AABANY Prosecutors, ADR and Women’s Committees Host Self-Defense Class

On November 19, 2022, the Prosecutors, ADR & and Women’s Committees teamed up to learn self defense at the NY Wutang Chinese Martial Arts Institute (“NY Wutang”) in downtown Flushing.

During these times of anti-Asian violence, AABANY members wanted to be prepared. Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Joe Gim first taught members about the New York laws on the justification defense, particularly in connection with the use of physical force in defense of a person.

Next, the Master of NY Wutang and Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Dave Chiang trained the attendees. Here, Dave wore his ADA hat as well as his Master Chiang hat.

Master Chiang taught the group that the first step is to be aware of one’s surroundings: “Don’t keep your head down looking at your phone.”  The group also learned how to quickly turn their camera on to try to capture photos or video of the perpetrator. 

Next, Master Chiang warmed everyone up with stretching exercises and the group practiced shouting, “Stay away! Leave me alone!” so that witnesses will know that you are not the initial aggressor.

The group then learned that the three weakest parts of an attacker are their eyes, throat and groin. Master Chiang taught attendees how to strike and target those body parts during an attack. The group practiced with each other and took away valuable information we will not soon forget. 

If you want to take lessons at NY Wutang see:  http://wutang.org/

To donate to NY Wutang: http://Paypal.me/nywutang

Thanks to all the co-sponsoring Committees for putting together an informative and useful program on self-defense during these challenging times, and thanks to Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Joe Gim for teaching us the law on self-defense and Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair (and Kung Fu Master) David Chiang for teaching those who attended how to protect themselves while following the law.


To learn more about the Prosecutors Committee, click here. To learn more about the ADR Committee, click here. To learn more about the Women’s Committee, click here.

Thank You to our Nov. 19 Queens Pro Bono Clinic Volunteers!

On November 19, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Services Committee and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) joined forces to hold a pro bono legal clinic at AAFE’s One Flushing Community Center in Queens. 

We met with 25 clients who had questions about family, housing, immigration law. Since early August, Spanish-speaking asylum seekers have been sent by state governments in Texas and Florida to New York, precipitating a migrant. Unfortunately, many not-for-profit organizations in the city remain overwhelmed by this crisis, due to limited resources available from federal and state governments. AABANY and AAFE received numerous requests for assistance from New York City’s vast community of immigrants at Saturday’s clinic. 

This Saturday’s clinic used a multitude of digital and analog resources to provide top-notch services. We creatively used a hybrid Zoom call setup to bring in immigration attorneys (Jackson Chin and Judy Lee) and maintain a non-stop stream of consultations. One group of attorneys helped a client find actionable steps forward from his complex legal status, providing him with additional resources and referrals. AAFE generously made its printer and xerox machines available, which were critical in handling the larger-than-usual volume of Spanish-speaking clients we saw on Saturday. We were able to print out Spanish-language brochures about asylum, immigration eligibility for public benefits in New York State, and pro bono referrals.  

AABANY Legal Intern Daniel Kang reflected on the work he witnessed at the Clinic: “Every attorney who volunteered their time on Saturday was deeply and professionally invested in the problems facing clients. I had the opportunity to shadow and complete intake forms for consultations held by Jackson Chin and Judy Lee. It was incredible seeing Jackson and Judy drill to the legal substance of each client’s case by asking the right questions and bringing their own legal expertise to the fore. I was also heartened by the presence of Spanish-speaking volunteer interpreters who successfully broke through the language barrier between volunteer attorneys and locally based clients.” 

Not many of the attorneys who attended Saturday’s clinic practice immigration law or speak Spanish. Immigration law is a complicated practice area which changes with each Presidential administration. A 30-minute legal consultation may not help those in dire need of immigration legal services, but clinics like AABANY’s may be a client’s best hope. Immigrant clients come to AABANY consultations in their attempts at acquiring information about the legal process, updates in immigration policy, how to survive in New York, and legal referrals. As usual, AABANY welcomes any and all practicing attorneys across the city to sign up for future clinics—as well as non-attorney volunteers who can speak Spanish or Chinese. Free lunch is provided to all volunteers at our clinics. 

