AABANY Joined by NAPABA and Several New York Bar Associations call on Gov. Hochul to Reject the New York City Bar Association’s Rating of Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing

On December 16, AABANY sent a letter to Governor Hochul calling on her to reject the New York City Bar Association’s “not well qualified” rating of Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing. AABANY was joined on the letter by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the following New York bar associations:

  • Defense Association of New York
  • Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York
  • Jewish Lawyers Guild
  • Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York
  • New York State Trial Lawyers Association
  • Puerto Rican Bar Association
  • South Asian Bar Association of New York

The letter can be found here.

The Women’s Trial Lawyers Caucus separately sent a letter to the Governor indicating its support for both Justice Oing and the call to reject the “not well qualified rating.”

All signatories were unanimous in calling on the Governor to reject the bizarre outlier rating given by the New York City Bar Association, with reference to the New York Law Journal article (subscription required) from Dec. 14 about the controversial and unusual rating.

AABANY stands by its statement released on December 12 endorsing Justice Oing as the most highly qualified candidate for the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and continues to urge the Governor to nominate him as Chief Judge.

AABANY Co-Sponsors Program on Becoming an AUSA

On November 17, AABANY together with several other bar associations co-sponsored a program on “Becoming an AUSA,” hosted by Cleary Gottlieb at their New York office.

Joon Kim, former Acting United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York (SDNY) (and longtime AABANY member) gave opening remarks to welcome the standing room only crowd of more than 100 attendees. He reflected on his years serving with Preet Bharara and then succeeding him after his much-publicized termination during the prior Presidential administration. To this day, Joon remembers the gravity and weight of the words, “My name is Joon Kim, and I represent the United States” whenever he appeared before a judge or jury. The seriousness of representing the United States in numerous cases of public importance has never been lost on Joon. Now a Partner at Cleary, Joon was the first Asian American Acting United States Attorney in the Southern District, following Preet Bharara, who was the first Asian American United States Attorney in the Southern District.

Una Dean, former Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and now in-house counsel at IBM, helped organize the program and moderated the opening panel with current United States Attorneys Damian Williams (SDNY) and Breon Peace (EDNY). Una was also a past AABANY Board member.

Both Breon and Damian spoke about their paths to the US Attorney’s office and their desire to work on matters that would have positive community impact. Both expressed the belief that the US Attorney’s office provides a unique opportunity to do just that. Breon talked about criminal investigations and prosecutions his office has been doing, including a case that helped prevent a potential terrorist attack at the US Open. His office prosecuted R. Kelly for human trafficking. They fight hate crimes and also work on affinity fraud cases which target vulnerable members from diverse ethnic and religious communities in New York. In criminal cases, his office actively seeks out alternatives to incarceration and diversion programs as ways to resolve criminal complaints, and also supports programs that facilitate re-entry into society for formerly incarcerated persons. On the civil side, EDNY pursues civil rights cases, fights housing discrimination and brings cases to protect the environment. His civil rights division has also been addressing claims about NYPD’s handling of sexual assault complaints from survivors.

Damian, after being trained at a prominent law firm, believed that, for his further development as a litigator and trial lawyer, the US Attorney’s office was the next logical step. Damian has served in the SDNY for a decade and spoke about his time at the SDNY with great passion and fondness, and his love for the work is palpable. “It is the best job in the world, and the best job I can ever hope to have,” he declared. Assistant US Attorneys fight bullies, he noted, and he relishes working in an environment where everyone is dedicated to doing the right thing, serving the public interest.

Una asked both Damian and Breon what qualities they look for in candidates for their offices. Damian answered that they are looking for good, decent, human beings – “no sharp elbows” – who are team oriented. In other words, they don’t want any jerks. (He used a stronger word, but you know what he means.) Candidates should be good writers who are smart, can think on their feet and exercise good judgment. They must have a strong moral compass, a sense of right and wrong, because so much authority is delegated to junior attorneys at his office, and they must be “doing the right thing, the right way – always.” Candidates need to have a tremendous amount of energy, because they will be working hard. If you are looking for a lifestyle change or money, Damian advised, working at the US Attorney’s Office may not be right for you.

Breon agreed with Damian and added that for him, any candidate that has a win-at-all-costs mentality raises a major red flag. He believes in doing justice, and that means at times, his office may have to decline cases or admit error. A candidate that rushes to judgment would not work out. He also looks for attorneys with the courage to tell investigators or judges that the evidence is not there to bring a case or to prosecute a defendant.

