On Thursday, July 20th, 2023, the AABANY Membership Committee held the first event of the Meet the Board Series this year, at which attendees heard from AABANY President Karen Kim and AABANY Board Director Won Shin about their respective careers. The event was hosted by FTI Consulting in Midtown Manhattan, and co-sponsored by AABANY’s Women’s, Government Service & Public Interest, and Prosecutors’ Committees.
At the beginning of the night, attendees chatted and mingled over dinner before sitting down to participate in a Q&A session with Karen Kim and Won Shin moderated by Membership Director Christopher Bae. Christopher started by asking how the two became involved with AABANY, their most memorable cases, and how working with AABANY has changed their careers.
Won talked about his early career, starting with his work as a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz for six years, his position as Assistant Solicitor General at the New York State Attorney General’s office and his stint in complex frauds and cybercrime in the United States Attorney’s Office. Finally, Won described his entrance into his office’s appeals unit, where he now serves as Chief of Appeals of the Criminal Division.
Karen spoke about her work at a small firm doing mainly litigation, residential real estate, and construction law, before serving as Vice President of Operations and Strategic Development at Minority Corporate Counsel Association in D.C. and finally landing a position at QBE Insurance through former AABANY president Linda Lin. Karen believes her experience at the small firm she first worked at prepared her for her presidency at AABANY, because she worked on “a hodgepodge of everything” in both positions.
Christopher turned to the guests for one last question before taking inquiries from the audience. “So how do mentees make themselves stand out so that you would want to mentor them? What can younger attorneys be doing to find more than a mentorship in name and instead build an actual relationship with you?”
Karen paused to think of an answer. “Well, I like chocolate.”
After around half an hour of audience questions, Christopher concluded with a round of rapid fire questions for Karen and Won. We learned that Won’s favorite legal show is “Jury Duty,” and Karen’s favorite judge, past or present, is Judge Judy (the TV judge, not Hon. Judy Kim). The evening wrapped up with more mingling and enjoying food and drinks in FTI’s stylish and modern space.
Thank you to Karen Kim and Won Shin for sharing your experience and wisdom with us, and Christopher Bae for moderating an insightful conversation. We look forward to hosting more Board Members in the Meet the Board Series. To learn more about the Membership Committee, go here.
On Saturday, April 29, 2023, AABANY members celebrated AAPI Heritage Month (a few days early) with a night of laughs at the Very Big Very Asian (VBVA) Comedy Festival at the Broadway Comedy Club on West 53rd Street. Nearly 30 AABANY members and friends enjoyed a hilarious and wildly entertaining lineup of standup comedians of Asian descent. As was the case for the VBVA Festival in 2022, the jokes continued to be “Very Big” and “Very Asian.”
Shoutout to James Han, the VBVA team and Broadway Comedy Club for putting together a great show and giving AABANY front row seats. Broadway Comedy Club regularly hosts special comedy events featuring AAPI comedians throughout the year – please check them out.
Congrats to Vishal Chander on winning the raffle, a swag bag of items featuring various AAPI vendors! Besides being an active AABANY member, Vishal is serving as a Co-Chair of the Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee this year.
After Broadway Comedy Club, the attendees enjoyed ramen and conversations at Hide-Chan Ramen next door.
On November 19, 2022, the Prosecutors, ADR & and Women’s Committees teamed up to learn self defense at the NY Wutang Chinese Martial Arts Institute (“NY Wutang”) in downtown Flushing.
During these times of anti-Asian violence, AABANY members wanted to be prepared. Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Joe Gim first taught members about the New York laws on the justification defense, particularly in connection with the use of physical force in defense of a person.
Next, the Master of NY Wutang and Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Dave Chiang trained the attendees. Here, Dave wore his ADA hat as well as his Master Chiang hat.
Master Chiang taught the group that the first step is to be aware of one’s surroundings: “Don’t keep your head down looking at your phone.” The group also learned how to quickly turn their camera on to try to capture photos or video of the perpetrator.
Next, Master Chiang warmed everyone up with stretching exercises and the group practiced shouting, “Stay away! Leave me alone!” so that witnesses will know that you are not the initial aggressor.
The group then learned that the three weakest parts of an attacker are their eyes, throat and groin. Master Chiang taught attendees how to strike and target those body parts during an attack. The group practiced with each other and took away valuable information we will not soon forget.
Thanks to all the co-sponsoring Committees for putting together an informative and useful program on self-defense during these challenging times, and thanks to Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Joe Gim for teaching us the law on self-defense and Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair (and Kung Fu Master) David Chiang for teaching those who attended how to protect themselves while following the law.
