AABANY Members: 2024 Pro Bono Opportunity – Help Close Civil Justice Gap through New York State Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP)

AABANY encourages its members to get involved in the New York State Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP) this year. The AEP is an initiative by the New York State Unified Court System, enthusiastically supported by Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson, aimed at promoting pro bono civil legal service by senior attorneys.

AABANY recognizes the increasing need for civil legal services post-COVID-19, and the need for pro bono volunteers is more critical than ever. From housing to family law matters, immigration to consumer debt, AEP volunteers play a crucial role in providing access to justice for New Yorkers who are unable to afford counsel.

To volunteer, AEP seeks lawyers aged fifty-five or older, retired or still in practice, in good standing, and with ten years experience. Attorney Emeritus volunteers receive benefits, including up to 15 CLE credits and special recognition from Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina G. Richardson.

For more information please click here.

The AEP team welcomes the opportunity to discuss the Program with individuals interested in learning more; please feel free to contact the AEP Coordinator by email at [email protected].

AABANY Members Visit Capitol Hill During NAPABA Lobby Day

AABANY members pose in front of the U.S. Capitol at NAPABA Lobby Day 2024.

On May 22, 2024, AABANY members met with the staff of New York Senate and Congressional representatives in Washinton, D.C. at this year’s NAPABA Lobby Day. Each year, members of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) travel from across the United States to Washington D.C. and advocate on critical issues facing the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community.

NAPABA and local bar association members discussed a number of issues with Congressional offices including legislation to address Anti-Asian Hate, Civil Rights, Immigration, and to support the confirmation of AANHPI judicial and executive nominees.

Wen Xue discusses alien land laws with Rebecca Lee, Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman Grace Meng.

Wen Xue, Associate at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, discussed state bills barring Chinese nationals from owning real property and a federal bill to preempt those laws.  She shared, “Lobby Day is a great opportunity to meet and connect with people. I enjoyed the opportunity to see my fellow NAPABA colleagues in action, hear their words, and be inspired.”

Sandy Chiu, intellectual property attorney at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, stated, “Lobby Day continues to inspire and reengage me in the civic process, reminding me of our power as a collective NAPABA voice in shaping policy.”

Michelle Lee, Counsel for Stand with Asian Americans which advocates against workplace discrimination, discussed legislation to ensure AANHPI history is taught as part of American history. She stated, “As a first-time attendee of Lobby Day, I experienced a sense of empowerment and relevance as we advocated on behalf of our AANHPI community directly with our Senators’ and Representatives’ offices. Every lawyer should take advantage of this privilege especially when NAPABA makes the experience so seamless and collaborative.”

Nandar Win Kerr, Human Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Consultant and Co-Chair of AABANY’s Professional Development Committee, stated, “For the past three years, I have participated in NAPABA Lobby Day, transitioning from grassroots activism to high-level policy advocacy, a journey that seemed intimidating at first…. Engaging in NAPABA Lobby Day has enriched my sense of community and empowered me to contribute to collective advocacy efforts. Together, we strive to foster a peaceful, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable democratic society where everyone feels they belong.”

Rachel Lee discusses civil rights legislation with Bre Sonnier-Thompson, Legislative Correspondent for New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

Rachel Lee, Associate at A&O Shearman, stated, “Lobby Day 2024 was another incredibly rewarding experience. Marching through the hallways of the House and Senate buildings with a team of like-minded AANHPI attorneys was a reminder that our democratic process requires hard work and advocacy and gave me hope that as a team we can serve as a voice on issues important to our often-forgotten community. Whether it’s an important election year or not, with or without prior lobbying experience, I strongly encourage our members to take part in this amazing program.”

NAPABA is the largest AANHPI grassroots membership association, representing the interests of over 80,000 lawyers, judges, law students and other legal professionals around the country. Approximately 90 local bar associations are affiliated with NAPABA.

Anna Mercado Clark, Partner at Phillips Lytle LLP, currently serves as President of NAPABA. She stated, “Lobby Day is the premier advocacy event for NAPABA and one of the most visible ways that we celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. We are proud to have gathered 150 members for a Congressional reception and 50 meetings with legislators from both sides of the aisle. It is so powerful to see so many AANHPIs roaming the halls of Congress. It sends the message that we are here, we matter, and we will not tire of pursuing issues of importance to our communities. Thank you, AABANY, for joining NAPABA and all you are doing to advocate for our communities and strengthen democracy. This work is more important now than ever.”