Una then talked about the reason why she put this program together, noting that during her time at EDNY, the composition of the office did not reflect the makeup of the community they served. Breon responded that “it is incredibly important that the [EDNY] is a reflection of the community.” He wants people of diverse backgrounds and experiences in his office to help solve problems, because “diversity is critical to getting the work done.” To promote diversity, EDNY has made changes to make hiring more diverse and inclusive, such as by making the process more transparent, has implemented a mentoring program for all new AUSAs and has sponsored trainings through the Diversity Committee.

Damian pointed out that he is the first African American US Attorney at SDNY and acknowledged that diversity is a challenge that needs to be addressed. He believes that outcomes are better when there are diverse views on the team. He also offered that the jury box will look like New York, so the government table should try to look like New York as well. Damian emphasized that politics has no role to play in the US Attorney’s office, no matter who the sitting President happens to be. He shared that Justice Sotomayor, at the start of her career was an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, and in a recent speech, she stated that she became a prosecutor because “it gave her the broadest option to do justice.” Damian agrees with that view.

Breon and Damian both closed by extolling the virtues of public service, particularly at the US Attorney’s office. Damian finds it hard to leave his desk each night because of all the great cases he gets to work on. “When I go home at night,” Breon declared, “I feel like I’ve done something good for the community.” 

After Damian and Breon spoke, the program shifted to a panel of attorneys of color from both SDNY and EDNY, in both criminal and civil divisions, moderated by former AUSA Maria Cruz Melendez, now a Partner at Skadden. The panel included:

·      Sagar Ravi, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Co-Chief, Complex Frauds & Cybercrime Unit, SDNY

·     Rebecca Tinio, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Co-Chief, Civil Frauds Unit, SDNY

·      Hiral Mehta, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Deputy Chief, Business and Securities Fraud Section, EDNY

·      Marietou Diouf, Assistant U.S. Attorney, International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section, EDNY

·      Camille Fletcher, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Narcotics Unit, SDNY

·      Dara Olds, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Civil Division, EDNY

·      Ivory Bishop, Assistant U.S. Attorney, General Crimes, EDNY

All the panelists echoed the passion of Damian and Breon in their love of their work and the weight accorded to representing the United States in court on important cases of great public interest, in both criminal and civil matters.

Hiral Mehta (EDNY) spoke about the proactive nature of the office and the flat structure. There is no hierarchy, and everyone’s input is sought. Ivory Bishop (SDNY) talked about getting to work on all types of cases, from street crimes to public corruption.

Rebecca Tinio (SDNY) mentioned that her cases were great for training, because they go to trial. Her unit works on high stakes cases, such as the tax and bankruptcy case involving Purdue Pharma, the anti-kickback cases involving Novartis, and groundbreaking cases involving the Clean Air Act.

Maria asked the panel what role diversity plays in the cases that the offices see. The panelists gave examples from cases they worked on, in which their own diverse backgrounds and experiences allowed them to connect with and relate to the witnesses in the case, ultimately leading to successful outcomes.

Maria asked the panel to address the hiring process. Dara Olds (EDNY) stated that her office has separate criminal and civil tracks. Rebecca (SDNY) explained that her office has one unified process for all applicants. Both offices have initial interviews, some conducted by those on the panel. Both offices request writing samples, which are reviewed to determine whether a candidate will advance. If the candidate gets through the first round, they are interviewed by more senior AUSAs, including section chiefs. The final round would involve the US Attorney and their executive staff.

Sagar Ravi (SDNY) stated that they are always accepting applications, and Hiral (EDNY) confirmed the same for his office, except during times when a hiring freeze is in place. Currently, there is none so right now “the doors are open.”

What if an applicant thinks that they do not have the right credentials to apply? Dara (EDNY) noted that the US Attorney’s office does not accept applicants straight from law school and encouraged everyone who has obtained several years of experience to apply, regardless of whether they are applying from a large firm or if they had clerked for a judge. Camille Fletcher (SDNY) advised that even if you don’t get called for an interview the first time, you should try again.

After the panels were done, all the attendees stayed for a reception with food and drinks generously provided by Cleary. Many of the panelists stayed to speak directly with the panelists and ask the questions they were not able to during the main program. The room was buzzing with lively conversations among prosecutors, attorneys, and law students in attendance.

