NAPABA Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Affirmative Action Case

For Immediate Release:
Date: August 3, 2022

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) filed an amicus brief in the cases challenging affirmative action before the Supreme Court, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. We were joined on the brief by the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association.

In the brief, the bars reiterated their support for the principles laid out in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), which allowed the consideration of race as a factor in college admissions as part of a holistic admissions process. The brief lays out the importance of diversity in the legal profession and the impact overturning holistic admissions in college on current efforts to diversify the legal pipeline. The brief did not address the second question posed by the Court about the practices and policies implemented by either Harvard or the University of North Carolina.

NAPABA has consistently supported the principle of holistic admissions since it first submitted an amicus brief in Grutter with a coalition of Asian Pacific American organizations. NAPABA was joined by other diverse bars reiterating their support for affirmative action and the impact on the legal profession in both Fisher v. Texas (2013) and Fisher v. Texas (2016). This principle was codified and most recently affirmed by the NAPABA Board of Governors as the organization’s standing policy in 2015.

NAPABA thanks Dan Bromberg, Appellate Practice leader, and Shelby Dyl of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, for serving as pro bono counsel on this brief. We thank Albert Giang of King & Spalding LLP and Radha Pathak of Stris & Maher LLP, for their leadership as Co-Chairs of NAPABA’s Amicus Committee and contributions to the brief. A special thanks to Kevin Fong, former NAPABA Amicus Chair, for his advice and contributions.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA 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 all backgrounds in the legal profession.

AABANY Congratulates Margaret Ling on her New York State Bar Association Member Profile

AABANY congratulates Margaret Ling on her New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) member profile published on July 25, 2022. Focusing on her career path and the importance of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, the member profile speaks to the necessity of making progress against discrimination in the legal profession. 

Margaret noted that “women and people of color are [still] not making partner and leaving prestigious firms after 20 years of service.” Discussing her personal experiences with racism and sexism in the field, Margaret stated, “now I mentor young lawyers because there was no one there to help me. I tell them that you have to speak up for your work and fight to be recognized for it.” Read more here.

NYSBA was founded in 1876 and currently has a membership base of over 70,000 individuals, with its headquarters in Albany, NY.

Outside of her work for the NYSBA, Margaret Ling is also a former AABANY Board member, most recently serving as Director of Development. She is the founding Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee and continues to co-chair it today. Upcoming events featuring AABANY’s Real Estate Committee include AABANY Real Estate Committee Presents: “Emoticons, Emojis, Smileys and Stickers” CLE on August 3, 2022, and AABANY Real Estate Committee Presents: “Representing Foreign Purchasers & Foreign Sellers” CLE on August 10, 2022.

NAPABA Applauds the Nominations of Cindy K. Chung to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Judge Mia Roberts-Perez to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

For Immediate Release: July 12, 2022
Contact: Mary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director

WASHINGTON—Today, President Joe Biden nominated Cindy K. Chung to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Judge Mia Roberts-Perez to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. If confirmed, Chung would be the first Asian American appellate judge on the Third Circuit and Judge Roberts-Perez would be the first Asian American district judge on the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“NAPABA offers its congratulations to Cindy K. Chung and Judge Mia Roberts-Perez on their nominations,” said A.B. Cruz III, acting president of NAPABA. “We applaud President Biden for nominating a strong and historic slate of highly qualified Asian American candidates and for continuing to broaden the diversity of backgrounds and professional experiences to the bench. We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm them.”

Cindy K. Chung
In 2021, Chung was nominated by President Biden to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and was confirmed by a voice vote. She is the first Asian American U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania and the only Asian American currently leading any prosecutors’ office in Pennsylvania. Active in the Asian American community, Chung has participated in community briefings and events addressing anti-Asian hate incidents.

Previously, Chung served as a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where she prosecuted the first case under the Shepherd-Byrd Hate Crimes Act. She also served as an assistant district attorney at the District Attorney’s Office, New York County, and investigation counsel in the Official Corruption Unit. Chung began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Myron Thompson on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. She received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her B.A. from Yale University.

Judge Mia Roberts-Perez
In 2015, Judge Roberts-Perez was elected to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Previously, she was in private practice at Perez Law LLC, where she specialized in criminal defense and family law. Judge Roberts-Perez started her career at Defender Associations of Philadelphia where she served as public defender in the major trials division. She received her J.D. from Temple University, Beasley School of Law and her B.A. from Tufts University.

