Jane Jeong is the host of The Whole Lawyer Project, which highlights Asian American attorneys and leaders throughout the nation and the human stories behind their success. Jane is an attorney, 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.
For questions, feedback, or suggestions for future guests, please contact Jane directly at [email protected]
Blossom Kan, Assistant General Counsel at MetLife and novelist, on unconscious bias, self-advocacy, and taking ownership of your aspirations.
Blossom is a powerhouse lawyer at MetLife, an author of two fiction novels, and a graduate of Yale College and NYU School of Law. Together, we explore what it was like growing up as the only Asian kid in her Bronx neighborhood, how she managed to write novels in her spare time working in BigLaw, and how she has continued to grow throughout her 14-year tenure at MetLife. Drawing on lessons from her own past, Blossom also offers practical tips and strategies on how Asian American attorneys can combat the bamboo ceiling and how we can take agency over our own success (pro tip: remember that self-advocacy is different from bragging — so advocate for yourself like you advocate for your own clients).
Glenn Magpantay, civil rights attorney, professor, and nonprofit executive, on self-acceptance, confidence, and hope.
As a civil rights activist, a professor of law, and the former Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, Glenn is a force of nature. In this episode, he opens up about his mental health journey, which included overcoming thoughts of suicide as a result of the harassment, bullying and death threats he faced as one of the only gay and Asian men in his Queens community. Glenn also shares his take on what he believes is driving the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and what he is doing to make sure this is a lasting movement, not a mere moment, for change.
This is a must-listen for anyone who needs a reminder that self-acceptance is a never-ending journey (it is a struggle for everyone at times!), that it is never too late to go after what you want (our biggest obstacle is our own fear), and that none of us get it right all the time (and that is totally OK).
Shinhong Byun, an attorney, a mother, a military spouse, and podcast host: On surviving rape and PTSD, and channeling her pain into power.
We are so excited to host Shinhong Byun, an Of Counsel at Chan + Punzalan and the host of The Curious Ahjuma podcast (https://curiousahjuma.libsyn.com/), for which she bravely shares her healing journey following a brutal rape and a harrowing trial in Korea, and the bouts of PTSD, shame, and depression that haunted her even after 15 years. Together, we explore everything — from discovering self-compassion to refusing to numb ourselves to day-to-day microaggressions to refusing to define oneself as a broken victim (no matter how brutal some of our life experiences can be).
In addition to matters of the heart, we also explore Shinhong’s storied legal career and all the advice she has for attorneys looking to pivot through different areas of the law (Shinhong has pivoted through criminal law, commercial litigation, and maritime law at various points throughout her life). Shinhong is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, Tulane University Law School, and the University of California, San Diego. Shinhong’s story is a must-listen for those who embrace healing, growth and self-compassion.
Stephanie Tsao, an attorney and founder of API International Connectors: On taking a pause from BigLaw and organizing an international rally to Stop Asian Hate
We are so excited to host Stephanie Tsao, a former BigLaw attorney who founded API International Connectors (API-IC), a nonprofit connecting community leaders, NGOs and grassroots organizations to unite to Stop Asian Hate. Alongside organizations in the U.S., Canada and Australia, API-IC is organizing an international rally for May 15, 2021 to fight against anti-Asian hate around the world. For more information, please check out their Instagram @apiic_org or www.communityagainsthate.org.
In addition to promoting the rally, Stephanie speaks on the first step anyone can take to fight for social justice, on her unexpected pause in her BigLaw journey to care for her two young babies during COVID, on the one movie she recommends we all watch to keep perspective (yes, it’s from Disney!), and on her latest side-hustle candy business she is launching in the middle of the pandemic (check out http://viviandlivy.com/ for a preview of what’s to come!).
Stephanie’s story is a must-listen for all the hustlers out there: Remember you are never too late to start over, to make that cold call, to make intentional memories with your family, or to launch that business you’ve always dreamed of. Hope you enjoy.
Wookie Kim is the Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawaiʻi, as well as a Lecturer in Law at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and an endurance athlete who competes in 100-mile trail races.
On this episode, we explore how Wookie’s Teach for America experiences motivated him to become a civil rights lawyer, how he navigated the transition from BigLaw to the ACLU (pro tip: grab a copy of The Great Firm Escape here: https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/opia/the-great-firm-escape/), and how the spike in anti-Asian violence has resurfaced all the various microaggressions we all too easily swept under the rug while growing up. Wookie also shares how a near-death experience while trail running and months-long road to recovery empowered him to speed up his dreams, get out of his comfort zone, and tune deeper into his intuition — no matter how difficult it can be to go against the current at times.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Wookie was a litigation associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP in Washington, D.C and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Catherine C. Blake of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Wookie is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Yale College.
