NAPABA Mourns the Passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

For Immediate Release: September 21, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) joins the nation in mourning the passing of legal icon, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. NAPABA extends its sincere condolences to the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Justice Ginsburg was a brilliant legal mind and a steadfast champion for equal rights throughout her career,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, president of NAPABA. “The second woman to serve on the Court, Justice Ginsburg paved the way for the women of our generation. Despite graduating first in her class at Columbia Law School, she struggled to find employment. Her confirmation and tenure on the Supreme Court serve as an enduring inspiration and a reminder of the challenges that women face in society and the workplace. I am eternally grateful for her service to our nation. She fought to the very end, and we will honor her memory in doing the same—in our tireless pursuit for justice, equity, and opportunity for all.”

Justice Ginsburg served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 27 years and was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. We will strive to honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy in the next appointment.

Congratulations to 2020 NAPABA Award Winners

On September 3, 2020, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) announced its 2020 award winners.

AABANY congratulates the following:

Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award Recipients:

Glenn D. Magpantay, Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

Mari Matsuda, Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii

The Honorable Rosa Peng Mroz, Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court in the State of Arizona

L. Song Richardson, Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California

Eric Yamato, Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice at the University of Hawaii

Affiliate of the Year Award Recipient:

Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC)

APA-Owned Law Firm Award Recipient:

Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho

Law Firm Diversity Award Recipient:

Littler Mendelson P.C.

Best Under 40 Award Recipients:

Jasmeet Kaur Ahuja, Senior Associate at Hogan Lovells US LLP 

Kristin Asai, Partner at Holland & Knight LLP

Thy B. Bui, Partner at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP 

Vicki Chou, Of Counsel at Hueston Hennigan LLP 

Pankit Doshi, Partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP 

Benjamin H. Huh, Legal Counsel at Apple Inc. 

Sofia Jeong, Associate General Counsel of IP Legal at Facebook, Inc. 

Robin Jung, Senior Attorney of Litigation at Dykema Gossett LLP 

Naephil “Naf” Kwun, Partner at Lee Anav Chung White Kim Ruger & Richter LLP 

Erica Lai, Antitrust & Commercial Litigation Counsel at Cohen & Gresser LLP 

Bonnie Lau, Litigation Partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP

Rotsen “Chinny” Law, Attorney at The Ramos Law Firm 

Mark L. Legaspi, Associate General Counsel and Director of Corporate Strategy, M&A, Investments and Emerging Technologies at Intel Corporation 

Abigail Rivamonte Mesa, Chief of Staff at Office of Supervisor Matt Haney, District 6

Lisa Kim Anh Nguyen, Partner at Latham & Watkins LLP

Phi Nguyen, Litigation Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta 

Philip Nulud, Senior Counsel at Buchalter

Judge Rizza O’Connor, Chief Magistrate Judge at Magistrate Court, Toombs County, Lyons, Georgia 

Candice Wong, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General & Chief of Staff of U.S. Department of Justice – Criminal Division 

Maya Yamazaki, Partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP 

Women’s Leadership Award Recipient:

Sandra Yamate, Chief Executive Officer at Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession

Military and Veteran Service Award Recipient:

Colonel Kay K. Wakatake, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps

Pro Bono Award Recipient:

Alice Hsu, Partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Karen Kithuan Yau, Of Counsel at Kakalec Law LLP

AABANY congratulates its members who were honored by NAPABA:

Glenn Magpantay, Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award

Naf Kwun, Best Under 40 Award

Alice Hsu, Pro Bono Award

Karen Yau, Pro Bono Award

AABANY also congratulates Littler, an AABANY Silver Sponsor, on receiving the Law Firm Diversity Award.

All these award winners will be recognized during the month of October on NAPABA social media channels. Follow NAPABA’s Facebook and LinkedIn to hear the winners give their acceptance speeches and more!

Congratulations to 2020-21 Elected NAPABA Officers and Directors

On September 10, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) announced its newly elected Officers and Directors for the 2020-21 NAPABA board of governors. Board members will be sworn into office on November 7 during the NAPABA Virtual Experience.

AABANY would like to extend congratulations to the following individuals:

Sid Kanazawa, President-Elect

Hogene Choi, Treasurer

Judy M. Lam, Secretary

Jim Goh, Director

Marty Lorenzo, Director,

Philip Nulud, Director

Brendan Wong, Director

To register for the NAPABA Virtual Experience where these individuals will be sworn in, see here.

2020 NAPABA Virtual Experience November 4-7, 2020 NAPABA Scholarship Program

We recognize that our members may be facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with Prudential, NAPABA will offer scholarships to waive the registration fee for the 2020 NAPABA Virtual Experience for our members who have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

Assistance: Scholarships will be awarded in the form of a discount code equal to the amount of your NAPABA Virtual Experience registration fee at the early bird rate.

Eligibility: You must be a NAPABA member and demonstrate financial need due to COVID-19 to receive an award. Become a member today to apply for the scholarship!

Scholarship Deadline: Submit an application by 5 pm ET, Monday, October 12.

