PBCS was extremely active in April! We ran the pro bono clinic in Manhattan for the first time this year on April 9, 2022. We couldn’t have run our clinics without the dedicated help from AABANY, the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York (CCCNY), and volunteers. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all volunteers for participating!
Thank you to all the following volunteers:
Teresa Wai Yee Yeung^
Karen Kithan Yau
Kelly Tang (CCCNY)^
Kwok Kei Ng
Min Jung Esther Choi
^ = non-attorney volunteer
On April 9, we met with 17 clients – 3 spoke English and 14 spoke a second language (i.e., Mandarin or Cantonese). Many clients had mostly housing-related questions, as housing has always been a popular issue given the lack of resources and information available.
In fact, many legal services have stopped taking cases due to the shortage of staffing and heavy workloads. Unfortunately, due to space issues, we too will be suspending our Manhattan clinics until further notice.
However, we are continuing the Queens Pro Bono Clinics. In fact, on April 23, we had 14 AABANY volunteers present at our pro bono clinic! These volunteers assisted 13 clients who had questions related to immigration, torts, wills, trusts and estates, and referrals.
AABANY hosted for the second time the Columbia Law School’s Spring Break Caravan. This year, Caravan representative Angel Li (CLS ’23) reached out to the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee (PBCS) and Student Outreach Committee (SOC) to supervise six students during the week of March 14, 2022. During this program, students shadowed volunteer attorneys at the Queens pro bono clinics held on Saturdays, researched and drafted legal training materials for the pro bono clinics, attended a legal community presentation about bankruptcy, and met with various mentors from law firms and SOC graduates.
On behalf of PBCS, we want to thank these law students for creating much-needed training materials to help volunteer attorneys in recognizing common issues in housing, family, wills and estates, and immigration law with flowcharts and outlines. These pro bono clinics act like triages in which attorneys spot issues for the individuals and provide legal information and referrals within a 30-minute session. We’ve been quite fortunate to have the support of our volunteer attorneys who are willing to teach each other and to open the eyes of these young law students about the problems many indigent and limited English proficient clients face daily.
On behalf of SOC, we are grateful for the not-for profit and biglaw corporate attorneys coming together to mentor these law students. Despite their different backgrounds and areas of practice, members of AABANY are always generously contributing their time, resources, and efforts to aid the AAPI community and leading these law students to a career of their own choosing.
Rather than picking just one essay from the Caravan, we believe it’s best to share with you all a snippet of these law students’ thoughts about the Caravan. We wish them the best in completing their studies and continue the AABANY’s spirit of giving back to the community.
Eugene Kim, PBCS
William Lee, SOC
May Wong, PBCS
Supervisors of the Caravan
“In the first instance, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the texts that were assigned preparatory to the start of the Caravan. The excerpt from How Do You Live? was especially memorable as a means of getting me into the right mindset before the program even formally began. It goes without saying that behind every law student and lawyer lies a sizable aggregation of resources: years of schooling, various internship opportunities, and votes of confidence from a network of supportive people. Law students and lawyers are the products of considerable societal investment; as such, it is incumbent upon them to give back and to give generously.”
-Andrew Chang –
“While I knew that our society had those problems, I realized that knowing problems is different from helping people facing the problems. I also understood that volunteer attorneys need to deal with various issues in different legal areas in a limited time in the clinic. Therefore, clients’ problems are not entirely solved there, but clients are given helpful advice on the following steps to solve the problems.”
– Nobuko Ikeda –
“Overall, I really valued not only peeking into the issues faced by the community, but also into how Asian American attorneys are helping combat those issues through the clinic. This caravan has inspired me to participate in the pro bono clinic as a future attorney, and I look forward to exploring even more ways to make the sessions efficient and to help the clients legally and emotionally.”
-Angel Li –
“What I found during the research was that massive amounts of materials and resources are already provided by municipal bodies, government officials, and private law firms on the internet. However, people who are not legal professionals would have difficulty utilizing these public resources. The difficulty arises from a language barrier and complexity in understanding and applying legal standards to one’s own situation.”
– Shota Sugiura-
“I appreciated all the genuine and candid advice I received from our Caravan supervisors, and am especially grateful for the wisdom from my AABANY mentor. It was an amazing opportunity to hear from lawyers from a range of backgrounds: those working in public service, those at firms, those who have transitioned to in-house. It was an equally exciting chance to build bonds with other Columbia APALSA members who felt passionate about giving back to our community.”
On March 26, 2022, the Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) Committee held its Pro Bono Clinic in Flushing, Queens at the offices of the Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). We couldn’t have run our clinics without the dedicated help from AABANY, the PBCS Committee, AAFE, and volunteers. We are extremely grateful for our volunteers who traveled all the way from Manhattan and Brooklyn during the torrential rain and MTA’s weekend schedule to meet with clients who needed legal assistance.
