The New York City Bar Association Releases Report “The Diversity Gap: Black and Latinx Representation Disparities in the Legal Pipeline” and Follow-Up Program

The New York City Bar Association announced that their report The Diversity Gap: Black and Latinx Representation Disparities in the Legal Pipeline has been released with overwhelming support from the legal community. To determine the effectiveness of pipeline programs for Black and Latinx students who seek to enter the legal profession, they polled over 800 students from the 15 New York State Law Schools. They thank Ashley Bernal, Professor, York College and author of the report, and The New York Community Trust for funding this important work.

You can read their press release here.

Additionally, they will be hosting a two-part panel presentation entitled, “The Diversity Gap: Black and Latinx Representation Disparities in the Legal Pipeline.”  Details below:

Part I: Pipeline Leaders

Part II: Pipeline Participants

To register for any of the events, please click on the registration link (you will need to create a free account if you are not a city bar member) or email Customer Relations at [email protected]. The series is free for everyone.

NAPABA Statement on the Yale Affirmative Action Case

For Immediate Release: August 18, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director
Email: [email protected]

WASHINGTON—Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice asserted that Yale University had violated federal civil rights law against Asian American and white applicants by using race as a determinative factor in its undergraduate admissions process. NAPABA strongly disapproves of any form of racial discrimination, including in college admissions. The organization understands the importance of diversity in education, and that race is one of the many factors in a holistic admissions process as established by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“While we continue to review information on the Department of Justice’s findings to fully evaluate the Yale University case, diversity remains a critical and compelling interest for universities to achieve,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, president of NAPABA. “NAPABA is in support of race-conscious standards as a part of a holistic admissions process. We also support continuing efforts by colleges and universities to improve their admissions processes, including their work to recognize and address implicit bias. Our support of these principles has included filing of amicus briefs in the seminal cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Fisher v. University of Texas in support of the universities and the importance of diversity. NAPABA will closely monitor the alleged claims against Yale University.”

Two years ago, NAPABA supported the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts’ ruling that upheld the use of race conscious admissions in Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard. In 2015, NAPABA issued an organizational statement in support of Affirmative Action and that the policy is necessary to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in education.

NYC Bar Offers Scholarship Opportunity for Surrogate’s Court Mediation Training

The City Bar and Community Mediation Services is now offering a limited number of scholarships to the upcoming Surrogate’s Court Mediation Training – 16-Hour Online Training. The scholarships are intended to encourage a more diverse group of attorneys to consider adding Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to their practices. This program is approved under Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge and satisfies the training requirements of many local court ADR panels. 

Attorneys are required to attend at all four days of the program, which will run virtually on the following dates: September 15, 17, 22 & 24, 2020 from 9 am – 1 pm on each day.

Interested candidates should send their résumé and an optional statement of interest, to Paula Mukwaya at [email protected] by the evening of Monday, August 31st.  

For more information about this Surrogate’s Court Mediation Training, please click here.

AABANY Hosts Panel on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Workplace and Beyond

On July 28, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) hosted an event addressing diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace and beyond. Moderated by Margaret Ling, Director of Business Development and Co-Chair of the Real Estate Committee at AABANY, the panel featured: William H. Ng, Shareholder at Littler Mendelson and former Co-Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Committee of AABANY; Donna Dozier Gordon, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at USTA; Asker A. Saeed, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and Principal at Saeed Consulting; Sean Bacchus, CEO and Founder of the Executive Diversity and Inclusion Council; and Prof. Meredith R. Miller, President of the Network of Bar Leaders. 

The program began with an acknowledgment of Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon who recently passed away. Margaret urged the participants to follow the Congressman’s famous words, to get in “good trouble,” as they work to make their communities more equitable and representative.

Will Ng opened by recounting his experience with diversity and inclusion while working in large law firms. He noted that law firms need to have support from management and leadership in order to succeed in creating a more diverse workplace. He also stressed that recruitment was not the issue, but rather, retaining diverse, younger talent.

Asker Saeed followed by outlining steps that may help large law firms advance their diversity and inclusion efforts. First, law firms should think about their reason for promoting diversity: not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also better for business. Firms should hire the best people, and the best attorneys are not only one gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality. Second, firms should examine their systems and procedures, particularly in lateral hiring and promotions. For example, when partners are asked to recommend people to a position, they are likely going to recommend individuals who look like them or remind them of themselves, thus perpetuating the status quo that partners should be white, male, straight, etc.. Thirdly, firms should hire and pay someone to be in charge of diversity and inclusion for greater accountability, as well as create a specific budget for diversity and inclusion initiatives. Finally, law firms should create more opportunities for all people to prove their abilities and advance in the organization.

Meredith R. Miller added that, in 2016, the American Bar Association identified discrimination as professional misconduct. She emphasized that firms should not focus on not discriminating, but rather being anti-discrimination and anti-racist. She also urged bar associations to build pipelines for minority communities in the legal field.