For more information and to apply, click the button below:

APPLY NOW

The NAPABA Scholarship Program is generously supported by:

Prudential

NAPABA Statement on the Yale Affirmative Action Case

For Immediate Release: August 18, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director
Email: ppurandare@napaba.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 Organizational Statement: Coalition of Bar Associations of Color Urges State Bars to Enact Alternative Licensing Measures Amid COVID-19

For Immediate Release:
Date: August 19, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON, DC — The Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) issued the following statement in response to several proposals calling for alternatives to the traditional in-person bar examination used to license new attorneys as a direct response to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic:

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges to just about every aspect of how we conduct our lives. As lawyers, it is our duty to meet these extraordinary circumstances with grace and swiftness, and to adapt as necessary to ensure continued access to justice and protection of the rule of law. In this spirit, the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color supports ABA Resolution 10G strongly urging all state bars to cancel in-person or potentially vulnerable online administrations of the bar exam and consider adopting alternative methods of licensing new attorneys until a safe and secure method of administering a bar exam is available. This will protect the future of the legal profession and ultimately, our society.

Protection of the public in the administration of justice should remain the top priority of state bars. However, during the ongoing pandemic, traditional methods of testing, like large in-person exams, pose tremendous health risks to test takers and those around them and in many instances would violate government-issued restrictions to large gatherings.

Although we commend the states that opted to cancel in-person examinations in favor of online proctored exams, this method has met significant challenges in its administration. These challenges have included fairness, privacy, and technology concerns with the most recent example being the Florida bar. In Florida, bar examinees were informed of the cancellation of the online exam two days before its scheduled date due to numerous issues with the online proctoring system. No official new date or method of testing has been offered. The Michigan online bar exam system crashed during the examination. The State of Indiana encountered similar technology issues when the program was being tested, and they changed to an open book exam allowing answers to be emailed. The current infrastructure for online testing, which presents significant security concerns and glitches, is simply not workable for an exam of this magnitude and import.

As leaders of the Bar Associations of Color we are particularly concerned with the disparate impact that COVID-19 has had on communities of color and more specifically bar examinees of color. As noted in the report accompanying ABA Resolution 10G on this issue, a recent survey showed “a majority of bar applicants do not believe they have reliable internet access, and that white applicants are about 71 percent more likely to have such access when compared to black applicants.” The same survey noted that the majority of bar examinees “do not have access to a quiet space to take a remote bar examination, with white applicants again being substantially more likely to have access to a quiet place than an applicant of color.” People of color and non-traditional students, who have already faced and conquered institutional challenges to complete their legal education, will face additional barriers in the event of additional delays.

Further delays in licensing attorneys are unfair, placing the careers of thousands of attorneys in limbo. Instead, flexibility from state bars is of paramount importance. Adopting alternatives like open book examinations, extended CLE, a diploma privilege, or a Certified Legal Intern program that leads to a provisional license and then to full licensing within 3-6 months, is the most efficient way to adequately safeguard the futures of all bar examinees and the legal profession as a whole.

Additionally, the delays in testing have further exacerbated the stressful circumstances experienced by bar examinees. Graduates have been preparing since May for one of the most important examinations of their careers. To do so, they have sacrificed their income and time for an extended period. Many are facing severe financial difficulties, have no health insurance, and they are competing for jobs in one of toughest job markets in years. Further delays in licensing will disrupt employment plans and leave thousands of graduates with no way of supporting themselves or their families in a moment of global crisis.

Bar examinees have demonstrated their ardent commitment to the legal profession through their resiliency in the last months. The protection of the public in the administration of justice should be extended to bar examinees by decisive action from the state bars that they will serve in their long and successful careers. We call on state bars to consider the options set forth in ABA Resolution 10G that are most protective of bar examinees, their careers, their families, and the legal profession. Options include but are not limited to allowing diploma privileges, administration of remote open book examinations, and creation or expansion of certified legal intern programs leading directly to licensure, a form of diploma privilege.

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The Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) was established in 1992 and is comprised of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Bar Association (NBA), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA).

NAPABA Applauds Nomination of Senator Kamala Harris

For Immediate Release:
Date: August 19, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) recognizes the historic significance of Sen. Kamala Harris’ nomination as vice president on the Democratic ticket. Harris is the first woman of color to be nominated on a presidential ticket for a major party. If elected, she would become the highest ranking Asian Pacific American ever in line for presidential succession.

“Sen. Harris has defined herself as a leader and legislator in the U.S. Senate,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, president of NAPABA. “Her nomination is not only historic, but deeply meaningful to the Asian Pacific American community. Sen. Harris is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, and she understands the priorities and concerns of Asian Pacific American and Black communities, which have been underrepresented at all levels of government. Since her tenure in the Senate, Sen. Harris has shown a strong commitment to diversity—including having one of the most diverse staff in the Senate and elevating people of color to leadership positions.”

“As a non-partisan organization, NAPABA works with presidential administrations and members of Congress from both parties to advance the interests of the Asian Pacific American community. NAPABA applauds Sen. Harris’ nomination and looks forward to greater representation and diversity of political candidates, executive branch appointees, and judges.”

