Thank you to our Columbia Law School’s Spring Break Caravan!

AABANY hosted for the second time the Columbia Law School’s Spring Break Caravan. This year, Caravan representative Angel Li (CLS ’23) reached out to the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee (PBCS) and Student Outreach Committee (SOC) to supervise six students during the week of March 14, 2022. During this program, students shadowed volunteer attorneys at the Queens pro bono clinics held on Saturdays, researched and drafted legal training materials for the pro bono clinics, attended a legal community presentation about bankruptcy, and met with various mentors from law firms and SOC graduates.    

On behalf of PBCS, we want to thank these law students for creating much-needed training materials to help volunteer attorneys in recognizing common issues in housing, family, wills and estates, and immigration law with flowcharts and outlines. These pro bono clinics act like triages in which attorneys spot issues for the individuals and provide legal information and referrals within a 30-minute session. We’ve been quite fortunate to have the support of our volunteer attorneys who are willing to teach each other and to open the eyes of these young law students about the problems many indigent and limited English proficient clients face daily.

On behalf of SOC, we are grateful for the not-for profit and biglaw corporate attorneys coming together to mentor these law students. Despite their different backgrounds and areas of practice, members of AABANY are always generously contributing their time, resources, and efforts to aid the AAPI community and leading these law students to a career of their own choosing.

Rather than picking just one essay from the Caravan, we believe it’s best to share with you all a snippet of these law students’ thoughts about the Caravan. We wish them the best in completing their studies and continue the AABANY’s spirit of giving back to the community.  

Regards,

Eugene Kim, PBCS

William Lee, SOC

May Wong, PBCS

Supervisors of the Caravan

“In the first instance, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the texts that were assigned preparatory to the start of the Caravan. The excerpt from How Do You Live? was especially memorable as a means of getting me into the right mindset before the program even formally began. It goes without saying that behind every law student and lawyer lies a sizable aggregation of resources: years of schooling, various internship opportunities, and votes of confidence from a network of supportive people. Law students and lawyers are the products of considerable societal investment; as such, it is incumbent upon them to give back and to give generously.”

-Andrew Chang –

“While I knew that our society had those problems, I realized that knowing problems is different from helping people facing the problems. I also understood that volunteer attorneys need to deal with various issues in different legal areas in a limited time in the clinic. Therefore, clients’ problems are not entirely solved there, but clients are given helpful advice on the following steps to solve the problems.”

– Nobuko Ikeda –

“Overall, I really valued not only peeking into the issues faced by the community, but also into how Asian American attorneys are helping combat those issues through the clinic. This caravan has inspired me to participate in the pro bono clinic as a future attorney, and I look forward to exploring even more ways to make the sessions efficient and to help the clients legally and emotionally.”

-Angel Li –

“What I found during the research was that massive amounts of materials and resources are already provided by municipal bodies, government officials, and private law firms on the internet. However, people who are not legal professionals would have difficulty utilizing these public resources. The difficulty arises from a language barrier and complexity in understanding and applying legal standards to one’s own situation.”

– Shota Sugiura-

“I appreciated all the genuine and candid advice I received from our Caravan supervisors, and am especially grateful for the wisdom from my AABANY mentor. It was an amazing opportunity to hear from lawyers from a range of backgrounds: those working in public service, those at firms, those who have transitioned to in-house. It was an equally exciting chance to build bonds with other Columbia APALSA members who felt passionate about giving back to our community.”

-Amanda Yang –

AABANY Members: CLE Opportunity – AAPF’s Critical Race Theory Summer School

AABANY Members:

In a few weeks the African American Policy Forum (led by Kimberlé Crenshaw and Luke Harris) presents the Critical Race Theory Summer School, which continues the tradition of everyday people coming together to envision and build a truly multiracial democracy. For example, the first CRT Summer School (pictured above) sowed seeds of scholarship and inclusion that many Americans have since found enlightening and transformative.

CLE credits are currently pending for this program, which features professors at Columbia Law School, UCLA law school, and other illustrious institutions. Summer School participants will gain knowledge, inspiration, and tools that can enhance their work advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.

Who should apply: The 2021 CRT Summer School is designed for lawyers and DEI practitioners. After five days of enlightening lectures and engaging breakout sessions, participants will have a firm grasp of CRT’s foundational concepts as well as toolkits, messaging guides, and a network of allies to sustain one another as we progress toward racial equity.

This year’s dedicated faculty include:

Core faculty – Kimberlé Crenshaw, Luke Charles Harris, Devon Carbado, Sumi Cho, Daniel Martinez HoSang, and Gary Peller.