To learn more about the Prosecutors Committee, click here. To learn more about the ADR Committee, click here. To learn more about the Women’s Committee, click here.
On October 13, over two dozen law students and New York Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) braved the pouring rain for the Prosecutors’ Committee and Student Outreach Committee’s first-ever mixer. Pizza slices in hand, ADAs from across the five boroughs and Nassau County shared their wealth of experience and helpful advice with law students interested in following them into prosecutors’ offices.
Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair David Chiang made clear that the Asian American prosecutors at this meeting, whose roles ranged from bureau chiefs to brand-new ADAs, were there on a mission. “Asian Americans are incredibly underrepresented” in the prosecution field, Chiang told the room. While many prosecutors have mentors and networks that help them get ADA positions and rise up the ranks, Asian Americans may not have the same breadth of resources for doing so. Building support networks for career advancement in the ADA space was the reason why ADAs and Prosecutors’ Committee members met with law students that night.
“I want aspiring prosecutors to learn what it’s like to be in the office,” Devin Ly, a Kings County ADA, said. While the workload could be heavy and the demands sky high, he and his colleagues stressed that it’s worthwhile because of the good they were doing for their communities. For many of the prosecutors in attendance, their jobs felt meaningful not through tallying convictions or locking up their fellow borough residents. Rather, many AAPI prosecutors see their job as an opportunity to seek justice more holistically. Talking to students, these prosecutors shared stories, the philosophies of their offices, and how they work hard to do right by defendants and their communities. While the problems of incarceration should still be considered by prosecutors, a prosecutor’s job is ultimately to look beyond someone’s criminal record and the circumstances of the case and ask whether justice is best served by alternatives like social services or other pretrial interventions that would better serve the defendant and the community.
“It was awesome to meet all these prosecutors from all these bureaus!” Andy Xu, a second-year law student from Cardozo exclaimed. “It’s great that AABANY opens things like this up for us!” Justin Lee, a third-year law student from NYU, added.
The event was co-hosted by the AABANY Student Outreach Committee and the Prosecutors’ Committee. We would like to thank Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Cleary’s DE&I team for providing us with space as well as food and drinks for the event.
With these lessons in mind and with so many connections made between these future lawyers and mentors, and maybe even future colleagues, we can’t wait to see where this collaboration goes from here.
To learn more about the Prosecutors’ Committee please click here. To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee please click here.
On July 28, 2022, AABANY hosted its first-ever Membership Open House at King & Spalding LLP. With over 50 attendees, the Membership Open House gave new and prospective members the opportunity to speak with Board Members and Committee Chairs to learn about the work AABANY does and how new and prospective members can get involved.
Membership Director Christopher Bae in his introductory remarks welcomed attendees and thanked Board Members and Committee Chairs for coming. Former AABANY President Andy Hahn (2004) then highlighted the importance of getting involved with an organization like AABANY.
This AABANY Membership Open House spotlighted the Young Lawyers Committee, the Litigation Committee, and the Prosecutors Committee. Jasmine Chean from the Young Lawyers Committee, Lois Ahn from the Litigation Committee, and David Hsin-Tai Chiang from the Prosecutors Committee each spoke on why members should get involved with their committees.
Attendees were encouraged to network, enjoy food and drinks, and meet with the chairs of 23 committees that were present at the Open House. New and recent members were given the opportunity to participate in a raffle where two winners won either a Zoom or coffee meet-and-greet with former AABANY Presidents Andy Hahn (2004) or Brian Song (2019). Congratulations to Tian Chi Ma who won the raffle to meet Andy and to Stephanie Lu who won the raffle to meet Brian.
Thank you to King & Spalding LLP for hosting AABANY’s Membership Open House, and thank you to former AABANY Presidents Andy Hahn and Brian Song for volunteering for the new member raffle! Thank you to Co-Vice Presidents of Programs & Operations Joseph Eng, Jr. and Beatrice Leong, and Membership Director Christopher Bae for putting together this successful event!
We look forward to seeing everyone at the next Open House in October. In the meantime, if you have any questions about how to get more involved in AABANY and maximize your membership experience, feel free to reach out to the Membership Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AABANY Prosecutors Committee finally held their Brooklyn get together after being postponed since December due to the Omnicron variant of COVID. Over 50 former and current prosecutors from Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau and Manhattan joined Committee Co-Chairs, David Chiang of the Queens DA’s Office and Joe Gim of the Nassau County DA’s Office to honor James Lin, who recently retired after 30 years of service at DANY (District Attorney New York) and KCDA (Kings County District Attorney). Prosecutors have been on the front lines of the crime wave that has struck New York City, and it was great to share the stories of our challenges and our efforts to overcome them! We also were joined by AABANY Board Member Karen Yau, who works on AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, and Hannah Yu, DANY’s Chief of the Hate Crimes Unit. We are so excited to see so many Asian Americans representing the people of New York State! To learn more about the Prosecutors Committee, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/73.
