and corporate commitments to diversity and inclusion remain “a lot of lip service.”
“If you look at … the statistics, [attorneys of color] within law firms have not improved in the last two decades…. By the time you get to the leadership positions, it’s pretty much all white people.” For Andy, who serves as Chief Diversity Officer at Hawkins, Delafield, and Wood LLP, his formula for maintaining diversity at his own law firm is simple: recruitment, retention, and promotion. It’s a formula that organizations, such as AABANY, continue to advocate for.
In light of the challenges Asian Americans face, Andy observes positive changes within the Asian American community: “If there is any silver lining with some of this anti-Asian hate, it brings our community together…. We’ve learned … how to stand up for ourselves.” Certainly, through his career as a litigator, leader, and advocate, Andy has never ceased to stand up for himself, the legal profession, and the Asian American community. His achievements and accomplishments demonstrate his endless “vision, courage, and tenacity” needed to become a pioneer, as well as his willingness to break barriers and stereotypes in his career path.
NAPABA will hold a reception on Friday evening, December 10, for all the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award honorees at the Convention in Washington, D.C., and the awards will be presented at the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening. Please join AABANY in congratulating Andy Hahn on this well-deserved honor and recognition!
Every year, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) presents its Best Under 40 Awards to honor exceptional Asian American Pacific Islanders (“AAPI”) attorneys under the age of 40 from across the country who have excelled in their respective fields and have demonstrated a strong commitment to the AAPI community. Among those being recognized for this year’s award is Grace Fu, General Counsel of KAYAK/OpenTable, and a Co-Chair of AABANY’s In-House Counsel Committee. Grace has achieved much success as a senior executive and in-house leader in various companies such as Barneys New York, Tiger Management, and KAYAK/OpenTable.
Grace has also demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the AAPI community. At Skadden, she was a co-lead of the Asian American Affinity Group Steering Committee, and was committed to increasing awareness of the Asian American experience at Skadden and within the legal profession. Additionally, as Co-chair of the In-House Counsel Committee at AABANY, Grace worked hard to recruit new members to the committee and to AABANY. She also currently serves as the UVA School of Law’s Dean’s Alumnae Council and the Alumni Advisory Council, where she has worked on DE&I initiatives, including AAPI recruiting.
Grace personally chose to become more deeply involved with AABANY because she wanted to gain new perspectives and be part of a community of people who have a collective interest in furthering the AAPI legal community. She is thankful for her experiences with AABANY, where she has had the opportunity to meet many talented lawyers and individuals who are passionate about the AAPI legal community. Grace also emphasizes the importance of engaging with organizations that also promote diversity beyond AAPI diversity, because she believes that diversity encompasses much more than simply race or ethnicity.
When asked to give advice to students and aspiring lawyers, Grace emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships and networking with other professionals. Grace also believes that doing excellent work and thus building a solid reputation for oneself is a must. In terms of job searching advice, Grace encourages those still exploring careers to consider their strengths and interests while being open-minded about opportunities that present themselves.
When asked what being nominated for the Best Under 40 Award means to her, Grace stated that she is truly flattered and surprised to have been recognized given that there are so many other outstanding potential candidates. She feels very honored to be able to represent the AAPI community because it is a community filled with so many accomplished professionals, and she is extraordinarily grateful for being awarded this honor.
NAPABA’s National Convention takes place in Washington, D.C., this year, and Grace will be honored at a reception for the Best Under 40 honorees on the evening of December 9th, 2021 and she will be presented the award at the Gala Dinner on Saturday night, along with the other BU40 awardees. Please join AABANY in congratulating Grace on this well-deserved recognition and honor.
This December, the Best Under 40 Award will be presented at the 2021 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) Convention in Washington, D.C. to honor outstanding attorneys and organizations that have made an impact within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) community. Every year, NAPABA recognizes talented AAPI attorneys under the age of forty from around the country who have achieved prominence and distinction in their fields of endeavor. Recipients are selected on the basis of two factors: first, demonstrated success and professionalism in the practice of law; and second, a commitment to the AAPI community. Among those being honored will be David Sohn, a Deputy Bureau Chief at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and a valued member of AABANY’s Board of Directors, who has been named one of NAPABA’s Best Under 40 for 2021.
A prosecutor, father, and husband, David has not only taken an exceptional career path but has also shown a continuous and inspiring dedication to the AAPI community. David has achieved the first criterion of consideration for this award, a demonstrated success and professionalism in the practice of law, in various ways. David attended The George Washington University where he studied international affairs and interned for government agencies throughout his undergraduate career. After graduating from The George Washington University, David went on to receive his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and developed an interest in criminal law after taking the class in law school. Upon graduating, he briefly worked at a law firm that represented plaintiffs in an antitrust case. With the help of AABANY’s network, David later joined the Kings County District Attorney’s Office where he enjoys the process of finding out the truth and representing the interests of all constituents. As a prosecutor, David is able to find a sense of achieving justice for everyone which includes the defendants and the community and not just the victims.
David has exemplified the second criterion for the award by demonstrating a commitment to the AAPI community through his leadership and passion outside of his professional pursuits. Since joining AABANY, David has become a dedicated driver of meaningful participation of AAPIs in the legal profession. Over the years, he has held multiple leadership positions at the committee and board level. David joined AABANY where he planned many social events to facilitate networking and followed this trend at KALAGNY where he worked with and later led the gala-planning committee. David is vocal about the need for more government attorneys in the AAPI community. AAPI attorneys are prominent at entry-level positions but there is a need for more representation at supervisory levels. As Regional Governor at NAPABA, David has actively advocated for making the convention more affordable for government attorneys.
David attributes much of his success to the mentors and people he has met along his journey. Early in his career, David adopted a “work hard” mentality. He eventually realized the importance of networking and asking for advice. David always aspired to work as a prosecutor but never received a response until he began to network through AABANY. When asked what advice he has for aspiring lawyers, David said his best recommendations are to listen to people’s successes, but more importantly, listen to people who share their failures. David provided an anecdote about how he got dropped after a round of interviews for jobs after his 3L year of law school, but remained positive. He states, “Be positive, work your ass off, don’t complain.” David strongly encourages law students and young attorneys to join bar associations like AABANY and to become active members of the legal community.
Outside of his career, David and his family love to travel. His favorite places to visit are Seoul and Paris. David tends to go to Korea every year to see family and also enjoys going to the beaches on Jeju Island.
AABANY congratulates David on receiving NAPABA’s Best Under 40 Award. The Best Under 40 Award reception will be on December 9th at the 2021 NAPABA Convention. The award will be presented during NAPABA’s 33rd Anniversary Gala on December 11.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) will be holding their Annual Convention this December in Washington, D.C. Among those being honored by NAPABA with their 2021 Best Under 40 Award will be William Ng, a shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C. and the President-Elect of AABANY. Every year NAPABA selects a group of talented young Asian American and Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) attorneys who are under the age of 40 from across the United States. Recipients of the award are judged on two factors: first, excellence and professionalism in the field of law and second, a commitment to impacting the AAPI community for the better. Will has demonstrated both throughout his illustrious career.
Will has fulfilled the first criteria of the award by demonstrating excellence in the legal profession in a variety of ways. After graduating from St. John’s University School of Law, Will began his career by working for the New York City Law Department’s Tort Division where he represented numerous city agencies including the police and fire departments in personal injury and civil rights cases. Will then transferred to the Labor and Employment Law Division, which provided him invaluable federal court litigation experience defending the City of New York, one of the largest public employers in the nation. In his current practice at Littler, Will focuses on defending private and public employers in employment litigation matters as well as wage and hour class actions. In addition to his litigation practice, Will regularly counsels employers on their workplace policies and practices for compliance with federal, state and local employment laws.
Will has fulfilled the second criteria of the award through his work in AABANY as well as working to help AAPI-owned companies in the hospitality, financial services, health care, retail, real estate, and transportation industries at Littler. Furthermore, Will has continued to drive AABANY’s mission and has held numerous leadership positions for the past 10 years within AABANY including founding the Labor and Employment Law Committee and serving as Co-Chair of the Young Lawyers, Government and Public Sector (now Government Service and Public Interest), and Student Outreach Committees.
Will’s drive for professional excellence as well as support of meaningful participation by the AAPI community stems from his parents who owned a local business. As a native New Yorker, Will has been around local business owners throughout his life. Will saw the hardships that minority-owned businesses faced and believed that the best way he could contribute to the AAPI community was to give back through his work with AABANY and other nonprofit organizations. He is proud to represent a large number of AAPI local businesses as part of his regular practice. Most recently Will, as a panel member of AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service, has defended Chinatown businesses that have been sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These lawsuits have targeted landlords and small business owners in Chinatown and have the potential to shut down these local businesses. Will is committed to helping these merchants and property owners defend against these ADA lawsuits while also providing advice on how to comply with various laws and regulations.
When asked what advice he has for aspiring lawyers, Will responded that they should focus on the potential areas of law that might fit their interests and strengths but they should also take opportunities to meet people and learn about their work in industries and fields “that might not be in [their] comfort zone.” Will also highly recommends getting involved in organizations such as AABANY which he describes as an “umbrella group that is home to so many different people from all walks of life.” Will believes that being part of an organization like AABANY teaches you “how to interact with different people at different stages of their career.”
The BU40 Award will be presented on December 11 during the Gala Dinner at the NAPABA Convention. Please join AABANY in congratulating Will on this well-deserved honor and recognition.
On November 30, 2021, the New York State Bar Association presented the Bar Leaders Innovation Award in the Large Bar Association category to AABANY for its report A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence Against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19. The award is presented to “recognize Bar Associations for adapting to the needs of their members and the community at large by introducing innovative programs, ideas, and methodologies that benefit everyone involved.”
The Dominican Bar Association (DBA) received an award in the Small Bar Association category in recognition of donating and delivering $10,000 worth of essential foods to at-risk families in the South Bronx. The award was accepted on behalf of DBA by the President, Doralyn De Dios.
