The City Bar and Community Mediation Services is now offering a limited number of scholarships to the upcoming Surrogate’s Court Mediation Training – 16-Hour Online Training. The scholarships are intended to encourage a more diverse group of attorneys to consider adding Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to their practices. This program is approved under Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge and satisfies the training requirements of many local court ADR panels.
Attorneys are required to attend at all four days of the program, which will run virtually on the following dates: September 15, 17, 22 & 24, 2020 from 9 am – 1 pm on each day.
Interested candidates should send their résumé and an optional statement of interest, to Paula Mukwaya at firstname.lastname@example.org by the evening of Monday, August 31st.
For more information about this Surrogate’s Court Mediation Training, please click here.
On August 3, 2020, Judge Esther Salas released a video statement regarding the horrific shooting that resulted in the death of her son, Daniel Mark Anderl, and the injury of her husband, Mark Anderl. Salas said she believes her family was targeted because of her position as a United States District Judge in New Jersey.
Salas began with a heart-wrenching statement: “Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same.” Holding back tears throughout the nine minute statement, Salas urged for a call to action: striving for greater protection of Federal judges to ensure their safety.
While acknowledging the power Federal judges hold in making difficult, often controversial decisions, Salas stated that she works unremittingly to administer justice in a manner as fair and unbiased as possible.
However, despite the fact that such decisions could upset people, Salas underscored the necessity of privacy for Federal judges. “We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again,” Salas said, “but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.”
AABANY would like to extend our support and sympathy to Judge Salas and her family as they grieve the loss of their son, and we sincerely hope that Congress urgently takes up her calls for reforms to protect the privacy of Federal judges.
To watch the complete video statement, click here.
On July 22nd, GAPABA and NAPABA co-hosted a webinar panel entitled “Women’s Leadership Network: Pathbreakers,” which AABANY was proud to co-sponsor. The event, moderated by GAPABA President Angela Hsu and Hannah Kim, Chief Legal Officer of Energizer Holdings, featured six panelists who discussed the complexities of being an Asian American woman in the legal field, sharing personal anecdotes and advice with those wishing to break the so-called “bamboo ceiling” and “glass ceiling.”
The panelists included Amy Chua, author and Professor of Law at Yale Law School; Hon. Neomi Rao, a judge in the D.C. Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals; Marie Oh Huber, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel & Secretary at eBay; Hon. Lorna Schofield, a United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York; Jessie K. Liu, Former United States Attorney in D.C.; and Selena Loh LaCroix, Vice Chair & Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry.
The event was split into two sections: extracurricular development, and career changes and advice. During the first part of the event, the panelists discussed how they felt they had found success as Asian American women in typically white, male-dominated fields. All six panelists agreed that cultivating deep, lasting relationships was one of the most important keys to success. Others added that not allowing yourself to get discouraged was vital, especially because minorities often find their leadership abilities and competency questioned.
“There will always be assumptions based on our appearance and backgrounds, but the way to get around this is perseverance,” Liu said. Chua added that because of these assumptions, the playing field is not level; she admitted that she was forced to out-work and out-prepare her colleagues, and learning how to acknowledge the existence of stereotypes (such as the Model Minority Myth), while not focusing on them.
The panelists also discussed how they ended up in their current positions and in the legal field more generally. While each story was unique, they all shared a common theme – to get to the high-ranking positions they currently hold or have previously held, they had to begin at the lowest point on the totem pole and work their way up. Having a mentor that pushed them to work harder and guided them through their career choices made a big difference.
“I firmly believe that you can’t do it alone; things don’t happen without help. And I believe that the road is littered with hard-working smart people, but there are other qualities you need to have: taking initiative and asking someone to be your mentor can go a long way,” Judge Schofield advised. While Huber agreed that the best relationships arise organically, she noted the need for organizational and structural change to allow minorities a greater chance to form relationships; “otherwise,” she said, “people are going to be left out.”
One of the most inspiring pieces of advice shared by the panelists was how they reacted to controversy and criticism. Chua admitted to writing provocative pieces even when her own mother warned against it, and found three main ways to maintain her sanity: riding it out, standing her ground, and rejecting bitterness and pettiness.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Asian American women get shoved under the bus disproportionately because of the Model Minority Myth,” Chua shared. “But it is vital to be generous and optimistic regardless.”
The second section of the discussion focused more specifically on switching careers and taking risks professionally. Many of the panelists switched from the private to the public sector, and though the motivations to make this switch varied from person to person, they all noted that the choice is based both on the context of where you are in life and in your mindset.
Judge Schofield shared that the decision for her to leave the corporate world took a great deal of time, thought, and courage, but when the opportunity arose, she was very glad she took it.
