AABANY Women’s Committee and Paul, Weiss Host Lunch with Helen Wan, Author of The Partner Track

On Tuesday, October 25, Paul, Weiss and AABANY’s Women’s Committee invited alumna Helen Wan to host a lunch and discussion on the 2022 Netflix series, Partner Track, based off of her 2013 book, The Partner Track. The event drew about 50 attendees in person at the New York office of Paul, Weiss and about 30 more who joined online via Zoom. The book follows Ingrid Yung, a first-generation Chinese-American and the first lawyer in her family as she attempts to navigate the old-boy corporate culture of her law firm. As she is about to become the first minority woman to make partner at the firm, an offensive incident at a summer outing highlights her outsider status. 

Helen heavily based the book off of her own experiences with corporate culture and the legal profession. As the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, she went to law school and entered the legal profession as an aspirational goal and for the experience, seeing this as the American Dream. It was only when she came to Paul, Weiss that she experienced the social dynamic of the corporate environment – who was sinking or swimming or being called on for more involvement with clients and committees. As a young woman of color, she noticed the subtle differences and it played a role in her decision to seek other opportunities: “I think if there had been more representation and more people who looked like me in the senior ranks, I would have considered staying longer.”

It was after transitioning from a law firm to in-house counsel that she found the opportunity to dedicate more time to her passion of writing. She began writing The Partner Track 20 years earlier on the subway to work. It consisted of journal scribblings of observations about corporate life in the city, about people, group dynamics, work dynamics, and not just the legal field but even anecdotes from friends in different industries. In order to further perfect her story, Helen took writing classes at NYU night school and forced herself to attend after spending grueling hours at the law firm. It took several years of securing the right literary agent, publishing house, marketing approach, compatible creative visions, and 3 different endings before releasing the final version of The Partner Track.

While the book and series are decidedly fiction, it was very important to Helen to write as realistic, authentic, and unvarnished a portrayal of corporate life as possible. She saw a big overlap in workplace experience and culture across fields and the experiences of her friends and peers. Consequently, most of the characters were amalgams of people she knew or heard about from friends. The conversations and topics the book tackled became more real and concrete. It is this tangibility and intersectionality that makes The Partner Track special. It may speak a lot on Asian American lived experience but also on dating, corporate culture, materialism, personal values, etc. 

The Netflix adaptation, altered from the novel, tried to do “so many things at once, be so many different things to different audiences.” For instance, human resources colleagues at law firms Helen worked at also felt heard when the show discussed how prevalent racist undertones and commentary is present in corporate settings and the struggle HR representatives go through when ensuring that these moments are resolved properly and effectively. Other audiences expressed that they were unable to finish the show because it reminded them of the struggles associated with navigating American corporate life as a Asian-American. 

Helen repeatedly stated that she believes the conversations surrounding both the book and the show are optimistic rather than pessimistic. The story not only reveals a side of American corporate culture that often gets hidden behind fancy suits and tall buildings but also shows how valuable it is when audiences are represented rather than merely mentioned. The Partner Track shows that real life stories are relatable to everyone.

We thank Helen Wan for taking the time to discuss her book and its new Netflix series. For more information about her work and life, visit her website here. Helen, joined by actress Arden Cho and show runner Georgia Lee, presented the keynote remarks at the Saturday night Gala during at the 2022 Annual NAPABA Convention in Las Vegas on Nov. 5. Congratulations to Helen on the success of the book and series!

AABANY’s Women’s Committee, Corporate Law Committee, and Membership Committee Co-Host 2022 Golf Outing

On October 22, 2022, AABANY held its 2022 Golf Outing at the historic Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort on a sunny autumn afternoon.  The event was presented by the Women’s Committee, Corporate Law Committee, and Membership Committee.