NAPABA President Anna Mercado Clark and Nandar Win Kerr attending the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Congressional Reception.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA), Senator Mazie Hirono (HI), and Director of Domestic Policy Counsel Neera Tanden speak at the AANHPI Congressional Reception.

NAPABA Lobby Day coincides with the annual Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Congressional Reception. Several AANHPI congressional and administration officials spoke including Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA), Senator Mazie Hirono (HI), and White House Director of the Domestic Policy Counsel Neera Tanden.

Thanks to all the AABANY members who participated in Lobby Day this year, especially Vishal Chander, Issues Committee Co-Chair and Board Director, who submitted this report.

Thanks to the Volunteers at the April Queens Pro Bono Clinic in Flushing 

On Wednesday, April 10th, AABANY Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee hosted their Queens Pro Bono Clinic at the Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) Community Center in Flushing. With the help of AABANY, PBCS, and AAFE staff and volunteers, 22 clients were assisted with housing, immigration, and employment issues.   

One of the clients paid $300 to an attorney to help her write a letter to management regarding a bed bug infestation matter. For someone with young children and a large family, the legal expense of $300 is financially burdensome. A housing attorney volunteer referred her to free legal services and advised her to document the situation and mobilize neighboring tenants to seek relief from the landlord. She was extremely grateful that the PBCS Committee, through the Pro Bono Clinic, offers free legal consultation and referral services. 

In another case, a client came to discuss student loans and consumer debt and thought that her only option was bankruptcy. After discussing the NYS Exempt Income Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and specific student loan forgiveness options, she felt relieved that she had more choices and greatly appreciated the information she received. 

Here are some clients’ responses: 

“Perfect management. Impressive lawyers.”

“Excellent! Thumbs up for Ms. May Wong.” 

Please join us at the Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic on May 15, 2024, at AAFE Community Center, 111 Norfolk St, New York, NY 10002. Sign up here by May 10 to volunteer:  https://forms.gle/SD2VMY8X6yE4vsxW9.

If you are interested in speaking at an upcoming  Bring-Your-Own-Lunch (BYOL) Sidebar Meeting to discuss updates on the law, common issues asked at the Pro Bono Clinics, and other miscellaneous topics, please contact [email protected].  

Thank you to the volunteers and community partners for supporting the Queens Pro Bono Clinics!

Volunteer AttorneysInterpreters & Shadowers
Beatrice LeongJennifer Shi
Eugene KimJing Liang
Gary YeungJuliet Romero
Kevin HsiShi Tang
Lina LeeYuhan Chen
May WongNuala Naranjo (AAFE)
Richard InInaki Herrera (AAFE)
Shirley LuongGabriel Hisugan (AAFE)
Willow Liu

NAPABA Lobby Day Registration Deadline Extended

Register by Wednesday, May 1 at 8 pm ET

Have you registered for NAPABA’s 2024 Lobby Day, May 21-22, in Washington, DC? If not, we’ve extended the deadline for you to register.

This is our chance to advocate for issues that impact the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community with leaders on Capitol Hill. This year, we’ll be focusing on the following priority issue areas:

Anti-Asian Hate

  • Support legislation to preempt discriminatory alien land laws.
  • Support legislation to teach AANHPI history in K-12 education.
  • Support mental health resources in our community.
  • Oppose anti-Asian rhetoric.

Civil Rights

  • Support the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
  • Support the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Support funding for legal services and public defenders.

Immigration

  • Support the right to counsel for individuals navigating the immigration system.
  • Protect the rights of asylum seekers.

Judicial and Executive Nominations

Don’t delay. Make sure your voice is heard and register by May 1!

NAPABA and Indiana Legal Services, Inc., Welcome Legal Interns to Support Indiana’s LGBTQ+ and Immigrant Communities

NAPABA Logo

For Immediate Release: 
Date: March 11, 2024 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director

WASHINGTON/INDIANAPOLIS – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) and Indiana Legal Services, Inc., (“ILS”) are proud to welcome two dedicated legal interns who will provide direct legal support for ILS programs serving Indiana’s diverse and underserved populations. Niran Al Naili and Emmanuel Amponsah will be joining ILS for the spring semester in support of the its Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center and LGBTQ+ Project. Both come to ILS with compelling backgrounds: Niran is a recent L.L.M. graduate of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law (“McKinney”) and previously worked as an investigator for the Supreme Judicial Council in Iraq, and Emmanuel is a J.D. candidate at McKinney who has extensive community advocacy experience with vulnerable populations and is training to be a chaplain candidate with the United States Army. 