Lacroix added that “as scary as it was to take the plunge, I haven’t looked back since.” She explained that “sometimes your corporation and your own personal integrity might diverge — if it gets very far from each other the discomfort level can get really hard. Trust your own instincts and values, because that’s all you have at the end of the day. If that’s something that diverges from your corporation, do not be afraid to make that choice. You’re the only one who can build and maintain that integrity.”
On taking risks, Liu added that nearly every job has some degree of risk associated with it. She noted that her personal philosophy is to say ‘yes’ to opportunities whenever they arise and see where it goes from there, because you never know if or when it may come again.
Ultimately, the panelists all shared that while blazing the trail as Asian American women – often facing harsh assumptions and negative stereotypes – was difficult, it was also extremely rewarding. Judge Schofield advised the audience that “people are going to notice you’re different so you might as well do something with that. Embrace that you’re different and do it with confidence.”
AABANY is honored to have been a co-sponsor for the event, and we would like to thank GAPABA for putting together a wonderful panel, as well as all the speakers for their sage advice and inspiring stories.
Jane Jeong shares her reflections on the effects of COVID-19 on our day-to-day lives.
I had a really, really good feeling about 2020. On New Year’s Eve 2019, after billing my final hours of the year (I had gotten roped into a Christmas-Grinch corporate merger that finally signed that morning), my boyfriend and I wrapped up the old decade grabbing a cozy dinner with friends in Chelsea, dancing until seven AM at a rave in Brooklyn, refueling at a 24-hour Subway on the way home, and then sleeping the day away like two blissful college freshmen without a care in the world. We woke up only to grab dinner in the West Village, where the quiet streets marked a sobering contrast to all the festivities the night before.
During that dinner, like the two optimistic overachievers we are, we shared several New Year’s resolutions we each had on deck for 2020. My personal list was ambitious: I wanted to find a new job, exercise more regularly, publish my writing, meditate every night, and send my parents on a cruise to celebrate their recent retirement. I hoped to hike Machu Picchu and go to Burning Man for the first time. I already had five weddings, two conferences, two law school recruiting trips, four weekend getaways, and one bachelorette party penciled in my calendar ahead. I had a really, really good feeling about this year, I told him—it was a fresh start of a new decade, and it brimmed with nothing but hope and exciting possibility.
… Well, I guess there is always next year.
There is no way we could have predicted how stunningly our day-to-day lives were about to change just weeks after that dinner. Even among the most fortunate or optimistic of us, there is no denying the emotional toll it has taken to face the stupendous degree and speed by which we parted with our pre-COVID lives. We have all been grieving some kind of loss lately:A loved one, a daily routine, a sense of normalcy or security or freedom, a job, a friendship or relationship, a sense of human connection, vacation plans, wedding deposits, graduation celebrations, our physical health, our mental health… and everything else in between.
My own COVID grief feels like a full-time job sometimes. In my thirty-one years, I have never been more keenly aware of the fragility of life—of just how little control and security we ever had to begin with (despite all the stories we tell to assure ourselves otherwise). There are the big, soul-shattering losses I mourn—like the thousands of lives we have lost and the countless families who are forever changed. I mourn for those of us who suffered alone in quarantined hospital beds during their final hours. I mourn for all the carefree memories and quality time we otherwise would have shared with those we love this year.
And then, of course, there are the smaller losses I miss—the little everyday freedoms I had once taken for granted—like those dinner parties filled with laughter and dates at cute West Village restaurants and sweaty Brooklyn raves and everything else that had all been so ordinary to me just seven months ago. I miss hugging people wherever I go. I miss wearing real pants. I miss old New York—the one brimming with pedestrians, 24-hour subways, rooftop parties, workout classes, bars, restaurants, yoga studios, coffeeshops, comedy shows… and every weird thing we could possibly imagine and then some. I miss the endless plans we used to make, things we used to do, strangers we used to meet.
Depending on the hour or day, I process our losses with varying degrees of grace.Sometimes, I relish the new normal: I appreciate the pockets of time we have gotten back in our days—all those dead minutes we used to pass idling in traffic or blow-drying our hair in the mornings—that now allow me to squeeze in some extra sleep and exercise and Netflix binges. I am grateful for the unexpected opportunity to work side-by-side with my new COVID officemate (and boyfriend, co-chef, roommate, breakfast-lunch-dinner-buddy, haircutter, lover, workout partner, quarantine buddy… all in no particular order). I appreciate how much easier it is now to eat healthier (since we cook most of our meals these days), to save money (it turns out doing nothing is pretty cheap!), and to find pleasure in the utterly mundane things (like rearranging our Tupperware cabinet).
