Young Lawyers Committee Hosts “Attorney Well-Being During COVID-19” Event

On April 15, AABANY’s Young Lawyers Committee (YLC) hosted a fireside chat titled “Attorney Well-Being During COVID-19.” In the face of isolating social distancing protocols and prolonged remote working arrangements, Committee Co-Chair Janet Jun organized and moderated the event in hopes of spurring more dialogue on the subject of wellness in the legal profession. Janet was joined by former AABANY President Glenn Lau-Kee and YLC Co-Chair Jane Jeong, who also hosts and produces The Whole Lawyer Podcast. At the intersection of law and wellness, Glenn serves as a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Attorney Well-Being, and Jane is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Wellness Committee. Together, the speakers led a candid discussion about the current state of mental health awareness, challenges in the legal profession, and tips for achieving attorney wellness during COVID-19 and beyond.

Janet kickstarted the discussion by asking about the promises and pitfalls of current efforts to improve wellness in the legal profession. Glenn spoke optimistically about NYSBA’s Task Force on Attorney Well-Being, which consists of nine working groups, each dedicated to a specific wellness issue. As the head of the working group on bar associations, Glenn described the end goal of the Task Force as a wholesale culture change in the legal profession. Glenn observed that attorneys tend to experience higher levels of stress than other professionals, with young lawyers bearing the brunt of this pressure. While larger law firms have established more initiatives to promote lawyer well-being, small firms and solo practitioners are disadvantaged by limited resources. In this context, Glenn identified bar associations as a possible avenue for equalizing wellness resources. 

Diverging from Glenn’s opinion, Jane insisted that personal connections — not institutional initiatives — are the proper foundation for a more comprehensive culture of wellness. Invoking the fireside chat as an example, Jane stated that change starts at the individual level, with the creation of safe spaces for authentic conversations about personal mental health struggles.

Janet continued the discussion by asking about the source of rampant anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues in the legal profession. Glenn broke the problem down into three factors: (1) a lack of boundaries for down time, (2) client expectations and demands, and (3) financial pressures. Jane connected the first and third factors, explaining that the billable hour gives lawyers a systematic incentive to work ceaselessly. Deeming many lawyers to be perfectionists who are conditioned to tie their self-worth to external accomplishments, Jane also said that self-selection bias contributes to a workaholic legal culture.

AABANY Board Member Andy Yoo joined the discussion by asking about ways in which clients can help drive change. Glenn and Jane both responded by stating that leadership buy-in is an essential catalyst for change. As Jane explained, how CEOs and CLOs treat their employees trickles down to how employees treat external counsel.

Cynthia Lam, AABANY’s Co-Vice President of Programs and Operations, then asked the speakers to share their personal strategies for maintaining well-being. Glenn emphasized the community aspect of any individual effort to promote self-care. He urged lawyers to look beyond their own team members, who are all fixated on the same work, and reach out to family members, friends, and colleagues outside of their firms. Moving forward, Glenn hopes that bar associations will also play a greater role in providing lawyers with a sense of community. 

In enhancing her own mental health, Jane underscored the importance of setting and communicating boundaries with colleagues. She encouraged attendees not to cancel social plans for work except in the rare case of an emergency. Drawing on experience from her early career, Jane explained that by always saying yes to external requests, she had taught others that it was okay to overwork her. The lesson Jane derived from this experience was to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. 

Ultimately, Glenn and Jane urged attendees to carve out time for themselves to participate in communities and activities that are wholly unrelated to the law. While Jane personally benefits from working out, writing fiction, and doing yoga, she encouraged lawyers to access their own creative and reflective sides in whatever way works for them. Janet concluded the fireside chat by appealing to the desire of all attendees to be good lawyers. Only by striking a proper work-life balance can attorneys be fully enthusiastic about their careers and clients. To this extent, valuing well-being in one’s own life can help us all become more present in the lives of those around us.

AABANY thanks Janet, Glenn, and Jane for sharing their insights and leading this dialogue on the ever-relevant topic of attorney well-being. To learn more about the Young Lawyers Committee and its work, click here.

Chris Kwok Testifies Before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety on March 22

On March 22, Chris Kwok testified on behalf of AABANY before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety in support of two changes to the funding of Hate Crime Units of New York District Attorneys’ Offices. These recommendations call for Hate Crime Units to be staffed with full-time prosecutors and legal support personnel, and for periodic audits by the committee to ensure their use of dedicated funds for hate crime prosecution. Chris shared that AABANY first voiced these recommendations in its report on anti-Asian violence. The report specifically identified the “Jade Squad”—a police division formed to combat Chinese gang violence in the 1970s— and concomitant Asian Gang Units that were formed at the District Attorney’s Office. In line with these successful historical efforts, AABANY now advocates for the creation of dedicated and fully funded hate crime divisions in law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices.

