Pro Bono and Community Service Committee Presented with Certificate of Commendation at NYS Senators’ Lunar New Year Virtual Celebration

New York State Senators John Liu (11th District, Queens), Andrew Gounardes (22nd District, Brooklyn), Brian Kavanagh (26th District, Manhattan) and Toby Stavisky (16th District, Queens) hosted a Lunar New Year virtual celebration Tuesday evening, February 16, featuring performances from AAPI youth and community honorees. The event was well-attended by city, state and federal elected officials, as well as community leaders and their organizations.

Senator Kavanagh presented May Wong, Esq., and Olympia Moy with a certificate of commendation to recognize the work of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee in providing invaluable legal assistance to the AAPI community during the pandemic. May Wong and Olympia Moy were proud to accept the certificate on behalf of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee. In their acceptance speech, they detailed the committee’s success in creating a one-day “in-person” clinic in July 2020 to assist tenants with paper applications for the COVID Rent Relief Program. When the COVID Rent Relief Program was extended to February 2021, law students volunteered again to establish a two-week remote hotline service to assist non-English speaking tenants apply via telephone. They were able to assist callers in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish with the help of the committee’s community partners, Chinatown CLT and GOLES. May Wong and Olympia Moy concluded their speech by expressing gratitude towards the State for its effort in addressing the State’s housing and poverty crisis and strongly encouraged the State to “direct emergency financial relief to tenants and property owners in meaningful programs that can provide permanent rental assistance and increased access to rental subsidies.”

Thank you to all the attorney volunteers and law students who helped AABANY and the community, especially May Wong, William Lee, Karen Lin, Nicholas Loh, Xinyi Shen, and Olympia Moy.

Congratulations to the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee on this well-deserved recognition! To learn more about the Committee and all its wonderful work, go to probono.aabany.org. They are always looking for more volunteers so email them at clinic.volunteer@aabany.org if you can help.

NAPABA is Proud to Congratulate Past President John C. Yang

2021 ABA Spirit of Excellence Award Honoree

President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and NAPABA Past President John C. Yang is among the five honorees of the American Bar Association’s 2021 Spirit of Excellence Award. NAPABA proudly congratulates John for his illustrious accomplishments in every facet of the legal profession and for championing the Asian American & Pacific Islander community.

The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. The awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the law.

John has achieved professional excellence in his wide-ranging career that has spanned four different practice settings. He has served as partner at a law firm practice in Washington, DC; led as a Director of Legal affairs at a Fortune 200 company in Shanghai, China; served as a Senior Advisor within the Obama Administration; and most recently, directs the organizational efforts to fight for civil rights and empowering Asian Americans to create a more just America at the Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.

At each stage of John’s career, he has served as a leader, role model, and mentor to countless racially and ethnically diverse individuals, helping to guide many promising lawyers’ careers. John has tirelessly promoted and supported attorneys who were interested in pursuing a federal judgeship, resulting in the nomination and confirmation of more than 25 Asian American Article III judges. His work has also opened doors for attorneys interested in serving in presidential administrations.

John’s advocacy has reached far beyond the Asian American & Pacific Islander community. In addition to his leadership roles within NAPABA, John has served as Chair of the Minority Caucus of the ABA House of Delegates where he worked closely with bars of color to advance distinct and unifying agenda items and resolutions and he has served on the ABA Commission on Racial & Ethnic Diversity. Present day, John serves on the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC where he collaborates closely in coalition with other organizations representing the interests of minority groups.

John used his parents’ experiences as well as the injustices that he personally encountered as an immigrant to the United States from Taiwan to navigate his own path while blazing a trail for others to follow. NAPABA is proud to have supported John’s nomination as a Spirit of Excellence honoree.

Spirit of Excellence Ceremony

NAPABA invites you to join in celebration as John is recognized and honored at the ABA Spirit of Excellence Award Virtual Ceremony on February 18 at 5 PM ET. In addition to John, honorees include Barbara L. Creel, Román D. Hernández, Sherrilyn Ifill, and Lori E. Lightfoot. To register for the awards ceremony during the ABA Midyear Meeting, please click here.

