On June 24, AABANY’s Judiciary Committee hosted a virtual discussion on how to become an administrative law judge (ALJ), as part of the Committee’s Road to the Bench series. Panelists included Hon. Kenneth Chu, Administrative Law Judge at the National Labor Relations Board; Hon. Grace E. Lee, Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance; Hon. Christopher P. Lee, Retired Administrative Law Judge of the Social Security Administration; and Rena Malik, Principal Law Clerk at the New York State Supreme Court and Co-Chair of AABANY’s Judiciary Committee. The panel was moderated by Mark Son, Associate Court Attorney at the Bronx County Criminal Court.
The roundtable discussion began with a question from Mark asking the panelists to describe their path towards becoming an ALJ. Judge Grace Lee shared how her passion for justice and public service inspired her to take on various roles in government and public policy, which ultimately led her to taking the Civil Service Exam and landing her current position as an ALJ at the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Judge Chu spoke about his longtime interest in employment and labor law and how he applied for the ALJ position at the National Labor Relations Board while serving as an administrative judge at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Judge Chris Lee detailed the seven year process he underwent when applying for the ALJ position because he missed the deadline to apply in 1987 and had to wait until 1994 for a new position opening.
The remainder of the roundtable discussion focused on questions about the ALJ application process. Previously, all applicants applied through the Office of Personnel Management, but after changes enacted under the Trump Administration, applicants now apply through individual agencies’ vacancy announcements. Judge Grace Lee explained the process of completing the Civil Service/Legal Specialities Exam, a questionnaire where applicants can explain their skills and experiences for agencies to review. Asked about the skills and experiences ALJ applicants should have, the panelists agreed that it is important to be able to process a lot of information quickly, while also being detail-oriented and conscientious about due process. It is also helpful for applicants to have litigation experience.
The discussion concluded with Rena sharing how the AABANY Judiciary Committee can assist interested candidates. A main goal of the Judiciary Committee is to advance Asian American and Pacific Islander attorneys onto judgeship positions in all levels of the benches, and the Committee can assist applicants by providing a recommendation letter or connecting applicants with current employees at agencies. To learn more about AABANY’s Judiciary Committee, click here.
After a long year and a half, the Prosecutors’ Committee, headed up by Joseb Gim and David Chiang, finally hosted an in-person gathering at the Leaf Rooftop Lounge in Flushing. We had a perfect location with a great view and amazing weather.
Members of the Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Nassau DA’s offices were joined by a member of the Family Court Division of the NYC Law Department.
We got together to discuss our group and individual efforts to combat Anti-Asian Hate and increase our voice in our communities.
We also welcomed two law school interns, a recent college graduate, and a former ADA who now works at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
It was a great opportunity for old friends to reconnect and introduce some new people to the group. We’ve faced a really tough year and a half since 2020, but together we recharged each other to keep fighting the good fight. We’re looking forward to the next gathering later this summer!!!
The Asian American Law Journal (AALJ) at Berkeley Law is now accepting submissions for its 2021-2022 volume!
What is the Asian American Law Journal (AALJ)? AALJ is one of only two law journals focused on Asian American communities. Since 1993, they have provided a scholarly forum for the exploration of unique legal concerns of Asian Americans, including but not limited to the East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Asian Pacific American communities. Each annual volume typically contains articles, book reviews, essays, and other contributions from scholars, practitioners, and students.
What topics and issues does AALJ feature? They welcome commentary, analysis, and research on the experiences and concerns of Asian Americans, including the intersections of gender, class, sexual orientation, religion and race. This year, they are particularly interested in scholarship reflecting on the issues and events from the last two years: xenophobia and the general rise in anti-Asian hate crime; COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on poor communities of color; George Floyd’s murder, the Movement for Black Lives, and Asian American communities’ roles in advocating for racial justice; the election; the insurrection; the Atlanta spa shootings and the continued marginalization of Asian sex workers, among others.
