AABANY Co-Sponsors “Women’s Leadership Panel: Pathbreakers” Webinar

On July 22nd, GAPABA and NAPABA co-hosted a webinar panel entitled “Women’s Leadership Network: Pathbreakers,” which AABANY was proud to co-sponsor. The event, moderated by GAPABA President Angela Hsu and Hannah Kim, Chief Legal Officer of Energizer Holdings, featured six panelists who discussed the complexities of being an Asian American woman in the legal field, sharing personal anecdotes and advice with those wishing to break the so-called “bamboo ceiling” and “glass ceiling.”

The panelists included Amy Chua, author and Professor of Law at Yale Law School; Hon. Neomi Rao, a judge in the D.C. Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals; Marie Oh Huber, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel & Secretary at eBay; Hon. Lorna Schofield, a United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York; Jessie K. Liu, Former United States Attorney in D.C.; and Selena Loh LaCroix, Vice Chair & Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry.

The event was split into two sections: extracurricular development, and career changes and advice. During the first part of the event, the panelists discussed how they felt they had found success as Asian American women in typically white, male-dominated fields. All six panelists agreed that cultivating deep, lasting relationships was one of the most important keys to success. Others added that not allowing yourself to get discouraged was vital, especially because minorities often find their leadership abilities and competency questioned.

“There will always be assumptions based on our appearance and backgrounds, but the way to get around this is perseverance,” Liu said. Chua added that because of these assumptions, the playing field is not level; she admitted that she was forced to out-work and out-prepare her colleagues, and learning how to acknowledge the existence of stereotypes (such as the Model Minority Myth), while not focusing on them.

The panelists also discussed how they ended up in their current positions and in the legal field more generally. While each story was unique, they all shared a common theme – to get to the high-ranking positions they currently hold or have previously held, they had to begin at the lowest point on the totem pole and work their way up. Having a mentor that pushed them to work harder and guided them through their career choices made a big difference.

“I firmly believe that you can’t do it alone; things don’t happen without help. And I believe that the road is littered with hard-working smart people, but there are other qualities you need  to have: taking initiative and asking someone to be your mentor can go a long way,” Judge Schofield advised. While Huber agreed that the best relationships arise organically, she noted the need for organizational and structural change to allow minorities a greater chance to form relationships; “otherwise,” she said, “people are going to be left out.”

One of the most inspiring pieces of advice shared by the panelists was how they reacted to controversy and criticism. Chua admitted to writing provocative pieces even when her own mother warned against it, and found three main ways to maintain her sanity: riding it out, standing her ground, and rejecting bitterness and pettiness.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Asian American women get shoved under the bus disproportionately because of the Model Minority Myth,” Chua shared. “But it is vital to be generous and optimistic regardless.” 

The second section of the discussion focused more specifically on switching careers and taking risks professionally. Many of the panelists switched from the private to the public sector, and though the motivations to make this switch varied from person to person, they all noted that the choice is based both on the context of where you are in life and in your mindset.

Judge Schofield shared that the decision for her to leave the corporate world took a great deal of time, thought, and courage, but when the opportunity arose, she was very glad she took it.

Lacroix added that “as scary as it was to take the plunge, I haven’t looked back since.” She explained that “sometimes your corporation and your own personal integrity might diverge — if it gets very far from each other the discomfort level can get really hard. Trust your own instincts and values,  because that’s all you have at the end of the day. If that’s something that diverges from your corporation, do not be afraid to make that choice. You’re the only one who can build and maintain that integrity.”

On taking risks, Liu added that nearly every job has some degree of risk associated with it. She noted that her personal philosophy is to say ‘yes’ to opportunities whenever they arise and see where it goes from there, because you never know if or when it may come again. 

Ultimately, the panelists all shared that while blazing the trail as Asian American women – often facing harsh assumptions and negative stereotypes – was difficult, it was also extremely rewarding. Judge Schofield advised the audience that “people are going to notice you’re different so you might as well do something with that. Embrace that you’re different and do it with confidence.”

AABANY is honored to have been a co-sponsor for the event, and we would like to thank GAPABA for putting together a wonderful panel, as well as all the speakers for their sage advice and inspiring stories.

For a video of the panel, please click here. 


