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WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) denounces the introduction of the SECURE CAMPUS Act. The bill introduced by Senator Tom Cotton and Senator Marsha Blackburn, along with a companion bill introduced by Congressman David Kustoff, will prohibit Chinese STEM graduate students from receiving a visa to study in the United States under the presumption that all Chinese STEM students engage in espionage.
“Asian Pacific Americans have faced a long history of discrimination and exclusion in the United States. This includes the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese American Incarceration, the post-9/11 racial profiling of Arabs, Sikhs, Muslims and South Asians, and the targeting of Asian American scientists,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, President of NAPABA. “The SECURE CAMPUS Act uses xenophobic vitriol to divide our country, and by extension, further incites fear and hatred toward Asian Pacific Americans. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Anti-Asian sentiment is at an all-time high. We must continue to strongly denounce racist rhetoric.”
The bill seeks to exclude Chinese graduate students from attending STEM programs in the U.S. and to block federal funding from any institution that has participation from these students. “Graduate students from China and other countries have come to the United States for educational opportunities for decades. They have made substantial contributions to our society and have become U.S. citizens,” said Wolf. “At least 10 Nobel Prize winners in STEM fields and over a dozen astronauts are Asian Pacific Americans who are immigrants or are the children of immigrants.”
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession.
On May 28, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) co-sponsored “COVID-19: Relief for Small Businesses Webinar Series Part 2” as part of a series dedicated to helping small businesses mitigate financial losses in light of COVID-19. The presentation discussed the various economic relief packages passed under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), as well as how Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the Small Business Reorganization Act can help small businesses ensure long-term financial stability. The webinar featured William Hao, Counsel at Alston & Bird with extensive experience in bankruptcy, litigation, and out-of-court restructuring and Treasurer of the AABANY Board. The presentation was moderated by William K. Lee, an associate at Alston & Bird LLP and AABANY member.
The presentation began by addressing the various relief packages currently available to small business owners, specifically those regarding eligibility requirements and application information. Small businesses need to submit their payroll processing records, tax filings, Form 1099-MISC, and other supporting documentation to be eligible to receive the PPP principal loan. The loan amount will be the lesser of either $10 million or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll based on 2019 annual statistics. The deadline for PPP loans is June 30, 2020 but will likely be extended for the next round of funding. As for EIDLs, eligible small businesses must have suffered economic injury in connection with COVID-19 and have an acceptable credit history that demonstrates an ability to pay back loans. Businesses may receive a principal loan amount of up to $2.5 million that can only be used to pay for expenses the businesses would have paid for even if the disaster had not occurred with an interest rate of 3.75%.
The presentation also discussed how filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy could help small businesses reduce debt, restructure certain obligations, and come out of bankruptcy a more financially stable company. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows owners to retain ownership of their businesses by restructuring their internal operations and finances, while incentivizing creditors to negotiate a more favorable reorganization plan. However, heavy legal expenses and other administrative requirements have traditionally blocked smaller businesses from being able to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Under the Small Business Reorganization Act, many of the barriers that have deterred small businesses from filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy have been removed by allowing small businesses to qualify as Subchapter V debtors. By filing under Subchapter V, small businesses would not need to incur the significant legal expenses associated with forming a creditors’ committee, paying the appointed trustee, and filing for a disclosure statement. In addition, the Small Business Administration has raised the aggregate noncontingent, liquidated debt limit from $2,725,625 to $7,500,000, and has expedited the process for filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The discussion also provided guidance on the process of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Small business owners should seek out a lawyer to help prepare and file a petition along with other potential filings such as an initial affidavit. An automatic Subchapter V trustee is appointed upon filing the petition and will formulate a plan to address outstanding debts.
Debtors should also prepare for court appearances such as Section 341 meetings, during which creditors can come and ask questions regarding company finances and status conferences between all parties to discuss progress toward developing a restructuring plan. These plans must contain a brief history of the business operations of the debtor; an analysis of how much money the company is worth if all of its assets were immediately liquidated; a valuation of future profitability if the company was allowed to continue operating; and any relevant forms. Plans must also outline how to manage and pay various classes of claims and interests including administrative expenses, priority claims, secured claims, general unsecured claims, and equity interests. Secured creditors can be paid over time and can be paid at a potentially lower interest rate whereas unsecured creditors must complete repayment within five years and all income not allocated for the maintenance of the company and basic personal living expenses of the debtor will be applied to make payments. If the plan is mutually agreed upon by all parties, the debtor will pay regular installments to creditors and any liability for debts is waived upon confirmation of the plan. If the plan is nonconsensual, the appointed trustee will make regular payments on behalf of the debtor, and liability is waived upon the completion of payments.
