The Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Commmittee is launching a monthly Bring Your Own Lunch (BYOL) Sidebar Meeting, on Thursdays. The first one was held over Zoom on September 28. The PBCS Committee thanks Trusts & Estates Committee Co-Chairs Pang-Mei (P.M.) Natasha Chang and Yi Stewart for speaking at the inaugural event.
At the clinics, the PBCS Committee has been seeing more and more clients asking questions about estate planning. The attendees had the opportunity to discuss issues generally asked, such as setting up trusts vs. wills, spousal elective share, advanced directives, guardianships, and intestacy vs. probate.
For this area of practice, one should be familiar with the laws under EPTL and SCPA. To learn more about the Trusts & Estates Committee and how you can get more involved, sign up for their upcoming meeting on October 4 here.
The next BYOL Sidebar is on October 12, 2023 at 1pm. Please sign up here.
The next pro bono clinic is on October 14, 2023 from 12:30pm – 3:30pm. Please sign up here to volunteer.
AABANY’s newly-formed Trusts & Estates Committee held its inaugural event in the courtroom of Hon. Rita Mella at New York County Surrogate’s Court on Chambers Street in lower Manhattan on September 20, 2023. About two dozen attendees, including many AABANY members and court staff, filled the ornate courtroom.
Yang Chen, the Executive Director of AABANY, presented welcome remarks, followed by Co-Chair P.M. Natasha Chang, who then introduced Co-Chair Yi Stewart. Yi introduced the Hon. Rita Mella, Surrogate Judge, New York County. (Yi was formerly Judge Mella’s law clerk.)
Judge Mella, both the host and honored guest, spoke on the history and role of Surrogate’s Courts, and the importance of diversity in the courts and among trusts & estates practitioners. Judge Mella disclosed that the Surrogate’s Court of New York County, which consists of only two judges (including Hon. Hilary Gingold) and their staff, processes approximately 10,000 cases a year. In addition to the probate and administration proceedings, the court handles adoption, guardianship, and miscellaneous proceedings. Among these cases, Judge Mella particularly noted the proceedings for settling 9/11-related personal injury and wrongful death claims which involve many who lived and worked in Manhattan Chinatown.
Judge Mella had pulled from the records room and laid on the table for exhibit the original wills of Alexander Hamilton, Babe Ruth, Herman Melville, Marilyn Monroe, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Committee members pored over the documents in fascination. Champagne and dim sum were served before everyone gathered on the steps of the courtroom gallery for a photo.
Congratulations to the T&E Committee, AABANY’s newest Committee, on a successful inaugural event. Thanks to everyone who came and took part, and thanks especially to Judge Mella and her staff for welcoming us into her beautiful and historic courtroom. To learn more about the T&E Committee and how you can get involved, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/1154. If you would like to join the Committee’s listserv, contact [email protected].
We are thrilled to announce the successful conclusion of the NAPABA In-House Counsel (IHC) Summit and the landmark inaugural Partners Summit. These events have not only marked memorable milestones but have also underscored the power of collaboration, conversation, and shared purpose within our vibrant community.
As detailed in A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0: Identity and Action in Challenging Times, we know that though the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community has seen progress in some areas, underrepresentation of our community in the top ranks of the legal profession persists. Both summits served as a space for us to connect, collaborate, and encourage each other to continue to chart the path forward and advance to positions of leadership and influence within the legal profession and beyond.
In-House Counsel Summit Highlights
The NAPABA In-House Counsel Summit brought together legal luminaries, thought leaders, and in-house counsel from diverse backgrounds. Engaging discussions, insightful panels, and immersive workshops explored crucial topics facing in-house legal professionals today and offered key skills to elevate individuals to the C-Suite at Fortune 500 companies. As outlined in NAPABA’s 50×25 Pipeline initiative this program continues to curate, cultivate, and promote a robust pipeline of senior AANHPI IHC.