Many days, though, I can’t help but feel like I am trapped in some kind of torturous Westworld loop, in which time is rendered meaningless and every day seems like an exact replica of the one before. July feels exactly like May and May felt exactly like March. I can’t help but dwell on all that we lost—both big and not big—that made the day-to-day once seem more exciting and brimming with promise. I often feel bored, isolated, trapped, lonely, frustrated, and desperate for normalcy again. I feel like I am stuck living at work instead of working from home. I genuinely can’t help but wonder if my youth is passing me by—with my days and weeks and months all bleeding together—all the while as I am stuck at home with nowhere to go.
But maybe… that is exactly the point. Perhaps there was nowhere to go in the first place.
This thought struck me on yet another nondescript Saturday night however many weeks ago (again, who’s counting anymore?), when I was curling up with my journal and realizing just how eerily still my life had become. Maybe this was a natural result of sheltering in place for the better part of this year. Or maybe all those attempts to meditate are actually working. Still, this new quiet is particularly weird for me, because “still” has never been the soundtrack to my life. My pre-COVID self was constantly on the move—always working, always going, always doing. My calendar was jam-packed with brunches and work and workouts and coffee dates and birthday celebrations and dinner parties (sometimes all of the above, all in one day). Even at work, I had my own workstation set up in my best friend’s office so I could avoid sitting alone in mine all day. For any pockets of downtime I had to sit with myself, I filled the quiet with FaceTimes, group chats, podcasts, yoga videos, books, errands, TED Talks—anything to avoid my own solitude. I was rarely, if ever, still.
A part of this is rather natural; I am an extreme extrovert and social butterfly by nature. But I would be lying if I didn’t now wonder whether there had been something more to this. Because for most of my teens and twenties, I never felt quite at home in my own skin. My mind was simply not the kindest place for me to live—and how could it be, when I was the only one in this world who knew all of my flaws and insecurities and mistakes? I was so exacting in all the ways I thought I fell short—all the ways I had wished I were someone “better” than the person I actually was. So was there a part of me that was constantly on the go—over-scheduled, over-stimulated—because I was unknowingly trying to avoid my own self (and all the criticism and anxiety that came with her)? Was I truly seeking joy, or was I unconsciously avoiding pain? And, if the latter, how many disappointments and heartbreaks and mistakes could I have then avoided, had I learned to embrace my own company much earlier in my life? How many Saturday nights in my past did I unknowingly choose to distract myself—with mindless activities and the wrong people—simply because the alternative of sitting alone was too uncomfortable to bear?
I do not suspect I will fully resolve these questions anytime soon; the truth is likely complex and layered somewhere in between. However, at the very least, I am beginning to see that there may be a different, perhaps more productive, way for me to start reframing this never-ending Westworld-loop of 2020. It might not make sense, and it might be scary and isolating and lonely as hell at times, but I am being pulled to my core in ways I never could have expected. I am not sure why it took more than three decades and a global pandemic for me to learn how to nest within for the first time, but regardless of how I got here, I can try to embrace it now—boredom, anxiety, and isolation and all—and see where this path leads me.Because when will I ever again get the gift to spend this much time to be still? After more than three decades of spending my time, money, energy, mind and body on external distractions, it is about time I look within. It is about time I learn there was never anywhere else to go in the first place.
In this way, I suspect my post-COVID life will look very different from the one I had just a few months ago. With some time and distance away from what was once normal, I find myself re-evaluating everything and stripping my life down to the very basics. I am learning I do just fine without all that makeup or pedicures or professional-grade haircuts or six-dollar lattes. I am outgrowing certain friendships and deepening others. I am exploring new recipes (like the perfect avocado toast) and hobbies (like acrylic painting) and DIY haircut tricks (my boyfriend is a good guinea pig). I am slowly mastering the art of doing nothing (and not feeling guilty about it). I am reading more and talking less. I am learning to trust in the disarray, even when I do not understand it.
I am growing and toughening up as we speak—and, if I may presume, I am not the only one. There are little, gentle reminders all around us of our boundless resilience throughout this weird and lonely time. There is my friend Meg, whose marriage crumbled in the early stages of quarantine and is now learning to live alone for the first time in thirteen years—all the while juggling a full-time job and a two-year-old daughter. And then there is Erin, who—after rebounding from a scary bout of COVID and is now seeking to reinvent her second chance at life—decided once and for all to trade in her fancy lawyer job and fancier Brooklyn apartment for the rustic charms of New Hampshire. There is also Dan, who lost both his job and girlfriend in March and—after nursing a badly bruised heart for the last couple of months—is now embracing this opportunity to finally launch that consulting business he had dreamed about since college. In this way, all our grief and fears notwithstanding, there have been unexpected opportunities this year for many of us to dive deep within ourselves and shed what was not meant to be—a relationship going nowhere, a toxic friendship, an unfulfilling job—and write the next chapter for ourselves ahead. We are learning to Marie-Kondo our lives from old attachments—to things, friendships, relationships, habits, jobs, cities, apartments, hopes and dreams—that no longer serve us.
