Young Lawyers Committee Hosts “Attorney Well-Being During COVID-19” Event

On April 15, AABANY’s Young Lawyers Committee (YLC) hosted a fireside chat titled “Attorney Well-Being During COVID-19.” In the face of isolating social distancing protocols and prolonged remote working arrangements, Committee Co-Chair Janet Jun organized and moderated the event in hopes of spurring more dialogue on the subject of wellness in the legal profession. Janet was joined by former AABANY President Glenn Lau-Kee and YLC Co-Chair Jane Jeong, who also hosts and produces The Whole Lawyer Podcast. At the intersection of law and wellness, Glenn serves as a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Attorney Well-Being, and Jane is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Wellness Committee. Together, the speakers led a candid discussion about the current state of mental health awareness, challenges in the legal profession, and tips for achieving attorney wellness during COVID-19 and beyond.

Janet kickstarted the discussion by asking about the promises and pitfalls of current efforts to improve wellness in the legal profession. Glenn spoke optimistically about NYSBA’s Task Force on Attorney Well-Being, which consists of nine working groups, each dedicated to a specific wellness issue. As the head of the working group on bar associations, Glenn described the end goal of the Task Force as a wholesale culture change in the legal profession. Glenn observed that attorneys tend to experience higher levels of stress than other professionals, with young lawyers bearing the brunt of this pressure. While larger law firms have established more initiatives to promote lawyer well-being, small firms and solo practitioners are disadvantaged by limited resources. In this context, Glenn identified bar associations as a possible avenue for equalizing wellness resources. 

Diverging from Glenn’s opinion, Jane insisted that personal connections — not institutional initiatives — are the proper foundation for a more comprehensive culture of wellness. Invoking the fireside chat as an example, Jane stated that change starts at the individual level, with the creation of safe spaces for authentic conversations about personal mental health struggles.

Janet continued the discussion by asking about the source of rampant anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues in the legal profession. Glenn broke the problem down into three factors: (1) a lack of boundaries for down time, (2) client expectations and demands, and (3) financial pressures. Jane connected the first and third factors, explaining that the billable hour gives lawyers a systematic incentive to work ceaselessly. Deeming many lawyers to be perfectionists who are conditioned to tie their self-worth to external accomplishments, Jane also said that self-selection bias contributes to a workaholic legal culture.

AABANY Board Member Andy Yoo joined the discussion by asking about ways in which clients can help drive change. Glenn and Jane both responded by stating that leadership buy-in is an essential catalyst for change. As Jane explained, how CEOs and CLOs treat their employees trickles down to how employees treat external counsel.

Cynthia Lam, AABANY’s Co-Vice President of Programs and Operations, then asked the speakers to share their personal strategies for maintaining well-being. Glenn emphasized the community aspect of any individual effort to promote self-care. He urged lawyers to look beyond their own team members, who are all fixated on the same work, and reach out to family members, friends, and colleagues outside of their firms. Moving forward, Glenn hopes that bar associations will also play a greater role in providing lawyers with a sense of community. 

In enhancing her own mental health, Jane underscored the importance of setting and communicating boundaries with colleagues. She encouraged attendees not to cancel social plans for work except in the rare case of an emergency. Drawing on experience from her early career, Jane explained that by always saying yes to external requests, she had taught others that it was okay to overwork her. The lesson Jane derived from this experience was to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. 

Ultimately, Glenn and Jane urged attendees to carve out time for themselves to participate in communities and activities that are wholly unrelated to the law. While Jane personally benefits from working out, writing fiction, and doing yoga, she encouraged lawyers to access their own creative and reflective sides in whatever way works for them. Janet concluded the fireside chat by appealing to the desire of all attendees to be good lawyers. Only by striking a proper work-life balance can attorneys be fully enthusiastic about their careers and clients. To this extent, valuing well-being in one’s own life can help us all become more present in the lives of those around us.

AABANY thanks Janet, Glenn, and Jane for sharing their insights and leading this dialogue on the ever-relevant topic of attorney well-being. To learn more about the Young Lawyers Committee and its work, click here.

AABANY Congratulates Glenn Lau-Kee

Congratulations to Glenn Lau-Kee, Partner at Lau-Kee Law Group PLLC and former AABANY President (1997-99), on receiving the American Bar Association Solo and Small Firm Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Lau-Kee began his legal career as an associate in the Hong Kong and New York offices of Coudert Brothers LLP where he worked on bank financing, leasing, and corporate acquisition transactions. In 1977, he became a partner at Kee and Lau-Kee PLLC where he has developed a thriving real estate and bank financing practice. Mr. Lau-Kee made history as the first Asian American President of the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) for the 2014-15 term. He continues his involvement with NYSBA as a member of the Business Law, Health Law and Real Property Law sections. Mr. Lau-Kee has also been an active member of New York County Lawyers Association (“NYCLA”) since 2000, serving on the Board of Directors until 2004 and serving on various task forces and committees until 2010. He also served on the Board of Directors for the NYCLA Foundation and the New York Bar Foundation, which function as the charitable and philanthropic arms of their respective organizations.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Glenn Lau-Kee.

PRESS RELEASE: AABANY CONGRATULATES ITS FORMER PRESIDENT GLENN LAU-KEE ON RECEIVING SOLO AND SMALL FIRM LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FROM AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION

NEW YORK – The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) congratulates Glenn Lau-Kee, Partner at Lau-Kee Law Group PLLC and former AABANY President (1997-99), on receiving the American Bar Association Solo and Small Firm Lifetime Achievement Award. This award honors solo and small firm attorneys who are widely accepted by their peers as having significant lifetime distinction, exceptional achievement, and distinction in an exemplary way. Mr. Lau-Kee and his fellow awardees will be honored on Friday, May 3, 2019 at the ABA Solo and Small Firms Award Luncheon at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.

