AABANY Hosts Fundraising Event on May 21 to Support Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund

On May 21, in observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS) hosted an event titled “A Brief History of Anti-Asian Racism in America and Call to Action” to raise funds for Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund. Welcome to Chinatown is a grassroots initiative working to preserve New York City’s Chinatown by supporting small businesses and amplifying community voices. In 2020, they launched The Longevity Fund, a small business relief program, to support small businesses where cultural and socioeconomic barriers have prevented them from applying for assistance programs.

The first part of the fundraising event consisted of a presentation from Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, and Issues Committee Chair, on the history of anti-Asian racism in America. He provided an overview of the history of sinophobia and anti-Asian violence in the United States, highlighting the passage of laws including the Naturalization Act of 1790, the Page Act of 1875, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Chris also shared the common themes of how Asian Americans have been perceived throughout history and are still seen today as “forever foreign.”

The presentation was followed by an informal Q&A session between Moderator Tiffany Miao, and William Ng, AABANY President-Elect and LRIS Panel Member, on the importance of AAPI representation in the legal profession and how AAPI lawyers can play a role in preserving Asian cultures and communities for future generations. After listening to Chris’ presentation, William spoke about how the history of sinophobia in the U.S. was never taught in school and how it is important to push towards adding it to school curriculums. Chris added that it’s critical for individuals to understand how race works with Asian Americans—although there’s similarity with how African Americans and Jews experience race, there are still differences and nuances. As for how AAPI lawyers can support AAPI communities, William stated, “While it’s a good career opportunity to do meaningful work, this time in particular, Asian Americans have an opportunity to do more, push certain initiatives.” In addition to representing Asian American clients at work, AAPI lawyers can donate to organizations such as Welcome to Chinatown, and join AABANY’s LRIS to provide legal assistance to the Asian American community.

To join AABANY’s LRIS, please email joinlris@aabany.org for an application. To learn more about Welcome to Chinatown, please visit welcometochinatown.com and check out their Instagram account @welcome.to.chinatown

At the conclusion of the fundraiser, AABANY was able to raise $2000 for The Longevity Fund. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event, and thanks especially to all the donors for their support.

In the News: President-Elect William Ng Featured in Binghamton University’s Alumni Newsletter

William Ng, President-Elect of AABANY, was recently featured in Binghamton University’s April 2021 Alumni Newsletter. In the article titled “Alumnus Leads Bar Association, Combats Racism,” William discussed AABANY’s mission of ensuring meaningful participation of Asian Americans in the legal profession. He also highlighted AABANY’s leadership in addressing the rise of hate and violence against the Asian American community. As President-Elect, William looks forward to prioritizing fundraising and ramping up virtual programs to position AABANY for success in a post-pandemic environment. Speaking about his time at Binghamton, William ’04 credits his experience serving in the Student Association and as a Student Conduct Board Member to furthering his interest in law.

The newsletter also acknowledges other Binghamton alumni who have served or currently serve on the AABANY Board:

  • Yang Chen ’87, Executive Director
  • Linda Lin ‘00, Past President
  • William Wang ’00, Past President
  • Bobby Liu ’93, Former Board Member
  • Christopher Bae ’10, Secretary
  • Beatrice Leong ‘06, Membership Director

To read the full article on Binghamton University’s Alumni Newsletter, click here.

In the News: Incoming President-Elect William Ng Quoted in Law360 Article About Ways Employers Can Help Asian Workers Amid Anti-Asian Violence

William Ng, incoming President-Elect at AABANY, was recently interviewed for a Law360 article published on February 26, 2021 titled “3 Ways Employers Can Help Asian Workers As Attacks Surge.” Law360 asked legal experts for tips they could share with employers on how they can create a safe environment for their Asian American employees at work during the rise of anti-Asian violence.

The first tip legal experts shared is to acknowledge the problem. Employers need to recognize and denounce the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and bigotry. By doing this, it gives a voice to the Asian American community and lets them know that they are supported. The second tip is to have a game plan. William Ng suggested to Law360 that employers should have a plan for exactly how they will handle a situation of anti-Asian harassment or violence. He stated, “It’s just being aware of these issues and understanding, ‘Hey, if this happens, what will we be doing?'” Suggestions William Ng provided include assembling a security management team and being in contact with local law enforcement. The third tip experts suggested is that employers should use training to empower bystanders such as offering bystander intervention training and implicit bias training.