NAPABA thanks President Biden for nominating Cindy K. Chung and Judge Mia Roberts-Perez and Senator Casey and Senator Toomey for recommending and supporting their nominations.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA 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 all backgrounds in the legal profession.

Member Profile: Karen King Wins Unanimous Victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in Domestic Violence and International Custody Dispute Case

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On March 22, 2022, AABANY member Karen King argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Golan v. Saada (20-1034), a case involving the interpretation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. Karen is a Partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, Co-Chair of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, and an active member of AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force. She sat down with AABANY to share reflections on the oral argument, diversity among litigators, and the importance of pro bono work. 

Looking back, the law was a natural career choice for Karen.  She was president of the debate team in high school as well as at Yale University, where she majored in philosophy and political science.  After receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School, she moved to New York and began her career at Cravath.  Two decades later, she appears regularly in federal and state courts on behalf of corporate clients, she was named a “Notable Woman in Law” by Crain’s New York Business, and she received both the Federal Bar Council’s Thurgood Marshall Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Service and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)’s Pro Bono award.  Her pro bono clients include victims of discrimination, survivors of domestic violence, students with learning disabilities, victims of gun violence, and prisoners on civil rights issues. 

Karen’s impressive career reached another milestone this year when she had her first argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Golan v. Saada . She represents Narkis Golan, an American citizen and survivor of domestic violence, and mother to a young child who was born in Italy.  The case has been pending for nearly four years and was accepted by the Supreme Court for argument last December to resolve a circuit split on whether district courts are required to consider ameliorative measures to facilitate return of a child to a foreign country, even after finding that return would subject the child to a “grave risk” of exposure to harm.

During oral argument, the justices were active in their questioning and seemed interested in how best to address situations where the grave risk is sourced to a complex problem like domestic violence.  “Am I correct that the vast majority of these grave risk cases are ones involving domestic violence?” asked Justice Barrett, who continued to say: “It just seems to me that that’s a much different case for ameliorative measures than, say, the nuclear plant next door that the Chief posited at the outset.  That would be a pretty straightforward move, and then there would be no more grave risk, whereas I think you get into the complexity of the financial support payments and the undertaking or restraining order, however it should be categorized, in these domestic abuse cases that pose maybe a unique circumstance?”  The recording of oral argument is available here

When asked whether she expected at the outset that this case would reach the U.S. Supreme Court, Karen replied that she did not. She added that, at the start of the case in 2018, “we were hopeful that it would end at the trial level.” But despite establishing, by clear and convincing evidence, that return to Italy would expose the child to a grave risk of harm, the case went back and forth to the Second Circuit on the question of appropriate ameliorative measures.  Ultimately, Karen and the team came to believe that the interpretation of the Hague Convention set forth by the Second Circuit required review by the Supreme Court.  Despite the extraordinarily slim odds of having a case accepted for argument, the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to weigh in on the cert petition and ultimately granted cert. 

Arguing before the Supreme Court is the dream of many litigators. Karen prepared through “lots of moots [i.e., practice sessions], testing answers to every conceivable question we could think of, and reflection and discussion of the issues with colleagues, co-counsel, and pretty much anyone willing to talk about it.” In terms of approach to oral argument, she felt she needed to get straight to the point and anticipate challenging questions from the Justices about the key legal issues. Although the preparation process was similar to what she has done for other appellate arguments, it was clearly “more nerve-wracking, more high profile, and more work.”  She credits having an amazing team supporting her at Morvillo, the incredible work of the Paul, Weiss team (her former firm and co-counsel throughout the case), and the lawyers at the Zashin firm (co-counsel at the Supreme Court merits stage).  Although the oral argument was in person, it was not open to the public because of COVID-19 restrictions.  Karen was accompanied only by co-counsel Dan Levi from Paul, Weiss on the big day.  

At the Supreme Court argument, the Solicitor General’s office was represented by Frederick Liu, and the Respondent Jacky Saada was represented by Richard Min, a family law attorney in New York.  It is believed that this was the first time all three advocates arguing a case before the Supreme Court were of AAPI descent. This is a remarkable moment for the AAPI community, and for AAPI litigators.  Karen recognizes that it was important to “push [herself] to create the moment” and not to “be intimidated by milestones.” 

