Prosecutors Committee Celebrates 11th Annual Reception at NYCLA

AABANY’s Prosecutors Committee was founded in September 2008 to enhance the advancement and professional development of Asian Pacific American (APA) prosecutors, the establishment of a network between former and current APA prosecutors, the recruitment of APA law students to become prosecutors, and the cultivation of trust and communication between the APA community and the local prosecutors’ offices. 

Our membership is comprised of current and former prosecutors of Asian American, Pacific Islander and South Asian heritage from all five local New York City District Attorney’s offices, Nassau and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices, Assistant Attorney Generals from the New York State Attorney General’s Office, as well as federal prosecutors from both the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

Each year, the Committee hosts an annual reception to honor those who have contributed to the criminal justice system as well as to promote diversity within the APA community in New York City.

On December 3, 2019, at its 11th Annual Reception, the Committee honored Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, and Gilbert C. Hong, Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, for their exemplary and established record of public service and their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the profession.

Approximately 150 Prosecutors Committee members and guests filled to capacity the main auditorium at the New York County Lawyers Association, 14 Vesey Street, to celebrate this special event.  The evening featured distinguished guests and speakers who provided congratulatory remarks to the Committee and the honorees. 

The speakers at the daïs included the following representatives from state, local and Federal prosecutors’ offices:

  • Joseph Alexis, Executive ADA, Kings County
  • Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney, Southern District of NY
  • Bridget Brennan, Special Narcotics Prosecutor
  • Catherine Christian, Special ADA for External Affairs, NY County
  • Mark Lesko, Chief AUSA, Eastern District of NY
  • Derek Lynton, Chief ADA, Bronx County
  • John Ryan, Acting District Attorney, Queens County
  • Anthony Scarpino, District Attorney, Westchester County
  • Madeline Singas, District Attorney, Nassau County

Also in attendance were the following judges:

  • Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally, Bronx Criminal Court
  • Hon. Dorothy Chin Brandt, Retired Justice, Queens Supreme Court
  • Hon. Karen Gopee, Queens Criminal Court
  • Hon. Marilyn Go, Retired Judge, District Court, EDNY
  • Hon. Lorna Schofield, District Court, SDNY
  • Hon. Don Leo, Brooklyn Criminal Court
  • Hon. Danny Chun, Brooklyn Supreme Court
  • Hon. Phyllis Chu, NYC Criminal Court
  • Hon. John Hecht, Brooklyn Supreme Court
  • Hon. Dean Kusakabe, Queens Family Court
  • Hon. Judy Kim, NYC Criminal Court
  • Hon. Daniel Lewis, Queens Supreme Court
  • Hon. Richard Tsai, NYC Criminal Court
  • Hon. Cori Weston, Judge, NYC Criminal Court

Distinguished guests included:

  • Agnes Chan, first Asian woman detective in NYPD history
  • Yang Chen, Executive Director of AABANY
  • Sherry Cohen, Chief of Legal Recruitment, Bronx County
  • Lila Kirton, Bureau Chief, Westchester County
  • Jesse Sligh, Executive ADA, Queens County
  • Brian Song, President, AABANY

In addition, the family of NYPD Det. Wenjian Liu, who made the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed in the line of duty in 2014, made a special visit to the Reception.  Det. Liu’s family received the Prosecutors Committee’s posthumous award on Det. Liu’s behalf at the 2015 reception. The family was recognized with a heartfelt standing ovation and a message that Det. Liu will not be forgotten.

When AABANY President Brian Song delivered his welcome remarks at the start of the reception, he passed along the word from Queens County District Attorney-elect Melinda Katz’s transition team that her office is inviting applications, especially from diverse candidates at all levels. Many of the other speakers at the daïs lost no time in announcing that their offices were also hiring. We anticipate that prosecutors’ offices may see an uptick in applications coming out of this Reception.

AABANY thanks Prosecutors Committee co-chairs Myongjae M. Yi and Maria Park as well as vice-chairs Michael Leigh and Emily Ching for organizing the event. The Committee also thanks Kin Ng, Brian Lee, David Chiang, Catherine Christian, Francis Chin, Giyang An and the planning members for their assistance.  AABANY thanks the New York County Lawyers Association for providing the beautiful venue again for this special celebration.

More photos from the event can be found here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UZiD12LZFpxJmwLP6

To learn more about the Prosecutors Committee, please visit: https://www.aabany.org/page/73

American Arbitration Association Higginbotham Fellows program: Applications are being accepted through February 17, 2020

The American Arbitration Association is now accepting applications for the 2020 AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program, which will be a milestone year – our 10th year. The training component of the Program will be hosted in New York during the week of May 3, 2020.  During the Program, Fellows will engage with leading ADR practitioners for an intensive week of training, seminars, and networking events. 

Interested candidates can visit https://www.adr.org/HigginbothamFellowsProgram  to download a copy of the Program Guidelines and Application or to apply online.  This year, AAA will be offering limited scholarships. The deadline for applications has been extended to  Monday February 17, 2020. 