Is there a deadline? Yes, all submissions are due Aug. 20, though AALJ makes publication offers on a rolling basis. Please send your submissions to email@example.com or through Scholastica.
What if I have more questions? Please send them a note, they would love to connect.
I don’t have anything to submit, but I know someone who might. What can I do? For those in the position to do so, they would appreciate you forwarding this note to your departments, teams, and friends or colleagues who may be interested in publishing with AALJ.
WASHINGTON – NAPABA congratulates Kiran Ahuja on her confirmation to become Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). In this role, Ms. Ahuja will be the first Asian American woman to lead the federal government’s principal human resources agency.
“Kiran Ahuja’s prior governmental experience as OPM’s Chief of Staff, as a career government lawyer at DOJ, and as Executive Director of the White House’s Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI, now the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders) make her ready to lead OPM and its diverse and talented workforce at a critical time,” said A.B. Cruz III, the President of NAPABA. “NAPABA congratulates Kiran Ahuja on her well-earned confirmation.”
In 2011, NAPABA honored Ms. Ahuja with its Women’s Leadership Award for her decades long efforts towards improving the lives of women of color in the United States and the advancement of AAPI women both as founding Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum and as Executive Director of WHIAAPI.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of approximately 60,000 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.
AABANY’s Manhattan DA Candidates’ Forum held on June 15 and 16 was recently covered in a June 21 Law360 article titled “Manhattan DA Candidates Split Over Hate Crime Strategy.” In the run up to the primary election on June 22, AABANY posed questions to seven Democratic candidates (Tahanie Aboushi, Alvin Bragg, Liz Crotty, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, Diana Florence, Lucy Lang, and Eliza Orlins) and one Republican candidate (Thomas Kenniff) on issues important to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, specifically related to how they would address the surge in anti-Asian violence in New York City. Most of the candidates stated that they would use enhancements to charge perpetrators of hate crimes. In addition, most of the candidates supported creating a hate crimes unit in the DA’s Office, which is one of the proposals offered in AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ report on anti-Asian violence. Only Tahanie Aboushi and Eliza Orlins pledged they would cut the district attorney’s office budget in half. By decreasing the prosecution of low-level offenses, Aboushi and Orlins said the office would be able to focus on more serious crimes, including hate crimes that involve violence. The Law360 article also incorporated Democratic DA Candidate Dan Quart’s stances on the questions posed at the Forum as he was not able to participate due to a prior engagement.
To read the full article, click here. To view the recordings of AABANY’s Manhattan DA Candidates’ Forum, click here for day 1 (Lucy Lang, Alvin Bragg, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, and Tahanie Aboushi) and here for day 2 (Diana Florence, Thomas Kenniff, Eliza Orlins, and Liz Crotty).
Vincent T. Chang, active member of AABANY since 2000 and former AABANY President in 2007, was inducted as the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) President of the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) on May 28, 2021. In his new role, Vince is prepared to lead NYCLA in supporting diverse communities, reaching out to more young attorneys and law students, and closing the justice gap to serve those in the community who are most in need.
Since high school, Vince gravitated towards pursuing a career in the legal profession. Involved in both his high school and college debate teams, Vince found overlapping aspects between debate and law. In presenting an argument, he noticed both involve research, assembly of evidence, and oral presentation. After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School, he clerked for the Honorable Robert Krupansky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before joining Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in 1989. Being familiar with litigation from his experience in debate and serving as a judicial clerk in a Federal appellate court, Vince chose to practice in litigation. Currently, Vince is a Litigation Partner at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP in New York specializing in complex commercial litigation matters in the financial industry, including investment banking, hedge funds, and mortgage backed securities.
Outside of his work at the law firm, Vince is an active member of numerous bar associations and organizations, and has served and continues to serve in various leadership positions. To name a few, Vince previously served on the New York State Bar Association Committee of Bar Leaders, on the Board of Directors at Legal Services NYC, and is currently the Vice President of the Asian American Law Fund of New York. Although he might be affectionately called a “Bar Junkie,” Vince did not participate in bar association work until later on in his career.