The 27-hole world class golf course, which has hosted the PGA Championship, was designed by renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast.  Carpools left New York City Saturday morning for the hour and a half drive to the Pocono Mountains.  AABANY members, friends, family and children enjoyed the magnificent colors of the fall foliage on a picturesque day for golf.  Golfers met at the Shawnee General Store for lunch and then hit the driving range for some practice swings.  Five AABANY foursomes, including several beginners and first time golfers, teed off in the early afternoon and played several holes across water on an island in the middle of the Delaware River.  Following the round, AABANY golfers dined together in the Shawnee Inn’s River Room at a table set for 20.

Thank you to the Women’s Committee, Corporate Law Committee, and the Membership Committee for coming together and organizing this successful outing.

AABANY Membership and Women’s Committees Host #RestaurantSeries Dinner at Basta Pasta

On Friday, April 22, 2022, the AABANY Membership Committee partnered with the Women’s Committee to host a #RestaurantSeries dinner at Basta Pasta. Originally founded in Tokyo, Japan, in 1985, Chef Takada’s establishment has been a staple in the New York City pasta scene for many years. Click here to learn more about Basta Pasta.

Twelve AABANY members attended the intimate the dinner and enjoyed an incredible eight course meal. And despite the good food and even better conversations, the highlight of the night may have been when the server served their “Fusilli con Prosciuttto e Parmigiano” dish straight from a parmesan cheese wheel! Shout-out to everyone who attended the dinner, including the Women’s Committee Co-Chairs Jennifer Wu, Wen Zhang and Renee Yao, and Co-Vice Chair, Cheryl Chan. 

Have any suggestions for a future #RestaurantSeries dinner? Email your recommendations to ChristopherSBae@gmail.com

AABANY Co-Sponsors Asian Financial Society’s 2022 Women Leadership Panel

On February 24, AABANY co-sponsored a hybrid Women’s Leadership panel, together with the Asian Financial Society, the Chinese Finance Association, East West Bank, and MSCI which hosted the event and the reception afterwards. Around 30 attendees joined in-person, with the rest participating by Zoom. 

The panel of industry leaders were: 

  • Jennifer Wu Partner, Paul, Weiss and AABANY Women’s Committee Co-Chair;
  • Janny Cheung, FVP-CRE Manager, Eastern Region CRE, East West Bank;
  • Chengying Xiu, Shareholder of Becker & Poliakoff, Chairwoman of AFS;
  • Angelene Huang, Executive Director, VisWise Global and board member of TCFA; and
  • Jigar Thakkar, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Engineering, MSCI.  

The panel was moderated by Cara Chen (Executive Director, Client Coverage (Hedge Funds), MSCI).  

The discussion focused on allyship and how women of color can meaningfully advance in their careers including through the support of bar associations like AABANY.  Jigar talked about his practice of communicating with diverse people not just about what they have done right but the challenges of running a company; Janny Cheung talked about the diverse and supportive environment at East West Bank that treats everyone like individuals and that has allowed women like her to succeed; Chengying Xiu talked about the importance of speaking from the heart and being true to yourself; Angelene Huang talked about starting an organization that brings together Asian American professionals and how much she values toughness; and Jennifer talked about her journey from a premed student to a litigation partner and how as a first generation lawyer, other people had dreams for her that she did not have for herself. 

Thank you to Asian Financial Society for inviting AABANY to co-sponsor and to Jennifer Wu for representing the Women’s Committee as a panelist. To learn more about the Women’s Committee, please visit https://www.aabany.org/page/122.

In the News: AABANY Member Jennifer Wu Quoted in NY1 Article on Hate Crimes

On December 8, 2021, NY1 News published an article titled “NYPD civilian panel investigates hate crimes as cases double.” The NYPD tasked a civilian panel to review more than a hundred cases potentially motivated by bias. The article highlights the following:

  • Reported hate crimes doubled this year to 503 as of Dec. 5
  • There were 249 arrests in these cases
  • Of the 503 reported hate crimes, 129 of them were against Asians  

Jennifer Wu, Co-Chair of AABANY’s Women’s Committee and a Partner of Paul, Weiss who has represented hate crime victims pro bono, is quoted in the article: “When people experience economic stress or a plague, a majority of people tend to blame a class of people.”

To read the full article, click here.