NAPABA Congratulates Josh Hsu on Appointment as Counsel to the Vice President

For Immediate Release: December 30, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) congratulates Josh Hsu on his appointment as Counsel to the Vice President. Hsu is the first Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) to serve in the lead legal role for the Vice President of the United States. 

“Josh Hsu has been a rising star and major contributor within the NAPABA community for many years.  In 2015, he was recognized as one of NAPABA’s Best Lawyers Under 40. We are delighted that the Biden-Harris administration has appointed him to a senior leadership position as Counsel to the Vice President,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “Vice President-elect Harris had one of the most diverse staffs in the Senate and her recent executive office appointments demonstrate her continued commitment to creating a government that better reflects the American citizenry. We celebrate Josh in his new role and trust that the Biden-Harris administration will continue to recognize the value of AAPI attorneys by rightfully placing them in leadership roles.”

Prior to his appointment, Hsu served as National Policy Director for Vice President-elect Harris’ presidential campaign and was formerly Deputy Chief of Staff and General Counsel for her Senate office. He has served as Chief Counsel for Nominations in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee under Ranking Member Patrick Leahy and as an attorney in the national legal department at the American Civil Liberties Union. Hsu clerked for the Honorable Denny Chin on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and Georgetown University.

NAPABA advocated for a senior level appointment for Josh Hsu. We thank President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris for appointing him to the position.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity in government and the judiciary on the local, state, and federal levels, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.

Congratulations to AABANY Members Listed as Rising Stars in the New York Metro Edition of 2020 Super Lawyers

AABANY congratulates the AABANY members who have been named Rising Stars in the New York Metro 2020 edition. Rising Stars are selected through a rigorous selection process that includes being nominated by their peers, evaluated by third-party research in 12 key categories, and reviewed by a Blue Ribbon Panel of attorneys. Two point five percent of attorneys are named Rising Stars.

Please join us in congratulating the following AABANY members on their achievements:

  • Moses M. Ahn, Liakas Law, P.C.
  • Keala Fumiko Chan, Chan Hubbard PLLC
  • Shruti Chopra, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Co-Chair of AABANY’s Mentorship Program
  • Mulan Cui, Winston & Strawn LLP
  • Han Deng, Reed Smith LLP
  • Anthony K.C. Fong, Law Office of Anthony K.C. Fong, Esq.
  • Flora Go, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
  • Ligee Gu, Halperin Battaglia Benzija, LLP
  • Lawrence S. Han, Rivkin Radler LLP 
  • Claire Huynh, Condon & Forsyth LLP
  • Kail Jethmalani, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP 
  • Albert K. Kim, William Schwitzer & Associates
  • Kathleen Y. Kim, Winston & Strawn LLP
  • Joyce E. Kung, Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C.
  • Olivia Sul Ki Lee, Lee Anav Chung White Kim Ruger & Richter LLP
  • Darley Maw, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Co-Chair of AABANY’s Young Lawyers Committee
  • Alysha M. Naik, Latham & Watkins LLP
  • Claudia Pak, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
  • Sun Ah (Michelle) Park, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
  • Nicholas Tam, Shaub, Ahmuty, Citrin & Spratt LLP
  • Shengyang Wu, Caesar and Napoli, P.C.
  • Stacy Wu, Law Office of Stacy L. Wu
  • Melissa Yang, Rakower Law PLLC
  • Ji-Young (Rachel) Yoo, Law Offices of Rachel J. Yoo, LLC
  • Honghui S. Yu, Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP

To view the 2020 digital edition of Super Lawyers, click here.

NAPABA Congratulates Katherine Tai on Nomination for U.S. Trade Representative

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) congratulates Katherine Tai on her nomination to be U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in the Biden-Harris administration. If confirmed, Tai will be the first woman of color to lead the agency.

