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.

Thank You to AABANY’s Remote Clinic Volunteer Attorneys and Students

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.

AABANY and Community Land Trust Hosts Successful Rent Relief Application Drive

The COVID Rent Relief Program (“RRP”) held by Community Land Trust (“CLT”) and the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) concluded on July 26th, 2020 with an application drive in Chinatown. During the term of outreach, the program received over 125 voicemails and online form submissions. On the day of the drive, 25 volunteers aided over 100 walk-in applicants who had been screened for qualification. 

The application drive held on July 26th at the Florentine School was expeditiously put together in five days, to accommodate the quickly approaching application deadline of July 30th*, by AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee and COVID Student Task Force. Most notably, attorneys May Wong, Angela Wu, William Lee, and law students Dianna Lam, Olympia Moy, Xinyi Shen, and Meng Zhang were the driving factors of the event’s success. To the volunteers, it was imperative to host an in-person event to help the community. “Many Chinatown residents cannot go on Zoom, some don’t even have online access, and, even with online access, some may not find the forms because of language difficulties,” noted Moy. The volunteers have spent tireless hours in organizing the logistics for the event, training for and then evaluating RRP applications of the community, and then following up with intakes for those who are eligible applicants. “One of the most memorable parts of our [RRP], despite all the hurdles we had to navigate through, was how much all the volunteers cared to help our community,” says Lam. Lam add: “All the volunteers patiently and calmly explained to the tenants all their options, any risks they might bear submitting their information, and sat through with each applicant until the application was either fully complete or until the tenants accepted that they did not qualify.”

AABANY again thanks all the volunteers mentioned above, as well as May Mok and Sherman Ngan of AM 1380 & AM 1480 and Jacky Wong, for advertising and covering the event; Samantha Sumilang who provided rent relief training to volunteers over Zoom the day before; Jonathan Hernandez for being on standby for any last minute needs; the APALSA COVID Student Task Force for reaching out to their members for volunteer recruiting; and all other attorney, CLT, and community volunteers who made the event possible.

The RRP was introduced on July 16th, 2020 and first administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The purpose of the RRP is to distribute a $100 million fund amongst the low-income families of New York who have suffered income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to keep their families in their homes. The $100 million fund was provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, 2020. The RRP declares that a household is eligible for assistance as long as at least one member in the household has U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. All adult household members, regardless of their income earning position, are to be listed on the application form to be considered, including household members with ineligible immigration status. This is a potential grave risk to undocumented immigrants since the federal government could get their information through the RRP. As such, it should be noted that by applying for rent relief, applicants bear the risk of being or having undocumented family members deported.

“The drive’s success is a true testament of our selflessness, passion, and commitment to giving back as a community. We find comfort knowing that our locals are better positioned to receive rent relief,” said Lee.

For additional coverage in Chinese, please see the article written by World Journal here.

*As of July 31st, 2020, the application deadline has been extended to August 6th, 2020.

Pro Bono Committee & AABANY Volunteers Promote New Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic in Chinatown and Koreatown

On Friday, July 3, 2020, the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) launched a flyering campaign to promote the new Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic in Chinatown and Koreatown. The event was organized by William Lee, Associate at Alston & Bird and an active member of the Pro Bono Committee. The goal of the campaign was to ensure that Asian American small businesses had access to the Pro Bono Clinic’s various resources during this time of great need. Many law students from local APALSAs, including Fordham, Cardozo, and Columbia, volunteered at the start of the 4th of July holiday weekend to assist in distributing the flyers to local businesses.

The Chinatown volunteers were led by Dianna Lam and May Wong, frequent volunteers for the Pro Bono Clinic, and those in Koreatown were led by Will Lee. Both campaigns were very successful, and Dianna Lam and May Wong were even interviewed for the “Around the Boroughs” segment of Spectrum News NY1. Dianna and May emphasized the importance of the Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic, especially for smaller businesses impacted by COVID-19. Both groups ended the day with a volunteer appreciation lunch at the West New Malaysian Restaurant on Bowery Street. The group was able to sit at tables set up outside the restaurant, spaced out so that they could maintain a social distance.

