Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON—Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice asserted that Yale University had violated federal civil rights law against Asian American and white applicants by using race as a determinative factor in its undergraduate admissions process. NAPABA strongly disapproves of any form of racial discrimination, including in college admissions. The organization understands the importance of diversity in education, and that race is one of the many factors in a holistic admissions process as established by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“While we continue to review information on the Department of Justice’s findings to fully evaluate the Yale University case, diversity remains a critical and compelling interest for universities to achieve,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, president of NAPABA. “NAPABA is in support of race-conscious standards as a part of a holistic admissions process. We also support continuing efforts by colleges and universities to improve their admissions processes, including their work to recognize and address implicit bias. Our support of these principles has included filing of amicus briefs in the seminal cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Fisher v. University of Texas in support of the universities and the importance of diversity. NAPABA will closely monitor the alleged claims against Yale University.”
Two years ago, NAPABA supported the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts’ ruling that upheld the use of race conscious admissions in Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard. In 2015, NAPABA issued an organizational statement in support of Affirmative Action and that the policy is necessary to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in education.
NAPABA supports the National Native American Bar Association’s call to include Native American Women in the Center for Women in Law and the NALP Foundation “Women of Color – A Study of Law Student Experiences.” While NAPABA believes the omission was unintentional, it is important when addressing the experiences of communities of color that efforts are made to ensure that the final study is inclusive of all communities. As an organization that represents the interests of Asian Pacific American attorneys, NAPABA is too familiar with the frustration of being excluded or lumped into an “Other” category. Within NAPABA itself, there is a concrete effort to be representative of our diverse Asian Pacific American community.
NAPABA strongly advocates that all studies of the legal profession ensure that Native Americans are included when issuing these important and necessary studies.
On July 28, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) hosted an event addressing diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace and beyond. Moderated by Margaret Ling, Director of Business Development and Co-Chair of the Real Estate Committee at AABANY, the panel featured: William H. Ng, Shareholder at Littler Mendelson and former Co-Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Committee of AABANY; Donna Dozier Gordon, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at USTA; Asker A. Saeed, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and Principal at Saeed Consulting; Sean Bacchus, CEO and Founder of the Executive Diversity and Inclusion Council; and Prof. Meredith R. Miller, President of the Network of Bar Leaders.
The program began with an acknowledgment of Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon who recently passed away. Margaret urged the participants to follow the Congressman’s famous words, to get in “good trouble,” as they work to make their communities more equitable and representative.
Will Ng opened by recounting his experience with diversity and inclusion while working in large law firms. He noted that law firms need to have support from management and leadership in order to succeed in creating a more diverse workplace. He also stressed that recruitment was not the issue, but rather, retaining diverse, younger talent.
Asker Saeed followed by outlining steps that may help large law firms advance their diversity and inclusion efforts. First, law firms should think about their reason for promoting diversity: not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also better for business. Firms should hire the best people, and the best attorneys are not only one gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality. Second, firms should examine their systems and procedures, particularly in lateral hiring and promotions. For example, when partners are asked to recommend people to a position, they are likely going to recommend individuals who look like them or remind them of themselves, thus perpetuating the status quo that partners should be white, male, straight, etc.. Thirdly, firms should hire and pay someone to be in charge of diversity and inclusion for greater accountability, as well as create a specific budget for diversity and inclusion initiatives. Finally, law firms should create more opportunities for all people to prove their abilities and advance in the organization.
Meredith R. Miller added that, in 2016, the American Bar Association identified discrimination as professional misconduct. She emphasized that firms should not focus on not discriminating, but rather being anti-discrimination and anti-racist. She also urged bar associations to build pipelines for minority communities in the legal field.
Donna Gordon examined the connection between diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the Black Lives Matter movement. Due to the nation’s changing landscape, especially after the Black Lives Matter movement, the success of a firm will depend on its ability to hire and retain diverse talent. Black Lives Matter has reignited corporate interest in diversity and inclusion. However, despite the long history of these diversity initiatives, African Americans still do not experience as much advancement in the workplace. Donna urged participants to focus on addressing the gaps in the African American talent pipeline by tapping into wider networks.