I may no longer boast about that really, really good feeling I had about this year… but, at the end of the day, I still choose hope. And this is not to say that the storms won’t continue to rage on—we are in week who-knows-what of COVID, and there is no telling how much further we have left to go or even how much worse this may get. Our losses may continue to compound for a painfully long time. However, if I may try to find any silver lining here, perhaps it is this: Despite all the pain and senseless loss,we are still surviving. We are still evolving. Wherever we are, whoever we are, we are pulling ourselves through something we do not understand—and maybe that is precisely the test here. What we do with this opportunity, then, depends entirely on us.
Jane Jeong is an attorney at Cooley, writer, yogi, dog-lover, and former Wall Street analyst and fitness instructor. She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. She lives in Manhattan.
During this period of upheaval caused by the evolving Covid-19 pandemic, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) will be reopening its pro bono legal clinic in a remote capacity to continue aiding the Asian Pacific American community with legal issues including: immigration, housing, employment, family, and elder law. To promote the remote clinic as well as other rich resources relating to the Covid-19 pandemic that AABANY has developed, student volunteers will be going door-to-door this Friday, July 3, to share informational flyers with Asian neighborhood small businesses and residents in Manhattan and Queens.
AABANY’s Pro Bono Legal Clinic opened in 2015 to serve members of the Asian Pacific American community who have limited English proficiency (“LEP”) so that they can have meaningful access to justice. Mobilizing the skills and experience of AABANY’s diverse membership, the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee has spearheaded the Clinic’s effort in helping nearly 2,000 LEP individuals in the vast yet underserved Asian American community in New York through its Clinics in Manhattan’s Chinatown and Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhoods. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, AABANY’s walk-in clinic hours unfortunately had been suspended indefinitely. However, individuals from the Asian Pacific American community can now call and request remote assistance from volunteer attorneys by phone.
Student volunteers from the Asian Pacific American Law Student Associations (“APALSAs”) of NYU, Brooklyn Law, Cardozo, Columbia, CUNY Law, Hofstra, New York Law School, St. John’s, Fordham, Cornell, and Harvard have been working hard to promote the clinic and AABANY’s compilation of Covid-19 related resources via social media and email through their networks and community contacts. On Friday, July 3, they will go into the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Koreatown, Woodside, and Elmhurst to directly get the information out to the community.
“During these unprecedented times, there is a tremendous need for free legal assistance. Many cannot even afford to meet their basic needs and yet they still face many legal issues with nowhere to turn. I applaud the Asian American Bar Association of New York for offering this much needed service to the immigrant community and the community at large,” says New York Committeewoman Sandra Ung, who in March was set to open the Queens expansion of the Pro Bono Clinic in Downtown Flushing until the shutdown was announced.
“The serious challenges brought on by COVID-19 have severely impacted the APA community in New York,” states AABANY President Sapna Palla. “AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic has served the APA community for many years before COVID-19 with competent legal services and information, overcoming linguistic, cultural and financial barriers. AABANY is pleased to be able to continue the vital work of the Pro Bono Clinic through remote operations, with proper regard for the health and safety of our community members, so that we can continue assisting them with their legal issues during these unprecedented times.”
Beginning July 6, 2020, the Unified Court System will require all courthouse visitors to participate in questioning and a temperature screening. The changes come as New York begins to re-open and adjust following the COVID-19 pandemic.
A uniformed official will take the temperature of all visitors, including attorneys, witnesses, spectators, prisoners, law enforcement officials, and others, with an infrared thermometer, which requires no physical contact.
Visitors will be asked if in the last 14 days, the visitor has (1) experienced fever, cough, shortness of breath or any other flu-like symptoms; (2) tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive; (3) returned from travel internationally or from states covered by Executive Order 205.1.
If the visitor registers a temperature of 100º or below and answers ‘NO’ to the aforementioned questions, they will be permitted into the courthouse. If a higher temperature is recorded or visitors answer ‘YES’ to any of the questions, the courthouse will request additional information for the visitor and will not be let inside.
For more information or tread the complete memo, please click the image above.