Thank you to all the following volunteers:
*Karen Lin (on-call)*
Ruihan (Yvette) Wang
Jennifer Park (not admitted)
Zulma Vazquez (AAFE)^
Chen Yo (AAFE)^
Judy (Ming Chu) Lee*
Yini Fang (AAFE)^
Maria del Carmen Cruz (AAFE)^
Gabriel Hisugan (AAFE)^
Wen-Hsien (Wendy) Cheng
^ = non-attorney volunteers
* = remote
On March 26, we met with 14 clients – 3 spoke English and 11 spoke a second language (ie: Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, or Korean). While a majority of the cases related to housing, we had a few cases involving torts, trusts and estates, family law, and immigration law.
One noteworthy case highlighted the point that not all matters need to be resolved through the courts. One of our volunteers was able to direct an individual who had a problem with a store purchase to seek recourse through filing complaints with NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, or maybe even the media:
On Thursday, April 28, 2022, AABANY hosted its 2022 Annual Dinner with the theme “Forging a New Path to an Equitable Future” at Cipriani Wall Street. The dinner attracted over 800 attorneys, judges, prosecutors, in-house counsel, government officials, and dignitaries and sponsorships from more than 50 law firms and corporations.
AABANY was proud to honor:
Flora W. Feng, Senior Legal Director, Global Intellectual Property, PepsiCo with AABANY’s Corporate Leadership Award
Emily A. Kim, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zeta Charter Schools with AABANY’s Women’s Leadership Award
To read more about our extraordinary honorees, read the press release here.
We were joined by New York Governor Kathy Hochul who delivered remarks on the strength of the AAPI community and the importance of coming together to effectuate change.
This year, Actress/Comedian/Activist Kate Siahaan-Rigg served as MC. She was our MC last year during our Virtual Gala, and this was her first time serving as our live MC at the Annual Dinner. Thank you, Kate, for raising awareness on “representASIAN” while adding color and fun to the ceremony!
We were proud to honor Allen & Overy with the Law Firm Diversity Award for its commitment to improving diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. To read more about the award, read the press release here.
In addition, we were also pleased to present the 2022 class of Don H. Liu Scholars: Seung Hye Yan, Edward Jung, and Brian Liu. Read more about the program here.
We extend sincere thanks to everyone who helped us raise over $30,000 for AABANY-AALFNY’s Turn the Tide (T3) Project to fight anti-Asian hate and violence. We thank Mayer Brown for challenging the audience to match its initial donation of $10,000. Over the course of the evening, attendees tripled the match! We thank MC Kate Siahaan-Rigg for her endless humor and compassion in helping us exceed our fundraising goal. To learn more about the T3 Project see https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.aabany.org/resource/resmgr/2021aav/Turning_the_Tide_v5_compress.pdf
We thank all of the AABANY Annual Dinner Planning Committee members and volunteers for their hard work in making this year’s celebration a huge success.
We thank all of our sponsors. Their generous sponsorships make it possible for us to pursue our mission to advance the interests of the Asian American and Pacific Islander legal community and the communities we serve. Our sponsors support AABANY’s many activities and signature events throughout the year.
Lastly, we thank everyone that attended the 2022 Annual Dinner and celebrated with us. We were happy to see you all in person after two years of quarantine, social distancing and endless Zoom meetings.
AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) Committee would like to thank all in-person and remote volunteers at the Flushing Clinic on February 26, 2022. PBCS is especially grateful to the Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) for hosting this clinic at their Community Center, for providing the coffee and snacks to keep participants alert and energized, and for the staff to interpret for the Spanish-speaking clients.
The clinic began at 11:00 AM with attorneys quickly being split up into three rooms to prep for the arrival of clients, with other volunteers preparing documents that needed to be handed out and information that needed to be collected. The clinic assisted 17 clients facing a variety of issues from tenant disputes, domestic violence, marriage and divorce, and loans and contracts.
With the help of AAFE and AABANY translators, clients with limited English proficiency were able to find the aid they needed from volunteer attorneys who were able to understand the nuances and emotions of their situations. For example, one client who only spoke Mandarin, had a temporary order of protection made against her by a family member, but the order was limited. Under the order, the client was permitted to return to the apartment, but the family member refused to let her back in. Many factors go into the enforcement of orders of protection, and it would be difficult in the limited time available for consultations at the clinic to fully analyze a given situation. However, the two volunteer attorneys assigned to help this client assisted her to the extent they could, pointing her towards other resources, and alerting her about specific laws that could apply to her situation.