“Katherine Tai has been a valued member of our NAPABA community, and we are thrilled that President-elect Biden has nominated her to be U.S. Trade Representative,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “Her background is a story that many AAPIs can relate to—like many of us, Katherine is the daughter of immigrants who came to this country to embark on a better life. Since then, she has excelled in her illustrious career, counselling our nation’s leaders on trade policy in past administrations and in Congress. NAPABA congratulates Katherine and urges the Senate to confirm her as Trade Representative.”

Tai is currently Chief Trade Counsel and Staff Director of the Trade Subcommittee in the Ways & Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. She formerly served as Chief Counsel for China Trade Enforcement in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and clerked for Judge John D. Bates, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Judge Deborah K. Chasanow, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

NAPABA advocated for Katherine Tai’s nomination. We thank President-elect Biden for nominating her to the position.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession.

AABANY Congratulates Military & Veterans Affairs Committee Co-Chair Dong Joo Lee on His Promotion to Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy Reserves

Please join AABANY in congratulating Military & Veterans Affairs Committee Co-Chair Dong Joo Lee on his recent selection to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Reserves. He will be one of ten Asian-Americans in the entire Navy JAG Corps to be at this rank. 

Dong was on active duty for almost seven years, serving in various duty stations including Guantanamo Bay, Korea, and the Pentagon. Upon leaving active duty, Dong remained in the JAG Corps as a part-time reservist and currently drills out of Washington Navy Yard. As a civilian, he worked as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, clerked at the Eastern District of New York for Judges Dora L. Irizarry and Roslynn R. Mauskopf, and is now a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Dong has been, and continues to be, a great Co-Chair for the MVA Committee and an active supporter of AABANY and other sister bar associations. Congratulations, Dong!

Congratulations to AABANY Members Listed in the New York Metro Edition of 2020 Super Lawyers

AABANY congratulates the AABANY members who have been named Super Lawyers in the New York Metro 2020 edition. Super Lawyers are selected through a rigorous selection process that includes being nominated by their peers, evaluated by third-party research in 12 key categories, and reviewed by a Blue Ribbon Panel of attorneys. Five percent of attorneys are named Super Lawyers.

Please join us in congratulating the following AABANY members on their achievements:

  • Eugene L. Chang, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
  • Vincent T. Chang, Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP, Former AABANY President 2007
  • Loyti Cheng, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
  • Kenneth Chin, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
  • John Ho, Cozen O’Connor P.C., Co-Chair of AABANY’s Labor & Employment Committee
  • Annie Huang, Robins Kaplan LLP
  • Glenn Lau-Kee, Lau-Kee Law Group PLLC, Former AABANY President 1997-98, First APA President of the New York State Bar Association
  • Kenneth E. Lee, Levine Lee LLP 
  • Lisa S. Lim, Akerman LLP
  • Kyoko Takahashi Lin, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
  • Gilbert K.S. Liu, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
  • Tiffany Ma, Young & Ma LLP
  • Gloria Tsui-Yip, Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, P.C.
  • Vinoo Varghese, Varghese & Associates, P.C.
  • Tsui H. Yee, Law Offices of Tsui H. Yee P.C
  • Pauline Yeung-Ha, Grimaldi & Yeung LLP

To view the 2020 digital edition of Super Lawyers, click here.

Congratulations to AABANY Member Naf Kwun for Receiving NAPABA’s 2020 Best Under 40 Award

This December, the 2020 Annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) Awards Ceremony will be held virtually to honor outstanding attorneys and organizations that have made an impact within the Asian Pacific American community. Among those being honored will be Naf Kwun, a partner at Lee Anav Chung White Kim Ruger & Richter LLP and a valued member of AABANY’s Board of Directors, who has received one of NAPABA’s Best Under 40 awards. Every year, NAPABA recognizes talented individuals within the Asian Pacific American (“APA”) legal community under the age of forty who have achieved prominence and distinction in their fields of endeavor. Recipients are selected on the basis of two factors: first, demonstrated success and professionalism in the practice of law; and second, a commitment to the APA community. A law firm partner, mother to two young kids, and wife, Naf has not only taken an exceptional career path but has also shown a continuous and inspiring dedication to the APA community. 