Donna Gordon examined the connection between diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the Black Lives Matter movement. Due to the nation’s changing landscape, especially after the Black Lives Matter movement, the success of a firm will depend on its ability to hire and retain diverse talent. Black Lives Matter has reignited corporate interest in diversity and inclusion. However, despite the long history of these diversity initiatives, African Americans still do not experience as much advancement in the workplace. Donna urged participants to focus on addressing the gaps in the African American talent pipeline by tapping into wider networks.

Finally, Sean Bacchus stressed that organizations must be recognized for their progress and held accountable for the work they are not engaging in. Mentorship and sponsorship from senior leaders towards minorities are very important, especially given the prevalence of nepotism in large firms. Sean also urged firms to not only target Ivy League students during recruitment but also look at the CUNY system.

We thank Margaret Ling for organizing and moderating the successful event, and the panelists for offering their valuable insights. Attendees received 1.0 credits in the diversity, inclusion, and elimination of bias requirement, and 0.5 credits in the ethics requirement. To view a recording of the program, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxb4uylxkMQ or click the image above.

AABANY Hosts “Fortune 500 General Counsel Panel: Leadership During Crisis Webinar”

On May 21, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) presented its “Fortune 500 General Counsel Panel: Leadership During Crisis,” part three of NAPABA’s General Counsel Webinar Series. The event highlighted prominent General Counsels working in various industries and discussed the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace along with advice for aspiring General Counsels. The panelists included Damien Atkins, General Counsel of the Hershey Company; Peter Beshar, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Marsh & McLennan; Elisa Garcia, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of Macy’s; David Hyman, General Counsel and Company Secretary of Netflix; Alan Tse, Global Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of JLL; and David Yawman, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of PepsiCo. The panel discussion was moderated by Michael Wu, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of Madewell.

The panel discussed the immediate challenges faced by General Counsels in light of the current pandemic and the transition to an online work environment. Emphasis was placed on adaptability and flexibility as General Counsels and legal departments across all industries have had to quickly put together plans for long-term financing and shifts in day-to-day operations. This emphasis on adaptability also stresses greater cooperation between the legal team, the board of directors, and C-suite executives in forming a coherent strategy in both dealing with the pandemic and also pursuing non-COVID-19 related objectives. As Alan Tse stated, companies are, more than ever, looking toward their legal teams for leadership in navigating through economic uncertainty and changes in corporate governance.

Additionally, the importance of communications and integrating technology into the workplace are vital as General Counsels need to be able to coordinate all the moving parts of the company in making the localized decisions necessary to ensure compliance with local regulations and sustainable growth. While it is important to have contingency plans during times of crisis, General Counsels need to be vigilant and flexible in their approach toward unpredictable and complex problems in the future. Peter Beshar stated that General Counsels should also prioritize “collective cyber resilience, not just of our company, but of broader society” by protecting critical online communication channels. Additionally, General Counsels should form effective response plans to prepare companies from destabilizing cyberattacks.

Recent changes in legislation and the regulatory environment have also driven General Counsels to be more proactive in how they view the relationship between what David Yawman describes as the “great continuum… between the legislative environment and policy issues coming out of societal trends.” Ultimately, General Counsels should recognize that changes in corporate governance are facilitated by both government legislation and company policies and that, as legal professionals, they have a crucial role to play as both a guide for their clients and a trailblazer for corporate policy.

Lastly, the panel discussed efforts to promote diversity within their organizations and the role General Counsels play in ensuring inclusion in the workplace. Inclusion championship should be a fundamental, core value of corporate governance and thus, should be, as David Hyman describes, a “top-down” process embodied by all corporate executives. Individuals and legal teams should be empowered to take initiative in leading pop-up conversations and workshops that champion inclusive leadership that stresses not only diverse participation, but diverse leadership. Companies should also hold individuals accountable and translate inclusion policies into action.

The panel attracted more than 500 registrants, making it the single biggest AABANY Zoom meeting to date. Attendees were eligible to receive 1.0 New York CLE credits, with 0.5 credits fulfilling the Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias requirement and 0.5 credits fulfilling the Law Practice Management requirement. We thank Michael Wu for organizing the panel and for moderating a highly informative and substantive discussion. We thank all the speakers for sharing their insights, knowledge and perspectives. The event was covered by Corporate Counsel. Read the article here (Law.com subscription required).

PRESS RELEASE: IN THE CONTINUING EFFORT TO PROMOTE DIVERSITY WITHIN THE LEGAL PROFESSION, THE ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK CONGRATULATES THREE PARTICIPANTS OF ITS LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM WHO HAVE BEEN ELEVATED TO PARTNERSHIP AT TOP LAW FIRMS

NEW YORK — April 10, 2020. The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Luna Ngan Barrington of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP on her elevation to partnership and Jeffrey Mok of Fish & Richardson P.C. on his elevation to principal, on January 1, 2020. Congratulations to Dohyun Kim of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP for her elevation to partnership on April 1, 2020.