A joint award was presented to the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY), in the Small Bar Association category, and Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA), in the Medium Bar Association category, in recognition of program collaboration for members and communities most affected by COVID-19. MuBANY and MMBA started an Affinity Bar Collective which brought together a coalition of about twenty affinity bars (including AABANY) to collaborate on assisting members and communities most affected by COVID-19. President of MuBANY, Sania Khan, accepted the award on behalf of MuBANY and President of MMBA, Anta Cisse-Green, accepted the award on behalf of MBBA.
In the Medium Bar Association category, the Immediate Past President, Paula Engel, accepted the award presented to the Onondaga County Bar Association for the Bond, Schoeneck & King Series on Race and Justice in Central New York. The series was created to provide legal and non-legal programming aimed at opening a respectful, constructive and healthy dialogue about systemic racism and unequal access to justice in the community.
Terry discussed AABANY’s journey on writing the report. In 2020, AABANY embarked on this report in response to the increase in anti-Asian racism and violence. AABANY began to take measures to combat these issues which included a call for local and national leaders to denounce hate crimes and putting on programs to teach attorneys about hate crime. AABANY started the report in mid-2020 and published the report in February 2021. The proposals for change included more education on the history of anti-Asian violence, discrimination, hatred and xenophobia; increased diversity and inclusion in law enforcement and government; and improved collection and classification of data on hate crimes. To advance the implementation of the Report’s proposals, AABANY has formed an Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, which remains active and involves participation by numerous AABANY Committees. Although anti-Asian violence accounts have faded from the media, the Task Force is continuing the fight to turn the tide of hate and violence against the AAPI community.
Terry thanked MuBANY and MBBA for reviewing early drafts of the report. He also gave thanks to Paul, Weiss for co-authoring the report. Yang urged attendees to donate to the Turning the Tide (T3) Project, a joint initiative with AALFNY.
The New York County Lawyers Association also received an award in the Large Bar Association category in recognition of the COVID-19 Resource Center for lawyers. In March 2020, NYCLA announced the launch of their COVID-19 Resource Center which provided new content on a daily basis, expanded CLE Tuition Assistance Program, and offered low cost and no-cost online CLEs. The award was accepted by NYCLA President, Vincent Chang, a former AABANY President (2007).
AABANY previously received the Bar Leaders Innovation Award three times. In 2019, AABANY was recognized for its Pro Bono Legal Advice and Referral Clinic program, a collaboration with AALFNY. In 2016, AABANY received the award for its Seventh Annual Fall Conference: Speak Up / Rise Up / Lift Up. In 2013, AABANY was recognized for its trial reenactment, IVA: The Myth of Tokyo Rose, Allegiance on Trial.
AABANY congratulates all recipients of the award and thanks the New York State Bar Association for this honor and recognition.
On December 1, AABANY members got together for a theater outing to see “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Shubert Theater on Broadway. The event was organized by the Membership Committee and co-sponsored by the following Committees: Asia Practice, Immigration, and Real Estate. Nearly 30 members attended.
We had initially planned to have a mixer inside the theater once we got our tickets, but theater management wanted all ticket holders to line up outside the entrance to get checked for vaccine status first. Once we were all checked in, we found our seats in the packed theater and by then it was nearly curtain time so there was not much time left for a pre-show mixer.
We took up three rows of the orchestra section, in the rear right part of the theater, and had a good view of the stage. This theatrical version of the acclaimed novel by Harper Lee was written by Aaron Sorkin, no stranger to plays about trials and legal proceedings. You may have caught “The Trial of the Chicago 7” on Netflix, from 2020, which he wrote and directed. Or you may have seen “A Few Good Men” (1992), based on his play, which seems to be a staple on cable tv movie channels these days.
Many people are familiar with the classic novel or the acclaimed film version made of it in 1962, starring Gregory Peck, for which he received the best actor Oscar in 1963. The play is different from both. The basic story is the same: the young children of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in Alabama in the 1930s, recounts his defense of Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of rape. However, Sorkin adds details and characters that bring a more 21st century perspective, informed by our contemporary struggles with race, with nods to the Black Lives Matter movement.
After the show, a group of us gathered at Junior’s in Shubert Alley, diagonally across from the theater, for some food and their world-famous cheesecake. Most expressed that they loved or liked the play. As a group of lawyers we could not help but point out the aspects about the trial that were not quite accurate or sensationalized. Those of us who were familiar with the book or the movie talked about the parts that were changed. No one had read the book or seen the movie in some time and mostly we wondered about various details that departed from the novel or the film. It made us think that we should go back and read the book.
Thanks to all the members who made it out for “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was a treat to be able to catch Jeff Daniels playing Atticus Finch live on Broadway, along with a talented cast of excellent actors. Thanks to the Membership Committee for organizing yet another fun and memorable event. We hope to see everyone at the Membership Committee’s next event, the Holiday Party on Dec. 17. Sign up for it now at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1578998.