Naf has achieved the first factor of consideration for this award, a demonstrated success and professionalism in the practice of law, in various ways. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley,  she founded a small business to support her family before ultimately enrolling at Georgetown University Law Center.  She went on to complete a judicial clerkship with Justice Patricia DiMango of the New York State Supreme Court, Criminal Term, before entering private practice at her current law firm as an associate in the corporate and commercial litigation group. In this small firm setting with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to individuals, Naf quickly taught herself civil litigation and corporate law. She overcame the learning curve, impressed the firm’s partners, and by her third year assumed the duties and responsibilities of a senior associate. The firm was especially impressed by Naf’s intelligence, initiative, and management skills, and in 2018, she became the first associate elevated to partnership since the firm’s founding. 

Naf has exemplified the second criterion for the award by demonstrating a commitment to the APA community through her leadership and passion outside of her professional pursuits. Since joining AABANY, Naf has become a dedicated driver of meaningful participation of APAs in the legal profession.  Over the years, she has held nine leadership positions at the committee and board level. Through leadership and collaboration, she has helped carry AABANY’s mission forward, such as by helping to manage over 100 programs as a Vice President of Programs and Operations and working with the Judiciary Committee to increase diversity on the bench. Additionally, as co-chair, Naf led the Women’s Committee to chronicle the progress of APA women attorneys over the last twenty years through a groundbreaking video project called “Kicking Glass from the Courtroom to the Boardroom: Two Decades and Counting”. This project would not only premiere at the 2014 NAPABA Convention but also screened at the 2015 ABA Spring Conference, the 2015 AABANY Fall Conference, and at law firms nationwide. 

Naf’s drive for professional excellence and commitment to the APA community are deeply rooted in her experience as a Korean American immigrant. Growing up in a predominantly white suburb outside of New Orleans, she encountered racism and exclusion, which helped to build her character and developed foundational values of hard work, perseverance, and advocating for others that have brought her to where she is today. 

When asked what advice she has for aspiring lawyers, Naf said her best recommendations are to “be open to opportunities” and “appreciate that when you’re young and starting out, people genuinely want to help you so don’t be afraid to “ask for help.”  She strongly encouraged law students and junior attorneys to join bar associations such as AABANY, and to become active members of the legal community.  In terms of her own aspirations, since becoming a partner she has been more involved in the backend managerial aspect of law practice.  She enjoys learning about the business of running a law firm and hopes to continue to “grow within the firm’s leadership structure.” 

Outside of her career, Naf and her husband stay busy raising their two young boys. Despite their hectic workload, they coordinate across each other’s schedule to make sure they are both present for milestones in their children’s lives.

At the Nov. 13 Weekly Mixer, Naf was featured as part of the “Meet Board Series,” and she shared her story and path to success with the attendees who drew inspiration and insight from her remarks. Read more here.

AABANY congratulates Naf on receiving NAPABA’s Best Under 40 Award and wishes her all the best in her future endeavors. 

AABANY Congratulates Littler on Receiving the 2020 NAPABA Law Firm Diversity Award

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Littler Mendelson P.C. (Littler) on receiving the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s (NAPABA’s) 2020 Law Firm Diversity Award. Littler is the world’s largest employment and labor law firm with over 1,500 attorneys in 95 offices globally and AABANY is honored to have the support of Littler as a Silver Sponsor.

The NAPABA Law Firm Diversity Award honors law firms that actively and consistently recruit, retain, and promote Asian Pacific American (APA) lawyers to equity partnership and firm leadership. It also celebrates law firms’ successes in their support for APA lawyers. Through its many initiatives, Littler is creating a welcoming environment for its employees, accepting of different backgrounds, and is continuing to look for ways to become a more diverse and inclusive employer. 

