Thank you AABANY, Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) Committee, VNS Chinatown Community Center, and our dedicated volunteers for volunteering on February 18, 2023 at the Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic! We met 24 clients and discussed issues relating to housing, divorces, and guardianships.
Clients’ surveys included the following feedback:
“These services are much in need for the non-English speaking community.”
“Very happy thx services I got.”
“The lawyers were very nice and professional! Thank you!”
Please consider joining us at our upcoming clinics:
Thank you AABANY, VNS Chinatown Community Center, and our dedicated volunteers for joining us on January 14, 2023 at the Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic. Shoutout to Gary Yeung, co-chair of the Mentorship Program, for coming out to our clinics twice in a row!!!
We met with 15 clients who had questions about tort, family law/matrimonial, and housing.
Reading through our client satisfaction surveys, these are the remarks from our clients:
“Just appreciate your advice and services.”
“Made me more comfortable about my situation.”
For all law students/law graduates who are seeking to complete the 50 pro bono hours requirement, remember to reach out to us to get more information about the process and what other projects we have on hand at email@example.com.
Please vist the AABANY’s Calendar and sign up for a listing of events and sign up for upcoming Pro Bono Clinics:
On January 7, 2023, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), and dedicated volunteers staffed the Pro Bono Clinic at AAFE’s Flushing Community Center in Queens, New York.
The clinic met with 14 clients who had questions about tort, contracts, and housing laws.
Clients who filled out the clinic’s satisfaction surveys remarked:
“Hope there are more of these activities. Helps the community greatly.”
“Extremely grateful! Thank you guys very much.”
Volunteering attorneys have asked clinic staffers about how to learn more about areas of law in which they do not practice. The best way to learn about new, developing areas of the law is from other attorneys. AABANY’s Pro Bono clinics are a great chance to connect with other attorneys.
For law students and law school graduates seeking to complete the 50 pro bono hours requirement, remember to reach out to clinic staffers to learn about the requirement fulfillment process and other ongoing projects at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you Eugene Kim, co-chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) Committee, for bringing the wealthy cupcakes (fat go) to share with the volunteers!
On Friday, December 9, 2022, AABANY hosted its first in-person holiday party in three years since the COVID pandemic shutdown.
Our wonderful hosts and sponsors, Cohen & Gresser, along with their Counsel, Joanna Chan, welcomed over 120 AABANY Members and friends to a delicious menu of food, featuring cocktail shrimp, kimbap rolls, sushi rolls, sashimi, veggie pancakes, japchae noodles, bulgogi beef, marinated pork, Chicken Alfredo with penne pasta, Junior’s mini-cheesecakes, and macaroons. Cocktails with clever names such as “AABANY Founders” and “Ineffective Assistance of Counsel” were also on offer, mixed by professional bartenders.
President-elect Karen Kim welcomed the guests and shared her theme for her fiscal year, starting on April 1, 2023, which will focus on mental health and wellness for attorneys. Co- Vice President of Programs and Operations Beatrice Leong, who organized the holiday party, encouraged donations to support the Pro Bono Clinic through text to pledge. Attendees responded to the call by donating more than $1,000 to the Pro Bono Clinic.
We also held a gift raffle by drawing business cards provided by the guests. All winners of gifts were then entered into a Squid Games style final in which participants had to cut shapes out of cookies without breaking them. The winner of that game got a gift card valued at $50.
We thank our Annual Holiday Party 2022 sponsors: ● Cohen & Gresser ● Littler ● Fish & Richardson Special thanks to Membership Director Christopher Bae for ordering the food, and former VPPO David Sohn for his help with the party. Thanks to everyone who came. We hope you all had a wonderful time!
On December 3, 2022, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee partnered with the VNS Health staff to hold a pro bono clinic in VNS Health’s Manhattan community center from 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM.
Overall, we met with 11 clients who had questions about topics such as immigration, housing, and divorce. With help from our many clinic attorneys and volunteers, AABANY’s PBCS attorneys were able to connect clients with AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service, a program that connects prospective clients from the Asian American and Pacific Islander community with qualified lawyers who are both linguistically and culturally competent.
