AABANY Member Profile: Karen Lin Runs for Queens Civil Court Judge

Karen Lin, an AABANY member since 2019, is a candidate for Judge of the Civil Court in Queens. A dedicated public servant, Karen currently serves as court attorney-referee in Kings County Surrogate’s Court. A former Committee Co-Chair for AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, she led the creation of the Queens Pro Bono Clinic in 2020 and subsequently the Remote Legal Clinic. Now, she hopes to serve her community in a new capacity by becoming the first East Asian female judge elected in Queens. 

A Lifelong New Yorker 

Karen was raised in Flushing and northeast Queens by immigrant parents and continues to call Queens home today. A student of the New York City public school system, she attended the selective Hunter College High School and later the Bronx High School of Science. She attended college at the State University of New York at Buffalo before returning to New York City to pursue her law degree at Brooklyn Law School. 

Motivated to be an advocate for everyday people, Karen began her career as a civil rights and family law attorney at a small firm. She represented families in New York City Family Court and State Supreme Court. She subsequently left for an opportunity to work in the legislative office of New York State Senator Catherine Abate of the 27th District, covering lower and midtown Manhattan. There, as District Counsel and later Chief of Staff, she advocated for constituents in neighborhoods that included Chinatown and the Garment District. The experience gave Karen new insight into the needs of New Yorkers on issues such as affordable housing, fair wages, and labor rights. 

Making the Courts Accessible to Everyone

When Senator Abate gave up her seat to run for Attorney General, Karen returned to the courtroom, this time as a court attorney. Working as a neutral arbiter refined her ability to resolve disputes, facilitate dialogue, and practice empathy. Her commitment to justice was well-recognized by her colleagues, as she was subsequently appointed judge of the New York City Housing Court. “Housing court is the last stop before you’re homeless,” Karen reflects, “[yet] the playing field is so unlevel.” She was humbled by this opportunity. Having advocated for underserved communities for decades, Karen was committed to resolving the disputes before her with full understanding from both parties. 

The bench was Karen’s dream position as a public servant. As a judge, she worked hard to ensure that each person who appeared before her had a meaningful opportunity to be heard. But with a growing family, she decided to step off the bench to care for her three young children. She returned to the courtroom in 2013 as a court attorney-referee in Surrogate’s Court, the position she continues to hold today. She assists grieving families who face difficult conversations following the loss of a loved one. Care and compassion are pillars to Karen’s work: “If you care about people, you’ll care about their problems and see people as people instead of cases to go through,” she explains.  

Changing the Air in the Room

Now that her children are older, Karen hopes to deliver justice again through the bench. She believes that “a good judge knows the law, understands and applies it. A great judge does that and cares about people.” As the daughter of immigrants, a working mother and a lifelong public servant to disadvantaged communities, Karen stresses the need for diverse judges who are attuned to their constituents’ backgrounds. In Queens, where Karen is running, Asians are among the most underrepresented groups in the judiciary. According to the Special Advisor Report on New York State Courts, around 9 percent of Queens judges are Asian although the most recent Queens census reports that Asians constitute 27 percent of the population. 

“The air in the room changes depending on who is in it,” Karen says. She hopes that her campaign will inspire other candidates from underrepresented backgrounds to run for the bench. “As lawyers, [running for the judiciary] is not on our radar…yet invisibility changes when we call it out, when there are more of us who are not silent.” As judge, she is committed to continue serving everyday families and to ensure they are treated with dignity throughout the process. 


For more information about Karen Lin’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support her candidacy, please visit https://www.karenlin2022.com/.

AABANY Celebrates 2022 Annual Dinner with 800+ Attendees

On Thursday, April 28, 2022, AABANY hosted its 2022 Annual Dinner with the theme “Forging a New Path to an Equitable Future” at Cipriani Wall Street. The dinner attracted over 800 attorneys, judges, prosecutors, in-house counsel, government officials, and dignitaries and sponsorships from more than 50 law firms and corporations.

AABANY was proud to honor:

  • Flora W. Feng, Senior Legal Director, Global Intellectual Property, PepsiCo with AABANY’s Corporate Leadership Award 
  • Emily A. Kim, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zeta Charter Schools with AABANY’s Women’s Leadership Award

To read more about our extraordinary honorees, read the press release here.

We were joined by New York Governor Kathy Hochul who delivered remarks on the strength of the AAPI community and the importance of coming together to effectuate change. 

This year, Actress/Comedian/Activist Kate Siahaan-Rigg served as MC. She was our MC last year during our Virtual Gala, and this was her first time serving as our live MC at the Annual Dinner. Thank you, Kate, for raising awareness on “representASIAN” while adding color and fun to the ceremony! 

We were proud to honor Allen & Overy with the Law Firm Diversity Award for its commitment to improving diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. To read more about the award, read the press release here. 

