AABANY is pleased to announce the launch of the Trusts & Estates Committee. This new committee serves as a professional and community network for AABANY members and non-members interested in the practice of Trusts & Estates law, which spans trusts, estates, and tax planning to Surrogate’s Court practice and litigation. The Committee is dedicated to providing a platform for networking, mentoring, and professional development, as well as opportunities for public service.
Pang-Mei Natasha Chang, Co-Chair of the Committee, is a member of Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP’s estates, trusts and private clients practice group, as well as its international France desk, and charitable, not-for-profit and religious institutions practice groups. She counsels both domestic and international individuals, businesses and charitable organizations in estate and trusts planning, and wealth transfer planning. She represents clients of all ages, and advises in insurance planning, IRA/retirement benefit planning and the use of trusts for not only estate planning but asset protection. She also serves on the Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Court Committee of the New York City Bar Association, where she has participated as a writer and presenter.
Yi W. Stewart, the other Co-Chair of the Committee, works at the firm Farrell Fritz as a trusts and estates litigation associate. She performs pretrial discovery, conducts legal research, and prepares motions and memoranda of law for litigated Surrogate’s Court proceedings. Prior to joining Farrell Fritz, Yi served as associate law clerk to the Hon. Rita Mella for three years in New York County Surrogate’s Court, where she assisted the Surrogate with decisions on typical contested probate and accounting matters, complex issues of will construction and reformation, as well as novel issues such as a fiduciary’s authority to administer digital assets stored in Google and Apple accounts.
To contact the Committee Chairs for this Committee, click “Contact Us” at the top of the AABANY website and fill out the form, and tell us in the Comment field what in particular you would like to know about the Committee and its activities.
On July 11th, 2023, AABANY’s Students Outreach Committee organized a Students Meet Firms event, connecting law students with attorneys from Groombridge, Wu, Baughman & Stone. (Groombridge, Wu) The panelists included Josephine Young, Partner at Groombridge, Wu; Karen King, Partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello PC; Ben Hsu, Associate at Groombridge, Wu; and Chih-Wei Wu, Associate at Groombridge, Wu. Serving as the moderator was Jennifer Wu, Partner at the firm and Co-Chair of AABANY’s Women’s Committee. The event took place at the Groombridge, Wu office located in New York City and online via Zoom.
The setting was intimate and informal, with Jennifer fielding questions from attendees, which included sharing personal stories and discussing the significance of being assertive in the legal profession. Jennifer emphasized learning to recognize your own voice and not allow others to walk over you. The conversation also delved into topics such as workplace racism, the advantages and disadvantages of owning a firm versus working for one, the training process, the life of an associate, and the value of learning from mistakes.
One notable piece of advice from Jennifer was to seek out a firm that allows for mistakes and provides opportunities for growth through learning from them. The attendees shared insightful questions, such as when does making mistakes become unacceptable, the experiences of being an Asian American woman while climbing the corporate ladder and making partnership, and the pros and cons of practicing law in a post-COVID world.
Overall, the panel provided comprehensive responses to a range of attendee questions, spanning from the experiences of litigation lawyers to insights into achieving partnership status at a major law firm or running one’s own.
Thank you to our speakers for sharing their insights and to the Student Outreach Committee for organizing this wonderful and informative event. To read more about other Students Meet Firms events, including Cleary Gottlieb and Kirkland & Ellis, click on the links to the blog posts. To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee, please click here.
AABANY’s new fiscal year began on April 1, and on April 6, at Mercury Bar West, 659 Ninth Avenue, over 40 attendees came out for the Fiscal Year ’24 Kickoff Mixer! The event was led by the Membership Committee and co-hosted by the Asia Practice, Litigation, and Women’s Committees. Attorneys, consultants, and friends alike networked, mixed, and mingled over shared appetizers and drinks. New friends ended the night with karaoke.
On August 16th, 2022, AABANY’s Litigation and ADR Committees, along with JAMS, co-sponsored a CLE panel about international arbitration. AABANY ADR Committee Chair and JAMS Neutral Chris M. Kwok gave opening remarks, and AABANY Litigation Committee Co-Chair Aakruti G. Vakharia of Haug Partners moderated the panel. The panelists were Hiro Aragaki, JAMS Neutral and Professor of Law; Margaret Ives, in-house counsel at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Limited; and Dr. Kabir Duggal of Arnold & Porter. The panel discussed the differences between litigation and arbitration, the benefits of international arbitration over cross-border litigation, the challenges of arbitrating internationally, the mechanics of international arbitration, and best practices for what to include and what to avoid when drafting a dispute resolution clause. The panel encompassed neutral, outside counsel, in-house counsel, and academic perspectives
Thank you to everyone who worked on and attended this CLE. We greatly appreciate Niki Borofsky, Christine Smith, Alison M., Margaret Poppe, Todd Drucker, Jazmine Smith, Corey Taylor, and Matthew P. York of JAMS collaborating with AABANY’s Litigation Committee, co-chaired by Aakruti G. Vakharia, Jennifer Wu, Lois Ahn, and ADR committee, led by Chris M. Kwok (Chair) and May Li (Vice Chair), all of whom put together this interesting and informative program.
On June 21, 2022, the Litigation, Prosecutors’ and Labor & Employment Committees hosted a Litigators’ Happy Hour at the Three Monkeys. Conveniently located in Midtown, law clerks, litigators, prosecutors, and lawyers in various practice areas enthusiastically attended the event after work. A range of platters including buffalo chicken spring rolls, macaroni and cheese bites, and nachos were served for everyone to share. The night was filled with lively conversations among the attendees. Many expressed their continued excitement for more in-person programming and happy hours as part of the hosting committees’ efforts. Litigation Committee Co-Chair, Aakruti Vakharia, reminisced about this year’s Annual Dinner and even shared a few tips with other attendees as to how to stay stylish by securing a free personal shopper from nearby department stores. Others were celebrating successes on their cases, while new members and first-time attendees were welcomed by introducing them to AABANY’s extensive network.
The committees also discussed ideas for programming and events for the upcoming year. Thanks again to everyone who attended the first joint event of the fiscal year from the Litigation, Prosecutors’ and Labor & Employment Committees. We look forward to many more events to come, whether collectively or individually, from these committees. To learn more about the different committees, please visit the Litigation Committee here, the Prosecutors Committee here, and the Labor and Employment Committee 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.