Partners Summit Highlights
The Partners Summit marked the beginning of a new era of partnerships and collaboration. We were honored to convene with our valued members, and speakers who were instrumental in propelling our shared vision forward. The rich exchange of ideas and collective commitment to our mission were palpable throughout the summit.
IHC and Partners Summits Joint Dinner + Panel
For the first time, NAPABA hosted a joint dinner with Partners Summit and IHC Summit participants. This dinner provided a unique platform for networking and fostering meaningful connections. The panel of industry experts discussed how to leverage law connections and getting a seat at the table. This event not only strengthened professional relationships but also facilitated the sharing of expertise, enhancing participants’ ability to navigate complex legal challenges effectively.
As we look to the future, we are invigorated by the energy and enthusiasm generated during these summits. We look forward to utilizing the insights and learnings to drive impactful change and develop the pipeline of senior AANHPI attorneys.
AABANY co-sponsored the Inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program on May 31, 2023, organized by and held at the Appellate Division, Second Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
Congratulations to Hon. Randall T. Eng, Retired Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department for this award named in recognition of his tremendous and trailblazing career and impact on the AAPI community.
Congratulations to Congresswoman Grace Meng, 6th Congressional District. As the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State, it is only fitting that she is the first recipient of the Hon. Randall T. Eng award. Congresswoman Meng’s advocacy for the AAPI community is impactful and far-reaching and AABANY applauds her tremendous work and service, including her work towards the creation of a national museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture.
Congratulations to Presiding Justice Hector D. LaSalle and the Appellate Division, Second Department with the successful launch of the Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program.
The Program included remarks from:
Hon. Lara J. Genovesi, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department
Hon. Hector D. LaSalle, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department
Letitia James, New York State Attorney General
Melinda Katz, District Attorney of Queens
Hon. Lillian Wan, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department
Karen Kim, President, AABANY
Chief Judge Hon. Rowan D. Wilson was also in attendance, as well as the distinguished judges of the Appellate Division, Second Department, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. We would also like to extend our appreciation to the Associate Judges of the Court of Appeals, Hon. Madeline Singas, Michael Garcia, and Anthony Cannataro, for their attendance.
It was a privilege to collaborate with the Hon. Lillian Wan and the co-sponsoring bar associations: KALAGNY, FALANY, SABANY, MUBANY, and SAICBAQ. This event provided a meaningful and memorable way to celebrate and close out AAPI Heritage Month.
As soon as AABANY Co-VP of Programs and Operations Beatrice Leong learned about this inaugural event, she leaped into action to make sure that AABANY members and friends can march up Sixth Ave to represent our bar association. Several email blasts and social media posts went out inviting people to join us at the parade line-up on Sunday morning.
The day started with foggy conditions, and AABANY was among the first groups on West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. We found a good spot to gather on the street, right between the Iroquois Hotel and the New York City Bar Association building. Over the next two hours, the block filled with numerous groups and associations representing a wide array of AAPI organizations and cultures. On our left were brightly colored floats, and on our right were fancy buggies that transported VIPs. Everyone was growing impatient to start marching. Shortly after 12 noon, we started to see floats moving forward onto Sixth Avenue, followed by the community groups and organizations. When AABANY turned down the Avenue of Americas, the sun came out and shined brightly.
Everyone was happy to be part of this historic parade, which we hope will grow as big as the Thanksgiving Day parade in the future.
After the parade, members enjoyed a sumptuous meal at Tang Pavilion.
We thank member Lord Chester So for helping us obtain a banner on short notice!
We thank the following AABANY Members for joining and marching with us!
Founder, Rocky Chin Hon. Vidya Pappachan Executer Director Yang Chen Co- Vice President of Programming and Operations, Beatrice Leong Board Director Chris Kwok Pro Bono Committee Co-Chairs: Eugene Kim and May Wong Pro Bono Committee Vice Chair: Johnny Thach GSPI Committee Chair: Kevin Hsi Women’s Committee Co-Chair: Wen Zhang Susan Shin, past AABANY President (2016) and her husband Rob Lord Chester So Priya Vanessa Outar Jennifer Park Grace Vee Gary Yeung Amelia Rusli Xuanyou Chen Marjorie Tsang
We were pleased to be joined by our friends at SABANY including SABANY President Austin D’Souza. Thanks to everyone who helped make history with AABANY at this first Annual AAPI Heritage and Culture Parade!