The AAA created this highly visible, extremely successful one-year program in 2009 to provide training, networking, and mentorship for up-and-coming diverse ADR practitioners, who historically have not been included in meaningful participation in the field. Since its inception, the AAA Higginbotham Fellowship Program continues to exceed expectations with past Fellows making gains in their ADR careers, including those who have successfully advanced to the AAA’s Roster of Arbitrators and Mediators.

Please review the factsheet about the AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program. Questions about the program may be directed to AAAHigginbothamFellows@adr.org.

Press Release: NAPABA Statement on the Harvard Admissions Case

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2019
For More Information, Contact:
Navdeep Singh, Policy Director
202-775-9555; nsingh@napaba.org

WASHINGTON – Late yesterday, Judge Allison D. Burroughs of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a ruling that upheld the use of race conscious admissions in Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard. NAPABA applauds the Court for reaffirming that (1) diversity remains a critical and compelling interest for universities to achieve; and (2) the consideration of race as one of many factors in a holistic admissions process is a permissible means to evaluate an individual student’s application.

“The ruling makes clear that it is vital for students to be able to share their whole selves when applying to college,” said NAPABA President Daniel Sakaguchi. “NAPABA is encouraged that the Court upheld the principle of holistic, race-conscious admissions, recognized that race continues to matter in people’s daily lives and experiences, and eloquently underscored the importance diversity in education. While the Court found Harvard did not engage in intentional discrimination against Asian American applicants, NAPABA also supports continuing efforts by colleges and universities to improve their admissions processes, including work to recognize and address implicit bias, so that all parts of a thoughtful and holistic admissions system work together to ensure that all students have equal opportunities free from discrimination.”

NAPABA supports efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in education and the consideration of race as part of a holistic, individualized admissions process.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and over 80 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA engages in legislative and policy advocacy, promotes APA political leadership and political appointments, and builds coalitions within the legal profession and the community at large. NAPABA also serves as a resource for government agencies, members of Congress, and public service organizations about APAs in the legal profession, civil rights, and diversity in the courts.

Marking the 30th Anniversary of AABANY’s Founding

Please join us in celebrating AABANY’s founding date on July 28, 1989—30 years ago. On this day, Steve T. Min, as Incorporator, filed a Certificate of Incorporation on behalf of AABANY with the State of New York. Then, on October 20, 1989 AABANY’s incorporation was announced, and attorneys interested in learning about AABANY were invited to an inaugural reception at New York University Law School on November 9, 1989.

We acknowledge with respect and gratitude Tony Cheh, Rockwell Chin, Glenn Ikeda, Yat T. Man, Steve Min, Serene K. Nakano, and many others for their visionary actions in establishing AABANY. Thank you to all of our past and present Presidents, Board Members, Committee Chairs, members, and friends for their continual support in improving the study and practice of law, and the fair administration of justice for all by ensuring the meaningful participation of Asian-Americans in the legal profession. Now one of the most prominent and active minority bar associations in New York, AABANY has well over 1,200 members, including practicing attorneys in the private and public sectors, in-house lawyers, judges, professors, and law students.

We thank everyone who is or has been a member of AABANY over the course of the last 30 years, and we invite to join our association everyone who shares AABANY’s mission of advancing Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, South Asians and all diverse and under-represented groups in the legal profession in New York.

We encourage all non-members to take advantage of our vast network of attorneys and judges, our twenty-seven different committees, as well as the numerous CLE opportunities that we offer to our members. Please click here to either renew or sign up as an AABANY member.

Robing Ceremony for the Hon. Michael H. Park

On July 11th, at the Museum of Korean American Heritage, AABANY, along with KAAGNY and KALAGNY, co-sponsored the robing ceremony for the Hon. Michael H. Park, United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The event was held to commemorate and celebrate Judge Park as the first Korean American to serve on the Second Circuit.

The program kicked off with a spirited rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Then, Charles Yoon, President of KAAGNY, delivered opening remarks from the podium noting the historic nature of this event in Korean American history. The venue was especially fitting for the ceremony as many momentous Korean American milestones were printed on the walls—from honoring the first Korean naturalized citizen of the United States, Philip Jaisohn, to remembering the Korean comfort women. 

KALAGNY President Gene Kang then delivered heartfelt comments on the necessity of diversity on the judicial bench and how far Korean Americans have advanced in the legal profession starting out with humble origins from “a small Asian peninsula.” Next, Michael Kim, a Partner at Kirkland & Ellis and Yale Law School classmate of the Hon. Michael Park, shared a memory from when he was still in law school and Judge Park belted out an NSYNC song at Karaoke—true to Korean fashion. Kim commented that if Judge Park had decided to stay in Korea, he might be introducing a K-pop star instead of a Second Circuit Judge. Finally, the Hon. Denny Chin, the first Asian American United States Second Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals, administered the oath of office to the Hon. Michael Park. Sarah Seo, Judge Park’s wife, robed him. KALAGNY generously provided the new robe for Judge Park.