These three AABANY members are all proud participants of AABANY’s Leadership Development Program (ALDP). Established in 2018, ALDP is a six-month long interactive leadership training course aimed at helping AABANY members who are senior attorneys at law firms and companies navigate the promotion process within their respective organizations. According to A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law by Yale Law School and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Asian Americans have a 3.65 ratio of associates to partners—significantly higher than the 1.01 ratio for Caucasians—and the highest ratio of any racial or ethnic group for more than a decade. Asian Americans also have the highest attrition rates at law firms. Although Asian Americans comprise 6.7% of all attorneys in the Vault/MCCA 2014 survey, they comprise 8.9% of attorneys who left their firms that year. ALDP addresses these issues of chronic Asian American underrepresentation at leadership levels through its law firm partnership track program, which is focused on cultivating a selected group of Asian Pacific American (APA) law firm associates on the partnership track. In 2019, ALDP expanded its program to include an in-house counsel track.  ALDP is unique in its small set of qualified participants and its focus on soft skills, accountability, and the AABANY community.  AABANY President Sapna Palla is a co-founder of ALDP.

Luna Barrington is a Partner in the Complex Commercial Litigation practice of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. She represents clients in consumer class actions, antitrust litigation, commercial contract disputes and multi-district litigations, and has extensive experience taking cases from the pleading stage through to trial. Prior to joining Weil, Ms. Barrington served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard M. Berman, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Ms. Barrington received her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she was a member of the Hastings Business Law Journal.

Jeffrey Mok, a Principal at Fish & Richardson P.C., focuses his practice on litigation and counseling for patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets. His work spans a variety of technical areas, including wireless communications, semiconductor technology, automotive technology, financial services, software, and medical devices. He has represented clients in federal courts across the country and before the U.S. International Trade Commission. He received his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2012 and his B.S. in electrical engineering, with a minor in computer science, from Columbia University in 2007.

Dohyun Kim, a Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, private equity, securities and general corporate law matters. Ms. Kim regularly advises public and private companies in a variety of U.S. and cross-border corporate matters, including acquisitions and dispositions, investments, joint ventures, restructurings and financings. She has represented clients across a wide variety of industries, including consumer products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, technology and communications. Ms. Kim received her J.D. from the New York University School of Law, where she was the Senior Executive Editor for the New York University Law Review.

“AABANY congratulates Luna Barrington and Dohyun Kim on their elevation to partnership and Jeffrey Mok on his elevation to principal and recognizes them as outstanding participants in AABANY’s Leadership Development Program,” states AABANY President Sapna Palla. “A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law tells us that although Asian Americans comprise 7.05% of all attorneys in the Vault/MCCA survey of 2015 data, they held only 2.09% of seats on executive management committees, 2.32% of seats on partner review committees, and 3.78% of seats on associate review committees. Furthermore, the 2016 Law Firm Diversity Benchmarking Report from the New York City Bar Association shows that Asian/Pacific Islander attorneys make up only 3% of all leadership positions within New York’s law firms. AABANY is committed to helping raise these numbers through ALDP. We are extremely grateful for the leadership and dedication of ALDP’s faculty members and organizers for making this innovative and impactful program possible. We especially thank and acknowledge our sponsors and our members for their support of ALDP’s mission to empower qualified senior attorneys in their respective firms and fields. We look forward to sharing more of ALDP’s continued success in the future.”

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Mediators Wanted – Presumptive ADR Initiative

Thanks to the Network of Bar Leaders for sharing this important announcement about the Presumptive ADR Program:

The NYS Unified Court System has launched the Presumptive ADR Program, an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) initiative, which will expand existing ADR programs and develop appropriate dispute resolution programs in a broad range of civil cases statewide.

These programs will address various case types and will be implemented systemwide. Some programs will rely on the existing network of ADR programs while others will seek to develop or expand rosters of neutrals who meet the requirements of Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge. Courts may be seeking neutrals for assistance in areas that may include matrimonial and family law, personal injury, trusts and estates and commercial matters.

The court system is seeking to improve diversity in the court rosters and increase outreach in all judicial districts.  The Network of Bar Leaders is in a unique position to help promote ADR practitioners through this recruitment tool.

We encourage prospective neutrals to submit their information on or before March 20, 2020 by completing and submitting the online form at this link: https://forms.gle/SqnP8AG8irbfqt2a9 so that it can be aggregated and provided to the court system to make outreach more efficient when the time comes.

The information you provide will be forwarded to the NYS Unified Court System’s ADR office and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge’s Special Counsel for ADR Initiatives for Courts within NYC and Outside NYC, for their further consideration when the initiative reaches that stage.

Please note that the court system will contact only those respondents whose professional background, formal training, ADR and subject matter experience, and geographic availability meet the current needs of a particular roster. The court system will also communicate directly with you at a later date if they are in need of any additional information.

AABANY Congratulates Kenneth Chin as Recipient of the NYSBA 2020 Diversity Trailblazer Award

AABANY congratulates Kenneth Chin on being presented with the New York State Bar Association’s Diversity Trailblazer Award at the John E. Higgins, Esq. Diversity Trailblazer Award Ceremony on Jan. 27, 2020 at the New York Hilton Midtown. Ken is a Partner and the Banking and Finance Chair at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and longstanding member of AABANY. The award recognizes Ken for his transformative work to promote and achieve diversity and inclusion at his firm and in New York’s Asian American community.

Read our full press release here.

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 [email protected].