This clinic could not have been possible without the gracious help of many AABANY members and committees. A special thank you to May Wong, a current Vice-Chair of PBCS, for organizing these Pro Bono Clinics, Eugene Kim, another Vice-Chair of PBCS, for serving as an attorney volunteer, and Committee Chair Judy Lee, for helping to prep the paperwork, attending the Prep Meeting the night before (2/25), and appearing virtually to advise clients. Additionally, thank you to Beatrice Leong, AABANY’s Membership Director and long time Pro Bono Clinic participant, for guiding newer volunteers, consoling a domestic violence victim, and assisting as a volunteer; Meng Zhang, for helping to translate and helping with the organization of the clinic; Evelyn Gong, Co-Chair of the Government Service and Public Interest (GSPI) Committee, for serving as an attorney volunteer, and Kevin Hsi, also a Co-Chair of GSPI, for serving as a volunteer.
PBCS greatly appreciates the law students from Columbia University who were able to attend and observe the clinics as part of their Caravan, a program in which law students spend their spring break working on pro bono projects.
AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee would like to thank everyone who attended the second and third hybrid Manhattan pro bono clinics in September and October, as well as the soft opening of the Queens pro bono clinic this past Saturday, Oct. 30. The three clinics assisted a total of fifty-five (55) clients, who sought advice on a range of topics, including housing law, immigration, elder law, loans and contracts, marriage and divorce, estates law and drafting of wills and powers of attorney, discrimination, 9/11 compensation, and fraud. PBCS and AABANY are grateful to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) for co-sponsoring and hosting these clinics.
The clinics for the past two months could not have happened without the gracious help of many AABANY members and committees. During the September pro bono clinic, in collaboration with AABANY’s Bankruptcy Committee, PBCS provided a “Know Your Rights” presentation on the topic of bankruptcy and consumer debt. During the October clinics, Rina Gurung and Kevin Hsi, two of the three co-chairs of AABANY’s Government Service and Public Interest Committee, and Zhixian (Jessie) Liu, a co-chair of AABANY’s Immigration Committee, helped PBCS out by volunteering to see clients for one-on-one informational consultations. Thanks to AABANY’s Committees for their camaraderie!
At the pro bono clinics, PBCS volunteers use quick issue-spotting skills to help members of the AAPI community and those with limited English proficiency know what their rights are. For instance, while answering housing questions, a volunteer discovered that a 70-year-old couple living at a rent-stabilized apartment was eligible for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exception (SCRIE). SCRIE is a program that allows qualified tenants to have their rent frozen at their current level and be exempt from future rent increases. This is crucial since most seniors depend on their fixed income. If their rent goes up, qualified SCRIE tenants do not have to pay the higher rent, as the City will pay the landlord the difference between the current rent and the future rent. The 70-year-old couple who came into the PBCS clinic will receive assistance from AAFE to apply for SCRIE.
In order to be eligible for SCRIE, an applicant must be 62 years or older, have less than $50,000 in household income, spend more than 1/3 of monthly income on rent, and reside in a NYC rent-stabilized apartment, rent-controlled apartment, rent-regulated hotel or single room occupancy unit, Mitchell-Lama development, Limited Dividend Housing Company development, Redevelopment Company development, or Housing Development Fund Company development. Senior citizens who own homes, condominiums or private non-government supervised co-ops may also be eligible for SCRIE. To learn more about SCRIE, see https://access.nyc.gov/programs/senior-citizens-rent-increase-exemption-%E2%80%8Bscrie/.
To learn more about the PBCS Committee and its work, click here and here. The next hybrid legal clinics will take place on Saturday, November 6, 2021 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at AAFE, 2 Allen Street (2nd Floor), New York, NY 10002; and Saturday, November 13, 2021, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at CCBA, 62 Mott Street (2nd Floor), New York, NY 10013. For up-to-date details about the clinic and other events, please check PBCS’s event calendar.
And as always, we are always looking for volunteers to help us out!
AABANY’s twelfth annual Fall Conference, with the theme “Uniting for Justice and Equity,” took place on Oct. 22 and 23. We started on Friday afternoon, Oct. 22, with the GC Roundtable: The Evolving Role of General Counsels in Promoting Justice & DE&I in the Workplace, which ran concurrently with Pro Bono Crisis Lawyering: Challenges and Lessons Learned. After these two programs concluded, we held our Reception and Norman Lau Kee Trailblazer Award Presentation in person at King & Spalding, in hybrid format, with some attendees joining in person and others online via Remo. Those in attendance at King & Spalding got to meet and mingle in person with AABANY Board members and Committee Chairs, as well as the Trailblazer Award honoree Glenn Lau-Kee. To learn more about Glenn Lau-Kee and the Trailblazer Award, please see: https://conference2021.aabany.org/trailblazer/
Saturday kicked off with two concurrent programs, Fighting for Housing and Community Justice: The Role of Lawyers in the Movement and Measuring, Reporting and Improving Outside Counsel Diversity, followed by two more concurrent programs, Virtual Chat With Hon. Stacey L. Meisel, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, D.N.J. and Achieving Justice and Equity Through Litigation. The Plenary Session, The Rising Tide of Anti-Asian Hate & Violence: Where Are We Now?, closed the Fall Conference.