Associate faculty: Barbara Arnwine, David Blight, Bennett Capers, Jennifer Chacón, Anthony Cook, Jesse Hagopian, Justin Hansford, Cheryl Harris, Tanya Hernández, Emily Houh, CJ Hunt, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Chris Lehmann, Bradley Mason, Melissa Murray, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Priscilla Ocen, Russell Robinson, Jason Stanley, Alvin Starks, Courtney Symone Staton, David Stovall, Kirsten West Savali, Robert A. Williams, and Ezra Young

Apply to the 2021 CRT Summer School now to gain access to the “forbidden knowledge” of critical race theory and learn more about how you can be part of the solution in the legal profession. Since we expect seats to fill up quickly, we encourage you to apply now at https://www.aapf.org/crtsummerschool.

In the News: AABANY Student Leader Jenny Park Featured in Columbia Law School’s Student Spotlight

AABANY Student Leader Jenny Park was recently featured in Columbia Law School’s May 27 article titled “Student Spotlight: Jenny Park ’21 on Community Advocacy, Corporate Law, and What’s Next.” In the article, Jenny shared her journey to law school, her extracurriculars as a law student, and her post-graduation plans.

Among the many extracurricular activities she participated in, Jenny partnered with AABANY twice to assist members of the Asian American community. First, she was a COVID-19 task force leader in the summer of 2020, where she helped provide pro bono resources to the community along with other task force members. As a 2020-2021 Davis Polk Leadership fellow, she partnered with AABANY again in 2021 through a spring break caravan. Jenny and other Columbia Law students updated and translated AABANY’s COVID-19 webpages; participated in client consultations with volunteer attorneys; and researched New York laws. Speaking about her post-graduation plans, Jenny said: “After graduation, I will (hopefully!) pass the bar and begin working at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in New York. Recently, I was also offered a vice chair position with AABANY’s Young Lawyers Committee. I hope to continue serving as a mentor and assisting young professionals as I grow in my career. As a 1L and throughout law school, I also worked with the Esports Bar Association, assisting to host an annual conference, drafting and distributing a diversity and inclusion toolkit, and more. I am currently serving on the diversity committee and plan to remain involved as esports continue to grow.”

To read the full article, click here. To read AABANY’s blog post on the CLS-AABANY Pro-Bono Caravan, click here.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Jenny on her graduation from Columbia Law School and thanking her for all the hard work she has done for AABANY! 

In the News: AABANY Remote Clinic and Spring Break Caravan Featured in Columbia Law School Article

In the April 26 article “Columbia Law Students Participate in 2021 Virtual Spring Break Caravans,” Columbia Law School highlighted a few of the remote spring break pro bono caravans students participated in this year. One of the virtual caravans featured was the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) Remote Clinic. During the spring break caravan, Columbia Law students helped update AABANY’s COVID-19 webpages, participated in client consultations with volunteer attorneys, and did research on consumer debt/foreclosure, immigration, housing, employment, and family law in New York. AABANY Student Leader Jenny Park (CLS’21) organized the caravan with AABANY “because it allowed students to become directly involved with COVID-19 relief efforts and address a specific need in a short period of time.”

To read more about participants’ experiences with the AABANY Spring Break Caravan and to read about other virtual caravans, click here. Thanks to Jenny Park for bringing AABANY and the Columbia Law School community together for this opportunity to provide pro bono resources for the community.

Thank You to CLS-AABANY Pro-Bono Caravan Participants

AABANY extends its thanks to all members of the Columbia Law School community who participated in the CLS-AABANY Pro-Bono Caravan. The Spring Caravan was a weeklong volunteer effort from March 1 through 5 in which law students partnered with AABANY’s remote clinic to update AABANY’s COVID-19 resource pages, participate in client consultations with volunteer attorneys, and engage in research on consumer debt/foreclosure, immigration, housing, employment, and family law in New York. Through translating both AABANY’s COVID-19 materials and remote clinic intake calls, participating students made COVID-related information more accessible to laypeople, particularly those from minority and low-income backgrounds. The Caravan also offered students many professional development and networking opportunities in the form of an AABANY mentorship program, a meet and greet with the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, and lunch with AABANY Student Leaders. 

Please see the flyer below for the list of participating students, their reflections on the Pro-Bono Caravan, and the participating attorney mentors. We thank all Caravan participants for their desire to give back to the community and look forward to continuing the fight for equal justice as a team.

Sandra Ung, Former AABANY Treasurer, Runs for City Council on Platform of Unity for the Flushing Community

Former AABANY Treasurer and longtime community advocate Sandra Ung has announced her candidacy for New York City Council for the upcoming 2021 election. Sandra, who has dedicated her life to serving the Queens community, hopes to use her extensive experience in and passion for law and public service to best support and represent the Flushing community.