For our next episode of The Whole Lawyer Project, Facebook’s top antitrust lawyer, Anant Raut, speaks on how he balances his own career ambitions with living a whole life, how he accidentally fell into the field of antitrust when his top-choice job unexpectedly fell through, and what he advises for those of us who may be overly concerned about making a “wrong” move in their careers. As a former BigLaw associate as well as the former Counsel to Senate Ranking Member Diane Feinstein, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice, and Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, Anant also reflects on his transitions between the public and private sectors and reminds us all to always explore our curiosities, keep things in perspective, and trust that the non-linear path will eventually work out (however impossible it may seem at the time!). Finally, on a personal note, Anant shares how COVID has shaped his life as a new dad and provides advice for those of us who are starting out their careers (tip: yes, we all need to network — but if you are doing it right, networking should not feel like work!)
For our next episode of The Whole Lawyer Project, we speak with Steph Cha, a Korean American novelist and attorney who wrote her first novel while a student at Yale Law School. Steph’s fourth and most recent book, Your House Will Pay, won the LA Times Book Award.
After trying her hand in BigLaw, Steph knew very early on that she was going to forge her own path. Steph opens up about how she structured her legal career so she can write for six months out of the year, what advice she has for those of us who want to pursue our creative passions, and how important it is for us to keep an open mind for our dreams and future possibilities. We hope you enjoy this refreshingly honest account of Steph’s off-the-beaten-path journey.
For our third episode of The Whole Lawyer Project, we are honored to have Karen Kithan Yau, who shares her inspiring and authentic journey as a public interest lawyer, a former community organizer, a former professor, and a proud wife and mother of two multiracial children. Now an Of Counsel at Kakalec Law in New York who fights for employees, workers, and immigrants, Karen shares her personal story as the daughter of two garment workers who grew up in public housing projects in Hong Kong and a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment with her family.
Karen explores how her own family story shaped her mission to fight for those who are marginalized, invisible, and disenfranchised — and how this mission is particularly important today, given the spike in anti-Asian harassment and the perpetual treatment of Asian Americans as very “other” (regardless of where we were born or how much we personally identify as “American”). She provides guidance on how we can better recognize implicit biases, what we can do to fight the bamboo ceiling, and how we can all get out of our comfort zones in addressing anti-Asian hate (some tips: get organized, demand more, and find your communities). Finally, Karen offers words of wisdom for young attorneys who are trying to balance work and family (tip: remember that not everything happens in a straight line) as well as for those who are struggling to find their footing in their own careers (tip: remain resilient and remember that there are more open doors than we think).
If you want to work with Karen in supporting pro bono opportunities, please visit the AABANY Pro Bono site here . For anyone who wants to be inspired, this is an absolute must-listen.
We are excited to present to you AABANY’s The Whole Lawyer Project, which highlights Asian American attorneys and leaders throughout the nation and the human stories behind their success. Today, I am happy to introduce David Lat, the founding editor of Above the Law, as well as a legal recruiter at Lateral Link. Before launching Above the Law, David attended Harvard College and Yale Law School. After law school, he worked as a law clerk for a federal appeals judge, an associate at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, and an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
On this episode, David shares his storied journey from an Assistant U.S. Attorney to legal blogger, his experience managing traditional Asian parental expectations when leaving the law, his advice for any lawyer who wants to explore their creative pursuits (tip: carve out the time and have an accountability buddy), and his advice for anyone who is thinking of entering (or leaving!) the legal profession. You can check out David’s latest brainchild at https://davidlat.substack.com/.
We are excited to present to you the AABANY Whole Lawyer Project, which highlights Asian American attorneys and leaders throughout the nation and the human stories behind their success. For our inaugural episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Song, a litigation partner at BakerHostetler in New York City, the former president of AABANY, and a Lieutenant Colonel for the Judge Advocate General’s Corp of the U.S. Army Reserve. Together, we explore Brian’s childhood growing up as the child of Korean immigrants in environments where he was often the only Asian kid, and how feeling “other” impacted his own views on his Asian American identity. Brian also provides insight into his storied careers in the army and in BigLaw — including the advice he has for young lawyers and tips on how we Asian American attorneys can better speak up for ourselves.