Karen is a strong advocate for diversity in the courtroom and in law firms.  She advises young litigators to strengthen their courtroom skills and give back to the community through pro bono work.  Karen has been recognized for her pro bono commitment over the years and generally works on one or two ongoing pro bono matters on top of her regular workload. Reflecting on her career thus far, Karen sees her persistence, optimism, and creative thinking, as survival skills that have led to great opportunities.  “You just have to push through… . Keep you head up and keep moving toward your goals.  Don’t let the machine crush you.” 

Oral argument in Golan v. Saada (20-1034) by Todd Crespi

Karen King, Richard Min, and Fred Liu, who argued Golan v. Saada (20-1034)

AABANY President Will Ng and Immediate Past President Terry Shen Interviewed for the New York City Bar Association Podcast: A Conversation Discussing AAPI Professional Career Trajectories

AABANY President, William Ng, and AABANY Immediate Past President, Terry Shen, spoke with, Ashley Wong, an Associate at Sidley Austin LLP, for the New York City Bar Association podcast posted on May 26, 2022, to comment on AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Professional Career Trajectories.

Associate Ashley Wong began the conversation by examining the present landscape for AAPI advancement in their careers. She notes that while the US AAPI population is the “fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the country,” growing by 88% in the past two decades, “many AAPI employees are still portrayed as ineffective or weak managers, resulting in AAPIs leaving companies at higher rates and not reaching senior positions.” 

Commenting on his career path and success in reaching leadership positions,  AABANY President Will Ng spoke to the support he had received from colleagues and members of the AAPI community as integral factors to his success. Similarly, Immediate Past President Terry Shen also detailed the effective alliances that had helped him progress dynamically from the field of STEM to Corporate Law and even to Investment Banking. Common to their responses, both AABANY leaders spoke to the importance of having strong role models that formed their support network and the foundation for their success. 

In recognizing the work that AABANY does to ensure that future leaders in the field of law have access to more diverse role models, Will and Terry spoke about both the local and systemic changes that AABANY has put forth. From organizing pro bono clinics for LEP communities to facilitating legislative change toward the protection and promotion of AAPI communities, AABANY has advocated for meaningful participation and leadership of and for AAPI communities. Within AABANY, Terry spoke to AABANY’s Leadership Development Program, which seeks to “address the continued under-representation of [AAPI] attorneys in leadership positions in the legal field.”

To conclude the interview, Ashley asked both leaders to share any advice they had for aspiring lawyers and AAPI individuals interested in pursuing the legal profession. Will encapsulated his advice into three key points: “Think strategically, speak to others, and plan ahead.” Terry reiterated the importance of forming solid alliances with mentors and colleagues.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

AABANY Member Profile: Karen Lin Runs for Queens Civil Court Judge

Karen Lin, an AABANY member since 2019, is a candidate for Judge of the Civil Court in Queens. A dedicated public servant, Karen currently serves as court attorney-referee in Kings County Surrogate’s Court. A former Committee Co-Chair for AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, she led the creation of the Queens Pro Bono Clinic in 2020 and subsequently the Remote Legal Clinic. Now, she hopes to serve her community in a new capacity by becoming the first East Asian female judge elected in Queens. 

A Lifelong New Yorker 

Karen was raised in Flushing and northeast Queens by immigrant parents and continues to call Queens home today. A student of the New York City public school system, she attended the selective Hunter College High School and later the Bronx High School of Science. She attended college at the State University of New York at Buffalo before returning to New York City to pursue her law degree at Brooklyn Law School. 

Motivated to be an advocate for everyday people, Karen began her career as a civil rights and family law attorney at a small firm. She represented families in New York City Family Court and State Supreme Court. She subsequently left for an opportunity to work in the legislative office of New York State Senator Catherine Abate of the 27th District, covering lower and midtown Manhattan. There, as District Counsel and later Chief of Staff, she advocated for constituents in neighborhoods that included Chinatown and the Garment District. The experience gave Karen new insight into the needs of New Yorkers on issues such as affordable housing, fair wages, and labor rights. 