Many congratulations to longstanding AABANY member Kathy Hirata Chin on being honored by the Columbia Law School Association and Asian Columbia Alumni Association with the inaugural Hong Yen Chang Award at the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) at 14 Vesey Street on Tuesday, May 28. The event was co-sponsored by AABANY, the Asian Practice Committee of NYCLA, the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York, and the Network of Bar Leaders. We were joined by many AABANY community members and Columbia alumni. Ms. Chin is a 1980 graduate of the Columbia Law School.
The well-attended reception began with AABANY Development Director Margaret Ling providing a brief history of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. She highlighted two key dates in Asian American history: May 7th, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States in 1842, and May 10th, when the transcontinental railroad was completed with the help of Chinese laborers in 1869.
Then, NYCLA’s secretary Jai Chandrasekhar welcomed guests to the reception and shared some of Hong Yen Chang’s achievements, including being the first Chinese person in the United States to graduate from an American law school, in 1886.
Next, the Hon. George B. Daniels shared some of Kathy Hirata Chin’s achievements as an accomplished litigator and community member.
Then, AABANY’s Executive Director Yang Chen read from the introduction to the Portrait Project, the first-ever comprehensive study of Asian Americans in the legal profession, which spoke on the progress today of Asian Americans as big firm lawyers, government attorneys, corporate counsel members, public defenders, judges and more—reaching “levels of legal participation unthinkable compared to just over 30 years ago.” He made this reference to comment on how far Asian Americans in the legal profession have come from Hong Yen Chang’s time and have yet to go.
Bridgette Ahn, the current president of the Network of Bar Leaders, then took the podium to share brief remarks on NYCLA’s work and mission. Rudy Carmenaty, the President of the Columbia Law School Association, followed up by illuminating more of Ms. Chin’s achievements and the reasons for holding the Hong Yen Chang reception.
Then, the honoree Kathy Hirata Chin shared an engaging presentation on Hong Yen Chang’s remarkable life, including many long forgotten and little known details about his achievements at a time when discriminatory laws and attitudes toward Asians were far more prevalent.
Finally, Ms. Chin was presented with the inaugural Hong Yen Chang award honoring her trailblazing achievements in the spirit of Hong Yen Chang. Her husband, the Hon. Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, added his reflections. He stated, “Kathy is a wonderful, caring, gracious, hard working, brilliant person. And beyond that, she is a terrific lawyer, a pioneer in her own right as an Asian American woman—a litigator—making her mark at a time when law firms were still holding events at male owning clubs. And there were zero Asian American partners.”
Regarding Ms. Chin’s accomplishments, as stated in AABANY’s press release, “[she] has handled dozens of appellate cases, concentrating her practice in healthcare and real estate…. She has served on Governor Mario M. Cuomo’s Judicial Screening Committee for the First Judicial Department from 1992-1994; the Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel for the Eastern District of New York from 1992-1999; the Gender Bias Committee of the Second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Race, and Ethnic Fairness; the New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Task Force to Increase Diversity in the Legal Profession; and Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye’s Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections from 2003-2006; and the New York County Lawyers’ Association Board of Directors. In April 2016, she was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the First Department Judicial Screening Committee. Since January 2016, Chin has served as a member of the Second Circuit Judicial Council Committee on Civic Education & Public Engagement, focusing on historic reenactments as a teaching tool. With her husband, the Hon. Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and teams of lawyers and judges from AABANY, she has developed and presented reenactments of famous cases such as Korematsu vs. U.S, to educate the community about the significant contributions of Asian Americans to the social, political and legal history of the United States.”