The nomination deadline for the following NAPABA awards has been extended to June 23, 2014!

Nomination forms can be found here. Completed nomination forms must be emailed to [email protected] by 5:00 pm ET on June 23, 2014. All emails will be acknowledged with a reply.

We look forward to receiving your nominations and seeing you all at the 2014 NAPABA Convention where the award recipients will be honored.


National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

1612 K Street NW, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20006

November 12, 2013

Contact: Azizah Ahmad
(202) 775-9555


WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) honored individual and law firm recipients of its annual awards at its 25th Annual Convention in Kansas City, MO, on Nov. 7-10, 2013.  The awards bestowed were the Senator Daniel K. Inouye NAPABA Trailblazer Award, Best Lawyers Under 40 Award, President’s Award, Women’s Leadership Award, Affiliate of the Year, APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year, and Law Firm Diversity Award.

The Trailblazer Award, which is NAPABA’s highest honor, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated vision, courage, and tenacity, and who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the Asian Pacific American (APA) legal profession, as well as to the broader APA community. On Friday, November 8, 2013, NAPABA held a special ceremony to rename the Trailblazer Award in honor of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye and presented the 2013 Senator Daniel K. Inouye NAPABA Trailblazer Award to the following recipients:

  • Hon. Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Senator (posthumously awarded)
  • Lowell Chun-Hoon, Partner, King, Nakamura & Chun-Hoon
  • Hon. Lynn R. Nakamoto, Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Hon. Maryka Omatsu, Justice, Ontario Court of Justice, Canada
  • Brian A. Sun, Partner, Jones Day
  • Hon. John M. Tran, Judge, Circuit Court of Fairfax County, VA

The 2013 Best Lawyers Under 40 Awards were presented at NAPABA’s Anniversary Gala and Celebration Dinner on November 9, 2013. This award recognizes talented APA attorneys under the age of 40 who have achieved prominence in the practice of law while demonstrating an unwavering dedication to the APA community. NAPABA proudly announces the 2013 Best Lawyers Under 40 Award recipients:

  • Jason J. DeJonker, Seyfarth Shaw LLP
  • Sandra S. Fujiyama, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
  • Albert Giang, Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC
  • Mike F. Huang, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP
  • Jin Y. Hwang, Verizon Enterprise Solutions
  • Christopher C. Javillonar, Bryan Cave LLP
  • Christopher D. Kang, Office of the White House Counsel
  • Winifred V. Kao, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Asian Law Caucus
  • Eugene Kim, Gresham Savage Nolan & Tilden
  • Edward C. Lee, Aetna Inc.
  • John Park, Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP
  • Michael H. Park, Dechert LLP
  • Rudhir Patel, Apple Inc.
  • Smeeta Ramarathnam, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
  • Steven Y. Reeves, Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP
  • Asim Rehman, MetLife
  • Betty Song, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles
  • Sanya Sukduang, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
  • David J. Tsai, Perkins Coie LLP
  • Rocky C. Tsai, Ropes & Gray LLP

NAPABA Past President Paul O. Hirose was honored with the 2013 President’s Award for his continued dedication to NAPABA and the broader APA community, and, in particular, for his work in fighting human trafficking.

This year, J. Weili Cheng, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC, was awarded the 2013 Women’s Leadership Award for her significant contributions to the advancement of women in the legal profession.

The 2013 Affiliate of the Year Award was presented to the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts. This award was established to recognize outstanding local NAPABA affiliates and their best practices and accomplishments in their respective local communities.

The 2013 Law Firm Diversity Award honors law firms that recruit and retain APA lawyers and promote them to equity partnership and firm leadership. The award celebrates law firm successes in recognizing the potential, supporting the promise, and raising the influence of APA lawyers. The recipients of the inaugural Law Firm Diversity Award were:

  • Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks & Lincenberg, P.C.
  • Lim Ruger
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Last year, NAPABA established the APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award to recognize law firms that have achieved prominence and distinction in the legal profession while advancing the goals and ideals of NAPABA and APA legal advocacy groups. The award celebrates law practices that embrace the APA community while maintaining the highest ethical and legal standards in our profession. The 2013 APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award was presented to Kobre & Kim LLP.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 67 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.