NAPABA Presents: Board of Governors Election President-Elect Candidates Forum


On Tuesday, August 18 at 1 PM PDT/4 PM EDT, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) will be hosting a virtual Meet the President-Elect Candidates Forum.

Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to learn more about the President-Elect candidates! Submit your questions for the candidates to membership@napaba.org prior to the forum.

Candidates for President-Elect

Headshot - Sid Kanazawa
Sid Kanazawa
Headshot - Gary Zhao
Gary Zhao

Moderator

Headshot - Christine Chen
Christine Chen
Executive Director,
APIAVote

Take the time to consider the vision each candidate has for NAPABA and the diverse perspectives across the Board as a whole.

Register here.

NAPABA Supports Call for Inclusion of Native American Women in Law School Survey Study

In response to the exclusion of Native American women law students in the Center for Women in Law and the NALP Foundation’s study, “Women of Color – A Study of Law Student Experiences,” NAPABA urges the inclusion of Native American women. 

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.

AABANY Co-Sponsors “Women’s Leadership Panel: Pathbreakers” Webinar

On July 22nd, GAPABA and NAPABA co-hosted a webinar panel entitled “Women’s Leadership Network: Pathbreakers,” which AABANY was proud to co-sponsor. The event, moderated by GAPABA President Angela Hsu and Hannah Kim, Chief Legal Officer of Energizer Holdings, featured six panelists who discussed the complexities of being an Asian American woman in the legal field, sharing personal anecdotes and advice with those wishing to break the so-called “bamboo ceiling” and “glass ceiling.”

The panelists included Amy Chua, author and Professor of Law at Yale Law School; Hon. Neomi Rao, a judge in the D.C. Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals; Marie Oh Huber, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel & Secretary at eBay; Hon. Lorna Schofield, a United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York; Jessie K. Liu, Former United States Attorney in D.C.; and Selena Loh LaCroix, Vice Chair & Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry.

The event was split into two sections: extracurricular development, and career changes and advice. During the first part of the event, the panelists discussed how they felt they had found success as Asian American women in typically white, male-dominated fields. All six panelists agreed that cultivating deep, lasting relationships was one of the most important keys to success. Others added that not allowing yourself to get discouraged was vital, especially because minorities often find their leadership abilities and competency questioned.

“There will always be assumptions based on our appearance and backgrounds, but the way to get around this is perseverance,” Liu said. Chua added that because of these assumptions, the playing field is not level; she admitted that she was forced to out-work and out-prepare her colleagues, and learning how to acknowledge the existence of stereotypes (such as the Model Minority Myth), while not focusing on them.

The panelists also discussed how they ended up in their current positions and in the legal field more generally. While each story was unique, they all shared a common theme – to get to the high-ranking positions they currently hold or have previously held, they had to begin at the lowest point on the totem pole and work their way up. Having a mentor that pushed them to work harder and guided them through their career choices made a big difference.

“I firmly believe that you can’t do it alone; things don’t happen without help. And I believe that the road is littered with hard-working smart people, but there are other qualities you need  to have: taking initiative and asking someone to be your mentor can go a long way,” Judge Schofield advised. While Huber agreed that the best relationships arise organically, she noted the need for organizational and structural change to allow minorities a greater chance to form relationships; “otherwise,” she said, “people are going to be left out.”

One of the most inspiring pieces of advice shared by the panelists was how they reacted to controversy and criticism. Chua admitted to writing provocative pieces even when her own mother warned against it, and found three main ways to maintain her sanity: riding it out, standing her ground, and rejecting bitterness and pettiness.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Asian American women get shoved under the bus disproportionately because of the Model Minority Myth,” Chua shared. “But it is vital to be generous and optimistic regardless.” 

The second section of the discussion focused more specifically on switching careers and taking risks professionally. Many of the panelists switched from the private to the public sector, and though the motivations to make this switch varied from person to person, they all noted that the choice is based both on the context of where you are in life and in your mindset.

Judge Schofield shared that the decision for her to leave the corporate world took a great deal of time, thought, and courage, but when the opportunity arose, she was very glad she took it.

Lacroix added that “as scary as it was to take the plunge, I haven’t looked back since.” She explained that “sometimes your corporation and your own personal integrity might diverge — if it gets very far from each other the discomfort level can get really hard. Trust your own instincts and values,  because that’s all you have at the end of the day. If that’s something that diverges from your corporation, do not be afraid to make that choice. You’re the only one who can build and maintain that integrity.”

On taking risks, Liu added that nearly every job has some degree of risk associated with it. She noted that her personal philosophy is to say ‘yes’ to opportunities whenever they arise and see where it goes from there, because you never know if or when it may come again. 

Ultimately, the panelists all shared that while blazing the trail as Asian American women – often facing harsh assumptions and negative stereotypes – was difficult, it was also extremely rewarding. Judge Schofield advised the audience that “people are going to notice you’re different so you might as well do something with that. Embrace that you’re different and do it with confidence.”

AABANY is honored to have been a co-sponsor for the event, and we would like to thank GAPABA for putting together a wonderful panel, as well as all the speakers for their sage advice and inspiring stories.

For a video of the panel, please click here.