The AABANY report recounts numerous instances of assault and harassment against Asian Americans in New York over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Chris highlighted the persistence of such racially fueled attacks to this day. Chris also noted that media outlets, community leaders, and politicians have since backed AABANY’s proposals to fully fund and formally staff anti-hate-crime initiatives. Among these supporters, Chris identified the inspector of the NYPD Task Force and New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. In the face of unrelenting anti-Asian violence throughout the state, Chris explained that the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force and District Attorneys’ Office Hate Crime Units require dedicated funding and full-time personnel to improve their reporting structures. Only with such resources can anti-hate-crime initiatives produce reports that adequately detail the efforts of law enforcement to stem anti-Asian violence. The statement concluded with Chris’s message that fully funded and full-time Hate Crime Units are critical to encouraging the continued reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes and to fostering greater trust within the Asian American community. To read Chris’s written statement, submitted with his testimony, click here.

Chris Kwok Testifies Before the City Council Committee on Public Safety

On March 16, Chris Kwok testified on behalf of AABANY before the City Council Committee on Public Safety in support of two changes to the NYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force: to fully fund the Task Force and to replace its volunteer staff with paid personnel. An AABANY Board Director and Chair of the Issues Committee, Chris shared that AABANY was the first to publicly voice these recommendations in its report on anti-Asian violence. The report recounts numerous instances of assault and harassment against Asian Americans in New York over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Chris highlighted the persistence of such racially fueled attacks to this day. Chris also noted that media outlets, community leaders, and politicians have since backed AABANY’s proposals to fully fund and formally staff the Task Force. Among these supporters, Chris identified the inspector of the Task Force itself, New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, and all of the District 1 City Council candidates. District 1 covers Manhattan’s Chinatown among other neighborhoods and sites. In the face of unrelenting anti-Asian violence throughout the state, the statement concluded with Chris’s call for a fully funded and full-time task force to foster trust within the Asian American community and to encourage the continued reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes. To read Chris’s written statement, submitted with his testimony, click here. AABANY gratefully acknowledges Student Leader Taiyee Chien for his assistance in drafting the statement.

Fireside Chat – Thursday, March 11 at 6:30 PM

From the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

We are proud to present the next Fireside Chat as part of a series of discussions produced in partnership with the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Taskforce.

We would appreciate your help in spreading the word – please invite your networks to attend the event through email, or by posting the event information on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Participants can view the program at ny.gov/VETF.

We encourage you to submit questions for the speakers in advance by emailing COVID19VaccineEquity@health.ny.gov, and we will also be taking questions from attendees. We will do our best to pose as many questions to our panelists as possible. You may also choose to register for this event (not required), as a means of adding the event to your calendar and for reminders, at the link here: https://covid-19-vaccine-tribal-nations-building-trust.eventbrite.com

Thank you all and let’s #VaccinateNY!

Please refer any questions to Emily Stetson, Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs, by email at Emily.Stetson@exec.ny.gov or by phone at (518) 956-2617.

爐邊談話-普通話節目- 3月4日星期四晚间6:30 / Fireside Chat – Mandarin Program – March 4 at 6:30 PM

大家好:

我们很荣幸推出下一期的炉边谈话,作为与纽约州 COVID-19 疫苗公平工作组 (New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Taskforce) 合作开展的一系列讨论活动的一部分。这将是一次向全纽约州讲普通话的社区提供教育的难得机会,意义非凡,所以我们希望这次活动的参与者越多越好。

我们鼓励您提前向讲者提交问题,请将您的问题通过电子邮件发 至 COVID19VaccineEquity@health.ny.gov,我们也将接受出席者的提问。我们将竭力向小组成员提出尽可能多的问题。您还可以选择注册该活动(非强制),以将该活动添加到您的日程表并适时收到提醒,请点击以下链接完成这项操作:https://covid-19-vaccine-mobilizing-chinese-communities.eventbrite.com.

English Translation

We are proud to present the next Fireside Chat as part of a series of discussions produced in partnership with the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Taskforce. This will be a meaningful opportunity to provide education to Mandarin-speaking communities across New York State, and we want to encourage as much attendance as possible.

We encourage you to submit questions for the speakers in advance by emailing COVID19VaccineEquity@health.ny.govhttps://covid-19-vaccine-mobilizing-chinese-communities.eventbrite.com.

