NAPABA Organizational Statement: Coalition of Bar Associations of Color Urges State Bars to Enact Alternative Licensing Measures Amid COVID-19

For Immediate Release:
Date: August 19, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON, DC — The Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) issued the following statement in response to several proposals calling for alternatives to the traditional in-person bar examination used to license new attorneys as a direct response to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic:

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges to just about every aspect of how we conduct our lives. As lawyers, it is our duty to meet these extraordinary circumstances with grace and swiftness, and to adapt as necessary to ensure continued access to justice and protection of the rule of law. In this spirit, the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color supports ABA Resolution 10G strongly urging all state bars to cancel in-person or potentially vulnerable online administrations of the bar exam and consider adopting alternative methods of licensing new attorneys until a safe and secure method of administering a bar exam is available. This will protect the future of the legal profession and ultimately, our society.

Protection of the public in the administration of justice should remain the top priority of state bars. However, during the ongoing pandemic, traditional methods of testing, like large in-person exams, pose tremendous health risks to test takers and those around them and in many instances would violate government-issued restrictions to large gatherings.

Although we commend the states that opted to cancel in-person examinations in favor of online proctored exams, this method has met significant challenges in its administration. These challenges have included fairness, privacy, and technology concerns with the most recent example being the Florida bar. In Florida, bar examinees were informed of the cancellation of the online exam two days before its scheduled date due to numerous issues with the online proctoring system. No official new date or method of testing has been offered. The Michigan online bar exam system crashed during the examination. The State of Indiana encountered similar technology issues when the program was being tested, and they changed to an open book exam allowing answers to be emailed. The current infrastructure for online testing, which presents significant security concerns and glitches, is simply not workable for an exam of this magnitude and import.

As leaders of the Bar Associations of Color we are particularly concerned with the disparate impact that COVID-19 has had on communities of color and more specifically bar examinees of color. As noted in the report accompanying ABA Resolution 10G on this issue, a recent survey showed “a majority of bar applicants do not believe they have reliable internet access, and that white applicants are about 71 percent more likely to have such access when compared to black applicants.” The same survey noted that the majority of bar examinees “do not have access to a quiet space to take a remote bar examination, with white applicants again being substantially more likely to have access to a quiet place than an applicant of color.” People of color and non-traditional students, who have already faced and conquered institutional challenges to complete their legal education, will face additional barriers in the event of additional delays.

Further delays in licensing attorneys are unfair, placing the careers of thousands of attorneys in limbo. Instead, flexibility from state bars is of paramount importance. Adopting alternatives like open book examinations, extended CLE, a diploma privilege, or a Certified Legal Intern program that leads to a provisional license and then to full licensing within 3-6 months, is the most efficient way to adequately safeguard the futures of all bar examinees and the legal profession as a whole.

Additionally, the delays in testing have further exacerbated the stressful circumstances experienced by bar examinees. Graduates have been preparing since May for one of the most important examinations of their careers. To do so, they have sacrificed their income and time for an extended period. Many are facing severe financial difficulties, have no health insurance, and they are competing for jobs in one of toughest job markets in years. Further delays in licensing will disrupt employment plans and leave thousands of graduates with no way of supporting themselves or their families in a moment of global crisis.

Bar examinees have demonstrated their ardent commitment to the legal profession through their resiliency in the last months. The protection of the public in the administration of justice should be extended to bar examinees by decisive action from the state bars that they will serve in their long and successful careers. We call on state bars to consider the options set forth in ABA Resolution 10G that are most protective of bar examinees, their careers, their families, and the legal profession. Options include but are not limited to allowing diploma privileges, administration of remote open book examinations, and creation or expansion of certified legal intern programs leading directly to licensure, a form of diploma privilege.

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The Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) was established in 1992 and is comprised of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Bar Association (NBA), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA).

AABANY Hosts Weekly Membership Mixer on August 21

On August 21, the Membership Committee hosted its weekly mixer. At the mixer, AABANY spotlighted our legal interns, current and former, to recognize and thank them for all their hard work on behalf of AABANY. Joining us were current interns Annie Tan, Andersen Gu, and Ephany Wang. Also on the call were past interns David Jung, Emily Arakawa, and Mai Fukata. Each intern introduced themselves and shared what they were most concerned about as they head back to school or work during COVID-19. Those going back to school in the fall worried about the challenges of learning remotely or in hybrid settings. Those taking a gap semester or already working expressed concerns about employment opportunities and prospects when the economy is in shambles. Some also voiced concern about what the world would look like once we emerged from COVID-19.

After the interns spoke, we asked each of the attendees what advice they could offer to them. Our attendees covered the spectrum from current law students to attorneys practicing in various settings, both private and public at different stages of their careers, and the most common advice was to stay persistent and optimistic. Many remarked on the talented and intelligent interns AABANY has been fortunate to have and they were all encouraged to rise to the challenges they would face, and we were uniformly confident that they would do so. We reminded them that they are part of the AABANY family and they should all stay in touch with us and feel free to reach out if they need assistance or guidance in the future.

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members an weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but many often stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.

Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person.

We are giving away door prizes in some weeks. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org calendar entry to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize.