AABANY thanks everyone again for coming to volunteer at Saturday’s clinic! Please join us at our upcoming clinics:

Saturday, December 3 – please register by 12pm, 11/30 

Manhattan Location – VNS Health, Community Center, 7 Mott Street, New York, NY 10002

Saturday, December 10 – please register by 12pm, 12/7 

Brooklyn Location – United Chinese Association of Brooklyn (UCA), 1787 Stillwell Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11223

AttorneysInterpreters & ObserversAAFE Staff
Beatrice LeongDaniel KangDaphne Mei 
Eugene KimJeremy Chih Cheng ChangGabriel Hisugan
Jackson ChinSiobhan FengConstance Lee
Johnny ThachSue YuElton Ye
Judy (Ming Chu) LeeVincce ChanCarmen Cruz
May LiWillow LiuMaria Bergeron
May WongYuichi Hayashi 
Richard InYuwen Long 
Rina Gurung  
Shawn Lin  
Shengyang (John) Wu  
Shirley Luong  

AABANY’s Prosecutors’ Committee and Student Outreach Committee Open Doors for Law Students to Meet Assistant District Attorneys

On October 13, over two dozen law students and New York Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) braved the pouring rain for the Prosecutors’ Committee and Student Outreach Committee’s first-ever mixer. Pizza slices in hand, ADAs from across the five boroughs and Nassau County shared their wealth of experience and helpful advice with law students interested in following them into prosecutors’ offices.  

Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair David Chiang made clear that the Asian American prosecutors at this meeting, whose roles ranged from bureau chiefs to brand-new ADAs, were there on a mission. “Asian Americans are incredibly underrepresented” in the prosecution field, Chiang told the room. While many prosecutors have mentors and networks that help them get ADA positions and rise up the ranks, Asian Americans may not have the same breadth of resources for doing so. Building support networks for career advancement in the ADA space was the reason why ADAs and Prosecutors’ Committee members met with law students that night. 

“I want aspiring prosecutors to learn what it’s like to be in the office,” Devin Ly, a Kings County ADA, said. While the workload could be heavy and the demands sky high, he and his colleagues stressed that it’s worthwhile because of the good they were doing for their communities. For many of the prosecutors in attendance, their jobs felt meaningful not through tallying convictions or locking up their fellow borough residents. Rather, many AAPI prosecutors see their job as an opportunity to seek justice more holistically. Talking to students, these prosecutors shared stories, the philosophies of their offices, and how they work hard to do right by defendants and their communities. While the problems of incarceration should still be considered by prosecutors, a prosecutor’s job is ultimately to look beyond someone’s criminal record and the circumstances of the case and ask whether justice is best served by alternatives like social services or other pretrial interventions that would better serve the defendant and the community.

“It was awesome to meet all these prosecutors from all these bureaus!” Andy Xu, a second-year law student from Cardozo exclaimed. “It’s great that AABANY opens things like this up for us!” Justin Lee, a third-year law student from NYU, added.

The event was co-hosted by the AABANY Student Outreach Committee and the Prosecutors’ Committee. We would like to thank Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Cleary’s DE&I team for providing us with space as well as food and drinks for the event. 

With these lessons in mind and with so many connections made between these future lawyers and mentors, and maybe even future colleagues, we can’t wait to see where this collaboration goes from here.

To learn more about the Prosecutors’ Committee please click here. To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee please click here.

Wearing Many Hats: AABANY Leaders Support Adhikaar and Other AAPI Community-Based Organizations

On October 21, 2022, Adhikaar, a community organization for New York’s Nepali-speaking community, hosted its sold-out Fall Utsav at the Queens Museum. Rina Gurung, Board Chair of Adhikaar (and one of the co-chairs of AABANY’s Government Services and Public Interest (GSPI) Committee), opened the ceremony by thanking the Adhikaar Board and its staff for spearheading a wonderful organization that empowers the Nepali-speaking community by addressing social rights, workers’ rights, and women’s rights. Gurung also gave a shout-out to her work colleagues and AABANY.


Kevin Hsi, co-chair of GSPI, and May Wong, co-chair of the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, were also in attendance at Fall Utsav to support Rina and Adhikaar.
AABANY’s GSPI and PBCS Committees wish the best to Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar, who steps down from her leadership role at the end of October.


Moving forward, PBCS hopes to bridge a partnership with Adhikaar to secure Nepali-speaking clients for PBCS upcoming legal clinics! For more information about AABANY’s PBCS, please contact probono@aabany.org.


In other news, AABANY’s ties with other Asian American community organizations are as strong as ever. AABANY member and Prosecutors Committee co-founder Kin Ng attended the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn’s (UCA) 20th Anniversary Gala to accept the Community Leader of the Year Award. PBCS partners with UCA to host its pro bono clinics. Register for the December 10th Brooklyn PBCS pro bono clinic here. Read more about AABANY members celebrating with Kin at the UCA Gala here.