This partnership between NAPABA and ILS represents NAPABA’s ongoing commitment to meaningfully engage with the community in Indiana leading up to, during, and beyond the 2023 NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis as outlined in NAPABA’s Advocacy Action Plan.

The ILS Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center provides direct legal representation on immigration matters and language access cases to Indiana residents. The Center provides direct representation of non-citizens in a variety of matters, including asylum cases before the Chicago Asylum office, immigration court cases, lawful permanent resident and naturalization applications, petitions under the Violence Against Women Act, and petitions for immigration benefits for immigrant minors and for survivors of serious crimes who cooperate with law enforcement. The ILS LGBTQ+ Project is a statewide legal assistance program providing legal advocacy and representation to LGBTQ+ people in Indiana designed to address the disproportionate rates of poverty and violence in the LGBTQ+ community. The Project includes, among other items, representation to those seeking name and gender marker changes in Indiana courts and advocacy to protect LGBTQ+ students’ rights. 

Financial support for these legal internships is generously provided by the NAPABA Law Foundation’s Underserved Communities Fellowship, which is designed to increase legal services and advance equal justice for underserved AANHPI communities, especially in areas where such populations lack sufficient resources due to geographic isolation. For more information about the application process for interested law students, please visit here.

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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 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 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.

Indiana Legal Services, Inc. (ILS) is a statewide, not-for-profit law firm that provides free legal services to eligible clients in civil cases through 8 branch offices. ILS is funded by the Legal Services Corporation, Indiana Civil Legal Aid Fund, United Ways, Area Agencies on Aging, and approximately 60 other funding sources.

Thank You to Our Volunteers at the Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic in November

On November 15th, 2023, AABANY held its Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic at the AAFE (Asian Americans for Equality) Community Center, at 111 Norfolk Street. Our devoted volunteers gave up their Wednesday evening to give back to our community, providing free legal services and language assistance to all who came into the clinic. Volunteer interpreters and attorneys helped clients resolve a variety of issues, in the areas of housing, immigration, and civil practice.

Special thanks to the Student Outreach Committee for their postering campaign and passing out the lovely flyers which Mayer Brown printed for us! The majority of the 18 clients seen indicated in their intake forms that they came because of the flyers posted in stores, local libraries, and streets.  

Though AABANY attorneys assisted with a range of interesting cases, one notable situation involved a client who sought advice on how to deal with an unresponsive attorney representing his case for unpaid wages. The litigant was represented by counsel, and AABANY attorneys couldn’t provide a second opinion about the case. Nonetheless, the volunteers provided a listening ear, carefully evaluating the client’s situation before responding with helpful advice. The attorneys advised the client to consider reaching out to the NYS Dept of Labor to file a claim and seek assistance. Moreover, they suggested the client explore the Attorney Fee Dispute Resolution Program, which provides low-cost arbitration hearings as an alternative to protracted court battles. Ultimately, this case demonstrates AABANY attorneys’ commitment to empowering clients with accessible avenues for justice. The client departed the clinic content, having obtained valuable and satisfactory advice. 

As always, AABANY thanks our Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, AAFE, our community partners, and our dedicated team of volunteers for their continued efforts and support. We would like to recognize the following individuals, for supporting AABANY at Wednesday’s clinic:

Volunteer Attorneys:

  • Casey M. Lee
  • Francis Chin
  • May Wong
  • Yan Sin
  • Yen-Yi Anderson

Interpreters and Shadowers:

  • Angela Zhao
  • Daniel Kang
  • I-Kai Lee
  • Jieman Tan
  • Wendy Xia
  • Wei Huang
  • Yiming (Roselyn) Chen
  • Yuchen Zheng

AAFE:

  • Jiwon Youn
  • Elton Ye
  • Ling Ren

For any volunteers that were unable to make it on Nov. 18th, we hope that you will be able to join us at the next Brooklyn Pro Bono Clinic, taking place on December 2, 2023 at CPC Brooklyn Community Services. For more information, please click here.

Thank You to Our Volunteers at the Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic in October

On October 18th, 2023, AABANY held its Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic at the AAFE (Asian Americans for Equality) Community Center, at 111 Norfolk Street. Our dedicated volunteers gathered on Wednesday evening to provide invaluable, free legal services to the community. The clinic was met with a large number of volunteers, eager to give back to the New York AAPI community. Volunteer interpreters and attorneys met with clients, discussing a range of issues, encompassing family, immigration, and employment law.