To read the full article, click here (subscription is required).

AABANY Congratulates Littler on Receiving the 2020 NAPABA Law Firm Diversity Award

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Littler Mendelson P.C. (Littler) on receiving the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s (NAPABA’s) 2020 Law Firm Diversity Award. Littler is the world’s largest employment and labor law firm with over 1,500 attorneys in 95 offices globally and AABANY is honored to have the support of Littler as a Silver Sponsor.

The NAPABA Law Firm Diversity Award honors law firms that actively and consistently recruit, retain, and promote Asian Pacific American (APA) lawyers to equity partnership and firm leadership. It also celebrates law firms’ successes in their support for APA lawyers. Through its many initiatives, Littler is creating a welcoming environment for its employees, accepting of different backgrounds, and is continuing to look for ways to become a more diverse and inclusive employer. 

Eddie Chyun and William Ng — shareholders in the Cleveland, Ohio and Long Island, New York offices, respectively — both emphasized their membership in Littler’s ‘Ohana affinity group ‘Ohana, when asked about their experiences as an APA lawyer at the firm. Within the first few weeks after being hired, Eddie and Will each were approached through email or word-of-mouth about joining ‘Ohana, the affinity group for Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, North African, and Pacific Islander-American attorneys. The invitation left a memorable impression on them both as it helped ease Eddie and Will’s transition into the law firm by quickly welcoming them into the APA community within Littler. Being a part of ‘Ohana allows them to know APA lawyers across all of Littler’s offices. Affinity groups meet in-person every other year to discuss diversity and inclusion, work on professional development skills such as practicing elevator pitches, and collaborate on coming up with new initiatives relating to retention and advancement, associate development, etc. that can help APA lawyers’ success in the office. Throughout the year, they participate in social gatherings, quarterly calls, and other events which provide members with support and networking opportunities at the firm. 

‘Ohana group photo from their last retreat in Miami

Eddie also serves as co-chair of Littler’s 20-person Diversity & Inclusion Council (D&IC), which includes four APA attorneys among its diverse members. The D&IC focuses on increasing the hiring of individuals from diverse backgrounds and increasing professional opportunities for diverse employees like mentorships and leadership opportunities. Littler’s programs include the Career Advocacy Program (CAP) and Investment for Success, which support and promote diverse attorneys in the firm, including APA lawyers, to leadership positions. 

Littler’s award-winning CAP selects higher-level, high-performing associates (Protégés) who identify as diverse and pairs them with the firm’s most influential leaders (Advocates) and client (Champions) who encourage their career growth. From 2015 to 2020, Protégés represented on average 28% and up to 40% of the firm’s new shareholder class. Twenty-four former Protégés, including eight APA attorneys, have been elevated to shareholder and continue to participate in the program. Currently, 11 of the 31 Protégés in CAP are APA attorneys. The Investment for Success Program pairs recently hired diverse attorneys with a shareholder to help them better integrate into the firm, as the transition in the first few weeks is critical for an attorney’s success in the firm. There are currently 30 diverse associates, including seven APA attorneys, participating in the program. Eddie and Will pointed out the importance of these programs because APA lawyers tend to face barriers with advancement in their positions such as a lack of access to mentors, and with these programs, APA attorneys are able to be mentored by a senior attorney, who ensures that they receive the proper mix of work and opportunities to succeed at the law firm.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Littler continues to create a diverse and inclusive environment through holding their mentorship programs and affinity group meetings virtually.

Littler’s creation of the Career Advocacy Program and the Investment for Success program have promoted and continues to promote APA lawyers to leadership positions within the firm, and the ‘Ohana affinity group continues to provide a supportive community among the firm’s APA lawyers. Littler will be honored at a reception for award recipients held in December 2020.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Littler on receiving the Law Firm Diversity Award. 