Making the Courts Accessible to Everyone

When Senator Abate gave up her seat to run for Attorney General, Karen returned to the courtroom, this time as a court attorney. Working as a neutral arbiter refined her ability to resolve disputes, facilitate dialogue, and practice empathy. Her commitment to justice was well-recognized by her colleagues, as she was subsequently appointed judge of the New York City Housing Court. “Housing court is the last stop before you’re homeless,” Karen reflects, “[yet] the playing field is so unlevel.” She was humbled by this opportunity. Having advocated for underserved communities for decades, Karen was committed to resolving the disputes before her with full understanding from both parties. 

The bench was Karen’s dream position as a public servant. As a judge, she worked hard to ensure that each person who appeared before her had a meaningful opportunity to be heard. But with a growing family, she decided to step off the bench to care for her three young children. She returned to the courtroom in 2013 as a court attorney-referee in Surrogate’s Court, the position she continues to hold today. She assists grieving families who face difficult conversations following the loss of a loved one. Care and compassion are pillars to Karen’s work: “If you care about people, you’ll care about their problems and see people as people instead of cases to go through,” she explains.  

Changing the Air in the Room

Now that her children are older, Karen hopes to deliver justice again through the bench. She believes that “a good judge knows the law, understands and applies it. A great judge does that and cares about people.” As the daughter of immigrants, a working mother and a lifelong public servant to disadvantaged communities, Karen stresses the need for diverse judges who are attuned to their constituents’ backgrounds. In Queens, where Karen is running, Asians are among the most underrepresented groups in the judiciary. According to the Special Advisor Report on New York State Courts, around 9 percent of Queens judges are Asian although the most recent Queens census reports that Asians constitute 27 percent of the population. 

“The air in the room changes depending on who is in it,” Karen says. She hopes that her campaign will inspire other candidates from underrepresented backgrounds to run for the bench. “As lawyers, [running for the judiciary] is not on our radar…yet invisibility changes when we call it out, when there are more of us who are not silent.” As judge, she is committed to continue serving everyday families and to ensure they are treated with dignity throughout the process. 


For more information about Karen Lin’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support her candidacy, please visit https://www.karenlin2022.com/.

2022 NY Legal Education Opportunity Program

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission is pleased to share information about the 2022 NY Legal Education Opportunity Program (NY LEO):

The application portal is open for the NY Legal Education Opportunity Program Class of 2022! 

NY LEO immerses students that are educationally and/or economically disadvantaged, and/or from groups traditionally underrepresented in the law, to the rigors of the first year of law school; 1L experience.

The 6-week intensive program runs from June 5 – July 14, 2022, at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, located on Pace University’s campus in White Plains, NY. Students must apply online, see the tab, “LEO Fellow Application” on the NY LEO website (http://ww2.nycourts.gov/attorneys/leo).

Priority consideration will be given to applications received by May 6. Please share information about NY LEO with your networks.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:

NYLEO@nycourts.gov or by telephone at (914) 824-5800.

AABANY Congratulates the Newly-Elected AAJANY Board

AABANY applauds Judge Shababudeen Ally and Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant’s election on February 15 as President and Vice-President of the Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY). Both Judge Ally and Justice Pandit-Durant are AABANY members.

Judge Ally is a Supervising Judge of the Civil Court in New York County. He became the first Muslim male elected to New York City Civil Court in 2018 and the first South Asian Supervising Judge in 2020. Judge Ally began his legal career as a staff attorney with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. Judge Ally then went to work for the NYC Law Department as an Assistant Corporation Counsel. For a decade prior to his time on the bench, Judge Ally operated his own law practice specializing in family and criminal law.

Judge Pandit-Durant is a Justice of the Queens County Supreme Court. Judge Pandit-Durant became the first South Asian judge elected to New York State Supreme Court in Queens and the first South Asian woman judge elected in New York State in 2018. Judge Pandit-Duran began her career as a Prosecutor in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, serving there with distinction for 25 years before being elected to New York City Civil Court in 2015, becoming the first South Asian to hold that elected office.

On March 2, in an article entitled “Asian American judicial org. works to diversify bench,” the Queens Eagle wrote Asian judges are the “least represented racial or ethnic group on the bench,” making up 6 percent of Queens’s judiciary. In the Queens’s Family Court, “there is only one Asian judge and there are no Asian American judges in the Borough’s housing Court.” In comparison, “White judges account for around 66 percent, 17 percent of judges are Latino and 17 percent are Black,” according to the Office of Court Administration data cited by the Queens Eagle.