Next event coming up that supports AAPI Community-Based Organizations:
11/17 – MinKwon hosting its Virtual Anniversary Gala with NAKASEC

AABANY Member Kin Ng Recognized as a Community Leader at United Chinese Association of Brooklyn’s 20th Anniversary Gala

On Thursday, October 27, 2022, AABANY members attended the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn’s 20th Anniversary Gala to celebrate longtime AABANY member and co-founding member of AABANY’s Prosecutors Committee, Kin Ng, who received UCA’s Community Leader of the Year Award.

Kin has been a prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for over thirty years, where he currently serves as the Bureau Chief of Trial Bureau II, Blue Zone. Kin made history in 2017 when he became the first AAPI prosecutor to be elevated to bureau chief of a major trial bureau in Brooklyn. Prior to that, Kin served in various management capacities in different trial bureaus and the Immigration Fraud Unit. He also served as the Chief of Legal Training, conducting office-wide trainings for all Brooklyn ADAs and staff. Kin continues to mentor prosecutors of all offices and experiences through AABANY as well as NAPABA (National Asian Pacific American Bar Association) and NAPIPA (National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association). Notably, Kin received the Norman Lau Kee Trailblazer Award at the 2018 AABANY Fall Conference, in recognition of his leadership in the Asian American legal community.

Please join us in congratulating Kin on receiving this well-deserved UCA of Brooklyn Community Leader of the Year Award.

AABANY Celebrates its 33rd Anniversary with Founders’ Day, Featuring Hon. Denny Chin

On October 25, 2022, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) celebrated its 33rd Anniversary with its Second Annual Founders’ Day Event at Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services’ (JAMS) space in the New York Times building in Manhattan. The annual event commemorates the founding of AABANY as a bar association in 1989 and honors the Founders who helped build the foundation for AABANY to become the largest diverse bar association in the country.

The Honorable Denny Chin, United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, gave remarks as the Founders’ Day keynote speaker. He spoke about AABANY’s early days and the fight for diversity and Asian representation in the legal profession. He recounted the challenges that he and his colleagues faced during his time as AABANY’s second president. He concluded by urging members not to rest on their laurels but to continue to fight for the needs of Asian Americans in the legal community. AABANY President William Ng also gave remarks while Hon. Marilyn Go, longtime AABANY member Hugh Mo, Executive Director Yang Chen, and many other AABANY leaders and members attended the celebration. 

We would like to thank AABANY Board Member Chris Kwok and his colleagues at JAMS for hosting Founders’ Day, along with Membership Director Christopher S. Bae and the Membership Committee for organizing such a great event. AABANY is proud to have celebrated its 33rd anniversary with so many distinguished guests, and we look forward to celebrating our 34th next year at our Third Annual Founders’ Day Event.

Thank You to Our 10/15 Brooklyn Pro Bono Clinic Volunteers!

On October 15, 2022, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee held a Pro Bono Clinic at the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn from 12:00-3:30 PM. 

In all, we met with 22 clients who had questions about contracts, fraud, housing, wills, trusts, and estates. Our volunteers are constantly learning and teaching one another. Many of this clinic’s volunteer force were law students or recent law school graduates, who put their memory of basic skills such as issue-spotting through the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) method to real-world use. We were also able to refer many clients to not-for-profit legal services to further help their case beyond the time constraints of our clinic session. Last, but not least, our volunteers demonstrated exceptional professionalism with the 4 C’s in mind: competency, confidentiality, conflict of interest, and compassion. 

AABANY Legal Interns Daniel Kang and Connor Li recounted their experiences at the clinic. Daniel said, “Many clients came in with issues regarding estate and housing law. It was great having the chance to shadow attorneys like Kwok, May, and Johnny, and to see how their legal knowledge can be used to help people in their everyday lives. I sat in on a session where one client did not come with a particular issue, but with an information request regarding the drafting of a will—and the benefits of creating one. Attorney May Wong carefully explained the concept of a will, the legal challenges which might be confronted and avoided through the creation of one, and helped the client walk away with knowledge of a legal concept that will undoubtedly impact their family.”

Connor had a similar experience when sitting in on the consultations. He said, “I sat in on a session where attorney Johnny Thach was able to help a couple find the available resources to resolve their landlord-tenant issues. Especially for non-English speakers, and even for those of us that speak English as our native language, legal terminology can be confusing. For this couple, the resources we found online were filled with legal jargon, so it was great to see Johnny clearly articulate the issues and next steps in words that even I was able to understand.” 