AABANY Co-Sponsors Panel on Small Business Navigation of COVID-19

On June 23, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) presented its Small Business Navigation of COVID-19: A Briefing on Relief and Remedies panel as a part of AABANY’s wider initiative to provide support for those adversely affected by COVID-19. The event highlighted professionals working in a variety of fields and addressed concerns regarding how to safely open up and potential next steps for small businesses. The panel was moderated by Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee, and featured Amol Pachnanda, Partner at Ingram Yuzek LLP and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; William Ng, Shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C.; Anthony Kammas, Partner at Skyline Risk Management, Inc.; William Hao, Counsel at Alston & Bird LLP and AABANY Treasurer; and Anthony M. Bracco, Partner at Anchin Accountants and Advisors.

Amol Pachnanda began by discussing COVID-19’s effect on the tenant-landlord relationship and best practices for tenants to avoid eviction. Tenants should be familiar with the lease agreement and seek legal counsel in any disputes with the landlord. Communication between tenants and landlords is critical as both parties possess significant incentives to avoid eviction. Tenants should be aware that the Moratorium on Evictions has been extended for an additional 60 days and any rent demands must be nullified if the tenant states that they have been impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, New York State real estate personal guarantees and “Good Guy Guarantees” have been made non-enforceable as tenants are no longer legally bound to vacate within a set timeframe if they are unable to pay their rent.

William Ng addressed how small businesses should reopen and some of the potential legal issues with phase 2 and phase 3 reopening. Business owners must go online and complete the New York Forward safety plan template and keep the plan on the premises at all times. Each business must affirm whether they have submitted a plan or have a plan in place during inspections. Small businesses are also encouraged to maintain a cleaning plan and document daily hygiene and sanitation activities to limit employer liability in the event that an employee does contract COVID-19. If an employee does contract COVID-19, small business owners are responsible for reporting the case to the relevant authorities and putting together a plan that ensures the safety of the other employees. The plan should include contact tracing measures and other appropriate protocols to limit contact and exposure.

Anthony Kammas discussed how small businesses can maintain their insurance coverage while reopening and other ways to mitigate liability. Employers should review their business policies and keep detailed records of their sanitation efforts to make sure they can retain their coverage in the event that individuals claim they contracted COVID-19 on the premises. Moreover, it is critical that employee handbooks are updated to address the challenges currently posed by COVID-19. Employers should also be mindful of the HIPAA liabilities associated with additional employee screenings. If employers contact trace, any information regarding the infected individual must remain confidential. As many policies do not cover the cost of sanitation and cleaning, Anthony Kammas recommends seeking third-party cleaning services to shift liability down away from the business owner and to the cleaning service if an incident were to occur. Small business owners should be more careful when buying new policies as carriers are becoming increasingly narrow in their wording to avoid excessive coverage.

William Hao then explained how Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be a viable option for struggling small businesses. Chapter 11 bankruptcy focuses on restructuring and reorganizing as the business undergoes a court-supervised process by which creditors and debtors come together to discharge bad debts and re-negotiate contracts and formulate a plan moving forward. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy provides a business a set of tools and leverages to incentivize creditors to come to the table and establish an agreeable plan for all parties. Businesses are entitled to an automatic stay, which stops any litigation and collection efforts that are burdening them. Businesses can also reject bad contracts during this process. Creditors are incentivized to negotiate with debtors as creditors are aware that any contracts paid out during this time would amount to a smaller fraction of the original debt. In addition, the absolute priority rule is voided, and other regulations and costs that had previously barred small businesses from filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy have been waived.

