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.
Vincent T. Chang, active member of AABANY since 2000 and former AABANY President in 2007, was inducted as the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) President of the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) on May 28, 2021. In his new role, Vince is prepared to lead NYCLA in supporting diverse communities, reaching out to more young attorneys and law students, and closing the justice gap to serve those in the community who are most in need.
Since high school, Vince gravitated towards pursuing a career in the legal profession. Involved in both his high school and college debate teams, Vince found overlapping aspects between debate and law. In presenting an argument, he noticed both involve research, assembly of evidence, and oral presentation. After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School, he clerked for the Honorable Robert Krupansky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before joining Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in 1989. Being familiar with litigation from his experience in debate and serving as a judicial clerk in a Federal appellate court, Vince chose to practice in litigation. Currently, Vince is a Litigation Partner at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP in New York specializing in complex commercial litigation matters in the financial industry, including investment banking, hedge funds, and mortgage backed securities.
Outside of his work at the law firm, Vince is an active member of numerous bar associations and organizations, and has served and continues to serve in various leadership positions. To name a few, Vince previously served on the New York State Bar Association Committee of Bar Leaders, on the Board of Directors at Legal Services NYC, and is currently the Vice President of the Asian American Law Fund of New York. Although he might be affectionately called a “Bar Junkie,” Vince did not participate in bar association work until later on in his career.
The first bar association Vince joined was AABANY, and he appreciated both the social and intellectual aspects of the association. He enjoyed the opportunity to learn about different areas of law while also being able to network and meet prominent lawyers. One of his fondest memories of serving as President of AABANY in 2007 was hosting the Annual Dinner because it was a rare event for 500 to 600 AAPI lawyers, including General Counsels and Judges, to all gather in the same room in New York City. This was especially significant because at the time there were at most 400 members in AABANY compared to the 1,500 members AABANY has now.
At AABANY, Vince also played a prominent role in organizing the AABANY Trial Reenactments. With a goal to educate lawyers and the public about the notable trials and cases in U.S. history involving AAPIs, Vince assisted Judge Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin to develop scripts for the productions. Since 2007, Vince has starred as a cast member in numerous reenactments at the annual NAPABA conventions and at other events. He most recently played Fred Korematsu in the “Fred Korematsu and His Fight For Justice” reenactment in November 2019 at the NAPABA convention.
Today, Vince is the first AAPI President of NYCLA, which was the first bar association to admit women and lawyers of color into its membership. He views his role as both an honor and a serious responsibility—an honor because past presidents include esteemed individuals and a responsibility because of his duty to represent AAPIs and serve as a role model. At a time when diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of many bar associations’ and law firms’ missions, NYCLA plans to be more interactive with young lawyers, especially diverse attorneys, by reaching out to law schools, affinity bar groups, and law firms. Vince also plans for NYCLA to remain relevant on public policy issues and respond to them in a timely manner. He hopes that “taking positions that affect diverse communities will make them notice and realize NYCLA is on their side.”
A common theme of Vince’s work is the pursuit of justice to not only improve the legal profession, but to also improve the quality of legal representation for individuals in the community. He has served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary to review federal judicial nominees; sat on a NYCLA panel at a public hearing to address the impact of budget cuts on the Judiciary; served on the Disciplinary Committee for the First Department to prosecute disciplinary complaints against lawyers in Manhattan; and worked on other initiatives to minimize the justice gap. Vince plans to continue working on this at NYCLA as “access to justice is a hallmark of what bar associations and NYCLA are aiming for.” One program NYCLA has planned is to support attorneys who represent indigent persons through the Assigned Counsel Plan (18b). Under the proposed program, by increasing the rate at which assigned counsel are paid, there will hopefully be an increase of lawyers interested in doing 18b work, which will further decrease the access-to-justice gap. NYCLA also hopes to revive their Special Masters Program to provide an opportunity for young attorneys to gain experience working with the court system, and to close the gap between court workload and staff gap. At NYCLA’s AAPI Heritage Month Celebration on June 2nd, Vince vowed to continue to uphold NYCLA’s focus on sustaining the rule of law including the importance of practicing diversity, equity and inclusion in furtherance of fairness and justice for all.