We thank all the Program Chairs, Moderators, and Speakers for putting on important CLE programs on timely subjects that strongly reflected the Conference theme. We also thank our sponsors:
Broadridge White & Case LLP
New York State Bar Association Business Law Section
Finally, we thank everyone who joined us Friday afternoon and evening, and then again on Saturday morning into the early afternoon. We are processing your CLE certificates now and you should be receiving them soon. If you have any questions about CLE credits, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions or comments about the Conference, please contact email@example.com.
New York State Senators John Liu (11th District, Queens), Andrew Gounardes (22nd District, Brooklyn), Brian Kavanagh (26th District, Manhattan) and Toby Stavisky (16th District, Queens) hosted a Lunar New Year virtual celebration Tuesday evening, February 16, featuring performances from AAPI youth and community honorees. The event was well-attended by city, state and federal elected officials, as well as community leaders and their organizations.
Senator Kavanagh presented May Wong, Esq., and Olympia Moy with a certificate of commendation to recognize the work of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee in providing invaluable legal assistance to the AAPI community during the pandemic. May Wong and Olympia Moy were proud to accept the certificate on behalf of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee. In their acceptance speech, they detailed the committee’s success in creating a one-day “in-person” clinic in July 2020 to assist tenants with paper applications for the COVID Rent Relief Program. When the COVID Rent Relief Program was extended to February 2021, law students volunteered again to establish a two-week remote hotline service to assist non-English speaking tenants apply via telephone. They were able to assist callers in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish with the help of the committee’s community partners, Chinatown CLT and GOLES. May Wong and Olympia Moy concluded their speech by expressing gratitude towards the State for its effort in addressing the State’s housing and poverty crisis and strongly encouraged the State to “direct emergency financial relief to tenants and property owners in meaningful programs that can provide permanent rental assistance and increased access to rental subsidies.”
Thank you to all the attorney volunteers and law students who helped AABANY and the community, especially May Wong, William Lee, Karen Lin, Nicholas Loh, Xinyi Shen, and Olympia Moy.
Congratulations to the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee on this well-deserved recognition! To learn more about the Committee and all its wonderful work, go to probono.aabany.org. They are always looking for more volunteers so email them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
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.
To meet the continuing need of the AAPI community for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee launched its Remote Legal Assistance Clinic this summer. Since June, Clinic attorney volunteers have received 138 calls from individuals with limited English proficiency and have assisted 116 callers from the AAPI community with their legal matters involving housing, immigration, criminal law, small business, matrimonial and family law, elder law, and trusts and estates. This would not have been possible without the dedicated volunteer attorneys, generously giving of their expertise and time, and the law students, whose multilingual assistance have been indispensable in facilitating access for our LEP community members. A special note of recognition to May Wong and Judy Lee, for spearheading the operation of the Remote Clinic, and to William Lee, for leading and mentoring the highly prolific AABANY COVID Student Task Force whose volunteers have been instrumental in publicizing the Remote Clinic and other AABANY COVID-19 Related Resources through social media platforms and door-to-door campaigns in local New York City neighborhoods.
AABANY deeply expresses its appreciation to the following volunteer attorneys:
Asako Aiba Youngjin Choi Rina Gurung Thomas Hou Eugene Kim Karen King Ming Chu (Judy) Lee William Lee Beatrice Leong Zhixian Jessie Liu Yan Sin Samantha Sumilang Ada Wang Edmond Wong May Wong Siyan Joane Wong Angela Wu Shengyang Wu Karen Kithan Yau
AABANY deeply expresses its appreciation to the following law student volunteers and active APALSAs:
Jenna Agatep Nanako Arai Justina Chen Chao-Yung (Kloe) Chiu Esther Choi Jing Chu Jeremy Chu Long Dang Andersen Gu Alex Hwang Dianna Lam Connie Lee Olympia Moy Yang Ni Anthony Park Jenny Park Annalee Patel Xinyi Shen Annie Tan Meng Zhang
Asian Pacific American Law Student Associations at Brooklyn Law, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, CUNY, Fordham, Harvard, Hofstra, New York Law School, New York University, Seton Hall, St. John’s.
Additional thanks to Jenna Agatep, AALFNY Pro Bono Scholar, Kwok Ng, and Karen Lin, for ongoing administrative assistance with the Remote Clinic.