This lack of AAPI judicial representation is further exacerbated by the overall increase of Queens’s total population. Data cited by the Queens Eagle indicates that Asian Americans account for the largest population growth of 29 percent in Queens, “outpacing the borough’s overall 7.8 percent growth.”

Judge Ally told the Queens Eagle that though there is a lot of work left to be done, diversity efforts on the bench appear to be headed in the right direction. AAJANY’s board includes three other AAPI judges from Queens: Queens Civil Court Judge Changyong Li is the secretary, recently-elected Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Karen Gopee is the treasurer and Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Francis Wang is now a member of the Board of Directors. AAJANY’s Board of Directors also includes Hon. Lillian Wan, Hon. Meredith Vacca, Hon. Karen M.C. Cortes, and Hon. Shorab Ibrahim.

To read more about the AAJANY election, please click here.

Congratulations to Judge Ally, Justice Durant, and all the newly-elected Board members of AAJANY. Thank you for all you do to represent the AAPI community and to enhance diversity and inclusion on the bench.


AABANY Co-Sponsors Asian Financial Society’s 2022 Women Leadership Panel

On February 24, AABANY co-sponsored a hybrid Women’s Leadership panel, together with the Asian Financial Society, the Chinese Finance Association, East West Bank, and MSCI which hosted the event and the reception afterwards. Around 30 attendees joined in-person, with the rest participating by Zoom. 

The panel of industry leaders were: 

  • Jennifer Wu Partner, Paul, Weiss and AABANY Women’s Committee Co-Chair;
  • Janny Cheung, FVP-CRE Manager, Eastern Region CRE, East West Bank;
  • Chengying Xiu, Shareholder of Becker & Poliakoff, Chairwoman of AFS;
  • Angelene Huang, Executive Director, VisWise Global and board member of TCFA; and
  • Jigar Thakkar, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Engineering, MSCI.  

The panel was moderated by Cara Chen (Executive Director, Client Coverage (Hedge Funds), MSCI).  

The discussion focused on allyship and how women of color can meaningfully advance in their careers including through the support of bar associations like AABANY.  Jigar talked about his practice of communicating with diverse people not just about what they have done right but the challenges of running a company; Janny Cheung talked about the diverse and supportive environment at East West Bank that treats everyone like individuals and that has allowed women like her to succeed; Chengying Xiu talked about the importance of speaking from the heart and being true to yourself; Angelene Huang talked about starting an organization that brings together Asian American professionals and how much she values toughness; and Jennifer talked about her journey from a premed student to a litigation partner and how as a first generation lawyer, other people had dreams for her that she did not have for herself. 

Thank you to Asian Financial Society for inviting AABANY to co-sponsor and to Jennifer Wu for representing the Women’s Committee as a panelist. To learn more about the Women’s Committee, please visit https://www.aabany.org/page/122.

NAPABA and Florida Affiliates’ Statement in Response to Florida Supreme Court’s Ruling Against Diversity and Inclusion Requirements in Continuing Legal Education

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), together with the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Tampa Bay (APABA-TB), the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida (APABA-SF), the Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association (GOAABA), and the Jacksonville Asian American Bar Association (JAABA) (collectively, the “Florida Affiliates”) express their strong disappointment with the Florida Supreme Court’s decision reaffirming its own ban on Florida lawyers receiving credit for continuing legal education (CLE) courses that employ certain diversity requirements on their panels. In June, NAPABA and the Florida Affiliates filed comments before the Florida Supreme Court urging the court to recognize that advancing diversity through these requirements fosters inclusivity, and does not exclude any viewpoint. Unfortunately, the court continued to mischaracterize these efforts as harmful and discriminatory. The diversity requirements championed by NAPABA, our Florida Affiliates, the American Bar Association, and dozens of other organizations are additive and not subtractive. They do not discriminate against any person or group, but rather they uplift voices long silenced. As we have noted previously, the stated goal of the policy was to eliminate bias, increase diversity, and implement tactics aimed at recruiting and retaining diverse attorneys.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA 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 all backgrounds in the legal profession.