Student Outreach Committee, Pro Bono Committee & AABANY Volunteers Promote Pro Bono Legal Clinic, Know Your Rights Resources, and AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service in Asian and Asian American Communities

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.

Read more about AABANY’s PBCS Committee and Pro Bono Clinic, about AABANY’s LRIS service here, HEART here, and Know Your Rights info here. Thanks to all the organizers, co-sponsors, and — especially — all the student volunteers.

AABANY Student Outreach Committee Hosts a Panel Discussion about Being a Virtual Summer Associate on June 3rd

On June 3rd, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Student Outreach Committee (SOC) hosted a panel discussion about the dos and don’ts of being a virtual summer associate. Haynes and Boone summer associate and SOC Student Leader Julie Choe moderated the panel. The panelists were Andrew T. Hahn, Sr., General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer at Hawkins Delafield & Wood and past AABANY President in 2004; Jeeho Lee, hiring partner at O’Melveny & Myers; Taiyee Chien, summer associate at Kirkland & Ellis and SOC Student Leader; and Victor Roh, summer associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell and SOC Marketing Director and Student Leader.

Julie opened the event by introducing the panelists for the evening. The student leaders then shared their experiences as (virtual) summer associates, and discussed a variety of topics with the other panelists including how to gain diverse work experience, how to reach out to partners, the advantages and disadvantages of a remote program, work-life balance, and more. The panelists also discussed the qualities of a good summer associate, which included being attentive to detail, respectful, taking responsibility for mistakes, being responsive to emails, and keeping your camera on during meetings. The panelists also emphasized the importance of building your own unique “brand” at the firm from your particular strengths and character. After the event, the discussion was opened to the attendees for questions.

AABANY thanks SOC for hosting this timely event in the midst of the pandemic and thanks the panelists for sharing their thoughts and experiences about summer associate programs. AABANY SOC will also be hosting several upcoming events, including a mock interview workshop and two panel discussions as part of the Students Meet Firms series. The first panel will feature attorneys from Cleary Gottlieb. The second presentation will discuss the legal recruiting process with recruiters at Shearman & Sterling. To learn more about AABANY’s SOC, click here. To join the SOC slack channel, click here.

AABANY AAVTF Holds a Briefing on Anti-Asian Violence on May 25

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.

AABANY Offers Application Aid to LEP Applicants Seeking Section 8 Housing and Emergency Rental Assistance

volunteer assisting with application

AABANY announced on May 28, 2021, that through the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, Government Service & Public Interest (GSPI) Committee and the Student Outreach Committee (SOC), it established a phone line to aid limited English proficient (LEP) applicants in applying for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, also known as Section 8. Section 8 is a government rental housing program that allows low-income families, the elderly and disabled to rent privately-owned and safe housing. Applicants will be selected by the New York State Homes & Community Renewal (NYSHCR) agency’s Section 8 Voucher Waitlist Lottery. The deadline for application is May 28, 11:59 AM ET. As for ERAP, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is offering a program that provides rental and utility assistance to eligible New York residents who owe arrears. Households will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds remain available.

When applying for housing and aid, many LEP applicants have had difficulty finding language assistance. AABANY hopes to help LEP applicants who do not have electronic access in completing the application by telephone. Interested applicants may contact (929) 251-3022 or probono@aabany.org to schedule a time with an AABANY volunteer to receive aid in contacting HCR and the OTDA.

To view AABANY’s flyer about the Section 8 Waitlist Lottery, click on the image above.

To read more about AABANY’s efforts to aid the Chinese LEP community, click here.

AABANY SOC Co-Chair Dianna Lam Featured in Fordham Law News on Her Experience of Parenting while Attending Law School

On May 21, Dianna Lam, AABANY Student Outreach Committee (SOC) Co-Chair and Student Leader was featured in an article published in Fordham Law News. Writer Suzi Morales interviewed Fordham Law School evening students about the struggles of being a parent, working individual, and law student at the same time. In the interview, Dianna, mother of two boys, explained that prior to the pandemic, she would work and take care of her sons during the daytime while she would study during her lunch breaks and in the evening. As a result, Dianna explained that it was difficult for her sons to understand her work and her busy life. Now with remote learning in full swing, she has been able to involve herself in other extracurricular activities such as AABANY SOC and Fordham’s Evening Division Society. In the article, Dianna also noted that because of at-home learning she has also had much more time to spend with her sons who are an inspiration for her while she works. As Dianna joked, “Sometimes, when [my sons are] playing games with their friends, I hear them saying things that I would say to them, like, ‘In a meeting right now.’” To read the full article, click here.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Dianna on appearing in Fordham Law News. We appreciate all your hard work for AABANY, on top of everything else you need to get done!

To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee, click here. To read more about AABANY’s Student Leaders click here.

