Again showing AABANY’s commitment to raising up the next generation of Asian American lawyers, the Government Service and Public Interest (GSPI) committee teamed up with the Student Outreach Committee (SOC) and Mayer Brown LLP to host the first ever “AABANY Students Meet Government and Public Interest Lawyers” event. The program was held on the evening of February 23 and was very successful, featuring a room packed with students and mentors, and two professional panels, followed by a networking reception.
The panels showcased how Asian Americans have succeeded as lawyers in government service and in the public interest. The panels featured:
Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief Counsel from the Office of Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall;
Sofia Khan, Director of the Family Law Unit from Legal Services NYC (LSNYC);
Belinda Luu, Staff Attorney from Mobilization for Justice’s (MFJ) Special Litigation Project;
Frank Ng, Deputy General Counsel from the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH);
Kwok Ng, Associate Court Attorney from New York City Civil Court;
Nakeeb Siddique, Director of Housing from the Legal Aid Society’s Brooklyn Neighborhood Office;
Marti Weithman, Assistant Commissioner from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (DHPD); and
Annie Wang, Director of Immigrant Justice Project from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education (AALDEF).
The panels showed students what it is like to work in a variety of fields in government and public interest and what it takes for students to get a foot in the door.
The panel discussions were followed by a networking reception with more government service and public interest lawyers. In attendance were, Ernie Collete from MFJ, Kevin Hsi from DHPD (also GSPI Committee’s Co-Chair), Jonathan Rosen from New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), May Wong (Pro Bono & Community Service Committee Co-Chair) from DC 37 Legal Services. Also, in attendance were AABANY’s Executive Director Yang Chen, Vice President of Programs and Operations Beatrice Leong, and Treasurer and Co-Chair of the GSPI Committee Evelyn Gong.
Thank you to AABANY student leaders Stephanie Sun (Fordham Law) and Alex Lao (Pace Law), SOC Vice Chair Justin Lee (NYU Law), SOC Co-Chair William Lee (Associate, Mayer Brown LLP) and GSPI Committee Co-Chair Rina Gurung (Associate Court Attorney, Housing Court) for leading the charge.
Special thank you to Mayer Brown LLP for sponsoring and hosting this event.
To learn more about the GSPI Committee, click here. To learn more about the SOC, click here.
On October 21, 2022, Adhikaar, a community organization for New York’s Nepali-speaking community, hosted its sold-out Fall Utsav at the Queens Museum. Rina Gurung, Board Chair of Adhikaar (and one of the co-chairs of AABANY’s Government Services and Public Interest (GSPI) Committee), opened the ceremony by thanking the Adhikaar Board and its staff for spearheading a wonderful organization that empowers the Nepali-speaking community by addressing social rights, workers’ rights, and women’s rights. Gurung also gave a shout-out to her work colleagues and AABANY.
Kevin Hsi, co-chair of GSPI, and May Wong, co-chair of the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, were also in attendance at Fall Utsav to support Rina and Adhikaar. AABANY’s GSPI and PBCS Committees wish the best to Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar, who steps down from her leadership role at the end of October.
Moving forward, PBCS hopes to bridge a partnership with Adhikaar to secure Nepali-speaking clients for PBCS upcoming legal clinics! For more information about AABANY’s PBCS, please contact email@example.com.
In other news, AABANY’s ties with other Asian American community organizations are as strong as ever. AABANY member and Prosecutors Committee co-founder Kin Ng attended the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn’s (UCA) 20th Anniversary Gala to accept the Community Leader of the Year Award. PBCS partners with UCA to host its pro bono clinics. Register for the December 10th Brooklyn PBCS pro bono clinic here. Read more about AABANY members celebrating with Kin at the UCA Gala here.
Next event coming up that supports AAPI Community-Based Organizations: 11/17 – MinKwon hosting its Virtual Anniversary Gala with NAKASEC
AABANY announced on May 28, 2021, that through the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, Government Service & Public Interest (GSPI) Committee and the Student Outreach Committee (SOC), it established a phone line to aid limited English proficient (LEP) applicants in applying for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, also known as Section 8. Section 8 is a government rental housing program that allows low-income families, the elderly and disabled to rent privately-owned and safe housing. Applicants will be selected by the New York State Homes & Community Renewal (NYSHCR) agency’s Section 8 Voucher Waitlist Lottery. The deadline for application is May 28, 11:59 AM ET. As for ERAP, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is offering a program that provides rental and utility assistance to eligible New York residents who owe arrears. Households will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds remain available.
When applying for housing and aid, many LEP applicants have had difficulty finding language assistance. AABANY hopes to help LEP applicants who do not have electronic access in completing the application by telephone. Interested applicants may contact (929) 251-3022 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time with an AABANY volunteer to receive aid in contacting HCR and the OTDA.
To view AABANY’s flyer about the Section 8 Waitlist Lottery, click on the image above.
To read more about AABANY’s efforts to aid the Chinese LEP community, click here.
On Thursday, April 11, AABANY hosted a screening of “Blowin’ Up,” a feature documentary that explores the complex realities of sex work in New York City and the compassionate approach of a human trafficking court in Queens County. The film features AABANY member Honorable Toko Serita, Queens Supreme Court, as well as other heroines of the Human Trafficking Intervention Court, that work with victims of sexual exploitation who face prostitution-related charges.
After the screening, Beatrice Leong, AABANY Government Service and Public Interest Committee Co-Chair, led a panel discussion featuring speakers from the NYPD/FBI Joint Human Trafficking Task Force and a Queens Assistant District Attorney who prosecutes human traffickers. The panelists talked about how they worked together to prosecute the traffickers and how one can identify and help a suspected trafficking victim. The panel gave important insight into how gangs and traffickers target their victims, and the audience learned that many victims are new immigrants, local high school students or children in the foster care system. “Drugs can only be used once, but a person can be used over and over.”
On March 28, the Government Service and Public Interest (GSPI) and Pro Bono Committees enjoyed some traditional Chinese delicacies at Bite of Hong Kong in Chinatown. The committees gathered for a joint year-end celebration to thank and recognize members and volunteers that made the Pro Bono Clinics, trainings, panels, and other activities a success this past year.
Thank you to everyone who attended the dinner. Thanks also to our Committee Chairs for their leadership: Kevin Hsi, Beatrice Leong and Jonathan Hernandez (GSPI); and Karen Yau, Pauline Yeung-Ha, Judy Lee and Asako Aiba. To learn more about the Pro Bono Clinic and get involved, click here. To learn more about the GSPI Committee, go here. To learn more about the Pro Bono Committee, go here.
New York State Rules of Professional Conduct strongly encourage attorneys to perform pro bono legal and other services to benefit low-income people. 22 NYCRR Part 1200, Rule 6.1. The Office of Court Administration requires attorneys to complete an anonymous report of voluntary pro bono services and monetary contributions when completing their Attorney Registration.
This past year, AABANY’s Government Service Public Interest and Pro Bono and Community Services Committees have been committed to providing AABANY members a greater range of pro bono opportunities. The purpose of this survey is to gauge everyone’s interest in the pro bono initiatives listed below, so that we can determine how to best allocate AABANY resources. Training will be provided to you prior to your participation and will likely offer CLE credits.
There are many reasons to attend our Government Service and Public Interest Committee events. A chief one among them is that you will meet very interesting people and learn very interesting information.
Specialized High School admissions process, in the after-event reception, I met a deputy director of the Municipal ID Program and learned that its capacity has recently increased greatly. Interested persons can get appointments almost immediately.