AABANY’s PBCS intern Connor Li spoke about his experiences at Saturday’s clinic with great reverence for the work PBCS is able to do through these clinics. He said, “It’s always a pleasure to help out at the clinic. Whether it’s meeting members of the community or listening to experienced legal professionals, I always feel like I’m learning something at every point. And with the help of the amazing VNS staff, clients with urgent needs for legal advice regarding housing, immigration, and familial issues were checked in and assigned to attorneys with great expediency. We were even able to provide Cantonese and Mandarin interpreters at nearly every client meeting, though we could definitely have used the assistance of more Cantonese interpreters. I would definitely encourage more AABANY members or willing individuals from the general public who know Cantonese to come to these clinics. Your help would be appreciated!”
As with every clinic, free lunch was provided for all attorney and non-attorney volunteers by PBCS. We thank all 11 of our volunteers for coming to provide their invaluable assistance! As always, if you have any questions about upcoming clinics, please contact us at email@example.com. Thanks again for attending, and happy holidays!
Interpreters & Observers
Please make plans to join us as a volunteer at the next Manhattan Pro Bono Clinic on January 14, or please help us spread the word. More details here.
On November 19, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Services Committee and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) joined forces to hold a pro bono legal clinic at AAFE’s One Flushing Community Center in Queens.
This Saturday’s clinic used a multitude of digital and analog resources to provide top-notch services. We creatively used a hybrid Zoom call setup to bring in immigration attorneys (Jackson Chin and Judy Lee) and maintain a non-stop stream of consultations. One group of attorneys helped a client find actionable steps forward from his complex legal status, providing him with additional resources and referrals. AAFE generously made its printer and xerox machines available, which were critical in handling the larger-than-usual volume of Spanish-speaking clients we saw on Saturday. We were able to print out Spanish-language brochures about asylum, immigration eligibility for public benefits in New York State, and pro bono referrals.
AABANY Legal Intern Daniel Kang reflected on the work he witnessed at the Clinic: “Every attorney who volunteered their time on Saturday was deeply and professionally invested in the problems facing clients. I had the opportunity to shadow and complete intake forms for consultations held by Jackson Chin and Judy Lee. It was incredible seeing Jackson and Judy drill to the legal substance of each client’s case by asking the right questions and bringing their own legal expertise to the fore. I was also heartened by the presence of Spanish-speaking volunteer interpreters who successfully broke through the language barrier between volunteer attorneys and locally based clients.”
Not many of the attorneys who attended Saturday’s clinic practice immigration law or speak Spanish. Immigration law is a complicated practice area which changes with each Presidential administration. A 30-minute legal consultation may not help those in dire need of immigration legal services, but clinics like AABANY’s may be a client’s best hope. Immigrant clients come to AABANY consultations in their attempts at acquiring information about the legal process, updates in immigration policy, how to survive in New York, and legal referrals. As usual, AABANY welcomes any and all practicing attorneys across the city to sign up for future clinics—as well as non-attorney volunteers who can speak Spanish or Chinese. Free lunch is provided to all volunteers at our clinics.
AABANY thanks everyone again for coming to volunteer at Saturday’s clinic! Please join us at our upcoming clinics:
On October 15, 2022, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee held a Pro Bono Clinic at the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn from 12:00-3:30 PM.
In all, we met with 22 clients who had questions about contracts, fraud, housing, wills, trusts, and estates. Our volunteers are constantly learning and teaching one another. Many of this clinic’s volunteer force were law students or recent law school graduates, who put their memory of basic skills such as issue-spotting through the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) method to real-world use. We were also able to refer many clients to not-for-profit legal services to further help their case beyond the time constraints of our clinic session. Last, but not least, our volunteers demonstrated exceptional professionalism with the 4 C’s in mind: competency, confidentiality, conflict of interest, and compassion.