We thank the Pro Bono Committee members, including Will Lee, Dianna Lam, and May Wong, for their leadership during this campaign. We also thank the students and volunteers who took the time to help the Remote Clinic reach more individuals and businesses in need of legal information. The Pro Bono Committee will be organizing similar campaigns in Flushing, Queens and Bay Ridge, so if you are interested in volunteering, please add your name to this document. Read AABANY’s press release about the Remote Pro Bono Clinic here. For more information on the Pro Bono Committee, see https://www.aabany.org/page/117. To find out more about AABANY’s pro bono resources, visit aabany.org/probono.

AABANY Co-Sponsors: COVID-19: Relief for Small Businesses Webinar Series Part 2 (Bankruptcy and Restructuring)

On May 28, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) co-sponsored “COVID-19: Relief for Small Businesses Webinar Series Part 2” as part of a series dedicated to helping small businesses mitigate financial losses in light of COVID-19. The presentation discussed the various economic relief packages passed under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), as well as how Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the Small Business Reorganization Act can help small businesses ensure long-term financial stability. The webinar featured William Hao, Counsel at Alston & Bird with extensive experience in bankruptcy, litigation, and out-of-court restructuring and Treasurer of the AABANY Board. The presentation was moderated by William K. Lee, an associate at Alston & Bird LLP and AABANY member.

The presentation began by addressing the various relief packages currently available to small business owners, specifically those regarding eligibility requirements and application information. Small businesses need to submit their payroll processing records, tax filings, Form 1099-MISC, and other supporting documentation to be eligible to receive the PPP principal loan. The loan amount will be the lesser of either $10 million or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll based on 2019 annual statistics. The deadline for PPP loans is June 30, 2020 but will likely be extended for the next round of funding. As for EIDLs, eligible small businesses must have suffered economic injury in connection with COVID-19 and have an acceptable credit history that demonstrates an ability to pay back loans. Businesses may receive a principal loan amount of up to $2.5 million that can only be used to pay for expenses the businesses would have paid for even if the disaster had not occurred with an interest rate of 3.75%.

The presentation also discussed how filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy could help small businesses reduce debt, restructure certain obligations, and come out of bankruptcy a more financially stable company. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows owners to retain ownership of their businesses by restructuring their internal operations and finances, while incentivizing creditors to negotiate a more favorable reorganization plan. However, heavy legal expenses and other administrative requirements have traditionally blocked smaller businesses from being able to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Under the Small Business Reorganization Act, many of the barriers that have deterred small businesses from filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy have been removed by allowing small businesses to qualify as Subchapter V debtors. By filing under Subchapter V, small businesses would not need to incur the significant legal expenses associated with forming a creditors’ committee, paying the appointed trustee, and filing for a disclosure statement. In addition, the Small Business Administration has raised the aggregate noncontingent, liquidated debt limit from $2,725,625 to $7,500,000, and has expedited the process for filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The discussion also provided guidance on the process of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Small business owners should seek out a lawyer to help prepare and file a petition along with other potential filings such as an initial affidavit. An automatic Subchapter V trustee is appointed upon filing the petition and will formulate a plan to address outstanding debts. 

Debtors should also prepare for court appearances such as Section 341 meetings, during which creditors can come and ask questions regarding company finances and status conferences between all parties to discuss progress toward developing a restructuring plan. These plans must contain a brief history of the business operations of the debtor; an analysis of how much money the company is worth if all of its assets were immediately liquidated; a valuation of future profitability if the company was allowed to continue operating; and any relevant forms. Plans must also outline how to manage and pay various classes of claims and interests including administrative expenses, priority claims, secured claims, general unsecured claims, and equity interests. Secured creditors can be paid over time and can be paid at a potentially lower interest rate whereas unsecured creditors must complete repayment within five years and all income not allocated for the maintenance of the company and basic personal living expenses of the debtor will be applied to make payments. If the plan is mutually agreed upon by all parties, the debtor will pay regular installments to creditors and any liability for debts is waived upon confirmation of the plan. If the plan is nonconsensual, the appointed trustee will make regular payments on behalf of the debtor, and liability is waived upon the completion of payments.

We thank William Hao and William Lee at Alston & Bird for helping to organize this webinar series and for their demonstrated commitment to helping small business owners affected by COVID-19. To learn more about AABANY’s Commercial Bankruptcy & Restructuring Committee, visit https://www.aabany.org/page/353. For any specific details, please refer to the video above.

If any attorneys would like to volunteer with AABANY to assist small business owners adversely affected by COVID-19, please contact probono@aabany.org.