On October 28, 2021, AABANY’s Membership Committee, together with the Career Placement Committee and IP Committee, hosted the first annual Founders’ Day at Broadridge’s New York office in midtown Manhattan. Surrounded by dramatic views of the New York skyline, the event celebrated AABANY’s thirty-second year as an association serving AAPI legal professionals and the AAPI community. This celebration honors the founders who helped form AABANY in 1989. Hon. Doris Ling Cohan, Hon. Marilyn Go, Sylvia Chin and Rocky Chin joined the party as honorees. Approximately 50 members and friends gathered together to connect and re-connect over food and drinks. President Terry Shen was joined by many Board members and Committee Chairs for the occasion. Towards the end of the party, the Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, made a special appearance and gave remarks commending the achievements of AABANY over the past three decades, including fighting Asian hate and serving the AAPI community. As the first female Governor of New York state, she encouraged more women to enter public service.
We hope to establish Founders’ Day as an annual event. Thanks to Governor Hochul, the Founders, and the AABANY leadership for attending and making this first Founders’ Day a memorable one. Thanks also to AABANY’s Diamond Sponsor, Broadridge, for making this event possible at their beautiful space. To see more photos of the event, go to: https://photos.app.goo.gl/CmBvkiEJTY7TeSLYA
On September 22nd, 2021, The New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) published a press release announcing its relaunching of the Special Masters Program. A team effort among NYCLA, the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, and the Unified Court System, the relaunched Special Masters Program aims at “offering a pipeline for attorneys of color, as well as underrepresented communities to volunteer in the courts and to inspire them to become part of the court system.” The hope of this program is to “increase the representation of attorneys of color in the New York State Court System.” Vincent T. Chang, former President of AABANY (2007) and now the current NYCLA President, expressed his support and praise for this new program, and stated that he is “confident that the relaunched Special Masters Program will improve opportunities for underrepresented communities to play a greater role in the courts” and that the program will “highlight the skills of attorneys who have been historically less represented in our community.” Through this unique program, Special Masters will have the opportunity to train through NYCLA’s CLE Institute, work closely with Justices within the Supreme Court, Civil Term in New York County, as well as assist judges, conduct legal research, and draft memorandums of law advising the Court on legal issues.
Application Instructions: To apply to the program, please submit your resume and a one-page letter indicating why you are interested in serving as a Special Master and how you are qualified for the role. Please email the documents to the attention of L. Austin D’Souza, the Special Masters Coordinator at email@example.com by Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 5pm.
In our highly charged political climate today, government lawyers face unprecedented ethical challenges; they must often make decisions that clash between ethical rules and what their superiors demand. There is a growing consensus that rules are frequently unclear, but there is no agreement in how to revise them.
On October 14th, 2021, 11:00 a.m-4:00 p.m ET, the New York State Judicial Institute on Professionalism in the Law and the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts will be holding a virtual Convocation that will bring together outstanding professionals who have had decades of experience in government to address these critical issues and provide much needed reforms.
The Convocation will kick off with Paul D. Clement and Neal Katyal, both leading members of the Supreme Court bar who have led the U.S. Solicitor General’s office. They will speak on the ethical challenges facing today’s government lawyers and whether the government lawyer can (or should) represent both the client and the public’s interest. Three additional panels will follow and will touch on a variety of topics.
The first panel titled, “How are Government Lawyers Different from Their Private Sector Counterparts in Their Ethical Responsibilities? Let Us Count the Ways” will examine conflicts government lawyers may face when advising decision makers in the executive branch and/or the agencies they serve. The second panel titled, “The Right Recipe for Independent Candid Advice: What Should Get Thrown In? What Should Get Left Out?” will discuss what it means for lawyers to exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. The final panel titled “ Recalcitrant Clients: What to do When the ‘Client’ Rejects Your Advice (or Worse)” will dive deep into questions such as, “With whom does the government lawyer have an attorney-client privilege?” and “Whose confidential information should be protected?”
Please note that this event is free of charge. To register for the event please click here.
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.
Westchester County Bar Association in partnership with the NYS UCS Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Ninth Judicial District are assembling a Court Roster of mediators for the Supreme Court to hear civil matters, with a focus on personal injury matters. Roster Mediators will not be compensated for the first 90 minutes spent in mediation. This initial session does not include time spent in preparing for the mediation session(s). Thereafter, mediators will be paid by the parties at an agreed upon rate of up to the District’s compensation cap.