AABANY Legal Interns Daniel Kang and Connor Li recounted their experiences at the clinic. Daniel said, “Many clients came in with issues regarding estate and housing law. It was great having the chance to shadow attorneys like Kwok, May, and Johnny, and to see how their legal knowledge can be used to help people in their everyday lives. I sat in on a session where one client did not come with a particular issue, but with an information request regarding the drafting of a will—and the benefits of creating one. Attorney May Wong carefully explained the concept of a will, the legal challenges which might be confronted and avoided through the creation of one, and helped the client walk away with knowledge of a legal concept that will undoubtedly impact their family.”
Connor had a similar experience when sitting in on the consultations. He said, “I sat in on a session where attorney Johnny Thach was able to help a couple find the available resources to resolve their landlord-tenant issues. Especially for non-English speakers, and even for those of us that speak English as our native language, legal terminology can be confusing. For this couple, the resources we found online were filled with legal jargon, so it was great to see Johnny clearly articulate the issues and next steps in words that even I was able to understand.”
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped out this past Saturday. Your extra help was truly appreciated!
Interpreters & Shadowers
Kwok Kei Ng
Yiru (Lea) Jiang
Ming Chu (Judy) Lee
Please join us at our upcoming Pro Bono Clinics!
October 29 – registration closed at noon on 10/26 [remote option not available]
Manhattan Location – 33 Bowery, Community Room at Confucius Plaza, New York, NY 10002
November 19 – please register by 12pm, 11/16 [remote option available for NYS admitted attorneys only]
Queens Location – AAFE One Flushing Community Center, 133-29 41st Ave, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355
AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee would like to thank the remote and in-person volunteers who assisted at the Manhattan Chinatown pro bono clinic. This was the first pro bono clinic to take place at the 2 Allen Street, Manhattan location of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). PBCS and AABANY would like to thank AAFE for their co-sponsorship.
Fourteen attorneys, non-attorneys, and interpreter volunteers provided 20 clients with legal information and consultation services. Volunteers performed these services in a wide variety of languages and dialects- including Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Taishanese, and Fujianese- reflecting the ability of the pro bono clinic to meet the unique needs of NYC’s Chinatown community.
A substantial number of consultations pertained to housing issues, which remain relevant amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many clients were informed of their legal rights and choices as tenants. In one instance, a client, who is a tenant in rent-stabilized housing, discovered that landlords of rent-stabilized units could not arbitrarily raise the rent of such units for “maintenance-related issues” without the permission of the Homes and Community Renewal agency of New York. The client also discovered that they were provided with a rental lease that was not authorized for use in rent-stabilized housing units.
On Saturday, September 4, 2021, the Student Outreach Committee and the Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) returned to Asian and Asian American communities across New York City to promote PBCS’s newly-back in person Pro Bono Clinic and AABANY’s COVID-19 Legal Know-Your-Rights Resources as well as AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS).
The Brooklyn Chinatown volunteers were led by May Wong, Judy Lee and Kwok Ng of the PBCS Committee, the Koreatown volunteers were led by Victor Roh and Will Lee, a key leader and organizer of last year’s event, and the Manhattan Chinatown volunteers were led by Nicholas Loh and Dianna Lam, another key leader and organizer of last year’s event.
This campaign built off the energy and momentum of the initial flyering campaign held last year over the July 4 holiday weekend, during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This year’s campaign saw the addition of another community, Brooklyn Chinatown, and included over 40 volunteers from AABANY and law schools across the Greater New York area.
The results were impressive. Over 1,000 flyers in Chinese, Korean and English were distributed to local small businesses promoting AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, Know-Your-Rights information, and the LRIS. Our student volunteers had meaningful opportunities to interact with small business owners who have been hit hard by a staggering two years of anti-Asian hate and violence, COVID-19 business disruptions, and the devastating impact on Asian businesses as a result of xenophobia and racism.
This event would not have been possible without the co-sponsorship of AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee, AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, AABANY’s Young Lawyers Committee, Asian Americans for Equality, APALSAs from all across the Greater New York area and Mayer Brown.