We thank William Hao and William Lee at Alston & Bird for helping to organize this webinar series and for their demonstrated commitment to helping small business owners affected by COVID-19. To learn more about AABANY’s Commercial Bankruptcy & Restructuring Committee, visit https://www.aabany.org/page/353. For any specific details, please refer to the video above.
If any attorneys would like to volunteer with AABANY to assist small business owners adversely affected by COVID-19, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Saturday, May 16, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) hosted its “Mandarin and Cantonese Community Webinar on Anti-Asian Violence,” part of a broader series aimed at addressing the rise in anti-Asian violence in light of COVID-19. The events focused on briefing individuals on how to defend themselves if an incident were to occur and also discussed relevant state laws that protect victims. The Mandarin webinar aired from 2:00-3:00 PM and the Cantonese webinar aired from 3:00-4:00 PM.
Guest speakers included moderator Kwok Kei Ng and representatives from the NYPD, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR).
William Kwok, Asian Liaison of the Immigrant Outreach Unit of the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, discussed the practical measures by which individuals can protect themselves from immediate physical harm. Individuals are encouraged to run into public spaces such as stores or public spaces that may have police officers on duty. If they are able, victims are encouraged to call 911 or get bystanders to contact the police. There are translators on stand-by at the NYPD if needed. Most importantly, undocumented persons should not be afraid of calling the NYPD as officers are forbidden to inquire about a victim’s immigration status.
Additionally, Officer Kwok and Mr. Ng discussed specific provisions of the Hate Crimes laws that apply. New York Penal Law § 240.30-3 describes the elements of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, stating that the incident must reflect an intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or harm through physical force. New York Penal Law §485.05, the Hate Crime Law, enhances sentencing if the incident is proven to be bias-motivated. Victims and bystanders should be unafraid of reporting incidents to the authorities; any materials whether in the form of videos, audios, or testimonials can help secure a conviction. Officer Kwok and Mr. Ng presented in both the Mandarin and Cantonese webinars.
Lastly, Jiarui Li, an associate at Simpson Thacher and guest speaker for the Mandarin webinar, and Karen Yau, Co-Chair of the AABANY Pro Bono & Community Service Committee and guest speaker for the Cantonese webinar, discussed the various resources available to victims. Victims should contact the New York Office of Victim Services and the NYCCHR to see if they are eligible for compensation and legal assistance. Both New York City and New York State have dedicated Hate Crimes Task Forces that victims can contact. Victims residing in New Jersey or Connecticut can contact their own individual state Hate Crimes Task Forces.
The guest speakers reiterated the importance of reporting anti-Asian incidents to the police. Only by informing the relevant authorities can we adopt a preventative approach and stop bias incidents from occurring before individuals are harmed.
We thank the guest speakers for joining us and for their commitment to protecting the well-being of everyday New Yorkers. For more information on anti-Asian harassment and violence, email email@example.com or call our hotline at 516-690-7724.
In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, AABANY is proud to present “Fortune 500 General Counsel Panel: Leadership during Crisis” as part of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) General Counsel Webinar Series. The event will feature a panel of prominent General Counsels covering a wide variety of industries to discuss topics that range from advice to aspiring General Counsels, crisis management with a focus on the response to the pandemic, collaboration with the board and c-suite, demonstrating legal department value from a quantitative and qualitative perspective, leveraging legal technology, enhancing the compliance function, diversity and inclusion initiatives (internally and externally with outside counsel) and maximizing the value that outside counsel brings to companies. The panel will take place via Zoom on Thursday, May 21, from 4:30 to 6:00 PM.
Michael Wu. Michael currently serves as the Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of Madewell. He sits on the advisory boards of the Georgetown Law Corporate Counsel Institute and AABANY. Michael is also a member of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association Board of Directors. He has previously served as an executive and general counsel at companies including Carter’s, Rosetta Stone, Teleglobe, and Global One.
Damien Atkins. Damien currently serves as the General Counsel of the Hershey Company. He has previously served for three years as the General Counsel for Panasonic North America, for ten years as the Deputy GC (Corporate) and Chief Compliance Officer for AOL, and for seven years at a major New York City law firm. In addition, Damien has previously founded two start-ups. His expertise includes mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, securities regulation, global ethics and compliance, and government investigations.