The first bar association Vince joined was AABANY, and he appreciated both the social and intellectual aspects of the association. He enjoyed the opportunity to learn about different areas of law while also being able to network and meet prominent lawyers. One of his fondest memories of serving as President of AABANY in 2007 was hosting the Annual Dinner because it was a rare event for 500 to 600 AAPI lawyers, including General Counsels and Judges, to all gather in the same room in New York City. This was especially significant because at the time there were at most 400 members in AABANY compared to the 1,500 members AABANY has now.
At AABANY, Vince also played a prominent role in organizing the AABANY Trial Reenactments. With a goal to educate lawyers and the public about the notable trials and cases in U.S. history involving AAPIs, Vince assisted Judge Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin to develop scripts for the productions. Since 2007, Vince has starred as a cast member in numerous reenactments at the annual NAPABA conventions and at other events. He most recently played Fred Korematsu in the “Fred Korematsu and His Fight For Justice” reenactment in November 2019 at the NAPABA convention.
Today, Vince is the first AAPI President of NYCLA, which was the first bar association to admit women and lawyers of color into its membership. He views his role as both an honor and a serious responsibility—an honor because past presidents include esteemed individuals and a responsibility because of his duty to represent AAPIs and serve as a role model. At a time when diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of many bar associations’ and law firms’ missions, NYCLA plans to be more interactive with young lawyers, especially diverse attorneys, by reaching out to law schools, affinity bar groups, and law firms. Vince also plans for NYCLA to remain relevant on public policy issues and respond to them in a timely manner. He hopes that “taking positions that affect diverse communities will make them notice and realize NYCLA is on their side.”
A common theme of Vince’s work is the pursuit of justice to not only improve the legal profession, but to also improve the quality of legal representation for individuals in the community. He has served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary to review federal judicial nominees; sat on a NYCLA panel at a public hearing to address the impact of budget cuts on the Judiciary; served on the Disciplinary Committee for the First Department to prosecute disciplinary complaints against lawyers in Manhattan; and worked on other initiatives to minimize the justice gap. Vince plans to continue working on this at NYCLA as “access to justice is a hallmark of what bar associations and NYCLA are aiming for.” One program NYCLA has planned is to support attorneys who represent indigent persons through the Assigned Counsel Plan (18b). Under the proposed program, by increasing the rate at which assigned counsel are paid, there will hopefully be an increase of lawyers interested in doing 18b work, which will further decrease the access-to-justice gap. NYCLA also hopes to revive their Special Masters Program to provide an opportunity for young attorneys to gain experience working with the court system, and to close the gap between court workload and staff gap. At NYCLA’s AAPI Heritage Month Celebration on June 2nd, Vince vowed to continue to uphold NYCLA’s focus on sustaining the rule of law including the importance of practicing diversity, equity and inclusion in furtherance of fairness and justice for all.
Please join AABANY in congratulating Vince on becoming the first AAPI President of NYCLA and for doing all the work he does to support communities. We wish Vince great success in his vital new role as NYCLA President! To learn more about NYCLA, visit its website at https://www.nycla.org/. AABANY members who join NYCLA for the first time are eligible to receive 50% off their annual dues the first year and 25% off the second year. For more details, click here.
On June 11, AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok was interviewed by Erica Byfield on News 4 The Debrief podcast for an episode titled “Anti-Asian Attacks and Relations With the Black Community.” In the episode, they talked about the ongoing hate and violence against Asian Americans across the United States and the longstanding history of society’s treatment of non-whites in America. Chris spoke about how fighting anti-Asian violence is connected to the Black Lives Matter and Me Too Movements because people are fighting for the same things—an equal, just society and an equal chance to be human. However, at the same time, people need to understand how race operates differently between Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans. Chris states, “Having these conversations in public, honestly, with people who know what they’re talking about, and who are sensitive to these topics, empathetic to people’s experiences, knowledgeable about our histories, about how they are intertwined, how they can be used against us, how we can then turn it around and use it for good. If we‘re able to sort of look at it square in the face is, I think, the way forward. There’s no other way.” In addition, Chris discussed the importance of following up with District Attorney’s Offices in New York City to ensure that hate crimes are addressed and perpetrators are held accountable. To listen to the full podcast, click here.