Mr. Lau-Kee began his legal career as an associate in the Hong Kong and New York offices of Coudert Brothers LLP where he worked on bank financing, leasing, and corporate acquisition transactions. In 1977, he became a partner at Kee and Lau-Kee PLLC where he has developed a thriving real estate and bank financing practice.  He was also a partner at Koo Larrabee Lau-Kee & Lane LLP for six years.

Aside from practicing real estate and business law, Mr. Lau-Kee has spent much of his legal career tirelessly serving the Asian American community of New York City. He helped found the Chinatown YMCA, as well as the US-Asia Institute. For his long-standing service to the YMCA, he received the Order of the Red Triangle, the highest honor bestowed by the organization. Along with his father, Norman Kee, Mr. Lau-Kee received the Hon. George Bundy Smith Pioneer Award in 2010, recognizing their outstanding record of public service and commitment to providing exceptional legal services to the Chinatown community in New York City. In 2017, Mr. Lau-Kee was honored as a Community Hero by the Museum of Chinese in America.

Mr. Lau-Kee made history as the first Asian American President of the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) for the 2014-15 term. He continues his involvement with NYSBA as a member of the Business Law, Health Law and Real Property Law sections. Mr. Lau-Kee has also been an active member of New York County Lawyers Association (“NYCLA”) since 2000, serving on the Board of Directors until 2004 and serving on various task forces and committees until 2010. He also served on the Board of Directors for the NYCLA Foundation and the New York Bar Foundation, which function as the charitable and philanthropic arms of their respective organizations.

Mr. Lau-Kee has been an active leader in AABANY for over twenty years.  He served as President from 1997-1999 and on the Board of Directors from 1994-2000.  He has served on the Nominations Committee, contributing to the promotion of future leaders for AABANY.

Mr. Lau-Kee is a graduate of Yale College and Boston University School of Law.

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

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Bereavement Notice: Norman Lau Kee

AABANY is saddened by the news of the passing of Norman Lau Kee. He was a true pioneer in the Asian American legal profession, being among the first Chinese American lawyers to serve the community in New York’s Chinatown. He also served and led the community through his involvement with the Chinatown YMCA, the Chinese-American Planning Council and the US Asia Institute. AABANY named its Trailblazer Award, presented at the Fall Conference, after Norman Lau Kee. His son Glenn is a Past President of AABANY and was the first Asian American President of the New York State Bar Association.

We send our condolences to Glenn and the Lau Kee family. Below are further details about the wake and giving donations in lieu of flowers.

It is with sadness that the Lau Kee family announces the passing away of Norman Lau Kee on November, 9, 2017.  Mr. Kee was a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Fordham University School of Law, and served in the US Navy.  He began the practice of law in 1956 as the third Chinese-American lawyer to practice in Chinatown.   A great civic leader, Mr. Kee also served as Chairman of the Federal Advisory Commission to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, on the New York City Commission of Human Rights, and on the boards of several community organizations.  He helped to found the Chinatown YMCA and the US Asia Institute, and was the recipient of numerous civic awards.   He was also a sailor, skier and opera lover.

Norman Lau Kee is survived by his wife, Esther; children Glenn, Deborah, Laura Ann, Gail, Valerie; eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.  The wake will be held in New York on November 27, 2017, 3:00 pm at Ng Fook Funeral home at 36 Mulberry Street, New York, NY.  A memorial event will held in Washington DC on December 7th at the US Asia Institute at 6:00 pm.  The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the New York Chinatown YMCA (contactglaukee@laukeelaw.com) or to the US Asia Institute in Washington DC (contact mary.sue.bissell@usasiainstitute.org).

Here is the intro video for Glenn Lau-Kee when he was honored back in April during the Museum of Chinese in America’s Celebration of Community Heroes. The video mentions Glenn’s leadership as AABANY President (1997-98) and as the first Asian American President of the New York State Bar Association (2014-15). AABANY Executive Director Yang Chen appears in the video, along with other community leaders, to salute Glenn and his contributions to not just the Asian American community but the larger community as well. Thank you, Glenn, for all that you do. You are truly an inspiration to us all and a genuine Community Hero. Congratulations, again!

Check out New York Law Journal’s Law Day Issue — 800 Years of Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law!

Check out New York Law Journal’s Law Day Issue — 800 Years of Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law!

Spirit of Asian America Gala 2015: Celebrating 25 Years of Advancing the Civic Voice & Quality of Life for All Asian Americans

Sponsored by the Asian American Federation

When: Thursday, May 14, 2015
Where: The Pierre, Two East 61st Street, New York City
6:30 PM Cocktails
7:30 PM Dinner and Program

Honoring:

Glenn Lau Kee, Partner, Kee & Lau-Kee, President, New York State Bar Association

Grace H. Park, Acting Prosecutor, Union County

Grace Lyu Volckhausen, President Emeritus, Tiger Baron Foundation

Presenting the Corporate Responsibility & Leadership Award to TimeWarner

Co-Emcees:

Christina Park, Anchor, WNYW/Fox 5

Ti-Hua Chang, Journalist & Writer

Auctioneer:

Rachel Orkin-Ramey, Business Director of Asian Art, Christie’s Auctions & Private Sales

For more information please contact Michelle Tong at (212) 344-5878 ext. 244, michelle.tong@aafederation.org or visit www.aafederation.org