Peter Beshar. Peter currently serves as the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Marsh & McLennan. Previously, he was a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and served as the Co-Chair of the firm’s Securities Litigation Group and had served as the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the New York State Attorney General’s Task Force on Illegal Firearms. Additionally, he has served as the Special Assistant to the Honorable Cyrus Vance in connection with the United Nations’ peace negotiations in the former Yugoslavia.
Elisa Garcia. Elisa currently serves as the Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of Macy’s and serves on the Board of Directors and Nominating and Governance Committee of Dollarama, Inc. and the Board of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession. She has previously served as an executive for Office Depot, Domino’s Pizza, and Philip Morris International.
David Hyman. David currently serves as the General Counsel of Netflix and as the company’s Secretary. Prior to Netflix, David served as General Counsel of Webvan, Inc. and was with the law firms Morrison and Foerster in San Francisco and Arent Fox in Washington, DC.
Alan Tse. Alan currently serves as the Global Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of JLL. Previously, Alan served as an executive for Petco, Churchill Downs, LG Electronics, Ligos Corporation, and Centerpoint Broadband Technologies. He is a co-founder and Board member of the Asian American Legal Foundation and has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Corporate Counsel from 2013-2019. Alan was recognized by NAPABA as one of its Best Lawyers Under 40 and received the Corporate Leadership Award at AABANY’s 2020 Annual Dinner.
David Yawman. David currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of PepsiCo. Previously, he served as the Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for PepsiCo and General Counsel for North America and Corporate, the Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer for PepsiCo, the General Counsel of business units comprised of North America Beverages, Quaker Foods North America and Latin America Beverages, the Associate General Counsel for the Pepsi Bottling Group, and had spent six years as a member of PepsiCo’s corporate law department. Prior to joining PepsiCo, Dave was an associate with the law firm Fried Frank and served as a law clerk in the United States District Court.
“AABANY is pleased to be co-sponsoring the NAPABA General Counsel webinar series,” states President Sapna Palla. “Each of the first two webcasts have already seen attendance by nearly 500 attorneys from all across the country. We are looking forward to a similar turnout for the one AABANY is presenting on May 21. We thank Michael Wu for organizing these webcasts and serving as moderator to guide the discussion on important topics of interest to attorneys across a broad range of industries and sectors. Through these programs, and as we celebrate APA Heritage Month in May, we continue to highlight the vital role played by diverse in-house attorneys in leading and advancing the legal profession.”
If interested, please register by May 20. Click on the flyer above for registration information.
Please note the following summary and resource of COVID-19 updates as of May 13th, 2020, released by the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Anti COVID-19 Stigma
Health + COVID-19 Testing
Read more about the resources in English and Chinese here.
In addition, please note the following events hosted by the NYC Commission on Human Rights. The Mandarin Language Bystander Intervention Training: Responding to COVID-19 Scapegoating and Hate on Wednesday, May 20 at 7:00 PM and Wednesday, May 27 at 3:00 PM.
The recent spike in Anti-Asian harassment and hate crimes have prompted a strong response by NYCCHR Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis. Encouraging New Yorkers to stand together against discrimination, she describes the history of scapegoating in times of crisis and the dangers of fearmongering. She encourages individuals to combat Asian-American stereotypes and misconceptions that underplay anti-Asian racism. With Malalis at the helm, the NYCCHR has formed a COVID-19 response team to handle reports of discrimination and harassment. She strongly encourages victims and bystanders to record and report such incidents to the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
Despite the restrictions against public gatherings during COVID-19, AABANY has remained active and busy for APA Heritage Month, hosting multiple community presentations about anti-Asian harassment and violence on May 13, 16, and 17, in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean.
We will continue to celebrate APA Heritage Month during the remainder of May, and we hope you will join us at the following events. Please follow the links for further details and to register.
Session 1 – China-Retail and Finance: David Chu (Chair, Georg Jensen), Lanlan Zhang (Vice-Chair, CICC US Securities), Bob Guterma (COO, SupChina)
Session 2 – Finance and US-China Relations: Anthony Scaramucci (former White House communications director, Managing Partner SkyBridge Capital), Ted Wang (CEO Puissance Capital Management and former Head of Global Trading, Goldman Sachs).
Session 3 – China Economy and Geopolitics: Yukon Huang (Senior fellow, Carnegie Asia Program), Dorinda Elliott (SVP, Director of Programs and Center for Business at China Institute)
Session 4 – Dr. Walter Lipkin (Leading Epidemiologist at Columbia University and recognized for his work on the SARS outbreak), Dr. Kenneth Abrams (Deloitte, Chief Physician Executive).