On May 25, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) hosted an information briefing about the AAVTF’s activities and about the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers for the event were AABANY President Terry Shen; Board Director, Issues Committee Co-Chair and Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair Chris Kwok; Board Director and past Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee Co-Chair Karen Yau; PBCS Committee Co-Chair Karen King; Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair Joseb Gim; and Executive Director Yang Chen.
Chris and President Shen gave the opening remarks, introducing the event, and thanking all the attendees for coming.
After these remarks, Chris began the presentation, explaining how the publicity about anti-Asian violence generated in mainstream media has suddenly catapulted Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) into the public consciousness. Unlike before, Asians are now viewed as a group that experiences discrimination and violence, just like any other minority. Chris explained that these realizations politically empower AAPIs to make change in the political system as Asians become more aware about race and the ways in which it affects them. The AAPI identity has also been recreated through artwork, publications, and other initiatives. Asian non-profits have also begun receiving a large influx of donations that have great potential to aid the AAPI community. Chris also discussed the history of AABANY’s report and how Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about the virus incited a wave of anti-Asian hate and violence during early 2020. These events culminated in the report’s publication in February 2021. Karen then discussed the report’s publication process which involved the feedback and support of bar associations, law firms and other organizations. The subsequent publicity generated by the report was cemented by the anti-Asian shootings in Atlanta. Ever since, Karen explained, AABANY has frequently been requested to speak at numerous events and on many media outlets. Many initiatives proposed by the report have also since been implemented.
Yang then went on to discuss the genesis of the AAVTF, made up of members of the Academic Committee, Issues Committee, Legal Referral and Information Services (LRIS) Committee, PBCS Committee, Prosecutors Committee, and Student Outreach Committee as well as Immediate Past President Sapna Palla, President Shen, and President-Elect Will Ng. Yang also explained how the AAVTF was founded to realize the goals outlined in the report, focusing on three prongs of action: education/communication, research, and advocacy. Ever since, the AAVTF has pressed for hate crime prosecutions in DA Offices, published Know Your Rights Brochures for community members on what to do if they face an anti-Asian bias incident or hate crime, organized speaking engagements, begun data tracking for incidents, formed the Hate Eradication Active Response Team (HEART), and much more to raise awareness and combat anti-Asian violence.
Joe Gim, prosecutor and the Chief of the new Hate Crimes Bureau at the Nassau County DA Office next discussed the role of the Prosecutors’ Committee in the AAVTF, which was primarily to shed light on criminal statutes and on the gaps between law enforcement’s understanding and implementation of these statutes. This information, Joe explained, is used to strengthen AABANY’s initiatives and advocacy efforts.
Chris affirmed this statement, reiterating his thanks to the AAVTF and the indispensable support it provides in leading the conversation about anti-Asian violence. Chris also pointed out that any movements that fight back against hate, regardless of which group is targeted, are fighting against a common enemy of structural racism.
Yang and Karen Yau went on to promote the Turning the Tide (T3) Project, which is hosted at the Asian American Law Fund of New York (AALFNY) to raise money for the AAVTF’s initiatives, research, and advocacy combating anti-Asian hate and violence. Karen King also gave a special shoutout to the HEART initiative, encouraging the attendees to volunteer their time to help connect victims of anti-Asian violence with legal aid and other resources. She also encouraged attendees to involve their law firms as sponsors for projects and events.
Chris then closed the presentation by pointing out how the police’s lackluster response to hate crimes is in part due to the historical invisibility of the AAPI community. He also explained how this invisibility has its roots in the 1853 People v. Hall case where George Hall, a white man, was convicted but then released after murdering a Chinese miner. Chris explained how Hall appealed his release on the basis of a California statute which prevented people of color from testifying against whites. Chris also emphasized that supporting the Black Lives Matter movement does not detract from support for the AAPI cause. To illustrate the importance of building a multi-racial coalition, Chris recounted an interview he had with the celebrated documentary director Spike Lee for his film about New York City and race that will be released in September 2021. Lee explained that he had chosen to interview Chris because “people were asking where the Asians were. And I listened.”
After the presentations, the discussion was opened to the attendees for a question and answer session.
Karen Lin, PBCS Committee Co-Chair asked whether or not AABANY would advocate for including AAPI history in the public school curriculum. Yang answered by reiterating AABANY’s support of any educational initiatives, pointing to AABANY’s trial reenactments project as an example.