AABANY would like to thank our Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, AAFE, our community partners, and our hard-working volunteers for giving us their time and energy. Our success could not be possible without your support. AABANY hopes to continue making a positive impact on the community and providing much-needed legal services to those in need. We extend our sincere gratitude towards the following individuals:

Volunteer Attorneys:

  • Anna Wang
  • Beatrice Leong
  • Helen Lee
  • Hongye Mao
  • Francis Chin
  • Menglong (Anthony) Zhu
  • Osamu Watanabe
  • Tiange (Tim) Chen
  • Wenhsien Cheng
  • Xue Luan
  • Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga
  • Yan Sin
  • Yang Xu
  • Yi Stewart

Interpreters and Shadowers:

  • Cecilia Yang
  • Gaohany Guo
  • I-Kai Lee
  • Jieman Tan
  • Justin Lee
  • Ruo Yang
  • Shi Tang
  • Suzie Yu
  • Yiming (Roselyn) Chen
  • Yu-Syuan Huang
  • Yuwen Long

AAFE:

  • Elton Ye
  • Ling Ren

Once again, AABANY thanks all the volunteers, AAFE, community partners, and the PBCS Committee who made this Pro Bono Clinic possible. Please join the next Queens Pro Bono Clinic taking place on November 1st at One Flushing Community Center. For more information, please click here.

Thank You to Our Volunteers at the Brooklyn Pro Bono Clinic in August

On August 5th, 2023, AABANY held its Brooklyn Pro Bono Legal Clinic at the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) Brooklyn Community Services Center. The clinic met with 25 clients, coming in with questions about housing, immigration, and family law issues. Volunteer attorneys and interpreters patiently addressed client concerns, answering questions and connecting them to lawyers through AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS).

We thank the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee and the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) for organizing and hosting the event. Established in 1965, CPC is a social services organization dedicated to helping Asian American, immigrant, and economically disadvantaged communities within New York City to obtain equitable access to essential resources and opportunities, thus fostering Asian American success.

The next Pro Bono Clinic will be on September 6th, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm, and located at AAFE One Flushing Community Center, 133-29 41st Ave 2nd Floor, Queens, NY 11355. You can sign up here to volunteer. To add the date and time for this clinic to your calendar, click here. For upcoming clinics, please check AABANY’s calendar and update your email preference in your account to receive our emails.

Thank you to our volunteers for supporting the clinic. Your time and dedication is essential for delivering crucial assistance to individuals seeking legal guidance. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to:

Volunteer Attorneys:

Amber Lee
Ashley Shan
Gary Yeung
Kwok Kei Ng
May Wong

Interpreters and Observers:

I-Kai Lee
Jihyon Kim
Ruo Yang
Yini Lai

To learn more about the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee, click here.

Immigration Law and Pro Bono and Community Service Committees Participate in Immigrant Resource Day in Flushing

On July 15th, 2023, AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) and Immigration Law Committees participated in Immigrant Resource Day, a community event aimed at promoting services for New York immigrants, including those who are newly-arrived in the country. Held in Herald Gospel Plaza in Flushing, nearly twenty New York City government departments and various community organizations came together under the banner of the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades. 

The event attracted hundreds of attendees of various backgrounds, coming in for immigration information, legal consultation, social welfare programs, and to apply for the New York Resident Card (IDNYC). At the event, PBCS Committee Co-Chairs, Kwok Ng and Lina Lee, and Vice Chair May Wong, managed the Pro Bono Legal Clinic at the event. At the clinic, AABANY volunteer attorneys generously volunteered their time and expertise to offer guidance, advice, and support to those seeking legal assistance. 

The event surpassed all expectations in terms of the number of individuals served in a single day. With 56 registered participants seeking advice, AABANY was able to successfully assist 28 families facing challenging situations. We are immensely grateful for the overwhelming support and dedication shown by the volunteers who participated in the event. The tireless efforts of our team, consisting of fourteen AABANY attorneys, four AABANY non-attorneys, and three staff members from Asian American for Equality (AAFE), our community partner, contributed to the overall success of the day.

Furthermore, the Co-Chairs of the Immigration Law Committee, Zhixian (Jessie) Liu and Susan Song, invited former Co-Chair Tsui H. Yee to present a workshop about asylum and immigrant rights. Ms. Yee, an immigration lawyer with over 20 years of experience, discussed the process of applying for asylum, requirements for qualification, the timeline of the application process, and answered questions posed by the audience. Overall, the workshop not only provided valuable insights into the asylum application process, but also gave attendees a platform to receive expert guidance from an experienced legal professional.