AABANY Congratulates Grace Jamgochian on Her Election as a Partner at Shearman & Sterling

Grace Jamgochian was elected to Partner at Shearman & Sterling on June 16th, 2021. She currently practices in Shearman’s New York office and, as stated in the Shearman & Sterling announcement, she “represents all aspects of mergers, acquisitions and investments for corporates and private capital investors. Her experience includes domestic and cross-border public company mergers, complex private transactions, and activism/defense, particularly in the TMT, infrastructure, and consumer products sectors.” Grace has also been a member of AABANY since 2019 and she currently serves as a Vice Chair of the Women’s Committee.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Grace Jamgochian and wishing her much success in all her future endeavors.

AABANY Women’s Committee Hosts Outdoor Ice Cream Networking Event on July 15

On July 15, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s (AABANY’s) Women’s Committee hosted an outdoor networking event on the Madison Square Park lawn, offering a variety of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory ice cream flavors to attendees that ranged from classic vanilla to ginger and black sesame. The AABANY Women’s Committee planned this networking event with two main objectives in mind: to ease everyone back into in-person events in a casual, outdoor setting and to get everyone comfortable with each other so that the Committee can engage in more serious conversations and initiatives in the future. The Women’s Committee was able to secure exciting ice cream flavors thanks to Co-Chair Jennifer Wu’s friendship with Christina Seid, owner of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and recently admitted law student. Wen Zhang remarked that one highlight of co-chairing for the Women’s Committee was supporting other remarkable women in law, and Christina is a case in point. As a business owner and mother, Christina already has her hands full, yet she is eager to embark on a possible second career through a flex program which entails devoting her entire Sunday to law school, in person, for the next year.

Attendees welcomed meeting new faces over refreshing ice cream in the remarkably warm weather, joining together to applaud and congratulate Vice Chair Grace Jamgochian’s recent election as a partner at Shearman & Sterling. Ashley Shan, an associate at Shearman, noted that she appreciated AABANY’s efforts and events, particularly because she is the Co-Chair of her firm’s Asian affinity group. She expressed a hope to work with and be inspired by AABANY initiatives for implementation at work in the future.

AABANY thanks the Women’s Committee for hosting such a fun, summer-appropriate event and the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for providing delicious ice cream. To learn more about AABANY’s Women’s Committee, click here. To learn more about the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory Committee, click here.

Women’s Committee Hosts First Breakfast Meeting in 2020

On January 16th, the Women’s Committee kicked off the new year with a breakfast meeting at Urbanspace Vanderbilt. Eight people attended the 8am meeting to discuss careers, professional development events, and New Year resolutions.  It was great meeting lawyers from different fields, lawyers in transition, and lawyers with a variety of skills including yoga training and image consulting! We encouraged our members to attend the Family Law Committee General Interest Meeting and the Brown Bag Lunch with Sandra Ung, Special Assistant to Congresswoman Grace Meng and Executive Director of At the Table PAC, on 2/25. Registration link coming soon! 

Thanks to everyone who attended. To learn more about the Women’s Commitee go to https://www.aabany.org/page/122

AABANY Presents: Dress for Success

On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, AABANY’s Career Placement Committee presented its inaugural Dress for Success event. The event took place at J.Crew Fifth Avenue. Over 20 people attended the event. The event provided attendees with personal styling advice, an opportunity to shop, and wardrobe demonstrations that would allow each attendee to put their best foot forward in dressing. Special thanks to the Government Service & Public Interest Committee, Litigation Committee, Solo & Small Firm Practice Committee, Student Outreach Committee, and Women’s Committee for co-sponsoring the event. Special thanks to Flavor Fuzion Catering and Ashvini Persaud, Sr. Business Banker at Capital One, for her generous donation.

AABANY Women’s Committee Paint & Wine Social

On Thursday, October 24, the Women’s Committee hosted a paint & wine social at the Painting Lounge in Manhattan. Members mingled over wine and cheese and then created beautiful interpretations  of the Eiffel Tower. 

Thank you to everyone who attended! To learn more about the Women’s Committee and get involved, click here.