AABANY member Jennifer Luo then pointed the discussion towards the lack of successful hate crime prosecutions. Joe explained that law enforcement currently lacks sufficient resources and infrastructure to investigate hate crimes. As hate crimes are unique in that the prosecutor must prove that the perpetrator was motivated to commit the crime due to racial bias, this process requires more investigation and information which the police currently lacks. To address this issue, Joe also proposed creating a database of hate crimes and bias incidents that would allow law enforcement to easily access information and also to enable community members to report incidents more efficiently. He also mentioned the newly minted COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would allocate funding towards combating hate crimes. Chris also added that AABANY is planning a Candidates’ Forum that would give AABANY and its members an opportunity to ask about measures being considered to protect the AAPI community from violence.
David Ahn then asked about AABANY’s plans to monitor hate crimes going forward. Chris answered by citing AABANY’s involvement in a case in Flushing, Queens where the perpetrator, despite revealing his racist sentiments in a text sent to the New York Times, was not charged with a hate crime. After AABANY’s advocacy in the DA’s Office, the perpetrator was charged with a hate crime. Chris also added that, though not every case would lead to a hate crime enhancement, AABANY is continuing to monitor the news and other outlets for advocacy opportunities. Yang also explained that the HEART initiative would help AABANY keep track of the incidents, connect with the community, and improve AABANY’s advocacy efforts. Karen Yau also pointed out that there are other alternatives to criminal prosecutions that victims would be able to pursue if they wished.
Chris then shared his own experiences with anti-Asian violence growing up, recounting a story where his friends were assaulted by a white supremacist gang while exiting a movie theater in Queens. He also described his efforts to reconnect with them hoping to preserve their stories and voices as a part of the history of anti-Asian violence.
AABANY Treasurer William Hao also discussed his own involvement in the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings while on a call with former U.S. Attorney Byung J. (“BJay”) Pak, the FBI, and local law enforcement. Will shared that even though the media had severely twisted the narrative by promoting the perpetrator’s claim that he had not been motivated by racism, the call served to give Asians a voice in revealing the truth of the events and reshaping the story. Will concluded by emphasizing the importance of AAPI representation in government and law enforcement.
Marilyn Go (USMJ EDNY, ret’d) then asked about AABANY’s ability to speak out during majority political forums. Chris answered by pointing out the difficulty of entering majority forums, but also noted that events recorded on Zoom would allow AABANY to hold candidates accountable for their words. Yang also referenced the City Council District One Candidates’ Forum which did take questions from AABANY regarding the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. Jennifer then asked about the possibility of keeping a record of candidates’ responses regarding issues of anti-Asian violence. Chris responded that AABANY’s future plans to hold a Manhattan DA Candidates’ forum would allow AABANY to record responses from the candidates on that issue.
AABANY thanks all of the attendees for their time and their commitment to serving the AAPI community. To view the recording of the event, click here.
The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Brian Lee, founding member and former Co-Chair of the Prosecutors’ Committee, on being promoted to Deputy Executive ADA for General Litigation at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. He is the first Korean-American Executive-level Assistant District Attorney in New York State. In his new role, Brian will oversee the office’s general litigation division.
Brian is a graduate of State University of New York at Albany and Pace University School of Law. His previous positions include serving as the Chief of both District Court Trial Bureau and County Court Trial Bureau, and working at the Queens Criminal Court, Intake, Appeals, Narcotic Trials, and Domestic Violence Bureaus.
Please see the announcement below released by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office for more information on Deputy Executive ADA Brian Lee:
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
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.
On Friday, August 16, the Membership Committee together with the Prosecutors’ Committee hosted an outing to Yankee Stadium to watch the first-place Yankees take on the Cleveland Indians. Thanks to our sponsor, Esquire Deposition Solutions, 40 AABANY members and their guests were able to buy tickets at just $5 per person. Early arrivers got a free Yankees beach towel. Half of the tickets were standing room and the other half were seated. Membership Director Beatrice Leong designated the Toyota Terrace on the field level as the meeting point for people to gather and enjoy watching the game from center field or on the numerous screens by the bar at Toyota Terrace. AABANY members and their friends congregated at Toyota Terrace throughout the evening to watch the Yanks hold on to their early lead over the Indians. During the 7th inning, the Yanks loaded the bases and threatened to increase their lead significantly, but the Indians changed pitchers and managed to stave off a rout by the Yanks.
Friday night proved to be a great summer evening to enjoy America’s favorite pastime, in good company, complete with a free drink and hot dog for those who got the standing room tickets.
Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks again to Esquire Deposition Solutions for sponsoring. See you at the next AABANY outing!