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped out this past Saturday. Your extra help was truly appreciated! 

Volunteer AttorneysInterpreters & ShadowersAAFE Staff
Jackson ChinConnor LiAnsen Tang
Jennifer ParkDaniel KangHayley Liang
Johnny ThachHyewon ByeonLori Huang
Kwok Kei NgJoon Choe 
May WongYiru (Lea) Jiang 
Ming Chu (Judy) LeeYuichi Hayashi 
Victoria ChengYuwen Long 
Yvette AdiguzelZixuan Luo 

Please join us at our upcoming Pro Bono Clinics! 

October 29 – registration closed at noon on 10/26 [remote option not available]

Manhattan Location – 33 Bowery, Community Room at Confucius Plaza, New York, NY 10002

November 19 – please register by 12pm, 11/16 [remote option available for NYS admitted attorneys only]

Queens Location – AAFE One Flushing Community Center, 133-29 41st Ave, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355

Announcing NAPABA’s 2022-2023 Board of Governors, with AABANY Member Anna Mercado Clark as President-Elect

NAPABA has announced its 2022-2023 Board of Governors. This board will be sworn in during the 2022 NAPABA Convention Las Vegas, Nov. 3-6. NAPABA’s strength comes from the many volunteers who hold leadership positions across its diverse membership. From its national Board of Governors to its local affiliate leaders, from its substantive committees and affinity network chairs to the chairs of its professional development programs, NAPABA is driven by the expertise, energy, and commitment of its membership. 

AABANY is especially proud of AABANY member and Board officer Anna Mercado Clark for being elected as President-Elect for the 2022-2023 Board of Governors. Anna currently serves as an Officer for AABANY’s Board as Development Director. She was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States as a twelve-year-old, graduating from Fordham Law School before interning for the Hon. Denny Chin. Anna is a partner at Phillips Lytle LLP and an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School. 

2022-2023 NAPABA Board of Governors

Executive Committee 

President: Sandra Leung

President-Elect: Anna Mercado Clark 

Treasurer: Annette Kwok

Secretary: Kristin Haugen

Immediate Past President: A.B. Cruz III

Executive Director: Priya Purandare

Directors 

Director: Angela Lim

Director: Marty Lorenzo

Regional Governors 

Central Regional Governor: Kristy Gonowon

Central California Regional Governor: Jen Won

Eastern California: Albert Montefalcon

Northeast Regional Governor: James Y. Lee

Northeast Regional Governor: Andrew Sarrol

Northern California Regional Governor: Mari Bandoma Callado 

Northwest Regional Governor: Elisa Dozono

Southeast Regional Governor: Zarra Elias

Southern California Regional Governor: Arlene Yang

Southwest Regional Governor: Stacey Cho Hernandez

At-Large Board Members

At-Large Board Member: Gene Kim

At-Large Board Member: Kenjiro LeCroix

At-Large Board Member: Terri Ann Motosue

At-Large Board Member: Vincent Roldan 

At-Large Board Member: Eileen Sullivan 

At-Large Board Member: Qiaojing Ella Zheng

General Counsel

General Counsel: James Kim

NAPABA Commends Justice Goodwin H. Liu as Recipient ABA Spirit of Excellence Award


WASHINGTONOct. 5, 2022. This week, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession announced California Supreme Court Associate Justice Goodwin H. Liu as a recipient of its 2023 Spirit of Excellence Award. Each year, the ABA honors lawyers who have excelled in their fields and who have demonstrated an abiding commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession with this prestigious distinction.

An accomplished jurist, scholar, and professor, Justice Liu is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law, education law and policy, implicit bias, and criminal justice reform. A graduate of Stanford, Oxford, and Yale Law School, and a former Rhodes Scholar, Justice Liu’s distinguished career includes serving as a former Supreme Court clerk, a key policy advisor at two federal agencies, and as a tenured professor and Associate Dean at the UC Berkeley School of Law. In 2011, Justice Liu was nominated and confirmed as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court.

Justice Liu is a towering figure in the Asian American legal community, and in particular for his groundbreaking work on the Portrait Project, a comprehensive, multi-year, data-driven study of Asian Americans in the law, conducted in partnership with NAPABA, which was a game-changer for raising awareness about the successes, challenges, and obstacles confronting Asian Americans in the legal profession.