The September 14, 2021 In-Person Personal Injury Mediation Training is an advanced mediation training program designed specifically for mediators who have completed both basic and advanced Part 146 mediation training. This all-day program will provide mediators with advanced training and skills applicable to the resolution of personal injury actions. The program will provide participants with background on internal and external considerations that impact the mediation of personal injury actions and mediation techniques for addressing these considerations. This program will satisfy the requirements for “Continuing Education for Neutrals” set forth in § 146.3 and 146.5 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge that require Court-appointed mediators undertake six (6) hours of continuing education every two (2) years as determined by the District Administrative Judge.
Space is limited for this training. Therefore, attendance will be prioritized for mediators who have completed 40 hours of training (basic and advanced) and currently serve or wish to serve on a NYS Court mediation roster to handle personal injury cases. This course will not guarantee designation to a NYS Court’s roster, which is subject to the District Administrative Judge’s discretion.
If you meet the above requirements and would like to be considered for this training please complete this application to determine your eligibility. Deadline to submit a completed application is August 11, 2021. You will be notified of your enrollment by September 3, 2021 and will be required to submit a registration fee at the rate of $150.00 at that time. The cost of registration will include costs for CLE credits and food. To apply for the training please click the Start Survey button below.
Mediators who wish to apply to join the Ninth Judicial District’s ADR Program roster must possess the qualifications and training as required by Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge and recent experience mediating Civil cases. If you wish to apply to join our mediator roster, and have not already done so, please complete a Statewide Mediator Application.
On August 3, the Office of the New York State Attorney General released its Report of Investigation into Allegations of Sexual Harassment by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, finding that the Governor had engaged in sexually harassing conduct with eleven individuals. AABANY would like to recognize and commend its longtime sponsor Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP for their work on the investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo. The report not only found that Governor Cuomo had engaged in inappropriate contact with a number of State employees but also that the Executive Chamber normalized a culture of “fear and intimidation.” This hostile environment gave rise to dismissive and inadequate handling of sexual harassment allegations, while also permitting inappropriate behavior to persist within the Executive Chamber. As such, the investigative work performed by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP was critical to supporting the Office of the New York State Attorney General which was charged by the Governor to conduct the investigation.
AABANY acknowledges and commends the important work of everyone else involved in this historic investigation, namely, Anne Clark and Yannick Grant of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. Board Director Karen Yau practiced as a litigation associate and, before his 1994 appointment as United States District Judge in the Southern District of New York, Judge Denny Chin was a partner at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., the predecessor of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. Additionally, AABANY acknowledges and commends Joon Kim, Jennifer Kennedy Park, Abena Mainoo and Rahul Mukhi of Cleary. We proudly note that Joon Kim and Rahul Mukhi are current AABANY members. Joon was the former Acting United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York, and he was honored by the AABANY Prosecutors’ Committee in 2015, at its 7th Annual Reception. Read more about that event here.
Please join AABANY in recognizing the vital work of Attorney General James and everyone who worked on this investigation and report.
AABANY encourages its members to participate in the New York State Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP), a New York State Court system initiative through which senior attorneys offer pro bono civil legal service. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Yorkers are in urgent need of legal assistance. Our membership is acutely aware that COVID-19 has not only severely exacerbated anti-Asian hate but also highlighted the reluctance to prosecute anti-Asian hate crimes; more broadly, COVID-19 has widened and drawn attention to the civil justice gap in New York State. Volunteering through AEP could be life-altering for New Yorkers in need, whether they are struggling with housing, consumer debt and bankruptcy, access to unemployment and subsistence benefits, end-of-life planning, and domestic matters, among other issues. AEP, helmed by former Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and endorsed by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, presents a substantive opportunity for AABANY members to give back and look out for its New York community.
To volunteer, AEP seeks lawyers aged fifty-five or older, retired or still in practice, in good standing, and with ten years experience. Attorney Emeritus volunteers commit to performing 60 hours of pro bono work with an approved legal services organization or court program over the two-year attorney registration period.
Attorney Emeritus volunteers also receive benefits including up to 15 CLE credits and special recognition from Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives Edwina G. Mendelson.
