Co-Chair Karen Lin Published in Historical Society of the New York Courts blog for APA Heritage Month

Pro Bono and Community Service Committee co-chair Karen Lin writes about why we celebrate Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month for the Historical Society of the New York Courts blog.

The Historical Society of the New York Courts was founded in 2002 by then New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye. Its mission is to preserve, protect and promote the legal history of New York, including the proud heritage of its courts and the development of the Rule of Law.

A first generation immigrant herself, Lin attempts to define what it means to be “Asian American,” noting that the term often groups a diverse collection of people into a single phrase. In actuality, she explains, there are a plethora of cultures, languages, religions, histories, and patterns of immigration within the umbrella term; perhaps what most strongly links Asian Americans to one another are the hardships they face.

“Asian Americans are often grouped together as an undifferentiated mass and many share the experience of being treated as perpetual foreigners who do not fully belong in America,” Lin writes. From the Bubonic Plague of the 1900s – when San Francisco’s Chinatown was quarantined – to the present day, when COVID-19 has propelled a new wave of anti-Asian xenophobia and racism, Asian Americans have historically faced people challenging their place in this country, Lin says.

The designation of May as Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, then, is an homage to Asian Americans who often feel invisible. Lin explains that May was chosen to celebrate Asian American history to mark the anniversary of Japanese immigrants arriving in the US, and to acknowledge the contributions of Chinese workers in building the transcontinental railroad.

Lin embeds a powerful lesson in her article: Asian Americans will no longer accept being silenced, blamed, or overlooked. This month is only the first step on the journey ahead.

Thanks to Karen Lin for sharing these important thoughts on APA Heritage Month. To read the full blog post, click here.

Please Support AABANY’s Monthly Pro Bono Clinic

Dear AABANY Members,

Happy holidays!

In this season of giving, we count among our blessings being part of the great community that is the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY).  Our strongest asset is you, our members, and we are writing now to appeal to you for support of AABANY’s Monthly Pro Bono Clinic.

From its beginning, AABANY has sought to serve the community and to advocate for it. In that spirit, AABANY started the Monthly Pro Bono Legal Advice and Referral Clinic. By leveraging expertise and language skills of AABANY’s active and diverse membership, the Clinic effectively expands access to justice and provides the Asian American community a way to receive high-quality legal services that are also culturally sensitive and linguistically competent.

Working with community organizations, the Clinic in the last few years has provided hundreds of low-income clients with free legal advice.  These clients hail from all five boroughs, with some coming from as far as Yonkers, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Most of these clients are monolingual Chinese and Japanese speakers. This fall the Clinic began to systematically incorporate Know-Your-Rights training on topics such as employment and housing law.

The dry facts do not adequately convey the Clinic’s importance to the Asian American community, especially in these trying times. Let us share with you some recent cases that exemplify typical clients and the routine problems they face:

  • An elderly woman and her son were being harassed and evicted by their landlord. The mother and her deceased spouse had raised her entire family in her apartment, and her son had spent his entire life there. The basis for the eviction was that they declined to sign leases that their landlord suddenly demanded after allowing this practice for nearly 40 years. We provided them with an understanding of the holdover process and referrals to pro bono counsel and lawyers who charge on a sliding scale.
  • A woman recently was seeking a divorce from her husband who held all of their assets and frequently threatened to kill her and himself, if she ever left him. A light bulb went off in her head during the consultation when she first recognized the signs of domestic violence and abuse in her situation. Because of this community member’s cultural upbringing, she would have never termed her marriage abusive. At the Clinic, we referred her to a legal services office that specializes in representing survivors of domestic violence.
  • Just last month, we counseled an employee whose employer broke its written promise of a specified salary. This employee began to suffer from anxiety and depression due to this work-related stress and sought treatment. The same employer not only declined to move her assignment closer to her home to accommodate her disability but it also publicly disclosed her mental health status to her colleagues in violation of the law.  