“Justice Goodwin Liu has opened doors, broken down barriers, and been an unflinching champion of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, not just for Asian Americans, but lawyers of all backgrounds,” said Acting NAPABA President A.B. Cruz III. “NAPABA is proud of its longstanding partnership with Justice Liu on the Portrait Project, and it was a privilege to nominate him for the ABA’s Spirit of Excellence Award. He is an inspiration for our members and beyond, as a role model for overcoming adversity in the pursuit of excellence in the legal profession.” 

In 2017, Justice Liu was the recipient of the NAPABA President’s Award, given to NAPABA members who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to NAPABA, the legal community, and the greater Asian Pacific American community.

Also receiving the 2023 Spirit of Excellence Award are:

  • Hon. Roger L. Gregory, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit 
  • Reginald M. Turner, Immediate Past President of the ABA
  • Diandra Benally, General Counsel of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

The 2023 Spirit of Excellence Awards will be presented during a ceremony on February 4 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans.

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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.

Center on Asian Americans and the Law & Fordham Law School Present a Screening of the Documentary “Free Chol Soo Lee”

On September 29, 2022, Fordham Law School Professor Thomas H. Lee and 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin presented a screening of the documentary “Free Chol Soo Lee” at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. Professor Lee currently co-chairs AABANY’s Academic Committee. Judge Chin served as AABANY’s President from 1992 to 1993. 

Judge Chin and Professor Lee hosted the screening in collaboration with Fordham Law School’s Center on Asian Americans and the Law. Judge Chin, Kathy Hirata Chin, Professor Thomas H. Lee, and other Fordham faculty members worked together to establish this new center earlier in 2022. The Center on Asian Americans and the Law is dedicated to promoting public education on the legal history of AAPIs, serving as a research hub for AAPI legal issues, and coordinating public advocacy and outreach efforts through law firms, corporations, and the public to advance justice for the AAPI community as a whole. 

The 2022 documentary “Free Chol Soo Lee,” by Julie Ha and Eugene Yi, tells the story of the pan-Asian, grassroots movement which mobilized in the ‘70s and ‘80s to assist Chol Soo Lee, a Korean immigrant who was wrongfully convicted for the 1973 murder of San Francisco Chinatown resident Yip Yee Tak. “Free Chol Soo Lee” follows the formation of the defense committee which came to Lee’s aid, along with the efforts of community members and attorneys who worked tirelessly to free Lee from prison. 

After the movie screening, Professor Thomas H. Lee held a Q&A session with Judge Chin. Judge Chin first spoke to the grim ending of the documentary, which covers the post-release struggles which faced Chol Soo Lee in his adjustment to freedom. Judge Chin noted that, “In recent years, a lot of re-entry courts have popped up. We started a re-entry court [The RISE Court] in the Southern District of New York in 2019 …. It’s such a terrific program. We had our second session of this group just yesterday, and we had three graduates talk to these guys [the enrollees of the current RISE Court cohort presided over by Judge Chin]. We’re up to five RISE courts in the New York City area.” Judge Chin stressed the important role which systems of support must play even after a person has been released from prison. 

Professor Lee capped off the event by asking Judge Chin a question geared towards law students and practicing attorneys: “How can law students and lawyers get involved [in issues of wrongful conviction such as that in the documentary]?” 

Judge Chin responded by reflecting on the effects of the movement around Chol Soo Lee on Asian American communities: “The real positive for this was the community. Ranko [Yamada] went to law school. Jeff Adachi became pretty high up in the legal field. Many of them [individuals involved with the defense committee for Chol Soo Lee] were inspired to go to law school…I think the law gives you tools to do a lot of different things. But whatever you do, you find some way to give back…For example, [trial] reenactments with AABANY, which have proven to be a great educational tool…Whether you realize it, lawyers do have power. When you’re learning the trade, you’re really learning how to make a change.” 

Judge Chin’s reference to AABANY’s trial reenactments recalls AABANY’s Trial Reenactment Team performing “Alice in Chinatown: Chol Soo Lee and His Fight for Freedom” at the 2018 NAPABA convention in Chicago. AABANY’s Trial Reenactment Team has scripted and performed scripted a number of other famous cases such as “Korematsu v. United States,” and the trial following the murder of Vincent Chin. Anticipating the foundational mission of Fordham Law School’s Center on Asian Americans and the Law, the AABANY Trial Reenactment Project was created to educate audiences about Asian American contributions to the development of American law and society. 

We are grateful to Judge Chin and Professor Lee for hosting this film screening, and thank Fordham Law School’s Center on Asian Americans and the Law for organizing this event.