Finally, Sean Bacchus stressed that organizations must be recognized for their progress and held accountable for the work they are not engaging in. Mentorship and sponsorship from senior leaders towards minorities are very important, especially given the prevalence of nepotism in large firms. Sean also urged firms to not only target Ivy League students during recruitment but also look at the CUNY system.
We thank Margaret Ling for organizing and moderating the successful event, and the panelists for offering their valuable insights. Attendees received 1.0 credits in the diversity, inclusion, and elimination of bias requirement, and 0.5 credits in the ethics requirement. To view a recording of the program, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxb4uylxkMQ or click the image above.
Please join us in celebrating AABANY’s founding date on July 28, 1989—30 years ago. On this day, Steve T. Min, as Incorporator, filed a Certificate of Incorporation on behalf of AABANY with the State of New York. Then, on October 20, 1989 AABANY’s incorporation was announced, and attorneys interested in learning about AABANY were invited to an inaugural reception at New York University Law School on November 9, 1989.
We acknowledge with respect and gratitude Tony Cheh, Rockwell Chin, Glenn Ikeda, Yat T. Man, Steve Min, Serene K. Nakano, and many others for their visionary actions in establishing AABANY. Thank you to all of our past and present Presidents, Board Members, Committee Chairs, members, and friends for their continual support in improving the study and practice of law, and the fair administration of justice for all by ensuring the meaningful participation of Asian-Americans in the legal profession. Now one of the most prominent and active minority bar associations in New York, AABANY has well over 1,200 members, including practicing attorneys in the private and public sectors, in-house lawyers, judges, professors, and law students.
We thank everyone who is or has been a member of AABANY over the course of the last 30 years, and we invite to join our association everyone who shares AABANY’s mission of advancing Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, South Asians and all diverse and under-represented groups in the legal profession in New York.
We encourage all non-members to take advantage of our vast network of attorneys and judges, our twenty-seven different committees, as well as the numerous CLE opportunities that we offer to our members. Please click here to either renew or sign up as an AABANY member.
On March 5, 2019, the AABANY LGBT Committee held a roundtable discussion titled: “Transactional Identities: Navigating the various contexts of coming out for Asian American lawyers.”
Presenting were Connie Montoya, Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP; Janice Jabido, IP Counsel, Pratt & Whitney; and Tony Thomas, Chief Legal & Labor Relations Officer, City University of New York – Brooklyn College.
Dennis M. Quinio, Manager of Diversity & Inclusion, Milbank, LLP, moderated the discussion.
Our esteemed presenters jump-started the conversation, sharing their experiences being LGBT and Asian American within the legal profession, their families and their communities at large. They discussed the struggles of being in the closet; the dynamics of coming out to colleagues, clients, and family members; and strategies for overcoming day-to-day challenges such as microaggressions. Several Asian American LGBT attorneys from private practice, government and the nonprofit sector attended the discussion and shared their experiences in this confidential space, meant to foster a candid and supportive dialogue. We heard about others’ experiences harmonizing identities that may seem to be in conflict and explored how living our “authentic” selves can impact our effectiveness at work.
The law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton graciously hosted the event. At the beginning of the roundtable, Sandra Flow, Partner and Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at Cleary, delivered warm welcoming remarks, affirming the firm’s commitment to supporting diverse attorneys.
If you would like to join the AABANY LGBT Committee or learn more, email John Vang at email@example.com.
On Thursday, January 24, 2019, Don Liu was featured as the Keynote Speaker at the Fourth Annual Alumni of Color Event of Columbia Law School. The event took place at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel in Manhattan and was attended by over 200 Columbia Law School Alumnae.
Don spoke of the challenges of being an APA Attorney and In House General Counsel. He praised all of the pioneering efforts of NAPABA and AABANY to support and encourage the future careers of many APA law students and attorneys.