AABANY Presents Community Webinars on Anti-Asian Violence in Mandarin and Cantonese

Mandarin Webinar
Cantonese Webinar

On Saturday, May 16, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) hosted its “Mandarin and Cantonese Community Webinar on Anti-Asian Violence,” part of a broader series aimed at addressing the rise in anti-Asian violence in light of COVID-19. The events focused on briefing individuals on how to defend themselves if an incident were to occur and also discussed relevant state laws that protect victims. The Mandarin webinar aired from 2:00-3:00 PM and the Cantonese webinar aired from 3:00-4:00 PM.

Guest speakers included moderator Kwok Kei Ng and representatives from the NYPD, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR).

William Kwok, Asian Liaison of the Immigrant Outreach Unit of the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, discussed the practical measures by which individuals can protect themselves from immediate physical harm. Individuals are encouraged to run into public spaces such as stores or public spaces that may have police officers on duty. If they are able, victims are encouraged to call 911 or get bystanders to contact the police. There are translators on stand-by at the NYPD if needed. Most importantly, undocumented persons should not be afraid of calling the NYPD as officers are forbidden to inquire about a victim’s immigration status.

Additionally, Officer Kwok and Mr. Ng discussed specific provisions of the Hate Crimes laws that apply. New York Penal Law § 240.30-3 describes the elements of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, stating that the incident must reflect an intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or harm through physical force. New York Penal Law §485.05, the Hate Crime Law, enhances sentencing if the incident is proven to be bias-motivated. Victims and bystanders should be unafraid of reporting incidents to the authorities; any materials whether in the form of videos, audios, or testimonials can help secure a conviction. Officer Kwok and Mr. Ng presented in both the Mandarin and Cantonese webinars.

Lastly, Jiarui Li, an associate at Simpson Thacher and guest speaker for the Mandarin webinar, and Karen Yau, Co-Chair of the AABANY Pro Bono & Community Service Committee and guest speaker for the Cantonese webinar, discussed the various resources available to victims. Victims should contact the New York Office of Victim Services and the NYCCHR to see if they are eligible for compensation and legal assistance. Both New York City and New York State have dedicated Hate Crimes Task Forces that victims can contact. Victims residing in New Jersey or Connecticut can contact their own individual state Hate Crimes Task Forces.

The guest speakers reiterated the importance of reporting anti-Asian incidents to the police. Only by informing the relevant authorities can we adopt a preventative approach and stop bias incidents from occurring before individuals are harmed.

We thank the guest speakers for joining us and for their commitment to protecting the well-being of everyday New Yorkers. For more information on anti-Asian harassment and violence, email aabanyclinic@gmail.com or call our hotline at 516-690-7724.

NCAPA Community Briefing on COVID-19

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations, held a community briefing call over Zoom on the topic of increased anti-Asian rhetoric in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Community leaders on the call were joined by legislators serving on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) including Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Representative Mark Takano (CA-41), Representative Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Senator Kamala Harris of California. 

Mr. Gregg Orton, the National Director of NCAPA, began by addressing efforts undertaken by NCAPA to address the increasing prevalence of anti-Asian rhetoric. Mr. Orton addressed NCAPA’s creation of a COVID-19 Task Force which aims to aggregate community resources online for the Asian American community in addition to building an emergency response network. NCAPA is also currently developing an online health form with crowdsourced in-language community health resources. 

Legislators serving on CAPAC spoke at-length about the alarming rise of xenophobic attacks and racist sentiment directed against members of the Asian American community. All four legislators condemned the rhetoric of top administration officials such as President Donald Trump and Secretary Mike Pompeo in labeling COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” or the “Wuhan Virus” as the use of these terms only exacerbate concerns of discrimination. In fact, Representative Chu, the Chair of CAPAC, addressed recent high profile incidents of physical attacks directed against Asians and estimated roughly 1,000 reports of hate crimes in the last five weeks alone. 

Moreover, all four legislators pointed to the efforts that were being undertaken in Congress to stand in solidarity with the Asian American community such as Representative Grace Meng’s (NY-6) recent resolution “Condemning all forms of Anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19” which has already garnered 130 co-sponsors. Senator Harris underscored the importance of cancelling ICE raids and following in Los Angeles and New York’s footsteps in setting up hotlines for reporting on hate crimes directed against Asian Americans. Representative Lieu addressed the problem of phone scams taking advantage of the elderly during this time and pointed to the FCC’s online guidelines for preventing these scams. 

Additionally, Representatives Chu and Takano spoke extensively about the recent stimulus package that was passed and certain benefits that Asian business owners could make use of. In particular, they highlighted Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for companies with less than 500 employees in addition to direct cash assistance provisions sent to qualifying families. However, Representative Lieu noted that the recently passed stimulus package will likely not be enough and that a second bill is in the works. In that bill, Representative Chu hopes to focus on translating federal COVID-19 resources into AAPI languages and assisting both undocumented and legal immigrants who were not eligible for certain benefits in the initial stimulus package. 

