AABANY Member Profile: Vincent T. Chang Becomes First AAPI President of NYCLA

Vincent T. Chang, active member of AABANY since 2000 and former AABANY President in 2007, was inducted as the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) President of the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) on May 28, 2021. In his new role, Vince is prepared to lead NYCLA in supporting diverse communities, reaching out to more young attorneys and law students, and closing the justice gap to serve those in the community who are most in need.

Since high school, Vince gravitated towards pursuing a career in the legal profession. Involved in both his high school and college debate teams, Vince found overlapping aspects between debate and law. In presenting an argument, he noticed both involve research, assembly of evidence, and oral presentation. After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School, he clerked for the Honorable Robert Krupansky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before joining Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in 1989. Being familiar with litigation from his experience in debate and serving as a judicial clerk in a Federal appellate court, Vince chose to practice in litigation. Currently, Vince is a Litigation Partner at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP in New York specializing in complex commercial litigation matters in the financial industry, including investment banking, hedge funds, and mortgage backed securities.

Outside of his work at the law firm, Vince is an active member of numerous bar associations and organizations, and has served and continues to serve in various leadership positions. To name a few, Vince previously served on the New York State Bar Association Committee of Bar Leaders, on the Board of Directors at Legal Services NYC, and is currently the Vice President of the Asian American Law Fund of New York. Although he might be affectionately called a “Bar Junkie,” Vince did not participate in bar association work until later on in his career.

The first bar association Vince joined was AABANY, and he appreciated both the social and intellectual aspects of the association. He enjoyed the opportunity to learn about different areas of law while also being able to network and meet prominent lawyers. One of his fondest memories of serving as President of AABANY in 2007 was hosting the Annual Dinner because it was a rare event for 500 to 600 AAPI lawyers, including General Counsels and Judges, to all gather in the same room in New York City. This was especially significant because at the time there were at most 400 members in AABANY compared to the 1,500 members AABANY has now.

At AABANY, Vince also played a prominent role in organizing the AABANY Trial Reenactments. With a goal to educate lawyers and the public about the notable trials and cases in U.S. history involving AAPIs, Vince assisted Judge Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin to develop scripts for the productions. Since 2007, Vince has starred as a cast member in numerous reenactments at the annual NAPABA conventions and at other events. He most recently played Fred Korematsu in the “Fred Korematsu and His Fight For Justice” reenactment in November 2019 at the NAPABA convention.

Today, Vince is the first AAPI President of NYCLA, which was the first bar association to admit women and lawyers of color into its membership. He views his role as both an honor and a serious responsibility—an honor because past presidents include esteemed individuals and a responsibility because of his duty to represent AAPIs and serve as a role model. At a time when diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of many bar associations’ and law firms’ missions, NYCLA plans to be more interactive with young lawyers, especially diverse attorneys, by reaching out to law schools, affinity bar groups, and law firms. Vince also plans for NYCLA to remain relevant on public policy issues and respond to them in a timely manner. He hopes that “taking positions that affect diverse communities will make them notice and realize NYCLA is on their side.”

A common theme of Vince’s work is the pursuit of justice to not only improve the legal profession, but to also improve the quality of legal representation for individuals in the community. He has served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary to review federal judicial nominees; sat on a NYCLA panel at a public hearing to address the impact of budget cuts on the Judiciary; served on the Disciplinary Committee for the First Department to prosecute disciplinary complaints against lawyers in Manhattan; and worked on other initiatives to minimize the justice gap. Vince plans to continue working on this at NYCLA as “access to justice is a hallmark of what bar associations and NYCLA are aiming for.” One program NYCLA has planned is to support attorneys who represent indigent persons through the Assigned Counsel Plan (18b). Under the proposed program, by increasing the rate at which assigned counsel are paid, there will hopefully be an increase of lawyers interested in doing 18b work, which will further decrease the access-to-justice gap. NYCLA also hopes to revive their Special Masters Program to provide an opportunity for young attorneys to gain experience working with the court system, and to close the gap between court workload and staff gap. At NYCLA’s AAPI Heritage Month Celebration on June 2nd, Vince 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.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Vince on becoming the first AAPI President of NYCLA and for doing all the work he does to support communities. We wish Vince great success in his vital new role as NYCLA President! To learn more about NYCLA, visit its website at https://www.nycla.org/. AABANY members who join NYCLA for the first time are eligible to receive 50% off their annual dues the first year and 25% off the second year. For more details, click here.