Please join AABANY in congratulating Vince on becoming the first AAPI President of NYCLA and for doing all the work he does to support communities. We wish Vince great success in his vital new role as NYCLA President! To learn more about NYCLA, visit its website at https://www.nycla.org/. AABANY members who join NYCLA for the first time are eligible to receive 50% off their annual dues the first year and 25% off the second year. For more details, click here.
A few days before an AABANY co-sponsored kickoff training event where lawyers and associates were trained to better meet the needs of Chinese families with children with disabilities, the Chinese-American Planning Council held a support conference on special education services for the Chinese community on July 7th.
Children with special needs benefit enormously from special education programs, but many Chinese families turn away from special education out of shame or denial over their children’s developmental delays. At the support conference, a full audience of 150 people–with 200 more on the waiting list–was advised to accept a child’s special needs and to meet those needs through special education. Customized programming catered to students’ individual situations can provide a discrimination-free education that builds self-confidence and gives students the tools they need to thrive.
For more information about Legal Service NYC’s special pro bono project to combat this problem, please contact Nelson Mar, AABANY member and attorney at Legal Services NYC, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see below a message from Raun Rasmussen, Executive Director of Legal Services NYC, on the wonderful work by Nelson Mar, a senior education law attorney at Bronx Legal Services and a member of AABANY’s own Government Service and Public Interest Committee, and his colleagues at Legal Services for New York City, which is AABANY’s collaborator in providing pro bono opportunities to our members and offering pro bono legal services to survivors of domestic violence. Congratulations to everyone involved in this important case!
I’m writing to highlight a landmark settlement in education policy won by Nancy Bedard (Brooklyn), Tara Foster (Queens), and Chris Lamb,Nelson Mar and Nanette Schorr, (Bronx), along with co-counsel from Cuti Hecker Wang, in T.H. et al. v. Farina, et al. The decision puts an end to the unnecessary and harmful practice of sending students who experience emotional, behavioral, or psychiatric events to the emergency room. Under a settlement approved by the U.S. District Court on Monday, the NYC Department of Education will now implement new protocols to avoid unnecessary 911 calls and better train NYC public school staff to de-escalate, rather than aggravate, encounters with children who are struggling.
Our litigation team represented 11 children and their parents in this case. The settlement is a win not only for these children and their parents, but for student rights and health throughout NYC public schools. Working together across the City, our advocates have had an enormous positive impact on the lives of those who need us most. As the year draws to a close, we look forward to even more successes in 2015.
The settlement has already garnered media attention in WNYC, the Wall Street Journal, and NY1. I encourage everyone to have a look at the coverage below. Great work team!
Contact: Yang Chen, Executive Director (718) 228-7206
NEW YORK – October 20, 2014 – The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) is proud to announce that Government Service & Public Interest Committee Co-Chair Katrina Goyco has been named one of Legal Services NYC’s Top 30 Pro Bono Lawyers of 2014 for her tireless efforts on an AABANY U-Visa initiative for immigrant victims of domestic violence. Katrina will be honored at Legal Services NYC’s Volunteer Reception on Thursday, October 23, 2014, hosted by WilmerHale.
Launched by AABANY’s Government Service & Public Interest Committee in conjunction with Legal Services NYC, the U-Visa initiative began in June 2014 to provide immigration relief for low-income survivors of domestic violence. The initiative trained pro bono lawyers on the step-by-step process of U-Visa application, the first step to a naturalization path for undocumented victims of qualifying crimes, as well as how to work with victims of mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Ms. Goyco headed the efforts to match pre-screened survivors with attorneys and law students who could help them prepare their narratives and offer legal advice through the difficult-to-navigate path to citizenship.
“AABANY is fortunate to have someone as dedicated to the public interest as Katrina Goyco is to be among its members and its leadership,” says Executive Director Yang Chen. “When the Government Service and Public Interest Committee first brought this project to AABANY’s attention, it was received with much enthusiasm. Without the energy and dedication of Katrina as the Committee’s co-chair, the project would have just remained an idea. Through her efforts, the U-Visa project now helps many deserving members of the community get the legal assistance they need. We are pleased and proud to be working with Legal Services NYC on this important initiative, and we are grateful to Katrina for all that she has done to bring this project to fruition. Congratulations, Katrina!”
For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (718) 228-7206, or direct any inquiries email@example.com.
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 the New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).