In addition, we were also pleased to present the 2022 class of Don H. Liu Scholars: Seung Hye Yan, Edward Jung, and Brian Liu. Read more about the program here.

We extend sincere thanks to everyone who helped us raise over $30,000 for AABANY-AALFNY’s Turn  the Tide (T3) Project to fight anti-Asian hate and violence. We thank Mayer Brown for challenging the audience to match its initial donation of $10,000. Over the course of the evening, attendees tripled the match! We thank MC Kate Siahaan-Rigg for her endless humor and compassion in helping us exceed our fundraising goal. To learn more about the T3 Project see https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.aabany.org/resource/resmgr/2021aav/Turning_the_Tide_v5_compress.pdf

We thank all of the AABANY Annual Dinner Planning Committee members and volunteers for their hard work in making this year’s celebration a huge success.

We thank all of our sponsors. Their generous sponsorships make it possible for us to pursue our mission to advance the interests of the Asian American and Pacific Islander legal community and the communities we serve. Our sponsors support AABANY’s many activities and signature events throughout the year.

Lastly, we thank everyone that attended the 2022 Annual Dinner and celebrated with us. We were happy to see you all in person after two years of quarantine, social distancing and endless Zoom meetings.

More photos to come. Stay tuned! 

2022 NY Legal Education Opportunity Program

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission is pleased to share information about the 2022 NY Legal Education Opportunity Program (NY LEO):

The application portal is open for the NY Legal Education Opportunity Program Class of 2022! 

NY LEO immerses students that are educationally and/or economically disadvantaged, and/or from groups traditionally underrepresented in the law, to the rigors of the first year of law school; 1L experience.

The 6-week intensive program runs from June 5 – July 14, 2022, at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, located on Pace University’s campus in White Plains, NY. Students must apply online, see the tab, “LEO Fellow Application” on the NY LEO website (http://ww2.nycourts.gov/attorneys/leo).

Priority consideration will be given to applications received by May 6. Please share information about NY LEO with your networks.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:

NYLEO@nycourts.gov or by telephone at (914) 824-5800.

NAPABA Celebrates American Bar Association 2022 Spirit of Excellence Award Honoree Kay H. Hodge


For Immediate Release:
 
Date: February 10, 2022
ContactMary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director

WASHINGTON –The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) celebrates Kay H. Hodge who will be honored today with the 2022 American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award. The Spirit of Excellence Award is an annual award that recognizes leaders who have achieved excellence and supported others within their legal careers.

“We extend our congratulations to Kay H. Hodge, who exemplifies brilliance in her field and NAPABA’s values of diversity, having empowered lawyers and communities of color throughout her five-decade career,” said A.B. Cruz III, acting NAPABA president. “Kay began her career when there were relatively few Asian American or women lawyers who could serve as role models for her, so she had to become that mentor for others. She has shattered ceilings at the state, local, and national bar levels, and continues to inspire us with her ongoing service and work in the community.”

Hodge has been an equity partner at the Boston law firm of Stoneman, Chandler & Miller LLP since 1982, where she represents public and private sector management in labor, employment, and employee relations matters. Hodge has been selected as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and for membership in the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.

Additionally, Hodge is the Massachusetts State Delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates, a past member of the ABA Board of Governors, and a past chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity. She is also Chair of the ABA Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities and is a member of the Board of Directors, and past chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. She is also a past President of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the National Conference of Bar Presidents.

The American Bar Association is also honoring Gabriel S. Galanda, Chief Justice Steven C. González, Justice Adrienne C. Nelson, and Hon. Carlos E. Moore with the 2022 Spirit of Excellence Award. The ceremony streamed virtually, on February 10 at 6:00 pm EST.

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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.

AABANY Welcomes the Officers and Directors of the FY2022 Board

AABANY’s new fiscal year began on April 1, 2021. Terrence Shen is now the President of AABANY and Sapna Palla is the Immediate Past President. We are pleased to welcome this year’s Officers and Directors.

President
Terrence Shen

President-Elect
William Ng

Immediate Past President
Sapna Palla

Vice Presidents of Programs and Operations
Joseph Eng
Cynthia Lam

Development Director
Margaret T. Ling

Director of Technology
Francis Chin

Treasurer
William Hao

Secretary
Christopher S. Bae

Membership Director
Beatrice Leong

Executive Director
Yang Chen

Board of Directors
Jasmine Ball
Una A. Dean
Jeff Ikejiri
Suzanne Kim
Edward Y. Kim
Chris Kwok
Naf Kwun
Won S. Shin
David Sohn
Kazuko Wachter
P. Bartlett Wu
Karen Yau
Andy Yoo

To view the bios of the AABANY Directors and Officers, click here.