In the News: Development Director Margaret T. Ling Discusses “Diversity in Law” with Attorney Kenneth Landau on His Radio Show Law You Should Know (Broadcasted by WHPC 90.3 FM)

On May 26, Margaret T. Ling appeared as a guest on Attorney Kenneth Landau’s Radio Show Law You Should Know to discuss “Diversity in Law.” Margaret, who currently serves on AABANY’s Board as Development Director and has been serving for many years as Real Estate Committee Co-Chair, touched on the importance of racial diversity on the bench and the resources AABANY provides for Asian Americans in law. In response to Landau’s questions, Margaret explained that she values AABANY for its advocacy work, given her own experience as a pioneer in the field of law, as one of only three Asian law students in her class. Margaret stressed that AABANY provides a beneficial space for networking and mentorship, for local and international students alike, as well as a Pro Bono & Community Service Committee and Legal Referral and Information Service that’s well-equipped to aid non-English speakers with its volunteers fluent in diverse Asian languages. Over her career, Margaret has witnessed progress regarding diversity in law, but she notes that the “Bamboo ceiling” continues to prevent Asians in law from achieving partnership or other higher-ranking roles. Now, she fondly mentors thirty students, advocating for diversity in law, in addition to her impressive case load.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

AABANY Co-Sponsors New York County Lawyers Association’s AAPI Heritage Month Celebration on June 2

On June 2, 2021, AABANY co-sponsored New York County Lawyers Association’s (NYCLA’s) AAPI Heritage Month Celebration. The event was hosted by NYCLA’s Asian Practice Committee which AABANY Board Member Margaret Ling co-chairs. Congresswoman Grace Meng was awarded the 2021 NYCLA AAPI Trailblazer Award for all of her civic duty to the AAPI Community. In her keynote speech, she stressed how important it was for all of us to continue to work together and educate others about anti-Asian hate and racism. Attendees applauded the Congresswoman for her dedication and hard work in co-authoring the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and securing its passage. Those in attendance also applauded the installation of Vincent Chang, the first AAPI President of NYCLA. He 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.

Congratulations to Congresswoman Meng on her award, and we wish Vince much success during his tenure as NYCLA President.

Board Member Margaret Ling Featured in Asian Columbia Alumni Association’s May 2021 Newsletter

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Asian Columbia Alumni Association (ACAA) is featuring prominent Asian alums and honoring their contributions to Asian and Pacific Islander communities in North America. In the May 2021 Newsletter, ACAA featured AABANY Board Member and Real Estate Committee Co-Chair Margaret Ling (Barnard College ’78) for her actions in speaking up against anti-Asian hate crimes and educating others to respect the AAPI community. In the feature, Margaret is quoted:

“Since 2020, Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have been intensely affected by the COVID 19 pandemic, the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, and recently the Atlanta, Georgia killings. Throughout this time, the AAPI community has been faced with racism, xenophobia and anti-Asian hate crimes and violence. As an AAPI attorney and Fourth Generation American Born Chinese, I have been active in speaking up and speaking out with other Asian and ally organizations to educate others to respect the AAPI community and afford all of us equity, fairness and just treatment under the law. We are all Americans and are rooted in our immigrant and cultural heritages which make us stronger together.”

Please join AABANY in congratulating Margaret on her recognition by the Asian Columbia Alumni Association for her work in supporting the AAPI community!

Board Officer Margaret Ling Speaks at New York Law School Community Day Symposium on April 20

On April 20th, 2021, AABANY Board Officer Margaret Ling was a speaker at the New York Law School Community Day Symposium entitled “The Pandemic and Structures of Inequality and Racism.” Margaret was invited by New York Law School faculty members, Professors Ann Thomas and Penelope Andrews. Margaret focused on Racism and the Law and specifically how Asian lawyers are stereotyped by the Model Minority Myth. She highlighted and discussed the recent findings and recommendations from the AABANY/Paul, Weiss report: A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence Against Asian Americans in New York During Covid-19. The discussion was engaging and informative for all of the New York Law School faculty and law students. Margaret is a New York Law School alumna (Class of 1983) and a Board Director of the New York Law School Alumni Association.

AABANY Officer Margaret Ling Quoted in New York Law Journal Article about Women in the Law

Margaret Ling, AABANY’s Officer, Director of Development, and founder and co-chair of the Real Estate Committee, was featured in a New York Law Journal article about the New York State Bar Association’s Women in Law panel held on January 26, 2021.

About midway through a New York State Bar Association panel on the challenges of retaining and advancing women attorneys, Margaret Ling, a veteran real estate lawyer, told the story of how she’d once toiled for months on an important matter only to be told by her male superior before a vital, well-attended matter meeting that “you are to sit there and you are to say nothing.”