The fair also highlighted the urgent need for immigration attorneys that can provide crucial assistance to Chinese migrants and asylum seekers that have arrived at the US-Mexico border in recent months. AABANY lawyers were able to interact with many individuals seeking assistance with asylum and deportation-related matters, who were influenced by misleading information on social media platforms, exploited by unscrupulous agents, or left without legal representation. The Immigration Law Committee hopes to establish a comprehensive network of trusted referrals and legal support for this community, enlisting the help of attorneys on a pro bono basis, through paid representation, or for collaboration in future workshops. 

Thank you to the PBCS and Immigration Law Committees for organizing this event. Furthermore, we extend our gratitude to Jessie Liu and Susan Song, the Co-Chairs of the Immigration Law Committee, for their exceptional efforts in conducting the workshop alongside Tsui H. Yee. We appreciate their dedication in assisting clients with immigration issues, even taking on back-to-back cases to address clients’ pressing concerns. We thank Tsui for sharing her valuable legal expertise during the workshop and for generously addressing the concerns of clients even after its conclusion. Her contributions helped drive the success of the event. In addition, we thank our partner organizations, the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades (CCHC), and AAFE.

Last but not least, thank you to the dedicated volunteers that made the Pro Bono Clinic at Immigration Resource Day a success:

Volunteer Attorneys:

  • Chris Kwok
  • Gary Yeung
  • John Hwang
  • Kevin Hsi
  • Kwok Kei Ng  
  • Lina Lee
  • May Wong
  • Shengyang (John) Wu
  • Shirley Luong
  • Susan Song  
  • Tsui Yee  
  • Yvette Wang  
  • Zhixian (Jessie) Liu  
  • Zhujing Wu

Interpreters & Shadowers:

  • David Tse
  • I-Kai Lee
  • Jadyn Tiong
  • Ruo Yang
  • Nuala Naranja (AAFE)
  • Elton Ye (AAFE)
  • Xiaodong Zhang (AAFE)

If you have expertise in asylum and deportation matters, or you know someone who does, please reach out to the Immigration Law Committee co-chairs, Zhixian Liu or Susan Song, and help AABANY establish a network of trusted referrals for newly arrived immigrants. 

You can also help out by keeping an eye out for future Pro Bono Clinics here, and registering as a volunteer. Click here to view the calendar entry for the next Pro Bono Clinic on August 16th, and fill out the registration form here. Please register as a volunteer by 12pm, August 11th, 2023.

Thank You to Our Volunteers at the Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic in July

On Wednesday, July 19th, 2023, AABANY hosted a highly successful Manhattan Pro Bono Legal Clinic at the AAFE (Asian American for Equality) Community Center, at 111 Norfolk Street, where compassionate volunteers offered their time and expertise to provide invaluable free legal services to the community. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, AAFE, our community partners, and our dedicated volunteers! Throughout the evening, we had the privilege of meeting with 22 clients, engaging in discussions of various legal issues, including immigration, housing, and family law. This was a vast increase from last month’s clinic when we had 8 clients.

In partnership with AAFE Community Center and other community partners, we recognize that the success of the Pro Bono Clinic would not be possible without our volunteers’ unwavering dedication to serving the community. By offering services in both Mandarin and Cantonese, we aim to continue to provide support for those who may face linguistic or cultural barriers when seeking access to legal services. Together, we continue to make a difference in the lives of our community members. 

Volunteer Attorneys:

  • Beatrice Leong
  • Pang-Mei (P.M.) Natasha Chang
  • Tiffany Ngeo
  • Yen-Yi Anderson
  • David Mou
  • Menglong (Anthony) Zhu
  • Yan Sin
  • Yuanyuan Li

Interpreters and Shadowers:

  • Daphne Mei
  • Anna Bao
  • Ruo Yang
  • Wendy Zeng
  • MengXi (Claire) Xiong
  • I-Kai Lee
  • Doh Yun (John) 
  • Suzie Yu
  • Alex Hwang

AAFE:

  • Ling

Thanks to all the volunteers, AAFE, community partners, and PBCS Committee who made this Pro Bono Clinic possible. Please join the next Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic taking place on August 16th at AAFE Community Center. To volunteer, please register here by August 11th. For more information, please click here.