Finally, community leaders in the NCAPA network also addressed efforts that they have undertaken in light of COVID-19. Ms. Naomi Tacuyan Underwood, Executive Director of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), elaborated on how AAJA has issued guidelines to major newsrooms across the country on responsible reporting regarding the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, Ms. Chiling Tong, President of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship addressed the financial risks faced by its 2 million members. She encouraged Asian American members and businesses to apply for the FCA economic injury fund online. 

Overall, multiple steps are being taken at the legislative, business, and grassroots level in order to combat xenophobia and support the Asian American community in this time of need. In order to see a full recording of the call, please click here. For additional ways you can help and get involved, please look below.


The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country. Based in Washington D.C., NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for AA and NHPI issues. You can get in-touch with NCAPA by clicking here here.

For additional resources, please refer to NCAPA’s COVID-19 Response Toolkit, which includes sample social media graphics and posts, press coverage, and resources within and outside of our coalition. The resources include in-language resources for wellness and health, and various hate crime reporting tools. You can make a direct impact in your own respective circles and communities by regularly distributing and sharing NCAPA’s Toolkit.

AABANY Hosts Screening of the Documentary “Blowin’ Up”

On Thursday, April 11, AABANY hosted a screening of “Blowin’ Up,” a feature documentary that explores the complex realities of sex work in New York City and the compassionate approach of a human trafficking court in Queens County. The film features AABANY member Honorable Toko Serita, Queens Supreme Court, as well as other heroines of the Human Trafficking Intervention Court, that work with victims of sexual exploitation who face prostitution-related charges.

After the screening, Beatrice Leong, AABANY Government Service and Public Interest Committee Co-Chair, led a panel discussion featuring speakers from the NYPD/FBI Joint Human Trafficking Task Force and a Queens Assistant District Attorney who prosecutes human traffickers. The panelists talked about how they worked together to prosecute the traffickers and how one can identify and help a suspected trafficking victim. The panel gave important insight into how gangs and traffickers target their victims, and the audience learned that many victims are new immigrants, local high school students or children in the foster care system. “Drugs can only be used once, but a person can be used over and over.”

If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking,  you can email New York Police Department, at ved@nypd.org or visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/acs/youth/identify.page to report them.

We thank Beatrice Leong and Emily Arakawa for providing the photos and write-up for this blog post.

PRESS RELEASE – TASK FORCE ON THE JUDICIARY

PRBA TASK FORCE ON THE JUDICIARY

A CALL FOR ACTION

New York, New York – The Puerto Rican Bar Association has organized a Task Force on the Judiciary to examine the lack of representation of Puerto Ricans and Latinos on the bench. The PRBA Calls For Action to ensure that there is TRUE Diversity and Inclusion in the Judiciary and the Judicial Selection Process in New York State.  

The Puerto Rican Bar Association –  Task Force on the Judiciary – will examine, inspect and evaluate the lack of Puerto Ricans and Latinos on the bench in New York State.  We are outraged that for the past two (2) years there have not been any candidates of Puerto Rican and/or Latino background that have come out of the Judicial Committees from the Manhattan, Kings, Queens and Staten Island.  Puerto Ricans and Latinos are not fairly represented in the New York Judiciary despite the large population of Puerto Rican and Latino communities in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The PRBA will hold public hearings to address the underrepresentation of Puerto Ricans and Hispanics on the bench.  Where necessary the PRBA will have monitors to review the process and request that the appropriate government agencies including the United States Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission review the disparity in the Judicial Selection process to determine if violations of Constitutional rights have resulted. The PRBA has fought difficult battles to ensure that there is diversity on the bench yet it appears that the need for “Diversity and Inclusion” is not being honored.  The process needs to be examined and evaluated due to the disparate impact that has resulted.

The Puerto Rican Bar Association also joins with all of the organizations who expressed their profound outrage to the failure of the New York County Democratic Committee Independent Judicial Screening Panel to approve Judge Doris Ling-Cohan for the New York Supreme Court.  Judge Ling-Cohan, the first Asian American Female Judge in New York and a longtime PRBA member.  The Puerto Rican Bar Association was founded in 1957 and is one of the oldest minority bar associations in New York. We will continue to endeavor to ensure that Puerto Ricans, and all Latinos, are adequately represented in the legal profession so that the Puerto Rican and Latino Communities will continue to have a voice regarding New York State laws and policies.

Don Liu Joins NY City Bar Task Force on Young Lawyers

Don Liu Joins NY City Bar Task Force on Young Lawyers