AABANY Women’s Committee and Paul, Weiss Host Lunch with Helen Wan, Author of The Partner Track

On Tuesday, October 25, Paul, Weiss and AABANY’s Women’s Committee invited alumna Helen Wan to host a lunch and discussion on the 2022 Netflix series, Partner Track, based off of her 2013 book, The Partner Track. The event drew about 50 attendees in person at the New York office of Paul, Weiss and about 30 more who joined online via Zoom. The book follows Ingrid Yung, a first-generation Chinese-American and the first lawyer in her family as she attempts to navigate the old-boy corporate culture of her law firm. As she is about to become the first minority woman to make partner at the firm, an offensive incident at a summer outing highlights her outsider status. 

Helen heavily based the book off of her own experiences with corporate culture and the legal profession. As the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, she went to law school and entered the legal profession as an aspirational goal and for the experience, seeing this as the American Dream. It was only when she came to Paul, Weiss that she experienced the social dynamic of the corporate environment – who was sinking or swimming or being called on for more involvement with clients and committees. As a young woman of color, she noticed the subtle differences and it played a role in her decision to seek other opportunities: “I think if there had been more representation and more people who looked like me in the senior ranks, I would have considered staying longer.”

It was after transitioning from a law firm to in-house counsel that she found the opportunity to dedicate more time to her passion of writing. She began writing The Partner Track 20 years earlier on the subway to work. It consisted of journal scribblings of observations about corporate life in the city, about people, group dynamics, work dynamics, and not just the legal field but even anecdotes from friends in different industries. In order to further perfect her story, Helen took writing classes at NYU night school and forced herself to attend after spending grueling hours at the law firm. It took several years of securing the right literary agent, publishing house, marketing approach, compatible creative visions, and 3 different endings before releasing the final version of The Partner Track.

While the book and series are decidedly fiction, it was very important to Helen to write as realistic, authentic, and unvarnished a portrayal of corporate life as possible. She saw a big overlap in workplace experience and culture across fields and the experiences of her friends and peers. Consequently, most of the characters were amalgams of people she knew or heard about from friends. The conversations and topics the book tackled became more real and concrete. It is this tangibility and intersectionality that makes The Partner Track special. It may speak a lot on Asian American lived experience but also on dating, corporate culture, materialism, personal values, etc. 

The Netflix adaptation, altered from the novel, tried to do “so many things at once, be so many different things to different audiences.” For instance, human resources colleagues at law firms Helen worked at also felt heard when the show discussed how prevalent racist undertones and commentary is present in corporate settings and the struggle HR representatives go through when ensuring that these moments are resolved properly and effectively. Other audiences expressed that they were unable to finish the show because it reminded them of the struggles associated with navigating American corporate life as a Asian-American. 

Helen repeatedly stated that she believes the conversations surrounding both the book and the show are optimistic rather than pessimistic. The story not only reveals a side of American corporate culture that often gets hidden behind fancy suits and tall buildings but also shows how valuable it is when audiences are represented rather than merely mentioned. The Partner Track shows that real life stories are relatable to everyone.

We thank Helen Wan for taking the time to discuss her book and its new Netflix series. For more information about her work and life, visit her website here. Helen, joined by actress Arden Cho and show runner Georgia Lee, presented the keynote remarks at the Saturday night Gala during at the 2022 Annual NAPABA Convention in Las Vegas on Nov. 5. Congratulations to Helen on the success of the book and series!

NAPABA Applauds Nomination of Roopali H. Desai to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2022
Contact: Mary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden nominated Roopali H. Desai to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. If confirmed, Desai would be the first South Asian American appellate judge on the Ninth Circuit.

“NAPABA congratulates Roopali H. Desai on her historic nomination to the Ninth Circuit,” said A.B. Cruz III, acting president of NAPABA. “Ms. Desai is a highly respected attorney, with nearly two decades of experience and a strong commitment to public interest. Her broad range of legal experience, representing both plaintiffs and defendants—including state agencies and municipalities, unions, corporations, elected officials, non-profit and public interest organizations, membership/professional organizations, individuals, and hospital and health care institutions, will be a welcome addition on the appellate court.”

Desai is a partner in the litigation group at Coopersmith Brockelman, PLC in Phoenix, AZ. She also serves as a professor of practice at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law. Earlier in her career, Desai clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder. She is endorsed by NAPABA’s affiliate the Arizona Asian American Bar Association. Desai received her Juris Doctor, Master of Public Health, and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona.

NAPABA thanks President Biden for nominating Roopali H. Desai and Senator Sinema and Senator Kelly for recommending and supporting her nomination.

###

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.

In the News: AABANY Member Karen Lin Receives Endorsement for Queens Civil Court Judge from Elected Officials

On June 3, 2022, The Flushing Times published an article on the various leaders who expressed their support and endorsement of AABANY member Karen Lin for Queens Civil Court Judge. Karen Lin would make history as the first East Asian female judge elected in Queens.

Karen was endorsed by State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assembly Member Catalina Cruz, Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, and Assembly Members Vivian Cook, Nily Rozic and Jenifer Rajkumar. In response, Karen said, “I am amazed by these extraordinary women who, by their presence and purpose in the New York State Legislature, impact our daily lives…Their collective talent, intellect and determination to get things done underscore why their representation matters.”

To read the full article, click here and go to page 18.

For more information about Karen Lin’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support her candidacy, please visit https://www.karenlin2022.com/.

NAPABA Applauds the Nomination of Judge Florence Y. Pan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2022
ContactMary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Florence Y. Pan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. If confirmed, Judge Pan would be the first Chinese American to serve on the D.C. Circuit, the “second most powerful court” in the nation.

“NAPABA congratulates Judge Pan on her historic nomination to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,” said A.B. Cruz III, acting president of NAPABA. “Judge Pan has a stellar record as an experienced jurist and she has received overwhelming bipartisan support in her prior confirmations to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Superior Court of the District of Columbia. She is well respected by her peers and is a leader in the Asian Pacific American community. We urge the Senate to quickly confirm Judge Pan.”

In 2021, Judge Pan was nominated by President Biden to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was confirmed by a vote of 68–30. She is the first Asian Pacific American woman to serve on that court.

In 2009, Judge Pan was nominated by President Obama to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the Senate confirmed her nomination by voice vote. Judge Pan was the first judicial nominee to be confirmed under the Obama Administration and she was the first Asian Pacific American judge to serve on any level in Washington, D.C.

Previously, she served for 10 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including two years as the deputy chief of the appellate division. She also held positions in the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice, notably in the Office of the Solicitor General. Judge Pan taught at Georgetown University Law Center and American University, Washington College of Law, and is active in her community having served as the Secretary of NAPABA’s Judicial Council.

She formerly served as a law clerk for the Honorable Ralph K. Winter, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Pan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford Law School.

NAPABA commends President Biden for nominating Judge Florence Y. Pan.

###

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.

AABANY Marches in Inaugural AAPI Cultural and Heritage Parade in New York City

On Sunday, May 15, 2022  New York City held its first ever AAPI Cultural and Heritage Parade.

As soon as AABANY Co-VP of Programs and Operations Beatrice Leong learned about this inaugural event, she leaped into action to make sure that AABANY members and friends can march up Sixth Ave to represent our bar association. Several email blasts and social media posts went out inviting people to join us at the parade line-up on Sunday morning.

The day started with foggy conditions, and AABANY was among the first groups on West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. We found a good spot to gather on the street, right between the Iroquois Hotel and the New York City Bar Association building. Over the next two hours, the block filled with numerous groups and associations representing a wide array of AAPI organizations and cultures. On our left were brightly colored floats, and on our right were fancy buggies that transported VIPs. Everyone was growing impatient to start marching. Shortly after 12 noon, we started to see floats moving forward onto Sixth Avenue, followed by the community groups and organizations. When AABANY turned down the Avenue of Americas, the sun came out and shined brightly. 

Everyone was happy to be part of this historic parade, which we hope will grow as big as the Thanksgiving Day parade in the future. 

After the parade, members enjoyed a sumptuous meal at Tang Pavilion. 

We thank member Lord Chester So for helping us obtain a banner on short notice!

We thank the following AABANY Members for joining and marching with us!

Founder, Rocky Chin
Hon. Vidya Pappachan
Executer Director Yang Chen
Co- Vice President of Programming and Operations, Beatrice Leong
Board Director Chris Kwok
Pro Bono Committee Co-Chairs: Eugene Kim and May Wong
Pro Bono Committee Vice Chair: Johnny Thach
GSPI Committee Chair: Kevin Hsi
Women’s Committee Co-Chair: Wen Zhang
Susan Shin, past AABANY President (2016) and her husband Rob
Lord Chester So
Priya Vanessa Outar
Jennifer Park
Grace Vee
Gary Yeung
Amelia Rusli
Xuanyou Chen
Marjorie Tsang

We were pleased to be joined by our friends at SABANY including SABANY President Austin D’Souza.
Thanks to everyone who helped make history with AABANY at this first Annual AAPI Heritage and Culture Parade!

AAS @ Hunter College Presents Beyond Representation: What the Image of Inclusion Conceals

Join AAS @ Hunter College on Wednesday March 16th at 5PM EST on Zoom for Beyond Representation: What the Image of Inclusion Conceals.

RSVP: https://bit.ly/AASMarch16

Join us for a discussion on the politics of representation in the cultural field and the problematics of visibility organized around hegemonic constructions of racial identities.

The Asian American Arts Movement, including the renowned art collective known as Godzilla (1990-2001), centered on representation and inclusion.

Today, with more Asian Americans in the arts, does inclusion conceal the transformative work that still needs to be done?

AABANY Joins the Fight for Fair Redistricting in New York

AABANY has been closely following the current redistricting cycle for drawing of New York State Assembly, Senate and Congressional districts.  On January 31, 2022, AABANY members Marilyn Go and Rocky Chin joined approximately 50 other demonstrators assembled outside the offices of the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) to demand that public hearings be held before any vote by the State Legislature on redistricting maps for Assembly, Senate and Congressional districts.  The rally, which was organized by APA VOICE Redistricting Task Force (“APA VOICE”), was supported by various Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)  and other minority community and civil rights groups, including AALDEF, Caribbean Equality Project, Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, Chinese-American Planning Council, Chinese Progressive Association, Common Cause – NY, Korean Community Services of Metropolitan NY, Latino Justice PRLDEF, MinKwon Center for Community Action, OCA-NY, South Queens Women’s March, and Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus.  

The speakers at the rally expressed concern that AAPI and other minority groups would have no input into the redistricting process.  As Marilyn Go noted, the New York State Constitution contemplated that the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) would have the primary responsibility to draw new redistricting maps, but only after extensive public hearings.  However, due to a partisan split with commissioners deadlocked, the IRC submitted two sets of redistricting maps to the Legislature on January 3, 2022 and, notwithstanding a directive from the Legislature, did not redraw maps by the January 25th deadline set.  The following day, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins issued a joint statement to announce that the Legislature would draw its own maps and vote on the maps by the end of the following week.  

At the time of the rally, LATFOR had neither issued any maps nor scheduled any hearings, despite three letters sent by APA VOICE, the last letter of which AABANY and about 60 other organizations had endorsed.  Later on January 31, the Legislature issued a set of redistricting maps for proposed Congressional districts and maps for Assembly and Senate districts the following day.  The Legislature then proceeded to vote to approve maps on the third day after their issuance and Governor Hochul signed the bill setting Congressional districts on February 1, 2022 and State Senate and Assembly districts on February 2, 2022.  

Current redistricting efforts are of particular significance to the AAPI community in New York, because of the substantial growth of the AAPI population since the last census — from 1,038,388 in 2010 to 1,385,144 in 2020.  The increase in the number of AAPIs accounted for 42.1% of the population growth in New York State and the AAPI community now constitutes 15.8% of the population in New York City and 9.5% in New York State.  See https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=New%20York%20State%20population%202010&tid=DECENNIALCD1132010.P1.  

Despite their increasing numbers, few AAPIs have been elected to state office in New York State.  There are only three AAPI State Senators out of 63 in New York Senate (Senators Jeremy Cooney, John Liu and Kevin Thomas, the latter two being the first AAPIs elected Senators in 2018) and four AAPI Assembly Members serving in the 150-person State Assembly (Assembly Members Ron Kim, Zohran Mamdani, Yuh- Line Niou and Jennifer Rajkumar).  Congresswoman Grace Meng became the first AAPI representative from New York to serve in Congress when she was elected in 2013.   

Although the redistricting maps will set political boundaries for voters for the next decade, the New York State legislature drew and approved map lines in one week.  The experience in New York, as well as what has been reported as occurring in many other states, have led to much cynicism about the politicization of redistricting in this current cycle.  However, voters do matter and the redistricting process is vital for groups such as AAPIs and other groups that lack political clout.  In fact, AAPI groups were among the most vocal in hearings before the IRC to express their dissatisfaction over proposed lines.  Even though they ultimately did not have a say in the final drawing of districts, AAPIs let their concerns be known.  For example, community groups advocated for the vibrant South Asian community in the Richmond Hill/South Ozone park area not be divided into seven different Assembly districts, as it is currently.  The IRC drew districts similar to that proposed by APA VOICE and other groups in a Unity Map to have this community wholly within one assembly district.  However, under the bills passed, this community is now divided into three assembly districts.   Much remains to be done.

The redistricting process will soon begin for New York City.  AAPIs have exercised and should again exercise their opportunity to inform politicians that they are involved and their interests cannot be ignored. If you want to know how you can work with AABANY on this issue, reach out to the Issues Committee here: https://www.aabany.org/page/154

NAPABA Applauds Nomination of Jennifer Sung to the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and Shalina Kumar to the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

WASHINGTON – On June 30, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Jennifer Sung to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Shalina D. Kumar to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. If confirmed, Ms. Sung would be President Biden’s first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) to serve on the appellate court and the first AAPI to serve on the Ninth Circuit in Oregon. Judge Kumar would be the first AAPI Article III judge on the federal courts in Michigan.

“NAPABA congratulates Jennifer Sung on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Judge Shalina Kumar on her nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan,” said A.B. Cruz III, President of NAPABA. “It is indeed a historic slate for the AAPI legal community. If confirmed, Judge Kumar would be the first AAPI Article III judge in the state of Michigan. President Biden’s intent to nominate Ms. Sung is critical for our community to increase the visibility of AAPI jurists on the appellate bench. Of the 179 authorized federal appellate court judges, there are only 10 AAPIs who are actively serving.”

Ms. Sung is currently a member of the Oregon Employment Relations Board, where she adjudicates disputes involving labor relations for an estimated 3,000 Oregon employers and 250,000 workers in the public and private sector covered by collective bargaining laws. Prior to her appointment to the Board, she was a partner at McKanna Bishop Joffee, LLP in Portland. Earlier in her career, Ms. Sung was an executive board member of the New York chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Judge Kumar currently serves as Chief Judge of the Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court in Michigan. She has been on the bench since 2007, has served as presiding judge of the Adult Treatment Court, and was appointed Chief Judge by the Michigan Supreme Court in 2018. Judge Kumar previously practiced at the Weiner & Cox law firm and served on the executive board of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association and as a member of the Women’s Bar Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and her law degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy.

###

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of approximately 60,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.

In The News: President Terry Shen and Past President Linda Lin’s Op-Ed on the Lack of Asian-American Representation in New York’s Courts Published in City & State

On May 20, 2021, City & State published an Op-Ed written by President Terry Shen and Past President Linda Lin of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.

In the Op-Ed, President Shen and Past President Lin describe how a wave of Anti-Asian violence swept across New York City in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and how the city government’s lackluster response to these incidents has not been enough to protect the AAPI community. According to the article, stronger Asian-American representation in New York’s courts can help to solve these issues. The article also highlights Kathy Hirata Chin, the only Asian-American candidate for the New York Court of Appeals, arguing that her appointment would be a landmark step towards greater racial diversity, justice, and equity. As stated by President Shen and Past President Lin: “Our government must be diverse to fulfill Lincoln’s vision of a nation ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ The need in our city and state is urgent and necessary.”

To read the full article, click here.

NAPABA Applauds the Historic Nominations of Judge Zahid N. Quraishi, Judge Florence Y. Pan, and Regina M. Rodriguez to the U.S. District Court

For Immediate Release: Date: March 30, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Zahid N. Quraishi to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Judge Florence Y. Pan to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and Regina Rodriguez to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

If confirmed, Judge Quraishi will be the first AAPI to serve as a federal district court judge in New Jersey and the first American Muslim to serve as an Article III judge in the United States; Judge Pan will be the first AAPI woman to serve as a federal district court judge in the District of Columbia; and Rodriguez would be the first AAPI to serve as an Article III judge in the 10th Circuit.

“NAPABA offers its congratulations to Judge Quraishi, Judge Pan, and Gina Rodriguez on their historic nominations,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “We applaud President Biden for nominating these well-qualified candidates and taking action to nominate a representative judiciary. These nominations are particularly meaningful to our community, especially in the wake of anti-Asian violence. It is particularly notable that Judge Quraishi would become the first Muslim American Article III judge, and that Judge Pan and Ms. Rodriguez will both have groundbreaking roles if confirmed. We urge the Senate to quickly confirm them.”

Judge Zahid N. Quraishi

In 2019, Judge Quraishi was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey becoming the first AAPI to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey. Prior to his appointment, he was Chair of Riker Danzig’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Group and his firm’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Previously he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and Assistant Chief Counsel and trial attorney with the Department of Homeland Security. A U.S. Army veteran, Quraishi served as a military prosecutor and achieved the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal; Army Combat Action Badge; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service & Expeditionary Medals; Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, among other awards for his service. Judge Quraishi is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Rutgers Law School. Judge Quraishi is endorsed by NAPABA’s affiliate APALA-NJ and is the recipient of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey Professional Achievement Award in 2019.

Judge Florence Y. Pan

In 2009, Judge Pan was nominated by President Obama to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and was confirmed by unanimous consent by the Senate. She was the first judicial nominee to be confirmed under the Obama Administration. In 2016, Judge Pan was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Previously, she served for 10 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including two years as the deputy chief of the appellate division. She also held positions in the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice, notably in the Office of the Solicitor General. Judge Pan taught at Georgetown University Law Center and American University, Washington College of Law, and is active in her community having served as the Secretary of NAPABA’s Judicial Council. She formerly served as a law clerk for the Honorable Ralph K. Winter, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Pan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford Law School. Judge Pan is endorsed by NAPABA’s affiliate APABA-DC.

Regina M. Rodriguez

Regina M. Rodriguez is a partner at WilmerHale where she handles complex litigation matters and serves as co-chair of the trial practice group. Previously she worked as a partner at Hogan Lovells US LLP and at Faegre & Benson LLP. Earlier in her career, Rodriguez served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, where she served as the Deputy Chief of the Civil Division and later as Chief of the Civil Division. She received her J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law and her B.S. with honors from the University of Iowa. Rodriguez is endorsed by NAPABA’s affiliate APABA-CO. She is also active with the Hispanic National Bar Association and serves as a member on its Law Enforcement Reform & Racial Justice Committee.