Read more here (subscription is required).

Student Outreach Committee Hosts Successful Mock Interview Workshop in Collaboration with Columbia Law School APALSA

On Monday, January 4, 2021, AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee hosted its first virtual Mock Interview Workshop in collaboration with Columbia Law School APALSA, AABANY Career Placement Committee, and the Columbia Law School Alumni Association. The event was part of the Student Outreach Committee’s pre-OCI series, held to prepare students for the interviews during a time of great uncertainty. 90 students from various law schools in and outside of New York received mock interviews and OCI advice from over 40 practitioners, public servants and general counsels from diverse backgrounds.

Prior to the workshop, Columbia Law School APALSA initiated the pairing of students and attorneys according to their availability and shared practice interests. Once the student-attorney pairings were solidified, students connected with attorneys via email. This advance preparation made for a smooth and timely transition to the event.

The workshop began promptly at 6:00 PM with a panel discussing interview tips, dos and don’ts, and Zoom etiquette. The panel, moderated by Margaret Ling, AABANY’s Development Director, featured esteemed speakers Rudy Carmenaty, President of the Columbia Law School Alumni Association, and Yen Chu, Secretary of the Columbia Law School Alumni Association. An OCI tip sheet carefully prepared by the members of the Student Outreach Committee was circulated to the students for review prior to their mock interviews. Starting at 6:30 PM, students met with their paired attorneys for one-on-one 30-minute mock interview sessions through the Remo platform and received invaluable feedback. Many students and attorneys expressed how beneficial the event was and that they appreciated AABANY for organizing such an event where attorneys could pay it forward and students could gain unique interview experiences from well-regarded practicing attorneys and public servants. One student, Eleen Zhou, a 2L from Cornell Law School, commented that she found the mock interview extremely helpful in preparation for the OCI season. Despite a few technical difficulties, members of the Student Outreach Committee worked diligently and promptly to ensure that no attorney or student was left without a mock interview opportunity.

The Student Outreach Committee would like to thank the participating attorneys for generously contributing their valuable time to help our students practice their interview skills. For students entering the interviewing season, best of luck! Please do not hesitate to reach out if AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee can ever be a resource for you. For more information about the Committee go to https://www.aabany.org/page/121

AABANY Hosts Panel on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Workplace and Beyond

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.

AABANY Presents: Real Estate Closing in the New Norm: The New Rules & Practices

On July 23, AABANY’s Real Estate Committee presented a CLE Program on real estate closings in the COVID-19 era. The panel focused on how the real estate market is adapting to COVID-19 through new rules and practices and detailed the current state of property transactions. Speakers included Jason Wang, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at COMPASS, Wendy Yu, Counsel at Yu Law, and Jane Chen, Associate at Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP. The program was moderated by Margaret Ling, co-chair of the committee and Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corporation.

Margaret Ling began the panel with an update on the current New York state real estate legal landscape. This included the 202 executive order mandate by Governor Andrew Cuomo, declaring a state of emergency to permit only essential businesses. As a result, most real estate showings are now virtual and transactions are digital. Open houses are permitted only if social distancing measures are maintained.

Jason Wang spoke on his experience as a real estate salesperson at the inception of the pandemic and shared market observations. Because of at-home quarantine, buyers have begun to realize what they want in a home property and so there is a continued demand for property. Additionally, residents who fled New York City during the pandemic on-set may return in the near future and strengthen the real estate market.

Wendy Yu then outlined client protection concerns during virtual transactions. This includes taking into account that many buyers are now making offers without ever seeing property in person, emphasizing the need to place buyer protection clauses in contracts. Other considerations involve death clauses, in case that one party is no longer capable of continuing the transaction, as well as maintaining a flexible approach, so that either seller or buyer may be granted extra transaction time in case of pandemic-related challenges.

Jane concluded the panel by providing insight into co-op property transactions. Specifically, co-op boards that typically meet on a regular basis are now meeting less frequently, making it difficult for potential buyers to be interviewed for acceptance. Furthermore, because co-op boards are responsible for serving the interests of all building residents, it is important for interested buyers to keep in mind the visitor restrictions that exist in these communities.

Thank you to speakers Jason Wang, Wendy Yu, and Jane Chen for their time and insight, and Margaret Ling for moderating. Those interested in learning more about AABANY’s Real Estate Committee can do so here

AABANY Presents: Avoiding Real Property Disputes in Divorce Matters In the Aftermath of COVID-19

On June 25, AABANY presented a CLE Program on divorce property disputes in the context of COVID-19, featuring panelists from practitioners in matrimonial law and real estate law. The panel outlined influences of the pandemic upon real property disputes in divorce proceedings, and recounted actual cases to demonstrate. Speakers included Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; Derrick Rubin, trial attorney associate at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates; Jerome Wisselman, Managing Partner at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates; and Irene Angelakis, Founding Owner at Law Offices of Irene Angelakis. 