Regarding Hong Yen Chang, according to AABANY’s press release: “In 1872, 13-year-old Hong Yen Chang came to the United States to be groomed as a diplomat. He earned degrees from Yale University and Columbia University’s law school and passed the bar exam. However, after passing the bar examination, he was first denied admission because of his lack of U.S. citizenship due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. A special act of the New York Legislature (N.Y. L.1887 c. 249) allowed his admission despite this bar and in 1888, Hong Yen Chang reportedly became the first Asian American attorney admitted to the bar in New York. Hong Yen Chang then moved to California and applied for admission to the bar there but was denied in 1890 due to his lack of citizenship. Not until 2015 was this exclusion remedied, when the California Supreme Court granted an application from members of the UC Davis Asian Pacific American Law Students Association for posthumous admission of Hong Yen Chang.”
Please join AABANY in congratulating Kathy Hirata Chin on all of her achievements and on her well-deserved honor at the inaugural Hong Yen Chang reception.
Thanks to Kevin Hsi for providing the photos for this blog post.
WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is proud to present the inaugural 2017 NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award to Commander Sylvaine W. Wong, deputy director of the United States Navy Office of the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, Military Manpower Division. The NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award — a brand new award — seeks to recognize individuals within the Asian Pacific American legal community serving the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including Reserve and National Guard) as uniformed personnel or as civilians or as veterans of the Armed Forces whose outstanding achievements (1) greatly enhanced the mission of the Armed Forces; (2) contributed to the advancement of rights for service-members, their families, and/or veterans; or (3) furthered the administration of justice.
The 2017 NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award will be presented at the NAPABA Anniversary Gala at the 2017 NAPABA Convention in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2017.
Commander Wong’s military career has seen her traverse the globe from U.S. military bases to the Pentagon to deployments in support of the most historically significant combat operations over the last two decades. Her tireless dedication to advancing the principals of justice and the rule of law has left lasting impacts not only on the individual service members and their families she has represented, but also on policymaking and programmatic efforts at the national and international levels.
A few highlights of Commander Wong’s military career include:
Multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, including to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and on board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson;
Establishing one of the most robust and precedent-setting waterfront legal assistance programs to bring legal services directly on to the decks of combat ships;
Championing for the rights and advocacy on behalf of military sexual assault victims; and
Contributing to the repeal of the U.S. government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on military service by homosexuals and bisexuals.
Upon moving to Washington, D.C., in 2007, Commander Wong became one of the JAG Corps’ subject matter experts on administrative law, specifically pertaining to personnel law and military rights and benefits. As part of the Department of the Navy’s Equal Opportunity program, Commander Wong reviewed hundreds of investigations by individual sailors for alleged violations of military regulations and statutory law, including congressional inquiries. Her review of the specific administration of the program for compliance with federal law also contributed to the Navy’s long-term preparations leading up to the 2011 repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in military service by homosexuals and bisexuals.
Commander Wong returned once again to Washington, D.C., in 2016 after a posting in Italy to serve as the deputy director for Recruiting and Diversity for the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Military Personnel Division). Currently, she is responsible for the policy development and execution oversight of the entire JAG Corps’ recruiting, accession, and retention mission. In addition to managing the recruiting program, which spans the over 200 American Bar Association-accredited law schools throughout the nation, she has reinvigorated the JAG Corps’ diversity and inclusion efforts, compelling new initiatives to bring diversity and inclusion into all aspects of career development and retention within the JAG Corps.
Among the efforts Commander Wong has spearheaded is the Diversity Liaison Program, empowering both junior and senior officers within the Navy JAG Corps to work substantively with national affinity bar associations and law student organizations to develop meaningful long-term partnerships. This program is designed to offer mentorship, resources, and subject matter expertise to the members of these various organizations while simultaneously promoting public service in the legal profession.
NAPABA congratulates Sylvaine W. Wong as the inaugural 2017 NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award recipient.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and over 80 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.
NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, 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 color in the legal profession.