Much thanks and appreciation go to all the speakers and moderators for the evening. Thanks to Una Dean for spearheading the event, to Cleary for being such a gracious host, and to all the co-sponsors:

·      Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association

·      Caribbean Attorneys Network

·      Dominican Bar Association

·      Hispanic National Bar Association – Region II

·      Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater
New York

·      Metropolitan Black Bar Association

·      Muslim Bar Association of New York

·      New York City Bar Association

·      National Black Prosecutors Association

·      South Asian Bar Association of New York

    AABANY President Will Ng and Immediate Past President Terry Shen Interviewed for the New York City Bar Association Podcast: A Conversation Discussing AAPI Professional Career Trajectories

    AABANY President, William Ng, and AABANY Immediate Past President, Terry Shen, spoke with, Ashley Wong, an Associate at Sidley Austin LLP, for the New York City Bar Association podcast posted on May 26, 2022, to comment on AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Professional Career Trajectories.

    Associate Ashley Wong began the conversation by examining the present landscape for AAPI advancement in their careers. She notes that while the US AAPI population is the “fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the country,” growing by 88% in the past two decades, “many AAPI employees are still portrayed as ineffective or weak managers, resulting in AAPIs leaving companies at higher rates and not reaching senior positions.” 

    Commenting on his career path and success in reaching leadership positions,  AABANY President Will Ng spoke to the support he had received from colleagues and members of the AAPI community as integral factors to his success. Similarly, Immediate Past President Terry Shen also detailed the effective alliances that had helped him progress dynamically from the field of STEM to Corporate Law and even to Investment Banking. Common to their responses, both AABANY leaders spoke to the importance of having strong role models that formed their support network and the foundation for their success. 

    In recognizing the work that AABANY does to ensure that future leaders in the field of law have access to more diverse role models, Will and Terry spoke about both the local and systemic changes that AABANY has put forth. From organizing pro bono clinics for LEP communities to facilitating legislative change toward the protection and promotion of AAPI communities, AABANY has advocated for meaningful participation and leadership of and for AAPI communities. Within AABANY, Terry spoke to AABANY’s Leadership Development Program, which seeks to “address the continued under-representation of [AAPI] attorneys in leadership positions in the legal field.”

    To conclude the interview, Ashley asked both leaders to share any advice they had for aspiring lawyers and AAPI individuals interested in pursuing the legal profession. Will encapsulated his advice into three key points: “Think strategically, speak to others, and plan ahead.” Terry reiterated the importance of forming solid alliances with mentors and colleagues.

    To listen to the full podcast, click here.

    The New York City Bar Association Releases Report “The Diversity Gap: Black and Latinx Representation Disparities in the Legal Pipeline” and Follow-Up Program

    The New York City Bar Association announced that their report The Diversity Gap: Black and Latinx Representation Disparities in the Legal Pipeline has been released with overwhelming support from the legal community. To determine the effectiveness of pipeline programs for Black and Latinx students who seek to enter the legal profession, they polled over 800 students from the 15 New York State Law Schools. They thank Ashley Bernal, Professor, York College and author of the report, and The New York Community Trust for funding this important work.

    You can read their press release here.

    Additionally, they will be hosting a two-part panel presentation entitled, “The Diversity Gap: Black and Latinx Representation Disparities in the Legal Pipeline.”  Details below:

    Part I: Pipeline Leaders

    Part II: Pipeline Participants

    To register for any of the events, please click on the registration link (you will need to create a free account if you are not a city bar member) or email Customer Relations at customerrelations@nycbar.org. The series is free for everyone.

    NYC Bar Association’s Letter to the Editor at Law.com

    Law.com published New York City Bar Association Executive Director Bret Parker’s Letter to the Editor on March 31, 2020. Mr. Parker wrote the letter in response to an editorial in The American Lawyer on the law firm’s role in the time of crisis. The editorial noted that in times of crisis, clients will undoubtedly turn to their law firms for help.

    However, at the same time, Mr. Parker stressed that it is important for law firms, attorneys, and members of the legal profession to also have a place to turn. That is where bar associations come in.

    Although the New York City Bar Association’s building is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Association is still very active and continuing its Lawyer Assistance Program for those in the legal community suffering from mental health or substance issues. The Association is also working on pro bono projects for small business and continuing its legal referral service remotely.

