AABANY congratulates Margaret Ling on her New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) member profile published on July 25, 2022. Focusing on her career path and the importance of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, the member profile speaks to the necessity of making progress against discrimination in the legal profession.
Margaret noted that “women and people of color are [still] not making partner and leaving prestigious firms after 20 years of service.” Discussing her personal experiences with racism and sexism in the field, Margaret stated, “now I mentor young lawyers because there was no one there to help me. I tell them that you have to speak up for your work and fight to be recognized for it.” Read more here.
NYSBA was founded in 1876 and currently has a membership base of over 70,000 individuals, with its headquarters in Albany, NY.
On August 3, the AABANY Real Estate Committee presented a “Cannabis Law and Real Estate” CLE, which explored the current state of real estate in New York State, within the context of recent cannabis legalization and a growing cannabis industry. Real Estate Committee Co-Chair Margaret Ling moderated the webinar, welcoming four speakers to introduce and explain current cannabis law and real estate practices, before opening the floor for a Q&A session.
Kristin Jordan spoke first, giving a broad overview of New York State’s adult use cannabis bill, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”), which was passed on March 31, 2021. Kristin is the Executive Director of Asian Cannabis Roundtable, a NYC-based professional networking community for those engaged in the cannabis industry, and Founder of Mannada. She explained how the bill positioned the state’s new cannabis regulatory body under the State Liquor Authority, because developing an entirely new agency would take too long. The new body comprises three agencies, the Office of Cannabis Management, the Cannabis Control Board, and the Cannabis Advisory Board. She also enumerated the different kinds of cannabis licenses available under the MRTA:
In terms of New York real estate, Kristin noted that cannabis legalization and its budding industry would exact the most tangible effect on leases for retail stores, warehouses, and distribution facilities, because they provide the brick and mortar for cannabis businesses. Finally, she emphasized that since cannabis legalization is so recent, cannabis law and best practices promise a steep learning curve, with so much uncharted territory.
Steve LaFredo, Chief Banking Officer at Piermont Bank, discussed cannabis and real estate specifically as it relates to banking. He emphasized that “banks are safety, soundness, and risk organizations first”; in other words, banking is a slow industry, and it would take time for banks to adapt to the growing cannabis industry. He underscored the difficulty of navigating often differing state and federal law when dealing with cannabis businesses, though he noted that New York State has been relatively progressive, as the first state to create cannabis banking guidelines under the Department of Taxation and Finance. These guidelines aim to preserve the safety, soundness, and security of businesses involved with cannabis. Steve explained that in states that have legalized cannabis, the banking industry tiers cannabis businesses into 3 categories: Tier A, those with direct contact (e.g. growing, producing, selling); Tier B, those that derive more than 25% of their business from the cannabis space; and Tier C, those that derive 25% or less of their business from the cannabis space. Banks are most likely to be receptive to working with Tier C cannabis businesses.
Since they lie precariously between state and federal regulators, most banks have a zero tolerance policy for cannabis. Disclosure and transparency are critical for finding a financial institution with which cannabis businesses can safely operate; smaller, private banks and credit unions will be most likely to open their doors to cannabis businesses. Unfortunately, cannabis businesses are still largely relegated to cash transactions, and since mechanisms for depositing and delivering cash are scarce and expensive, banks are hesitant to get involved. After the federal decision to stand down in states that have legalized cannabis, however, banks have slowly begun entering the cannabis space. Steve expressed optimism about the future of cannabis banking.
Kathleen Deegan Dickson and Danielle Tricolla of Forchelli Deegan Terrana spoke last, focusing on the role of the law firm in the cannabis space. Kathleen is a Partner and Co-Chair of the Cannabis Group at Forchelli Deegan Terrana, and Danielle is an Associate and Co-Chair of the Cannabis Group at Forchelli Deegan Terrana. They underscored the importance of “knowing what you don’t know,” since cannabis legalization not only means new legislation but also changes to existing legislation. Specifically, cannabis legalization involves changes to Public Health Law, Penal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, Civil Practice Law and Rules, Labor Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, and General Business Law. Like Steve, they touched on the interplay between state legalization and federal prohibition of cannabis. Devoting special attention to law firm clients interested in cannabis, they explained that “cannabis law” is a multidisciplinary practice area, since it affects real estate transactions, leasing, land use, zoning, banking, labor, and employment, among other areas.
The intersection of cannabis law and real estate presents a new and exciting business area, and AABANY thanks the Real Estate Committee Co-Chairs Margaret Ling, Wendy Yu, and Jane Chen for putting together such an informative and current event. To learn more about the Real Estate Committee, visit https://www.aabany.org/page/120.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.