At these monthly sessions, we are often outraged by the reports of flagrant violations of the law. We are gratified that numerous AABANY members volunteer as pro bono lawyers for two hours once a month to bring access to justice to many community members who otherwise would have continued to bear the brunt of these injustices and illegalities, without recourse or effective assistance.

The Clinic can only operate with the generosity of donors and volunteers. During this holiday season, please consider supporting this vital project that is close to our hearts by donating to the Clinic. The Clinic has grown in the last year to the point that we are sometimes seeing nearly 50 clients in a short two-hour span. Your donations will help to pay for much needed administrative support and supplies that currently come out of the limited budget allocated to the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee that is charged with running the Clinic.

AABANY’s 501(c)(3) affiliate, the Asian American Law Fund of New York (AALFNY), is accepting charitable donations and can issue a tax receipt to you for your generous support. Any amount, large or small, would help, but if you can spare $25, $50, $100 or more, it would go a long way. The community members coming to the Clinic will greatly appreciate it!

When you go to the AALFNY website to make your donation, please be sure to indicate in the memo field that you are donating to the Pro Bono Clinic. Please take a moment today to visit this link and make a donation:

Best wishes to you and yours,

Yang Chen
Executive Director

Karen Kithan Yau
Pauline Yeung-Ha
Judy Ming Chu Lee
Asako Aiba

Co-Chairs, Pro Bono and Community Service Committee

Zombie Asian Moms at La MaMa

We are pleased to tell you about the World Premiere of Zombie Asian Moms at La MaMa, in New York City, November 29-Dec 9.  Use the discount code HELLOKITTY for a $5 discount on regular tickets.

This is a comedy/electric violin/spoken word/video piece based on oral history interviews with Asian American moms of all different backgrounds.

Find out more about Zombie Asian Moms here.

If you are interested in funding their work, go to indiegogo campaign here.

Meaningful Diversity: The Next Chapter of the ADR Story | New York Law Journal

Meaningful Diversity: The Next Chapter of the ADR Story | New York Law Journal

Thank you to our November Pro Bono Clinic Volunteers!


November’s Monthly Pro Bono Clinic, held on Wednesday, November 14 at 3 Bowery Street in Confucius Plaza, brought out 13 lawyers and 9 interpreters who volunteered their time to help 29 clients:


  • Christopher Chin
  • Sylvia Chin
  • Gaye L. Chun
  • Kelly Diep
  • Jonathan Hernandez
  • Mihea Kim
  • Beatrice Leong
  • Zhixian Liu
  • David Lu
  • Kwok Kei Ng
  • Annie Tsao
  • John Wu
  • Jessie Xian


  • Satoshi Kurita
  • Derek Ting-Che Tai
  • Weiling Huang
  • Emily Xianxiao Li
  • Haoyi Deng
  • Vicky Qiuyan Zhao
  • Jessica Wang
  • Teresa Wai Yee Yeung
  • Eric W. Dang

Special thanks to Johnny Thach and Roger Chen for coordinating the clinic, Social Worker Ann Hsu, and the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee Co-Chairs Karen Kithan Yau, Ming Chu Lee, and Asako Aiba for their leadership.

If you are interested in volunteering at next month’s Pro Bono Clinic on December 12, please contact Asako Aiba at AABANY’s Monthly Pro Bono Clinic occurs every second Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

NAPABA Applauds Nomination of Neomi Rao to D.C. Circuit

On November 14, 2018 the White House nominated Neomi Rao to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The nomination follows President Trump’s announcement of Rao during the White House Diwali celebration yesterday. If confirmed, Rao would be the first Asian Pacific American woman and the second South Asian American to sit on the D.C. Circuit. The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) applauds the announcement and encourages the Senate to swiftly confirm her. 

“Neomi Rao is an experienced public servant and legal thinker,” said Daniel Sakaguchi, president of NAPABA. “Respected amongst her peers, she has the temperament to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Her nomination represents a historic step forward for representation of Asian Pacific Americans and women on the bench.” 

Rao is currently the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. A national expert in the area of administrative law, she is a tenured professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School and founder of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State. She previously served in the Office of the White House Counsel and as a staffer for the Senate Judiciary Committee.