On August 14, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee and Government Service and Public Interest (GSPI) Committee hosted a hybrid legal clinic and provided a “Know Your Rights” presentation for residential and commercial tenants on the topic of rent arrears and evictions. The event was held at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) in Manhattan’s Chinatown and was co-sponsored by AABANY, CCBA, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York (CCCNY).
During the presentation, which was shown on Zoom and screened in-person at CCBA, Rina Gurung, an associate court attorney at the New York State Unified Court System and co-chair of the GSPI Committee; Kensing Ng, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society in East Harlem; and Meghan Liu, a Cleary Gottlieb pro bono fellow at Legal Services NYC, discussed different types of cases that are brought in housing court, such as nonpayment, holdover, and housing part cases. They also explained which eviction moratoria are in effect due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized that these laws can change at any time. This was especially relevant, given the imminent expiration of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act on August 31, 2021; the expiration of the CDC’s moratorium on October 3, 2021; and the U.S. Supreme Court’s August 12, 2021 opinion striking down part of the New York moratorium.
Gurung, Liu, and Ng also provided resources that tenants could contact to file hardship declarations and explained the basics of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which provides rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears assistance to low- and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. They also explained that landlords seeking to sue their tenants should hire a lawyer and for those who received a marshal’s notice to go to court. In addition, the presenters explained differences in procedures for cases involving commercial tenants and provided resources for both landlords and tenants, phone numbers for free consultations for income-eligible individuals, and a guide to landlord disputes. Bei Yang, a contract attorney at On Call Counsel, interpreted the presentation live into Mandarin Chinese.
Eighteen clients attended the clinic for one-on-one legal consultations with AABANY volunteers, including 12 who had registered beforehand, one virtual caller, and five walk-ins. Topics ranged from housing and matrimonial law to immigration, fraud, medical malpractice, and personal injury. All available client consultation slots were successfully filled.
One client, an older man who only spoke Cantonese, came to the clinic because he had been scammed by a woman who claimed to be interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him online. She then asked him to send her a significant sum of money, and he did so before realizing that she was a fraud. Such occurrences are not uncommon, especially among elders, and individuals who have been or who know victims of similar types of fraud should not feel ashamed to tell their stories or speak to an attorney. Sharing these stories promotes awareness of these types of scams and helps others avoid them.
While AABANY volunteers were conducting one-on-one consultations, several clients watched the presentation in the CCBA sitting area. One client asked for the PBCS email to see if she could get a recording of the presentation and re-watch it, as she missed a portion of the live presentation. She also was impressed by clips from the Anti-Asian Violence PSA that explained what hate crimes were and how they can be reported, and asked for the link to the YouTube video, even though she spoke no English. After the one-on-one consultations concluded, volunteers debriefed the clinic and got to know each other over a post-clinic meal at Canton Lounge.
The PBCS Committee thanks Rina Gurung, Kensing Ng, and Meghan Liu for lending their expertise in rent arrears, eviction moratoria, and landlord and tenant rights and Bei Yang for providing a live interpretation of the presentation. The Committee would also like to thank Beatrice Leong, Francis Chin, Guiying Ji, Jae Hyung Ryu, Judy (Ming Chu) Lee, Karen Kithan Yau, Kwok Ng, Samantha Sumilang, and Shengyang Wu for providing clients with legal information and resources during one-on-one consultations; Kloe Chiu and Esther Choi for providing language interpretation during one-on-one consultations; Luna Fu and Wai Yip from AAFE for language interpretation and other assistance; Zhixian (Jessie) Liu and Poonam Gupta for acting as standby consultants for immigration-related questions; and Asako Aiba, Karen Lin, Kevin Hsi, Kwok Ng, May Wong, Megan Gao, and Olympia Moy for coordinating and staffing the clinic. AABANY would also like to thank CCBA, CCCNY, and AAFE for co-sponsoring this event. We are also grateful to the staff at Charles B. Wang for providing video resources on mental health and anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To learn more about the PBCS Committee and its work, click here and here. The PBCS Committee is tentatively planning to hold its next hybrid legal clinic on Saturday, September 18, 2021 between 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM. For up-to-date details about the clinic and registration information, please click here.