Lastly, Anthony Bracco discussed how small businesses can still apply for benefits under the Payment Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”). Under the PPP, small businesses can apply for up to two and a half months’ worth of employee payroll costs with any new loans having a five-year repayment period. These loans qualify for 100% loan forgiveness if they are spent within 24 weeks and at least 60% is spent on payroll costs. The percentage of loan forgiveness is reduced if employers reduce the compensation of anyone earning $100,000 by 25% or more or reduce full-time equivalents. However, employers are not accountable for restoring full-time equivalent employment if employees are not willing to return to work or due to government shutdown. Small business owners can apply for loan forgiveness any time within the 24 week window if all of the PPP loan is spent. As for the EIDL, small business owners can obtain a loan up to $150,000 with an advance loan of $10,000. Even if the full EIDL loan is not granted, small business owners are entitled up to the $10,000 advance loan. Small business owners can apply for both the PPP and the EIDL but must deduct the $10,000 EIDL advance loan from the PPP loan. Anthony Bracco also described different options available for small business owners to cover employee costs in addition to applying for the PPP. Instead of cutting headcount by a certain percentage, small business owners can reduce employee salaries by the percentage of those that were to be terminated and the Department of Labor will cover a portion of the pay lost.

We would like to thank Margaret Ling for moderating and organizing this informative event and the panelists for their time and dedication to help those adversely affected by COVID-19. To learn more about the Real Estate Committee, click here. To view the recording from the webinar click on the image above.

AABANY Presents: Understanding Diversity and Inclusion in Our Everyday World

On January 30, 2020, AABANY’s Real Estate Committee hosted a CLE entitled “Understanding Diversity and Inclusion in Our Everyday World.” The CLE and networking event took place at Hanover Bank in Flushing Commons in Queens, and over 25 attorneys attended.

The panel discussion covered all the basics of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and its relevance to the legal profession. The speakers included AABANY’s very own William Ng, Shareholder at Littler,  and Shirley W. Bi, Associate at Littler. Margaret Ling, AABANY Real Estate Committee Co-Chair, moderated the event. Attendees received 1 credit in Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias.

Many thanks to our sponsors, John Pollock and Jimmy Lee, both of Hanover Bank, Littler, Big Apple Abstract Corporation, KALAGNY, and the Queens County Bar Association. To learn more about the Real Estate Committee, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/120 .

Congratulations to Will Ng on Being Honored by the American Bar Association

AABANY is proud to announce that William H. Ng, Shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C. , has been recognized as a Top 40 Young Lawyer by the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division. To read the full press release on the Littler website, please go here: https://www.littler.com/publication-press/press/aba-young-lawyers-division-names-littlers-william-h-ng-among-2019-top-40

The ABA On The Rise Award program provides national recognition for young lawyer members who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and legal and community service. To read more about the 2019 ABA Honorees, go here: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/awards_scholarships/on_the_rise/2019-honorees/

AABANY Presents: Legal Seminar for Small Businesses

On Friday, May 17, 2019, Sandra Ung, New York State Committee Woman, and Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, Issues Committee Chair and Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, presented a legal seminar for small business owners at Flushing Library. The speakers were Tiffany Ma, Young & Ma, LLP, and William Ng, Littler Mendelson P.C., and they addressed a wide array of issues faced by small business owners in both Mandarin and English.

The discussion centered around how small business owners can take steps to make sure they comply with Federal, State, and City employment laws to avoid liability. In particular, the speakers addressed the minimum wage requirements, the importance of maintaining unemployment insurance, the prevention of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment claims, compliance with ADA accommodation requirements and the New York State Paid Family Leave Act.

There was serious discussion on the pressures small businesses face within the legal regulatory framework, with the additional language and cultural barriers faced by first generation immigrant business owners.

The event was also covered by the World Journal and Sing Tao Daily. To read more about the event from the World Journal, click here. To read more about the event from Sing Tao Daily, click here.

We thank Sandra Ung and Chris Kwok for organizing this information session. We also thank the speakers, Tiffany Ma and William Ng, for volunteering their time to address the concerns of small business owners.

Congratulations to William Ng

AABANY congratulates William Ng on being elevated to Shareholder at Littler Mendelson. Will served on the AABANY Board in multiple capacities, most recently as Vice President of Finance and Development. He was one of the founding co-chairs of the Labor & Employment Law Committee. For the official press release from Littler see:

https://www.littler.com/publication-press/press/littler-elevates-28-attorneys

Littler was featured as the Sponsor Spotlight in the Winter Issue of The Advocate. To read more about the firm click here.

Please join us in congratulating Will on his achievement and in wishing him continued success in his future endeavors.