Of greater importance was
how he inspired the audience with what Diversity and Inclusion meant to
him and how important it was to embrace it.
We thank Margaret Ling, AABANY’s Director of Development and Co-Chair of AABANY’s Real Estate Committee, for providing the photos and write up for this post.
Racism, hate, and bigotry have no place in our country. Leaders do not equate individuals who support ideologies of hate with those who stand defiantly in support of diversity and inclusion, in support of our nation’s ideals. There is no moral equivalence between bigotry and tolerance.
As we said on Monday following the horrible hate on display by neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the tragic loss of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, “Our core values—acceptance, diversity, and inclusiveness—will overcome the forces of hate and racism.”
We cannot look away from this hate. We must challenge it. We must stand for our core values. This is not a time for ambivalence or equivocation.
We come together as Asian Pacific American attorneys. We have different personal stories, but we all come together as a community with a shared history. We come together because we recognize the power of our community and our profession. We have seen what happens when our communities or other marginalized groups do not have a voice in the law or in the public sphere.
We are leaders with the privilege and ability to ensure that these voices are lifted up and that these stories are told. Just as past civil rights leaders have done for us, we must speak up to advance our principles of justice and equality and to help heal our nation’s deep scars. We continue to draw on the strength and resilience of our history. We must protect civil rights and our vision of democracy.
I am proud to see law firms, law professors, corporations, organizations, and others affirm the commitment of the profession to diversity. I am proud to see individual lawyers stand in common humanity to drive away darkness.
Be a light that guides people to peace, understanding, tolerance, and inclusion. Provide pro bono legal services to the people and organizations opposing racism and violence. Call on your leaders to unequivocally and publicly denounce racism and all those who support it. Have the tough conversations with your families and friends to help them understand and process the events of these trying days.
As lawyers committed to our values, we must be in the courts, the legislatures, and the community to protect the progress we have made since the civil rights era and move forward towards “a more perfect union.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
As lawyers, law students, and legal professionals, we must help bend it.
Cyndie Chang NAPABA President, 2016-17
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association | 1612 K St. NW, Suite 510 | Washington, D.C. 20006 | www.napaba.org
Diversity brings diverse perspectives, and fairer representation for a diverse society. While the legal profession has publicly committed itself to diversity and inclusion, it has yet to become a model of inclusion itself, remaining largely homogeneous even as the population it serves continues to grow more heterogenous.
Beginning in 2018, a biennial requirement of one credit of Diversity & Inclusion CLE will be implemented in New York for experienced attorneys. In July of last year, the New York City Bar Association and 12 other New York bar associations issued a letter endorsing the institution of a D&I CLE requirement for New York State, in accordance with Resolution 107 passed by the American Bar Association in February 2016. That resolution emphasized education for lawyers around an expanded definition of diversity, meaning the inclusion of all persons regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disabilities. On September 14, 2016 and January 12, 2017, AABANY issued letters in support of the D&I CLE initiative, as an organization committed to the values of equality and social justice that the legal profession upholds and to breaking the obstacles of bias and discrimination that face the APA community within the profession.
The legal profession should reflect the diversity and the complexity of the society it serves, something that the Asian American community, which remains disproportionately underrepresented in the profession today, knows all too well. “Education and knowledge breed change,” Immediate Past President Susan L. Shin wrote in a letter to Hon. Betty Ellerin, Chair of the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board, last year. “By recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion as values of primary importance, the D&I CLE requirement directly addresses one of the most important criticisms of the legal profession.” As so clearly evidenced by A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law, the report published by NAPABA and Yale Law School on July 18, Asian Americans still face many barriers when it comes to being accurately represented and fairly treated, despite three decades of growth and progress in the legal profession. The implementation of a D&I CLE is a crucial step forward in promoting diversity in the legal profession, in finding solutions to the problems addressed by the Portrait Project, and in making the law more fair and just for those who work within it and for those it serves.
For more information on the D&I CLE, follow the link in the title.