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

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

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

Prosecutors Committee Celebrates 11th Annual Reception at NYCLA

AABANY’s Prosecutors Committee was founded in September 2008 to enhance the advancement and professional development of Asian Pacific American (APA) prosecutors, the establishment of a network between former and current APA prosecutors, the recruitment of APA law students to become prosecutors, and the cultivation of trust and communication between the APA community and the local prosecutors’ offices. 

Our membership is comprised of current and former prosecutors of Asian American, Pacific Islander and South Asian heritage from all five local New York City District Attorney’s offices, Nassau and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices, Assistant Attorney Generals from the New York State Attorney General’s Office, as well as federal prosecutors from both the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

Each year, the Committee hosts an annual reception to honor those who have contributed to the criminal justice system as well as to promote diversity within the APA community in New York City.

On December 3, 2019, at its 11th Annual Reception, the Committee honored Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, and Gilbert C. Hong, Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, for their exemplary and established record of public service and their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the profession.

Approximately 150 Prosecutors Committee members and guests filled to capacity the main auditorium at the New York County Lawyers Association, 14 Vesey Street, to celebrate this special event.  The evening featured distinguished guests and speakers who provided congratulatory remarks to the Committee and the honorees. 

The speakers at the daïs included the following representatives from state, local and Federal prosecutors’ offices:

  • Joseph Alexis, Executive ADA, Kings County
  • Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney, Southern District of NY
  • Bridget Brennan, Special Narcotics Prosecutor
  • Catherine Christian, Special ADA for External Affairs, NY County
  • Mark Lesko, Chief AUSA, Eastern District of NY
  • Derek Lynton, Chief ADA, Bronx County
  • John Ryan, Acting District Attorney, Queens County
  • Anthony Scarpino, District Attorney, Westchester County
  • Madeline Singas, District Attorney, Nassau County

Also in attendance were the following judges:

  • Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally, Bronx Criminal Court
  • Hon. Dorothy Chin Brandt, Retired Justice, Queens Supreme Court
  • Hon. Karen Gopee, Queens Criminal Court
  • Hon. Marilyn Go, Retired Judge, District Court, EDNY
  • Hon. Lorna Schofield, District Court, SDNY
  • Hon. Don Leo, Brooklyn Criminal Court
  • Hon. Danny Chun, Brooklyn Supreme Court
  • Hon. Phyllis Chu, NYC Criminal Court
  • Hon. John Hecht, Brooklyn Supreme Court
  • Hon. Dean Kusakabe, Queens Family Court
  • Hon. Judy Kim, NYC Criminal Court
  • Hon. Daniel Lewis, Queens Supreme Court
  • Hon. Richard Tsai, NYC Criminal Court
  • Hon. Cori Weston, Judge, NYC Criminal Court

Distinguished guests included:

  • Agnes Chan, first Asian woman detective in NYPD history
  • Yang Chen, Executive Director of AABANY
  • Sherry Cohen, Chief of Legal Recruitment, Bronx County
  • Lila Kirton, Bureau Chief, Westchester County
  • Jesse Sligh, Executive ADA, Queens County
  • Brian Song, President, AABANY

In addition, the family of NYPD Det. Wenjian Liu, who made the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed in the line of duty in 2014, made a special visit to the Reception.  Det. Liu’s family received the Prosecutors Committee’s posthumous award on Det. Liu’s behalf at the 2015 reception. The family was recognized with a heartfelt standing ovation and a message that Det. Liu will not be forgotten.

When AABANY President Brian Song delivered his welcome remarks at the start of the reception, he passed along the word from Queens County District Attorney-elect Melinda Katz’s transition team that her office is inviting applications, especially from diverse candidates at all levels. Many of the other speakers at the daïs lost no time in announcing that their offices were also hiring. We anticipate that prosecutors’ offices may see an uptick in applications coming out of this Reception.

AABANY thanks Prosecutors Committee co-chairs Myongjae M. Yi and Maria Park as well as vice-chairs Michael Leigh and Emily Ching for organizing the event. The Committee also thanks Kin Ng, Brian Lee, David Chiang, Catherine Christian, Francis Chin, Giyang An and the planning members for their assistance.  AABANY thanks the New York County Lawyers Association for providing the beautiful venue again for this special celebration.

More photos from the event can be found here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UZiD12LZFpxJmwLP6

To learn more about the Prosecutors Committee, please visit: https://www.aabany.org/page/73

Special education in Asian American communities

Special education in Asian American communities