Sharon and Ivan Fong recently began a scholarship fund for rising 2L law students who demonstrate outstanding professional promise, community service, and commitment to the APA community.
Applicants will be evaluated for (a) academic excellence in their undergraduate school years and first year of law school, (b) leadership experience, (c) volunteerism or service in the public interest, (d) knowledge of social and cultural issues of any one or more AAPI communities or commitment to making a significant impact on issues affecting one or more AAPI communities, or both, and (e) commitment to “pay it forward.”
The NAPABA Law Foundation will award from the Sharon and Ivan Fong Scholarship Fund at least one $5,000 scholarship each year, half of which would be distributed to the recipient in his or her second year of law school and the remainder of which would be distributed to the recipient in his or her third year of law school.
Applicants must apply by June 30, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET. However, if applicants submit all but the reference letters by the deadline (and commit to getting the references in soon thereafter), applications will not be considered late.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in consideration of the safety and well-being of our members and attendees, NAPABA has postponed all in-person events for the remainder of 2020—the Regional Conference in Charlotte, NC and the NAPABA Convention in Los Angeles, CA.
NAPABA is planning a dynamic virtual conference in place of the 2020 NAPABA Convention scheduled for Nov. 5-8. We know that the need to connect is powerful, even more so during these unprecedented times. We pledge to use this opportunity to expand the breadth of our reach and explore new ways to keep you informed, engaged, and connected on a global scale.
You will have an exceptional opportunity to visit with old friends and meet new ones, hear recognized experts share insights, identify new business opportunities, and further propel your career trajectory—all from the safety and comfort of your home. The NAPABA virtual experience will be a unique and engaging forum that will bring our community together and serve to touch and inspire each one of us—a NAPABA FOR ALL!
More information about NAPABA’s virtual conference in November will roll out over the summer as we finalize the details. Please make plans to join us for the largest virtual gathering of Asian Pacific Americans attorneys and law students—without the airfare add-ons and travel-sized toiletries.
Thank you for your commitment and support of NAPABA.
On June 10, AABANY hosted another general interest meeting, this time over Zoom, to discuss the formation of a Family & Elder Law Committee. AABANY members Beatrice Leong, S. Yan Sin, and May Wong, who all practice matrimonial law, said they proposed creating this committee because they noticed a lack of Asian Americans in the field.
Despite AABANY’s history of over 30 years as a bar association, there have been no committees dedicated to matrimonial law, family law or elder law. The Family & Elder Law Committee aims to focus on issues pertaining to divorce, custody, child support, domestic violence, guardianship, estate planning, abuse/neglect, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and a host of other areas. As a committee focused on specific areas of law, the group would be able to provide support to the general membership – and even those who may not be AABANY members – by connecting them with lawyers who specialize in these fields and with other resources. The committee would also serve as a way to raise awareness about these areas of law which are more directly related to helping individuals.
During the webinar, Beatrice, Yan and May shared a short presentation detailing the goals and benefits of their proposed committee, as well as giving an overview of what family law and elder law entail. The webinar co-hosts also addressed the new challenges that have surfaced due to COVID-19 and detailed the ways they were adapting to the changes in the legal field.
Also in attendance was Pauline Yeung-Ha, an elder law and estate planning attorney who also supports the formation of this new committee. Elder law focuses on helping older adults with the preservation of wealth during one’s lifetime, aiding the elderly in issues related to health care, government benefits, guardianship and more. Estate planning, on the other hand, is centered more around the distribution of assets after one’s death. The two fields intersect heavily, Pauline said, requiring both extensive legal knowledge and the skill set of a social worker. With COVID-19, especially because of its tremendous toll on the older population, her work has been even more difficult than normal, filled with lots of urgent situations often regarding healthcare proxies or home attendants.
Following the presentation, the hosts opened up the webinar for a brief Q&A session, where they each explained what drew them to the type of law they practice and why they continue to be so passionate about their field. Although working at separate firms, Beatrice, Yan, and May agreed that being able to guide someone through the most difficult times in their lives — both on a legal and personal level — is what makes their jobs so fulfilling. Bringing knowledge in from a variety of fields, including social work and psychology, has allowed people to entrust them with their most valuable assets: their family and their money.
Pauline shared a similar sentiment, also noting how underserved elder law and estate planning tends to be. She particularly likes the fact that her job allows her to help people, and often requires her to piece together a puzzle from a host of incomplete stories, ultimately aiding older adults financially, while also connecting with and supporting them through a very emotional, sensitive process. The attorney-client bond has been so strong that Pauline still goes out to dimsum with some of her past clients.