On May 17, 2023, AABANY held its Manhattan Pro Bono Legal Clinic at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Our volunteers met with 17 clients and discussed issues relating to housing, fraud, and government benefits.
Some positive client responses: “I appreciate it so much.” “Good service. I will keep coming monthly.”
The Pro Bono Clinic is organized by AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service Committee. To learn more about the Committee’s work visit here. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the dedicated volunteers who made this Pro Bono Clinic a success:
On August 14, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee and Government Service and Public Interest (GSPI) Committee hosted a hybrid legal clinic and provided a “Know Your Rights” presentation for residential and commercial tenants on the topic of rent arrears and evictions. The event was held at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) in Manhattan’s Chinatown and was co-sponsored by AABANY, CCBA, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York (CCCNY).
During the presentation, which was shown on Zoom and screened in-person at CCBA, Rina Gurung, an associate court attorney at the New York State Unified Court System and co-chair of the GSPI Committee; Kensing Ng, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society in East Harlem; and Meghan Liu, a Cleary Gottlieb pro bono fellow at Legal Services NYC, discussed different types of cases that are brought in housing court, such as nonpayment, holdover, and housing part cases. They also explained which eviction moratoria are in effect due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized that these laws can change at any time. This was especially relevant, given the imminent expiration of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act on August 31, 2021; the expiration of the CDC’s moratorium on October 3, 2021; and the U.S. Supreme Court’s August 12, 2021 opinion striking down part of the New York moratorium.
Gurung, Liu, and Ng also provided resources that tenants could contact to file hardship declarations and explained the basics of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which provides rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears assistance to low- and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. They also explained that landlords seeking to sue their tenants should hire a lawyer and for those who received a marshal’s notice to go to court. In addition, the presenters explained differences in procedures for cases involving commercial tenants and provided resources for both landlords and tenants, phone numbers for free consultations for income-eligible individuals, and a guide to landlord disputes. Bei Yang, a contract attorney at On Call Counsel, interpreted the presentation live into Mandarin Chinese.
Eighteen clients attended the clinic for one-on-one legal consultations with AABANY volunteers, including 12 who had registered beforehand, one virtual caller, and five walk-ins. Topics ranged from housing and matrimonial law to immigration, fraud, medical malpractice, and personal injury. All available client consultation slots were successfully filled.
One client, an older man who only spoke Cantonese, came to the clinic because he had been scammed by a woman who claimed to be interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him online. She then asked him to send her a significant sum of money, and he did so before realizing that she was a fraud. Such occurrences are not uncommon, especially among elders, and individuals who have been or who know victims of similar types of fraud should not feel ashamed to tell their stories or speak to an attorney. Sharing these stories promotes awareness of these types of scams and helps others avoid them.
While AABANY volunteers were conducting one-on-one consultations, several clients watched the presentation in the CCBA sitting area. One client asked for the PBCS email to see if she could get a recording of the presentation and re-watch it, as she missed a portion of the live presentation. She also was impressed by clips from the Anti-Asian Violence PSA that explained what hate crimes were and how they can be reported, and asked for the link to the YouTube video, even though she spoke no English. After the one-on-one consultations concluded, volunteers debriefed the clinic and got to know each other over a post-clinic meal at Canton Lounge.
The PBCS Committee thanks Rina Gurung, Kensing Ng, and Meghan Liu for lending their expertise in rent arrears, eviction moratoria, and landlord and tenant rights and Bei Yang for providing a live interpretation of the presentation. The Committee would also like to thank Beatrice Leong, Francis Chin, Guiying Ji, Jae Hyung Ryu, Judy (Ming Chu) Lee, Karen Kithan Yau, Kwok Ng, Samantha Sumilang, and Shengyang Wu for providing clients with legal information and resources during one-on-one consultations; Kloe Chiu and Esther Choi for providing language interpretation during one-on-one consultations; Luna Fu and Wai Yip from AAFE for language interpretation and other assistance; Zhixian (Jessie) Liu and Poonam Gupta for acting as standby consultants for immigration-related questions; and Asako Aiba, Karen Lin, Kevin Hsi, Kwok Ng, May Wong, Megan Gao, and Olympia Moy for coordinating and staffing the clinic. AABANY would also like to thank CCBA, CCCNY, and AAFE for co-sponsoring this event. We are also grateful to the staff at Charles B. Wang for providing video resources on mental health and anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To learn more about the PBCS Committee and its work, click here and here. The PBCS Committee is tentatively planning to hold its next hybrid legal clinic on Saturday, September 18, 2021 between 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM. For up-to-date details about the clinic and registration information, please click here.