    Mr. Parker’s Letter to the Editor noted that during this challenging time, many bar associations are working hard to provide their members with a place to engage, learn, and collaborate. For example, he mentioned the efforts of the Asian American Bar Association of New York to combat the rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and bias incidents that have resulted from the labeling of the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”

    To read the full letter, click on the link below.

    https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2020/03/31/nyc-bar-association-we-are-still-here-to-help/?slreturn=20200306115020

    Hon. Kiyo Matsumoto Participates in Honoring Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the New York City Bar

    On March 7, 2019, Hon. Kiyo Matsumoto, District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, participated in honoring Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the New York City Bar Association for her commitment to upholding the rule of law and for being a role model to young students all across America.

    At the event, Justice Sotomayor was honored with the unveiling of her portrait that will hang in the New York City Bar’s Great Hall and presented with the New York City Bar Association Medal. The Association Medal is a very prestigious honor that has only been conferred upon a total of 25 people in the last 67 years prior to Justice Sotomayor.

    The awardees are chosen by the New York City Bar’s Executive Committee acting upon the nomination of the New York City Bar’s Honors Committee. Judge Matsumoto, a long time member of AABANY, is the chair of the Honors Committee.

    The event was covered by the New York Law Journal. To read the article, click here.

    ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION CONGRATULATES PAST PRESIDENT SUSAN L. SHIN ON RECEIVING THE NEW YORK CITY BAR ASSOCIATION DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION CHAMPION AWARD

    NEW YORK – June 27, 2018 – The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) congratulates Susan L. Shin, Partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and former AABANY President (2016-17), on being named one of three recipients of the New York City Bar Association’s prestigious 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award. This award, created in 2006, recognizes the efforts that attorneys dedicate to creating and sustaining a more inclusive environment within their organizations and the legal community at large. Susan and her fellow awardees will be honored at the New York City Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Celebration Dinner on June 27, 2018.

    A partner at Arnold & Porter, Susan is a talented lawyer and complex commercial litigator who represents a range of corporate clients including financial institutions and public companies in litigated disputes, class actions, and arbitrations. Since becoming partner at the firm in 2011 after working as a litigation associate, Susan has handled complex cases involving loan servicing, accounting, compliance, disclosure, derivatives, and mortgage and asset-backed securitizations, among other issues. Susan has also served as trial counsel in five trials to verdict in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, where she often served as lead trial counsel. In 2014, Arnold & Porter’s partnership elected Susan to the Policy Committee, the firm’s governing board.

    Susan’s dedication to her community can be seen through her strong leadership and involvement in various committees and organizations. She served as the President of AABANY from 2016 to 2017 and is currently an active member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s CLE Selection Committee. Her dedication is also reflected by her frequent CLE talks on legal ethics and her extensive pro bono experience representing New York City charter schools. Susan has won a number of awards that highlight both her impressive legal career and her unwavering efforts to promote inclusion and access to justice within her community, including the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York’s  2018 Trailblazer Award.

    Before beginning her legal career, Susan was an Associate at J.P. Morgan in the investment management division. While attending Columbia Law School she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Raymond J. Dearie with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York from 2002 to 2003.

    “We are extremely excited and pleased that Susan is receiving this prestigious honor from the New York City Bar Association,” stated James R. Cho, AABANY President. “Having known Susan for many years and having served with her on the AABANY Board, I have observed first-hand her dedication to enhancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. We commend the New York City Bar Association and the Selection Committee on recognizing Susan’s efforts and achievements with the Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award. We extend our congratulations to her and her co-honorees, Sheila Kearney Davidson, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and General Counsel, New York Life Insurance Company; and John Mbiti, Director & Counsel, Credit Suisse Asset Management LLC.”

    For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212) 332-2478, or direct any inquiries to main@aabany.org.

    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 a New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

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    New York City Bar Association Announces 2018 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award Winners

    New York City Bar Association Announces 2018 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award Winners

    Governor Cuomo Announces First-in-the-Nation State Partnership with National Organizations to Expand Successful Pro Bono Clemency Initiative

    For Immediate Release
    8/21/2017

                                                                        Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

    State Partners with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and Other Organizations to Expand Capacity to Provide Clemency Applicants with Pro Bono Legal Assistance

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a first-in-the-nation partnership between a state and a coalition of legal organizations to expand New York’s pro bono clemency program.