AABANY Student Outreach and Bankruptcy Committees Co-Hosted Successful “What Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Do?” Panel on February 11

The Student Outreach and Bankruptcy Committees co-hosted a panel titled “What Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Do?” on February 11, 2021 as part of the SOC’s Students Meet Mentors series. William Lee, Associate at Alston & Bird, moderated the panel and speakers included William Hao, Counsel at Alston & Bird; Jessica Liou, Partner at Weil; Charlie Liu, Associate at Morgan Lewis; and Geoffrey Williams, Associate at Alston & Bird. The panel provided law student attendees an opportunity to learn about the bankruptcy and restructuring practice area and what being a bankruptcy attorney entails.

William Lee began the event by asking panelists to give an introduction of what bankruptcy and restructuring is. Panelists described bankruptcy as a tool companies are given to reorganize themselves and remove liability pre-bankruptcy. Restructuring encompasses a wide spectrum of processes available to companies, such as filing for court protection, financial restructuring, and operational restructuring. William Hao summarized chapters 7, 11, and 13, the three most common processes used by bankruptcy lawyers.

Next, panelists were asked to describe their experiences working as a bankruptcy and/or restructuring lawyer. Jessica Liou stated that bankruptcy and restructuring is flexible and described it as a hybrid between litigation and transactional work. Some lawyers work in the bankruptcy-litigation niche, while others take the transactional route. When asked what type of student would fit the mold of a bankruptcy lawyer, panelists answered that it would be someone who is interested in a variety of things. Not only can a bankruptcy case be quick-paced, but a bankruptcy lawyer also gets to work with different groups in the firm, such as the tax group, executive compensation group, or litigation group. No two bankruptcy cases are the same, so a bankruptcy lawyer must be willing to do and understand many different things. Jessica Liou also shared how it is extremely rewarding to be a restructuring lawyer as she helps save jobs and helps companies get a second chance. 

The panel concluded with tips and recommendations to students who may be interested in getting involved in the bankruptcy and restructuring practice area. Panelists suggested that students should look for opportunities to get exposure to bankruptcy. These include trying an internship or bankruptcy judicial clerkship, taking a bankruptcy course, talking to bankruptcy lawyers, or participating in the Duberstein Moot Court competition. 

Thank you to the Student Outreach Committee and the Commercial Bankruptcy and Restructuring Committee for organizing this informative panel. And thank you to William Lee for moderating and to William Hao, Jessica Liou, Charlie Liu, and Geoffrey Williams for volunteering their time and sharing their experiences. To learn more about the Commercial Bankruptcy and Restructuring Committee, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/353. To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/121.

AABANY Hosts 2021 Annual Meeting of Members on Remo

On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, AABANY held its Annual Meeting of Members on Remo. President Sapna Palla called the meeting to order and established quorum. Elections were held for the 2021 Board of Directors and Officers.

President Sapna Palla presented the Year in Review and Executive Director, Yang Chen, presented the report of the Committees. Following the reports, awards were presented to honor AABANY leaders and committees for their dedication to AABANY over the past year. While these presentations were occurring, Immediate Past President Brian Song and President-Elect Terrence Shen tallied the votes.

The following officers were elected and will begin their term on April 1, 2021:

William Ng
President-Elect

Cynthia Lam
Vice President, Programs and Operations

Joe Eng
Vice President, Programs and Operations

Margaret Ling
Development Director

William Hao
Treasurer

Christopher Bae
Secretary

Beatrice Leong
Membership Director

The following candidates were elected as Directors to serve two-year terms starting on April 1, 2021:

Jasmine Ball
Jeff Ikejiri
Suzanne Kim
Chris Kwok
David Sohn
Bart Wu
Karen Yau
Andy Yoo

Congratulations to all the Officers and Directors who were elected to the Board.

The following awards were presented:

Committees of the Year: The Pro Bono and Community Service Committee and the Student Outreach Committee

For the numerous initiatives they organized to support the community during COVID-19, including Know Your Rights webinars, COVID Rent Relief Program application drives, and postering and social media campaigns to promote the Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic and other community programs.

Program of the Year: Weekly Membership Mixers

For hosting more than 30 weekly mixers on Zoom and Remo since April 1, 2020 to provide an open space for members and non-members to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections.

Member of the Year: Bart Wu

For his outstanding work with the Legal Referral and Information Service, which he helped launch, and his work reviving the Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee.

Congratulations to all the honorees for the recognition of their achievements and hard work during the 2021 fiscal year.

Congratulations to the Officers and Directors elected to the Board to serve during fiscal year 2022 which commences on April 1, 2021.

We would also like to thank our members for attending and participating in the annual meeting.

Student Outreach Committee Hosts Successful Mock Interview Workshop in Collaboration with Columbia Law School APALSA

On Monday, January 4, 2021, AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee hosted its first virtual Mock Interview Workshop in collaboration with Columbia Law School APALSA, AABANY Career Placement Committee, and the Columbia Law School Alumni Association. The event was part of the Student Outreach Committee’s pre-OCI series, held to prepare students for the interviews during a time of great uncertainty. 90 students from various law schools in and outside of New York received mock interviews and OCI advice from over 40 practitioners, public servants and general counsels from diverse backgrounds.