Mixers are not recorded, and are LIVE, so don’t miss out.

Please join us for this week’s mixer on Friday, August 28, and register by Thursday, at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1366650

AABANY Hosts Weekly Membership Mixer on August 14

On August 14, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 19 participants in attendance. The icebreaker question this week asked participants “What were the worst fashion trends you participated in?” Some answers included fanny packs, turtlenecks, mini skirts, flood pants, Jnco Pants, Success Curls, baggy clothes, cargo pants, Structure zippered clothes, Hawaiian puka shell necklace, and sweater vests. 

At the mixer, AABANY Board Member and Assistant United States Attorney Won Shin, Chief of Appeals, Criminal Division, SDNY, was our featured guest. He gave advice to young lawyers on legal writing and talked about how he went from Big Law to the US Attorney’s Office in SDNY.  The mixer was co-hosted by the Government Service & Public Interest Committee and Prosecutors’ Committee, and many members from both committees were in attendance.

Congratulations to GSPI Co- Chair Jonathan Hernandez for winning this week’s prize: a year long subscription to the podcast CAFE Insider, hosted by former SDNY United States Attorney Preet Bharara.

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc. but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but people usually stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.

Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person. 

We are giving away door prizes during some weeks. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org calendar entry to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. 

Mixers are not recorded and are LIVE, so don’t miss out. Register for this week’s mixer by Thursday, August 20 at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1366649

AABANY Hosts Weekly Membership Mixer on August 7

On August 7, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 7 participants in attendance. This week we played an online version of “Cards Against Humanity,” with first time player Kevin Hsi winning! Membership Director Beatrice Leong hosted from a local pub on Austin Street in Forest Hills, while enjoying some oysters outdoors. She continued to host even when the rain started to come down, sheltered under her umbrella.

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but feel free to stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.

Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person. 

We are giving away door prizes at some of the mixers. To win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org calendar entry to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. 

Mixers are not recorded, and are LIVE, so don’t miss out.

This Friday, we continue our Meet the Board series, this time with Board Director Won Shin, Chief of Appeals, Criminal Division, United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York. To join us, please register by August 13 at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1366648.

AABANY Hosts Weekly Membership Mixer on July 24

On July 24, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer with the Korean American Lawyers of Greater New York (KALAGNY), with 26 participants in attendance. As a Board Member of both AABANY and KALAGNY, Membership Committee Co-Chair and AABANY Board Secretary Christopher Bae was the perfect host for this event. The icebreaker question posed to the participants was:  “What is your go-to karaoke song?”  Some of the go-to songs or artists were “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, ABBA, “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, “Graduation” by Vitamin C, and Taylor Swift. 

Thank you for joining us, KALAGNY! We hope to team up again in the future.

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but people stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups. For this week’s Mixer afterparty, members stayed on until 11:30pm to hang out. 

Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person. 

We are giving away door prizes at the end of some Mixers. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org calendar entry to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. 

Mixers are not recorded, and are LIVE, so don’t miss out.

PLEASE JOIN US THIS WEEK FOR AABANY SHOW & TELL! If you have a cool collection, special art, or a unique item you want to show off to members, please have it ready to present at the July 31 Mixer! Register by Thursday, July 30, at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1366646.

AABANY Presents: Avoiding Real Property Disputes in Divorce Matters In the Aftermath of COVID-19

On June 25, AABANY presented a CLE Program on divorce property disputes in the context of COVID-19, featuring panelists from practitioners in matrimonial law and real estate law. The panel outlined influences of the pandemic upon real property disputes in divorce proceedings, and recounted actual cases to demonstrate. Speakers included Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; Derrick Rubin, trial attorney associate at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates; Jerome Wisselman, Managing Partner at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates; and Irene Angelakis, Founding Owner at Law Offices of Irene Angelakis. 

Derrick Rubin began by discussing the basic considerations of property disputes. Family homes are typically the largest asset, and disputes center around who gets the house, whether or not to sell, or if one spouse should buy out another. Another necessary consideration is the legal theory of equitable distribution, which emphasizes a fair rather than equal distribution of property on the basis of various factors. Some examples include how long the parties were married, their individual needs, and the financial contribution each party made during the marriage.

Margaret Ling then outlined examples from past cases to demonstrate the benefits of in-person dealings and how remote demands of COVID-19 impose challenges. In a Chase Bank refinance transaction, a couple sought a $2 million refinance on their condo. However, the lawyer noticed the husband seemed nervous, the wife was fidgeting, and her identification appeared fake. Upon further inquiry, it was discovered that the husband was in the midst of a divorce and had brought his girlfriend in an attempt to make property adjustments while his wife was traveling — not permitted under domestic relations law which forbids property adjustments without spousal approval. Today, legal transactions that depend upon accurate identification must come up with new solutions. 

Irene Angelakis continued the discussion with tips on how to avoid disputes during the pandemic and also raised ethical considerations. She talked about taking into account pandemic-induced income changes, a common circumstance today, by giving parties more realistic timelines to decide on refinancing. Another involved taking social distancing precautions if both parties decide to sell the house. The most important takeaway is that both parties should try to settle property disputes because the courts and trials are limited options during COVID-19. Irene concluded with the topic of ethics by discussing disclosure requirements, matrimonial retainer agreements, fee disputes and escrow. 