    This partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, with support from the Foundation for Criminal Justice, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and other organizations is modeled after a successful federal program that has since been discontinued since the Trump administration. This new partnership greatly expands the Governor’s clemency initiative founded in 2015 that provided pro bono clemency petition services to individuals with criminal records or incarcerated in state prison.

    “These nationally recognized organizations have already proven successful in helping incarcerated individuals get access to the resources they need to apply for clemency, make the case for their rehabilitation and have the opportunity to contribute to and re-enter society,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud to partner with them to expand the work of this administration and its partners and take one more step toward a more just, more fair and morecompassionate New York for all.”

    By engaging more pro bono lawyers, this partnership will provide a steady supply of high-quality clemency applications for the Governor’s Counsel’s Office to review. The NACDL will work with the Executive Clemency Bureau to identify those deserving of a second chance, and make clemency a more accessible and tangible reality in New York.

    The Governor launched his clemency review initiative in 2015 with the assistance of the New York City Bar Association, the New York County Lawyers Association, the New York State Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society, Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and other state organizations. Governor Cuomo engages in a careful, holistic review of clemency applications and the assistance that these volunteer attorneys provide has resulted in an increase in the number of strong petitions for the Governor to review. Three individuals represented by pro bono counsel through the program were granted clemency in 2016.

    Approximately 1,700 potential applicants for clemency have identified under this program and this new partnership with New York will increase the number of volunteer attorneys in the initiative to assist more applicants in need.

    Under the now-defunct federal program, which was launched by the Obama Administration in 2014, these organizations trained nearly 4,000 volunteer lawyers from diverse practice backgrounds and completed screening of the more than 36,000 federal prisoners who requested volunteer assistance.

    For more information about the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project, including how to sign up to volunteer, visit the project website, https://stateclemency.org.

    Although individuals may apply for clemency without the assistance of an attorney, assistance from a pro bono attorney will enhance the quality of an inmate’s application and present his or her best case to the Governor.

    Since 2011, Governor Cuomo has commuted the sentences of 10 individuals, and granted pardons to 114 individuals as a part of an ambitious clemency agenda that seeks to identify individuals demonstrating evidence of rehabilitation and self-development amounting to a true change in character or circumstance since incarceration, to help ensure that clemency is a more accessible and tangible reality. He used his pardon power to provide first in the nation relief for New Yorkers convicted of a misdemeanor or non-violent felony at 16 or 17 years old who have been crime-free for ten years, issuing the first conditional pardons to more than 100 New Yorkers in December 2016.

    Individuals interested in applying for clemency should visit Governor Cuomo’s clemency website,www.ny.gov/clemency. The website is a central resource for those seeking to learn more about clemency, eligibility requirements, and the application process, including submitting application materials electronically. Family members and friends of individuals serving prison sentences are encouraged to visit the website and apply for clemency on behalf of their family member or friend.
     
    Norman Reimer, Executive Director of NACDL said, “NACDL is proud to work with its partners, the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ) and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), in a coordinated effort to recruit, train, and support pro bono counsel for all prisoner applicants for clemency. We salute Governor Cuomo and his administration for recognizing that people are capable of redemption and rehabilitation, and may have earned a fresh start in life.”

    Bret Parker, Executive Director of the New York City Bar Association, said, “The New York City Bar Association looks forward to continuing its work with the Governor’s office on this worthy initiative that treats the incarcerated as individuals who in many cases deserve a second chance. We welcome NACDL’s participation in streamlining the process for all involved.”

    Jennifer L. Van Ort, the Executive Director of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said, “By working with our colleagues in state government, we can more effectively offer pro bono legal assistance to individuals who are incarcerated in New York prisons. This partnership is a welcome expansion to the existing project, as it will bring more lawyers together with applicants without the resources to pay for representation. With more training, mentoring, and electronic access to client materials, this partnership will help our members better represent reformed and rehabilitated applicants in the State’s process to apply for clemency. I thank the Governor for expanding this successful program and for being a staunch ally of incarcerated New Yorkers.”
     
    David Loftis, Attorney-In-Charge of Post-Conviction and Forensic Litigation at the Legal Aid Society said, “We have been pleased to work with the Governor’s office on clemency cases. In particular, we have been gratified that, over the past year, the Governor has commuted the sentences of worthy applicants represented by The Legal Aid Society and our pro bono partners. We were excited to learn that NACDL will be joining the clemency effort, and The Legal Aid Society looks forward to partnering with them to bring candidates deserving a second chance to the Governor’s attention.”