On Tuesday, June 15, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), the South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY), Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY), and the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALA-New York) released a joint statement calling on the New York State Unified Court System (UCS) to fill judicial vacancies with Asian American Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) judges, including that of Judge Anthony Cannataro’s former role as the citywide administrative judge for the civil court of New York City. On Wednesday, June 16, The New York Law Journal published a front-page article recounting the social and demographic context driving the release of this joint statement, reiterating how “[u]nlike other communities of color, Asian representation has lagged due to a failure by political and judicial leaders to support and promote AAPI judges.” The article also noted how the AAPI bar associations acknowledged the diversity of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent judicial appointments but remained staunch in their commitment to remedying the dearth of AAPI representation on the bench.
To read the full article, click here (subscription required).
In February of this year, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) released its report A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19: Impact, Causes, Solutions, co-authored with Paul, Weiss, detailing the surge of anti-Asian hate and violence as a result of the pandemic. The report advanced seven carefully-considered proposals for combating anti-Asian racism and discrimination, including, a call for “Greater Representation of Asians in Law Enforcement, Public Office, and the Courts.” Consistent with this proposal, AABANY joined in a statement with the South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY), Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY), and the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALA-New York), calling on the New York State Unified Court System (UCS) to appoint Asian American Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) judges to fill the positions of Administrative Judge in the Civil Court of the City of New York, Administrative Judge of Supreme Court, Criminal Term in Bronx County, Administrative Judge of Supreme Court, Criminal Matters in Queens County, and Appellate Term, First Department.
As the accompanying press release for the joint statement issued on June 15 notes, “the lack of Asian representation on the bench is not a recent phenomenon.” As AABANY’s report explains, “Racism and bias fester where positions of power are held primarily by the white majority. Institutions that are meant to both represent and serve justice to the community will be more effective if they more closely reflect the composition of the community.” Efforts to increase diversity in the judiciary comprise first steps to ensuring the legal system can protect all Americans, regardless of racial identity.
Secretary Jeh Johnson elucidated in his October 1, 2020 Report from the Special Advisor on Equal Justice in the New York State Courts that “the overwhelming majority of the civil or criminal litigants in the Housing, Family, Civil and Criminal courts in New York City are people of color,” but “[b]oth the Minorities and Williams Commissions identified the lack of diversity among judges and non-judicial employees within the court system as a major issue affecting the administration of justice in the state.” Though these courts serve many litigants from communities of color, the bench does not reflect that diversity, with the overwhelming number of judges being male and white. Secretary Johnson concludes, “The sad picture that emerges is, in effect, a second-class system of justice for people of color in New York State.”
AABANY, through its joint statement with SABANY, KALAGNY, and FALA-New York, reaffirms its commitment to the fair administration of justice for all, calling for change to the longstanding under-representation of AAPI judges in New York State. Read more here.
New York State Senators John Liu (11th District, Queens), Andrew Gounardes (22nd District, Brooklyn), Brian Kavanagh (26th District, Manhattan) and Toby Stavisky (16th District, Queens) hosted a Lunar New Year virtual celebration Tuesday evening, February 16, featuring performances from AAPI youth and community honorees. The event was well-attended by city, state and federal elected officials, as well as community leaders and their organizations.
Senator Kavanagh presented May Wong, Esq., and Olympia Moy with a certificate of commendation to recognize the work of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee in providing invaluable legal assistance to the AAPI community during the pandemic. May Wong and Olympia Moy were proud to accept the certificate on behalf of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee. In their acceptance speech, they detailed the committee’s success in creating a one-day “in-person” clinic in July 2020 to assist tenants with paper applications for the COVID Rent Relief Program. When the COVID Rent Relief Program was extended to February 2021, law students volunteered again to establish a two-week remote hotline service to assist non-English speaking tenants apply via telephone. They were able to assist callers in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish with the help of the committee’s community partners, Chinatown CLT and GOLES. May Wong and Olympia Moy concluded their speech by expressing gratitude towards the State for its effort in addressing the State’s housing and poverty crisis and strongly encouraged the State to “direct emergency financial relief to tenants and property owners in meaningful programs that can provide permanent rental assistance and increased access to rental subsidies.”
Thank you to all the attorney volunteers and law students who helped AABANY and the community, especially May Wong, William Lee, Karen Lin, Nicholas Loh, Xinyi Shen, and Olympia Moy.
Congratulations to the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee on this well-deserved recognition! To learn more about the Committee and all its wonderful work, go to probono.aabany.org. They are always looking for more volunteers so email them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.