Growing up, Sandra always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. “I’ve always believed that it’s important to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves,” she said in a recent interview. Sandra, who is ethnically Chinese, fled Cambodia during the genocide and immigrated to the United States when she was just seven years old. Soon after, she moved to Flushing, where she has called home ever since. But growing up as an immigrant presented many challenges.

“It’s not easy when you come to a country where you don’t know the language and have to start over,” she said. “But I quickly realized that we were not the only family on this path.” With this passion for community justice in mind, Sandra attended New York City public schools until graduating from Hunter College and then going to Columbia Law School to get her J.D. in 2001. She then worked at a law firm, where she learned detail-oriented writing and organizational skills that allowed her to really understand how to be a professional.

She then worked for Sanctuary For Families, a New York non-profit focused on helping victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence. Domestic violence is not regularly or openly talked about in the Asian American community, and survivors often find it difficult to talk to counselors and attorneys, especially when they look nothing like them. When working with organizations like Sanctuary for Families and the Korean American Family Service Center, Sandra saw her Asian American clients slowly open up to her, and she realized how important it is to have a support system that truly understands you and, therefore, your needs.

Now, one of Sandra’s platforms is to provide greater assistance for domestic violence victims. The pandemic has revealed what people in the field already know: domestic violence is a real, pressing issue in every community, and it is not addressed well enough. Therefore, true domestic violence advocacy requires not only highlighting and funding service providers, but also providing ways for survivors of domestic violence to physically move-out, with better housing solutions, and become financially independent from their abusers.

Sandra has worked for the New York State Assembly as a Special Assistant to the NYS Commissioner on Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; a Legislative Assistant to former New York City Comptrollers Bill Thompson and John Liu; and Chief of Staff to former New York State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng. Currently, she is the Special Assistant to Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), leading the congresswoman’s re-election campaigns and running Grace’s At the Table PAC, a political action committee dedicated to expanding women and minority representation in politics. As the eyes and ears on the ground while the congresswoman is in D.C., Sandra is proud to represent the immigrant community and support them through the same challenges she faced growing up. She especially enjoys running free workshops that teach public speaking and career-based skills to young women who lack access to this knowledge, like she did when she was also growing up in an immigrant family. “We really understand that if you want to have a seat at the table, you need the basic skill set to get you to that table in the first place,” she said.

While serving as AABANY’s Treasurer, Sandra felt empowered by the inclusivity that AABANY created for its community. Due to the breadth and diversity of its members and leaders, AABANY showed Sandra the importance of having strong representation of Asian Americans in leading legal, public interest, and government positions, where they will truly advocate for the communities they serve.

Therefore, after over a decade working for New York state and years of working on other people’s campaigns, Sandra feels ready to tackle and win her own. “The recent national and local elections have shown that we are more divided than ever,” she said. “So, in campaigning, it is especially important to me to set a positive tone.” She hopes to focus on creating unity within the Flushing community, building a broad coalition as strong as their neighborhood.

Now more than ever, Sandra looks up to her mother, who was born in Cambodia and forced to leave her family during the genocide. While working in a laundromat all her life, Sandra’s mother taught her about perseverance and hard work; her parents continue to inspire her to give back to the country that gave them everything they have.

“The people around me have given me the courage to try and do this,” she said. “I believe in my community, I believe in myself, and I believe that I will be the best person for this job.”

To learn more about Sandra’s campaign and find out how you can get involved, please visit sandrafornewyork.com

To hear more about the campaign from Sandra herself, please watch the video below.

To follow Sandra’s campaign on social media, please visit their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

This member profile has been published for informational purposes only and does not constitute and should not be construed as a campaign endorsement.

Don Liu featured as the Keynote Speaker at the Fourth Annual Alumni of Color Event of Columbia Law School

On Thursday, January 24, 2019, Don Liu was featured as the Keynote Speaker at the Fourth Annual Alumni of Color Event of Columbia Law School. The event took place at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel in Manhattan and was attended by over 200 Columbia Law School Alumnae.

Don spoke of the challenges of being an APA Attorney and In House General Counsel. He praised all of the pioneering efforts of NAPABA and AABANY to support and encourage the future careers of many APA law students and attorneys.

Of greater importance was how he inspired the audience with what Diversity and Inclusion meant to him and how important it was to embrace it.

We thank Margaret Ling, AABANY’s Director of Development and Co-Chair of AABANY’s Real Estate Committee, for providing the photos and write up for this post.