More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 21, in observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS) hosted an event titled “A Brief History of Anti-Asian Racism in America and Call to Action” to raise funds for Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund. Welcome to Chinatown is a grassroots initiative working to preserve New York City’s Chinatown by supporting small businesses and amplifying community voices. In 2020, they launched The Longevity Fund, a small business relief program, to support small businesses where cultural and socioeconomic barriers have prevented them from applying for assistance programs.
The first part of the fundraising event consisted of a presentation from Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, and Issues Committee Chair, on the history of anti-Asian racism in America. He provided an overview of the history of sinophobia and anti-Asian violence in the United States, highlighting the passage of laws including the Naturalization Act of 1790, the Page Act of 1875, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Chris also shared the common themes of how Asian Americans have been perceived throughout history and are still seen today as “forever foreign.”
The presentation was followed by an informal Q&A session between Moderator Tiffany Miao, and William Ng, AABANY President-Elect and LRIS Panel Member, on the importance of AAPI representation in the legal profession and how AAPI lawyers can play a role in preserving Asian cultures and communities for future generations. After listening to Chris’ presentation, William spoke about how the history of sinophobia in the U.S. was never taught in school and how it is important to push towards adding it to school curriculums. Chris added that it’s critical for individuals to understand how race works with Asian Americans—although there’s similarity with how African Americans and Jews experience race, there are still differences and nuances. As for how AAPI lawyers can support AAPI communities, William stated, “While it’s a good career opportunity to do meaningful work, this time in particular, Asian Americans have an opportunity to do more, push certain initiatives.” In addition to representing Asian American clients at work, AAPI lawyers can donate to organizations such as Welcome to Chinatown, and join AABANY’s LRIS to provide legal assistance to the Asian American community.
To join AABANY’s LRIS, please email email@example.com for an application. To learn more about Welcome to Chinatown, please visit welcometochinatown.com and check out their Instagram account @welcome.to.chinatown
At the conclusion of the fundraiser, AABANY was able to raise $2000 for The Longevity Fund. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event, and thanks especially to all the donors for their support.
On June 2, 2021, AABANY co-sponsored New York County Lawyers Association’s (NYCLA’s) AAPI Heritage Month Celebration. The event was hosted by NYCLA’s Asian Practice Committee which AABANY Board Member Margaret Ling co-chairs. Congresswoman Grace Meng was awarded the 2021 NYCLA AAPI Trailblazer Award for all of her civic duty to the AAPI Community. In her keynote speech, she stressed how important it was for all of us to continue to work together and educate others about anti-Asian hate and racism. Attendees applauded the Congresswoman for her dedication and hard work in co-authoring the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and securing its passage. Those in attendance also applauded the installation of Vincent Chang, the first AAPI President of NYCLA. He vowed to continue to uphold NYCLA’s focus on sustaining the rule of law including the importance of practicing diversity, equity and inclusion in furtherance of fairness and justice for all.
Congratulations to Congresswoman Meng on her award, and we wish Vince much success during his tenure as NYCLA President.
AABANY LGBT Committee Co-Chair Glenn Magpantay was listed on June 7, 2021 as a Notable LGBTQ Executive in Crain’s NY Business. For 30 years Glenn has supported the LGBT community and fought for the recognition of LGBTQ Asians. He says, “I am a survivor of a hate crime for being gay 20 years ago. I was a victim of a hate crime for being Asian 20 WEEKS ago! The intersectionality of our movements requires us all to stand up in solidarity, show up in allyship, and support racial justice, and LGBT equality.”
To read the full article, click here (subscription required).