Prior to the workshop, Columbia Law School APALSA initiated the pairing of students and attorneys according to their availability and shared practice interests. Once the student-attorney pairings were solidified, students connected with attorneys via email. This advance preparation made for a smooth and timely transition to the event.

The workshop began promptly at 6:00 PM with a panel discussing interview tips, dos and don’ts, and Zoom etiquette. The panel, moderated by Margaret Ling, AABANY’s Development Director, featured esteemed speakers Rudy Carmenaty, President of the Columbia Law School Alumni Association, and Yen Chu, Secretary of the Columbia Law School Alumni Association. An OCI tip sheet carefully prepared by the members of the Student Outreach Committee was circulated to the students for review prior to their mock interviews. Starting at 6:30 PM, students met with their paired attorneys for one-on-one 30-minute mock interview sessions through the Remo platform and received invaluable feedback. Many students and attorneys expressed how beneficial the event was and that they appreciated AABANY for organizing such an event where attorneys could pay it forward and students could gain unique interview experiences from well-regarded practicing attorneys and public servants. One student, Eleen Zhou, a 2L from Cornell Law School, commented that she found the mock interview extremely helpful in preparation for the OCI season. Despite a few technical difficulties, members of the Student Outreach Committee worked diligently and promptly to ensure that no attorney or student was left without a mock interview opportunity.

The Student Outreach Committee would like to thank the participating attorneys for generously contributing their valuable time to help our students practice their interview skills. For students entering the interviewing season, best of luck! Please do not hesitate to reach out if AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee can ever be a resource for you. For more information about the Committee go to https://www.aabany.org/page/121

Student Outreach Committee Hosts Highly Successful Inter-APALSA Resume Review Workshop on Nov. 12

On Thursday, November 12, 2020, AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee (“SOC”) together with NYU APALSA as co-sponsor were thrilled to host over 110 attendees in its annual resume review workshop on the virtual platform, Remo. The event was particularly exciting this year because we invited APALSAs locally and outside of New York. We were pleased to see students join us from different states representing fifteen APALSAs who got to meet numerous attorneys in diverse sectors ranging from law firms to General Counsels of public companies.

Before the date of the workshop, Blair Hu and Jeong Hyun Hwang from NYU APALSA helped us pair the students and attorneys according to their shared interests in practice areas, school, time availabilities, etc. Once the student-attorney pairing information was sent to all the participants, the students sent in their resumes and connected via email in advance. This preparation contributed to the smooth and timely transition into the start of the event. 

At the beginning of the workshop, students waited in a virtual assembly room where they had the opportunity to join different tables and network while waiting for their turn. Each student met with their paired resume reviewers for a one-on-one 20-minute session and received personal feedback on their resumes and career paths. One of the students, Ashley Wong, a 3L from Boston University School of Law, commented that she loved the waiting room feature for the students and that her paired attorney was able to review her resume prior to the event. Ashley commented: “I loved the event and found it super useful.” Despite the initial technical difficulties with Remo, the platform created a unique space for students and attorneys to meet, network, and potentially create meaningful relationships in the community. Based on the feedback that we received from the students and attorneys, we are delighted to know that folks found our event to be useful and had a great time meeting their partners.

We hope everyone enjoyed themselves that night and continue to nurture the connections that they have made. Thank you to the students for joining us, the attorneys who graciously donated their time, and everyone who helped make this event a success. We hope everyone continues to stay safe and we look forward to seeing you in our future programming!

— Lia Kim, Student Outreach Committee Co-Chair

To learn more about the SOC go to https://www.aabany.org/page/121

Thank You to Our AABANY Student Leaders

AABANY recognizes and thanks its Student Leaders for all their assistance this summer in fighting COVID-19 and giving back to the Asian American community in New York. Our AABANY student leaders are:

Taiyee Chien, UChicago Law

Long Dang, Columbia Law

Alex Hwang, Cardozo Law

Dianna Lam, Fordham Law

Connie J. Lee, Columbia Law

H. Anthony Park, Ottawa Law

Jenny Park, Columbia Law

Xinyi Shen, Cardozo Law

Sejal Waghray, Emory University

Meng Zhang, Fordham Law

The flyer above contains short descriptions about why each AABANY Student Leader wants to give back and how they have been doing it, such as by volunteering at AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic or participating in various COVID-19 relief activities and programs over the summer.

Please join us in thanking all our AABANY Student Leaders. We also recognize and thank Will Lee, Vice Chair of the Student Outreach Committee, for his leadership in bringing together our Student Leaders and helping AABANY channel their talents and energy to benefit the New York Asian American community.