After the robing ceremony, Judge Park took the stage to thank attendees and organizations such as AABANY, KALAGNY, and KAAGNY for their support. He especially thanked those who had come before him, such as the Hon. Denny Chin, in paving a path for more Asian American judges, like him, to follow. In closing, AABANY President Brian Song cited AABANY’s mission statement and shared hopes that one day, a robing ceremony for an APA judge might not appear so remarkable as many more APA judges are elevated to the bench in the future, to more accurately reflect the diversity of America.

AABANY congratulates the Hon. Michael H. Park and warmly thanks all attendees for joining us in celebrating the historic event. 

AABANY’s LGBT Committee Hosts a Roundtable Discussion On Negotiating The Experience of Being Both LGBT and Asian American

On March 5, 2019, the AABANY LGBT Committee held a roundtable discussion titled: “Transactional Identities: Navigating the various contexts of coming out for Asian American lawyers.”  

Presenting were Connie Montoya, Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP; Janice Jabido, IP Counsel, Pratt & Whitney; and Tony Thomas, Chief Legal & Labor Relations Officer, City University of New York – Brooklyn College.  

Dennis M. Quinio, Manager of Diversity & Inclusion, Milbank, LLP, moderated the discussion.  

Our esteemed presenters jump-started the conversation, sharing their experiences being LGBT and Asian American within the legal profession, their families and their communities at large.  They discussed the struggles of being in the closet; the dynamics of coming out to colleagues, clients, and family members; and strategies for overcoming day-to-day challenges such as microaggressions. Several Asian American LGBT attorneys from private practice, government and the nonprofit sector attended the discussion and shared their experiences in this confidential space, meant to foster a candid and supportive dialogue. We heard about others’ experiences harmonizing identities that may seem to be in conflict and explored how living our “authentic” selves can impact our effectiveness at work.

The law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton graciously hosted the event. At the beginning of the roundtable, Sandra Flow, Partner and Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at Cleary, delivered warm welcoming remarks, affirming the firm’s commitment to supporting diverse attorneys.  

If you would like to join the AABANY LGBT Committee or learn more, email John Vang at jvang@cfal.org.  

Join AABANY in Supporting Portrait Project 2.0

A recent Law360 article entitled “Why Are Law Clerks So White” reported:

Take any five federal law clerks, and at least four of them would probably be white. And nobody can be certain why.

California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu has some guesses about the reasons black, Asian and Latino lawyers are largely shut out of these prestigious positions that can turbocharge a lawyer’s early career. But he says it’s impossible to pinpoint reasons or patterns because so little data exists.

“We actually don’t even know the most basic things about those opportunities,” Justice Liu told Law360. “It would be interesting if we could know even basic things, like do women judges get more women clerks? We have impressions of that, but we don’t know with any precision whether these things are true.”

The article went on to talk about how Justice Liu plans to address these questions in Portrait Project 2.0. AABANY is supporting this research as a Silver Sponsor. AABANY challenges its members to donate to Portrait Project 2.0. AABANY will match member donations up to $5,000. Join AABANY in advancing the work of Portrait Project 2.0. Read more at https://www.aabany.org/page/PortraitProject20

To read the full Law360 article go to https://www.law360.com/articles/1156019?utm_source=ios-shared&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=ios-shared

Invitation to Town Hall on Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Opportunities

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is holding a town hall for the legal industry at the Hilton Millennium Downtown New York, 55 Church St., New York, NY from 9 am to 1 pm.

The focus of the OFCCP is to review its compliance assistance efforts and identify options for enhancing contractors’ understanding of their nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements.

The OFCCP is holding the town hall to learn more about what is important to its stakeholders in the legal industry and to enhance the scope and the quality of OFCCP’s compliance materials.

The Network of Bar Leaders and its members (including AABANY) are invited to attend and provide feedback to help the OFCCP develop policy for stakeholders in the legal industry and related fields. OFCCP will be looking for innovative ideas on how to make its existing compliance assistance efforts more practical and collaborative.

The meetings are open to the public but will be of particular interest to human resource managers, equal employment opportunity specialists, chief compliance officers, and other personnel in the legal industry who are directly involved with ensuring their company’s compliance with OFCCP’s requirements. Workers, job seekers, community groups and anyone interested in OFCCP and our work are also encouraged to attend. Please note only two tickets are available per organization on a first come, first served basis.

You can attend a town hall by registering through OFCCP’s website

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.

Manhattan Community Board Applications Are Open Now!

Interested in what gets built in your community and how government works to deliver services in your neighborhood? Apply to join one of Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards.

Every Community Board has 50 seats which are filled for two-year terms by volunteers, who are selected by the Borough President and local City Council members. Half the seats are up for appointment or reappointment every year.

Community Boards get a seat at the table in high-stakes land use, real estate, and zoning negotiations, and they work directly with city agencies to influence how government services are delivered at the neighborhood level.

If you’d like to serve as a member of your Community Board, apply online here! You can also print the application and drop it off by mail or in-person. The deadline is February 8, 2019.