Derrick Rubin began by discussing the basic considerations of property disputes. Family homes are typically the largest asset, and disputes center around who gets the house, whether or not to sell, or if one spouse should buy out another. Another necessary consideration is the legal theory of equitable distribution, which emphasizes a fair rather than equal distribution of property on the basis of various factors. Some examples include how long the parties were married, their individual needs, and the financial contribution each party made during the marriage.

Margaret Ling then outlined examples from past cases to demonstrate the benefits of in-person dealings and how remote demands of COVID-19 impose challenges. In a Chase Bank refinance transaction, a couple sought a $2 million refinance on their condo. However, the lawyer noticed the husband seemed nervous, the wife was fidgeting, and her identification appeared fake. Upon further inquiry, it was discovered that the husband was in the midst of a divorce and had brought his girlfriend in an attempt to make property adjustments while his wife was traveling — not permitted under domestic relations law which forbids property adjustments without spousal approval. Today, legal transactions that depend upon accurate identification must come up with new solutions. 

Irene Angelakis continued the discussion with tips on how to avoid disputes during the pandemic and also raised ethical considerations. She talked about taking into account pandemic-induced income changes, a common circumstance today, by giving parties more realistic timelines to decide on refinancing. Another involved taking social distancing precautions if both parties decide to sell the house. The most important takeaway is that both parties should try to settle property disputes because the courts and trials are limited options during COVID-19. Irene concluded with the topic of ethics by discussing disclosure requirements, matrimonial retainer agreements, fee disputes and escrow. 

A final topic explored by Jerome Wisselman was asset protection. Asset protection, through prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, are preventative legal measures taken to avoid property disputes during divorce. Provision of detailed financial statements by both parties, addressing potential future investment returns, and deciding on whether retirement benefits will be separate or together, are necessary for the creation of a fair and accurate asset protection agreement. The main takeaway is that current divorce property disputes that have been further complicated by COVID-19 circumstances may have been avoided if more asset protection agreements existed.

Thank you to all the panelists for their valuable time and insights, and thanks to the Real Estate Committee for organizing this timely and informative CLE program. To view the recording of the CLE, click on the image at the top. If you would like to learn more about AABANY’s Real Estate Committee, click here: https://www.aabany.org/page/120

AABANY Co-Sponsors Panel on the Impact of the NYC Climate Mobilization Act on Real Estate Development and Investment

On June 30, AABANY hosted a CLE program on the New York City Climate Mobilization Act’s Impact on Real Estate, featuring prominent industry leaders. The panel outlined the changes imposed by the recently passed Climate Mobilization Act, specifically Local Law 97, and their effects on both tenants and landlords. Speakers included Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; Amol Pachnanda, Partner at Ingram Yuzek LLP and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; and Terri Gumula, President of MMDC Group, LLC.

The panel began by discussing the role of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards on real estate investments. Public emphasis has grown on corporate social responsibility with legislation and corporate mandates placing legal and social pressure on companies to adopt environmentally conscious practices. Investors are also increasingly looking toward ESG-oriented rating systems such as the GRESG as a holistic, financial benchmark. As such, investors have begun to adopt a variety of approaches to minimize negative environmental impact. Those that wish to adopt low-cost measures have opted for greater emphasis on existing maintenance protocols, cleaner filters, lighting upgrades, among others. High-cost measures include heating and cooling upgrades, boiler conversions, installation of variable speed control drives and solar panels. Generally, the push toward sustainable construction has also increased long-term performance as planning for less carbon emissions mitigates the potential losses incurred as a result of future legislation.

The panel then outlined the specifics of the New York City Climate Mobilization Act. Passed in April 2019, the Climate Mobilization Act was a series of bills and resolutions that included Local Law 97, which had stated a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) by 80% by 2050 with an interim goal of reducing GHG by 40% by 2030. The new regulations apply to buildings over 25,000 square feet and also provide incentives for green roofs, PACE financing, and wind turbines along with other environmentally friendly building practices. Adjustments to emission limits are very limited but are available on a temporary basis with applications due July 1, 2021. Rationales for adjusting emissions limits include lack of space and financial hardship. If approved, exemptions cannot exceed one to three years, and the application will need to be refiled. Buildings with one or more rent-stabilized units have alternate requirements for the time being. As of now, rent regulated buildings require 35% of their tenants to be rent-stabilized to qualify for prescriptive measures that offer alternate standards.

We thank all the panelists for their valuable time and insights. If you would like to learn more about AABANY’s Real Estate Committee, click here.