Eddie Chyun and William Ng — shareholders in the Cleveland, Ohio and Long Island, New York offices, respectively — both emphasized their membership in Littler’s ‘Ohana affinity group ‘Ohana, when asked about their experiences as an APA lawyer at the firm. Within the first few weeks after being hired, Eddie and Will each were approached through email or word-of-mouth about joining ‘Ohana, the affinity group for Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, North African, and Pacific Islander-American attorneys. The invitation left a memorable impression on them both as it helped ease Eddie and Will’s transition into the law firm by quickly welcoming them into the APA community within Littler. Being a part of ‘Ohana allows them to know APA lawyers across all of Littler’s offices. Affinity groups meet in-person every other year to discuss diversity and inclusion, work on professional development skills such as practicing elevator pitches, and collaborate on coming up with new initiatives relating to retention and advancement, associate development, etc. that can help APA lawyers’ success in the office. Throughout the year, they participate in social gatherings, quarterly calls, and other events which provide members with support and networking opportunities at the firm. 

‘Ohana group photo from their last retreat in Miami

Eddie also serves as co-chair of Littler’s 20-person Diversity & Inclusion Council (D&IC), which includes four APA attorneys among its diverse members. The D&IC focuses on increasing the hiring of individuals from diverse backgrounds and increasing professional opportunities for diverse employees like mentorships and leadership opportunities. Littler’s programs include the Career Advocacy Program (CAP) and Investment for Success, which support and promote diverse attorneys in the firm, including APA lawyers, to leadership positions. 

Littler’s award-winning CAP selects higher-level, high-performing associates (Protégés) who identify as diverse and pairs them with the firm’s most influential leaders (Advocates) and client (Champions) who encourage their career growth. From 2015 to 2020, Protégés represented on average 28% and up to 40% of the firm’s new shareholder class. Twenty-four former Protégés, including eight APA attorneys, have been elevated to shareholder and continue to participate in the program. Currently, 11 of the 31 Protégés in CAP are APA attorneys. The Investment for Success Program pairs recently hired diverse attorneys with a shareholder to help them better integrate into the firm, as the transition in the first few weeks is critical for an attorney’s success in the firm. There are currently 30 diverse associates, including seven APA attorneys, participating in the program. Eddie and Will pointed out the importance of these programs because APA lawyers tend to face barriers with advancement in their positions such as a lack of access to mentors, and with these programs, APA attorneys are able to be mentored by a senior attorney, who ensures that they receive the proper mix of work and opportunities to succeed at the law firm.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Littler continues to create a diverse and inclusive environment through holding their mentorship programs and affinity group meetings virtually.

Littler’s creation of the Career Advocacy Program and the Investment for Success program have promoted and continues to promote APA lawyers to leadership positions within the firm, and the ‘Ohana affinity group continues to provide a supportive community among the firm’s APA lawyers. Littler will be honored at a reception for award recipients held in December 2020.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Littler on receiving the Law Firm Diversity Award. 

NAPABA Congratulates President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on Historic Election

For Immediate Release: November 7, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

Harris is the first Black, Asian American and Female to be elected to the Executive Office

WASHINGTON — Today, American voters elected Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris as 49th Vice President. The Biden|Harris presidential ticket included Harris as the first woman of color to be nominated and elected on a presidential ticket for a major party. Vice President-elect Harris will be the highest ranking Asian and Pacific Islander American (AAPI) ever in line for presidential succession.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is a non-partisan organization comprised of lawyers and leaders in both major political parties. As an organization, NAPABA has worked diligently with presidents, administrations and congressional members of both parties, on behalf of millions of AAPIs nationwide.

Amid a global pandemic and a contentious election, our nation has been tested. As members of the legal profession, we have a special responsibility to ensure the continuity of our best legal traditions, and to defend and uphold our commitments to justice, fairness, equity and the Rule of Law under our Constitution. We must work together to unite our membership and our nation to find common ground for a better path forward. NAPABA embraces the solidarity and strength of our robust and diverse community and is committed to our mission to serve as the voice of the AAPI legal profession.

We congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on their historic win. NAPABA is committed to working with the Biden administration and the new Congress to advance the representation and interests of the AAPI community. 

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession.