NAPABA Hosts Part 2 of its Summer Judicial Series, “APA Judges on the Federal Bench”

On May 7, AABANY co-sponsored a panel of Asian Pacific American judges as part two of NAPABA’s Summer Judicial Series. The event was hosted by the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). In addition to AABANY, the event was co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area (APABA-DC), the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund (AEF), the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA), the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA), and the South Asian Bar Association of Georgia (SABA-GA).

In honor of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month as well as to encourage the growing number of young Asian American lawyers aspiring to the bench, GAPABA and NAPABA organized the panel to share the stories and careers of trailblazing APA judges. The panelists were AABANY member Hon. Denny Chin, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Hon. James C. Ho of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Hon. Sri Srinivasan, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit, Hon. Jennifer Choe-Groves of the U.S. Court of International Trade, Hon. Theodore D. Chuang, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and Hon. Lucy H. Koh, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The panel was moderated by GAPABA Board Member Michael C. Wu and Byung Jin (BJay) Pak, Partner at Alston & Bird. GAPABA President and Of Counsel at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner Angela Hsu, GAPABA President-Elect and Associate General Counsel at Delta Air Lines Timothy Wang, and GAPABA Communications Co-Chair and Law Clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Prathyusha Chenji were also in attendance.

Michael and BJay posed several questions to the panelists regarding their backgrounds and experience on the bench. All of the panelists expressed how their upbringing in the U.S. made them keenly aware of their “otherness” and in some cases, motivated them towards public service. Judge Chin (a former AABANY President, 1992-93) shared his background as an immigrant from Hong Kong and his experience growing up in New York City. Judge Chin also noted that, as one of the few Asians in his school and at his work, he was constantly under scrutiny and pressure to perform well. “I felt like Yao Ming,” he stated. Several panelists also reported that they still faced microaggressions in their professional lives, despite their position as judges.

When asked about their career paths and perspectives on diversity on the bench, all of the panelists described varied experiences in private practice, the legislative branch, and executive branch of the government before becoming a federal judge. Many of the panelists also expressed how diversity in the federal government could only lead to better and more informed decisions on behalf of the American people. Many of the panelists also shared their own stories about how they were inspired and encouraged by seeing diverse individuals serving in government and in public positions. All of the judges expressed how the justice system in America ought to be color blind and that all individuals should have the right to a fair trial regardless of their background. Judge Chin also discussed the importance of community and unity despite having diverse perspectives. When asked to respond to Supreme Court Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor’s discussion on the threat of disunity to national security, Judge Chin concurred, pointing out how even after President Biden’s election, Americans have yet to listen to each other without politicizing every single issue.

The moderators then closed the panel with several questions about advice any of the judges might have for young attorneys, law clerks, and others aspiring to become judges themselves. The panelists expressed how being a judge begins with being a good attorney. All of the judges emphasized the importance of relationships and teamwork, of maintaining a good reputation, and of being respectful and professional to all.

AABANY thanks NAPABA for hosting this series and also thanks the justices for their trailblazing example to the APA community. To watch a recording of the event, click here.

AABANY Hosts Breakfast Meeting with Chief Judge Srinivasan for Law Students

On Thursday, February 27, AABANY hosted a breakfast event for law students with Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, U.S. Circuit Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, at The Smith in NoMad. Judge Srinivasan was in town for AABANY’s 2020 Annual Dinner where he was presented the Public Service Leadership Award, and the judge was gracious enough to take the time the next morning to advise students pursuing careers in law. Judge Srinivasan familiarized students with his many life experiences by speaking about his upbringing, education, and career. Everything from his judicial philosophy to his love of sports provided attendees with important nuggets of wisdom and essential insights. 

Judge Srinivasan elaborated extensively on the three guiding principles that have shaped his life and his service: doing great work, being a good person, and assuming the best of those around you. 

For his first tenet, Judge Srinivasan addressed the familial and social pressures that are widely prevalent in the Asian-American community, acknowledging the constant push to “climb the ladder” and focus heavily on quantifiable success. However, despite this pressure, he insists that the goal of students shouldn’t be to chase after the most lucrative opportunities to bolster a resume, but instead, students should strive to give their best and humble effort to everything that they do, no matter how small or invisible. Such persistence will pay off and be recognized in the long-run. 

Regarding his second principle, the judge drew heavily from his own experiences with people in the legal field. He insisted that acting transparently in good-faith and modeling kind behavior will in turn make people feel heard which increases the likelihood of reaching mutually beneficial agreements. Judge Srinivasan remarked on how surprised he has been in the past by the benefits of simply listening to others. His way of approaching interacting with other people has influenced those around him, garnering the respect and trust of his peers. 

Finally, Judge Srinivasan insists that, despite our initial inclination to expect the worst of others, there are pleasant surprises to expecting the best of others. Especially in such a partisan environment, he insists that it is important to treat traditional “adversaries” not as ill-intentioned individuals but as normal people with differences in how they approach universal problems. By viewing other people as different rather than evil, the judge believes that compromises can be reached more quickly and effectively. 

After giving students background on his experiences and philosophy, Judge Srinivasan opened himself up for questions from the attendees. Many of the students focused particularly on how they can better represent their ethnic communities and perform optimally in the field. 

Since some of the students present are leaders of affinity groups on their respective campuses, the judge applauded the efforts of the student leaders and addressed the importance of student advocacy groups. He referenced a common saying by his sister, “it’s hard to be what you can’t see,” to reveal how these minority cultural groups give face to their community and provide the next generation with role models to look up to. While he acknowledged this responsibility to represent is daunting and can feel lonely at times, Judge Srinivasan believes that student leaders should reframe their thinking to feel excited in the face of adversity. 

Regarding how to achieve success in the field, the judge suggested looking for mentors who look out for your best interests, preparing for cases thoroughly, and embracing fluidity in argumentation. On a concluding note, Judge Srinivasan stressed the importance of establishing credibility in the forum by advocating zealously while still demonstrating objectivity. 

AABANY thanks Judge Srinivasan for his valuable time and thoughtful advice! If you are curious about the judge’s work, please feel free to click the link below as the D.C. Court of Appeals is one of the only appeals courts that livestream oral arguments on its website. Details at

Thanks to AABANY Legal Intern David Jung for the write-up and photos.

NAPABA Expresses Disappointment That an Asian Pacific American Was Not Nominated to the United States Supreme Court; Vows to Support the President’s Nominee

For Immediate Release
March 16, 2016

For More Information, Contact​​:
Brett Schuster, Communications Manager
202-775-9555; [email protected]

President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Judge Merrick
Garland to serve on the United States Supreme Court. The National Asian
Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) congratulates Judge Garland on
his nomination.

urge the Senate to hold a fair hearing and a timely vote on the
President’s nominee, Judge Garland. It is critical to the stability of
our judicial system that the Supreme Court’s vacant seat be filled
promptly,” said Jin Y. Hwang, president of NAPABA. “Although we are
disappointed that the President missed an opportunity to make history by
nominating the first Asian Pacific American to the Supreme Court, we
celebrate the fact that Judge Sri Srinivasan was interviewed and vetted
for a possible nomination, which represented the first time that an
Asian Pacific American has ever been interviewed and put on ‘the short
list’ for the Supreme Court.”

congratulates Judge Garland and urges the United States Senate to
fulfill its constitutional responsibility and proceed with a timely vote
to confirm him to the Supreme Court.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or [email protected].



Srinivasan Becomes First South Asian American
Federal Appellate Court Judge In Nation’s History

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate voted 97 to 0 to confirm Srikanth (“Sri”) Srinivasan as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Mr. Srinivasan is both the first South Asian American federal appellate court judge in the history of the United States and the first Asian Pacific American to serve on the D.C. Circuit.

“We are deeply gratified that the Senate has confirmed Mr. Srinivasan today,” said Wendy C. Shiba, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). “Given that over 3.5 million South Asian Americans live in the United States, it is particularly noteworthy that Mr. Srinivasan has made history by becoming the first-ever South Asian American federal appellate court judge. Moreover, the D.C. Circuit long has been recognized as one of the most important courts in the country. The presence of an Asian Pacific American on that court gives testament to the strides made by the Asian Pacific American community in recent years. It is a fitting and momentous way to conclude and celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”

Mr. Srinivasan is an attorney of exceptional accomplishment and merit who has received highest praise from all segments of the legal community. Numerous federal judges (including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor), former government officials, and professors have lauded Mr. Srinivasan’s legal skills, intellect, and integrity. These individuals include officials and judges appointed by the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama Administrations. They invariably have described Srinivasan as “a tremendous lawyer,” “one of the very smartest, most talented,” and “especially gifted.” They all have concluded that Srinivasan will be an “excellent” or “tremendous” appellate court judge. Until his confirmation, he served as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, where he regularly appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. He previously served as a partner and Chair of the Supreme Court and appellate practice for the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

“Sri Srinivasan is an exceptional attorney with a long history of work in civil rights,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. “In private practice he handled some of the most important Supreme Court cases pro bono for AAJC and for the greater civil rights community. We congratulate him on his historic confirmation and look forward to his tenure on the D.C. Circuit.”

Mr. Srinivasan is Indian by birth, Kansan at heart, and all American in story. He was born in Chandigarh, India, and immigrated to the United States as a child with his parents and two younger sisters. Mr. Srinivasan grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, where his father was a professor of mathematics at the University of Kansas, and his mother taught at the Kansas City Art Institute. Throughout his upbringing, Mr. Srinivasan attended public schools in Kansas. In high school, he was very active in sports and music, including playing on the high school varsity basketball team. He became, and to this day remains, a die-hard University of Kansas basketball fan.

With Mr. Srinivasan’s confirmation, three Asian Pacific Americans will sit as federal appellate court judges out of approximately 175 nationwide. All three have been nominated and confirmed in the last four years. One additional Asian Pacific American federal appellate court nominee remains pending before the U.S. Senate at this time – Raymond Chen, who has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

NAPABA and AAJC are proud to have supported Mr. Srinivasan. We thank President Obama for nominating Mr. Srinivasan, and commend the U.S. Senate for the noteworthy bipartisan support that he received during the confirmation process.