On May 4, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service Committee (PBCS) hosted a virtual law clinic and presentation on elder law as a part of the Virtual Community Presentation Series. The event was co-sponsored by AABANY, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York.
In light of the instability brought about by the pandemic, the new changes to the Medicaid laws, and the surge in anti-Asian violence, Committee Vice-Chair May Wong moderated the event to address the questions and concerns of the Chinese community, as well as to provide free legal consultations on these topics. May was joined by Karen Eng, specializing in estate planning, administration, elder law, Article 81 guardianship, and residential real estate at Thomas J. Manzi, P.C., and Pauline Yeung-Ha, Partner at Grimaldi & Yeung, LLP specializing in trusts, wills and estates, elder law, and special needs planning. Also present were Co-Chairs Judy Lee, Karen Lin, and Kwok Ng.
Karen Eng presented information on advance directives, wills, and trusts, while Pauline spoke on the new Medicaid changes and the effects the changes would have on individual healthcare. Both Karen Eng and Pauline emphasized the importance of advance preparation in matters of healthcare and estate planning. Kwok translated the speakers consecutively into Cantonese and Mandarin and also presented information on hate crimes and resources for reporting incidents. 31 individuals attended the event. At the presentation’s end, PBCS, along with Karen Eng and Pauline, opened the virtual free services clinic for two client consultations. The CCBA provided their physical headquarters for the two clients to meet remotely with the attorneys.
The PCBS Committee thanks Karen Eng and Pauline Yeung-Ha for offering their expertise in elder law to give back to the Chinese community. PBCS would also like to thank Annalee Patel, Bei Yang, Chao-Yung Chiu, Jian Cui, Julie Choe, Kelly Tang, and Xinyi Shen for their help and support in organizing the event. AABANY would also like to thank the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the New York Chinese Chamber of Commerce for co-sponsoring this event. To watch the presentation, click here. To learn more about the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee and its work, click here and click here.
On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Chair Karen Kithan Yau and Vice-Chair Kwok Ng had an opportunity to meet with the Commissioner of Law from Taipei City, Hsiu-Hui Yuan, and her staff in a meeting arranged by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of NY Inc., a long-time community partner for the Monthly Pro Bono Legal Advice and Referral Clinic in Manhattan at Confucius Plaza. Commissioner Yuan and her team had expressed interest in learning from the AABANY Pro Bono Clinic’s experience to best meet the legal needs of the ordinary citizen. In addition to meeting with AABANY, Commissioner Yuan and her team will also met with Pro Bono Net, New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), and Office of Legal Policy for US Department of Justice.
Commissioner Yuan and her staff members asked Karen and Kwok, members of the Clinic’s leadership team, about the Clinic’s history, challenges, and successes in serving limited English proficient, low-income community members. The discussion was substantive and far-reaching, ranging from overcoming barriers to justice that community members experienced, to legal policies and mechanisms to encourage positive use of the law, effective distribution of legal resources, use of mediation to protect consumers, and ways to encourage more volunteerism among extraordinarily busy lawyers.
AABANY thanks the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of NY and Commissioner of Law Yuan of Taipei City for this wonderful opportunity to exchange information and experience. To read about the meeting in the World Journal, click here (in Chinese). To learn more about AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/648
On November 30, 2018, Hon. Peter Tom of the Appellate Division, First Department, was presented with the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of the City of New York, at the Chamber’s 2018 Benefit Fundraising Dinner held at the Jing Fong restaurant. The event was attended by over 1,000 guests representing Chinatown’s businesses, family associations and community groups.
The Chinese Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1904 by Chinese businessmen in New York City and registered with the Imperial Chinese Government. This organization was formed to promote and support Chinese commerce and businesses in the Chinese communities. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in New York State in 1932.
The Chinese Chamber of Commerce Public Service Award recognizes Justice Tom’s contributions to New York State and the Asian American community. Please join AABANY in congratulating Justice Tom on this well-deserved award and honor.
On June 14, the Pro Bono Monthly Clinic, held on the second Wednesdays of the month at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce offices at Confucius Plaza, our volunteers assisted 23 clients from 6 pm to 8:30 pm.
Please join us in thanking all our attorneys and translators that evening:
Ming Chu Lee
Yee Ling Poon
We would also like to thank Ariana Pabalan, who was the Volunteer Coordinator. If you would like to volunteer as an attorney or interpreter, please email email@example.com.