A final topic explored by Jerome Wisselman was asset protection. Asset protection, through prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, are preventative legal measures taken to avoid property disputes during divorce. Provision of detailed financial statements by both parties, addressing potential future investment returns, and deciding on whether retirement benefits will be separate or together, are necessary for the creation of a fair and accurate asset protection agreement. The main takeaway is that current divorce property disputes that have been further complicated by COVID-19 circumstances may have been avoided if more asset protection agreements existed.

Thank you to all the panelists for their valuable time and insights, and thanks to the Real Estate Committee for organizing this timely and informative CLE program. To view the recording of the CLE, click on the image at the top. If you would like to learn more about AABANY’s Real Estate Committee, click here: https://www.aabany.org/page/120

AABANY Hosts Talent Show and Weekly Mixer on July 17

On July 17, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 26 participants in attendance.  The icebreaker question posed to the participants was: “What is your talent, or if you don’t have a talent, what talent do you wish you had?” Members overwhelmingly said they were piano players. For the people who didn’t have special talents, they wished they could speak foreign languages, sing, play musical instruments or code their own video games. 

This week, AABANY’s most talented members displayed their skills virtually. We want to give our love and appreciation to the performers: 

  • Steven Lau performed “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, singing and playing guitar. 
  • Wen Zhang performed a traditional Chinese dance in a beautiful dress. 
  • Andrew Kao performed a standup comedy routine (sitting down).
  • Kwok Ng performed “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King, singing and playing the guitar. 

For the Mixer afterparty, Kwok performed an encore, singing and playing “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals, and those who stayed were able to sing along.

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but people have regularly stayed on after 7:30pm to continue chatting.

Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person. 

We have been giving away door prizes at some of the Mixers. To win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the calendar entry at aabany.org to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom Mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. 

Mixers are not recorded, and are LIVE, so don’t miss out.

This Friday’s Mixer will be done in collaboration with KALAGNY (the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York). To join us, please register by Thursday, July 23, at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1366645

AABANY Hosts Weekly Membership Mixer on July 10

On July 10, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 27 participants in attendance. Dressed as Holly Golightly from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Membership Director Beatrice Leong posed the icebreaker question: “What is your favorite breakfast food?” Members shared their favorites, including congee, Taiwanese breakfast foods, jian bing, rice roll, soy milk, corned beef hash, Belgian waffles. The second half of the mixer we featured President-Elect Terry Shen and heard him recount his journey from associate to partner, and from member to President-Elect of AABANY.

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but people stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.

The Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person.

We have been giving away door prizes at most of the mixers. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the calendar entry at aabany.org to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize.

Mixers are not recorded and are LIVE, so don’t miss out.

Watch out for the AABANY Talent Show coming on Friday, July 17! If you have a talent, such as singing, dancing, playing a musical instruments. demonstrating karate, please email us at [email protected] We will be running the talent show as part of Friday’s mixer on July 17. To register by July 16, go here: https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1393375

AABANY Hosts Weekly Membership Mixer on June 26

On June 26, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 16 participants in attendance.  The icebreaker question posed to the participants was: “What is your family’s immigration story?”  Members told their stories of how and why they or their families arrived in the United States or Canada. Some families came for school, marriages, and better opportunities. Some members made the trip to North America as an adult for a different life. 

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars and various other venues, such as ballparks and the Metropolitan Opera, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but feel free to stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.

Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person. 

This week, after the main mixer, a breakout group of 6  members discussed the next steps of re-opening phases in New York City.

Watch out for the AABANY Talent Show coming on July 17! If you have a talent, such as singing, dancing, musical instruments, telling jokes, karate, etc., please email us at [email protected]. See the flyer or go to https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1393375 to register.

We have been giving away door prizes at prior mixers. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org calendar entry to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. 
Mixers are not recorded, and are LIVE, so don’t miss out.

AABANY Hosts Weekly Zoom Membership Mixer on June 12

On June 12 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 19 participants in attendance.  The icebreaker question posed to the participants was: “What is a motivational or inspirational moment or story that sticks out in your mind?” Members reported some favorite quotes: “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” (Tupac); “Tomorrow’s world is yours to build.”  (Yuri Kochiyama);  “The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (Steve Jobs).  Other members recalled moments with mentors which stayed with them. One partner told  a young associate: “Speak up for what you want, you have to ask.” “There is the argument you prepare, the argument you make and the arguments you wish you made.” “Learn from your mistakes.” “Apply to every scholarship and opportunity and you can reach your goals.”

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but feel free to stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.

This week, after the main mixer, a breakout group of 6 members stayed to discuss the upcoming elections, civil unrest and the latest news. 

We are giving away door prizes in some weeks. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org calendar entry to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. Congratulations to Chris Kwok for winning a PBS Passport subscription this week!

 Mixers are not recorded, and are LIVE, so don’t miss out. This week’s mixer will take place on Friday, June 19 , at 6:30 pm. Register by June 18 at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1366640