Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association

President's Newsletter: January 2017

Tue, January 17, 2017 7:15 AM | Benjamin Kwan

Happy New Year! MNAPABA Has Much in Store for 2017

From the entire Executive Board of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, I'd like to wish you a happy new year--we hope that 2017 is off to a strong and meaningful start.

Constantly, we are reminded of how important our work remains some 30 years after our founding. Many of you likely saw the Associated Press article republished by the Star Tribune on Sunday pointing out something many of see everyday: the dearth of APAs in top legal jobs nationwide. We're lucky to have a few great exceptions here in Minnesota, but they shouldn't distract anyone from the lack of progress APAs face overall, especially on making equity partner in large private law firms. Our three-year plan includes a commitment to career advancement and fixing this and other inequities in the profession. We welcome your suggestions on programming and on engaging the stakeholders locally who can make sure APA attorneys have the relationships they need to thrive in Minnesota.

Your board has a lot planned for the coming months--with even more in the works aimed at deepening our professional and personal relationships and enriching the profession. Be on the lookout for news about March summer job symposium for students (after spring break) in collaboration with other affinity bars as well as our annual judges' reception (pencil in March 7, Judge Tony Atwal is our host this year!).

This week, consider attending the Federal Bar Association's Diversity Bar Meet & Greet | Federal Bar Association (MN) on Thursday 1/19 in Minneapolis. Next week, check out MNAPABA's own happy hour, MNAPABA MINGLE on Thursday 1/26 organized by VP of Membership Aalok Sharma and membership committee member Shaura Bagchi at the NEWSROOM in Minneapolis.

I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of our upcoming offerings and to review a few of the events and initiatives MNAPABA has been a part of since I last wrote. 

Can't Miss Opportunity: MNAPABA's Winter Retreat-Where Some of our Most Enduring Friendships Begin (Feb. 10-12)

I can trace many of my deepest relationships in MNAPABA back to the winter retreat as a law student, where I first met people like Veena Iyer. Veena, for example, later recruited me to the board in my first year of practice and here I am today. MNAPABA started the retreat years ago in part to introduce non-Minnesotans and non-northerners to the beauty of a Minnesota winter. I think that what some of them found was the beauty of a Minnesota winter includes hunkering down inside, in close quarters where friendships can blossom. 

We'd love for you to consider attending this year's Winter Retreat the weekend of February 10-12 in Deerwood, Minnesota--it's about a two hour drive north of the Twin Cities. We have limited spots available for attorneys and law students--families are welcome. REGISTER TODAY because... 

...I am thrilled to announce that the Hon. Peter Reyes of the Minnesota Court of Appeals has graciously offered to attend this winter's retreat. Judge Reyes will be leading a Saturday afternoon workshop titled "Planning for Your Own Success." The intimate setting at the retreat will be the perfect opportunity to reflect on your career, bounce ideas off of friends and peers in a confidential setting, and start developing your own plan with the help of a phenomenal mentor--Judge Reyes--who has helped countless individuals and organizations through strategic planning (including MNAPABA) over the last decade-plus. Judge Reyes will share his own plans that have helped him keep on track through many seasons of his legal career (private firm practice to in-house for a dozen years and back out to a private firm with a book of business to build to the Court of Appeals!). 

We plan to arrive on Friday evening--dinner is provided after your drive up (donated by my dad of Red Moon Chinese Cafe in Eden Prairie, and me). Weather-permitting, Saturday will include outdoor activities and Judge Reyes' personal planning workshop. On Sunday evening, participants will all contribute to our annual winter retreat "potluck." 

A New Year's Resolution--A Recommitment to Service--Sign up for our Legal Advice Clinic 

As I discussed at the gala last fall, my goal this year is to create new opportunities for MNAPABA lawyers and law students to serve our greater community.

Please sign up for the next such opportunity: our MNAPABA Legal Advice Clinic on February 22, 2017. Training is going to take place on February 14 or 15 -- news to come.  If you would like to assist in partnership with the Hmong American Partnership and the Hmong American Bar Association, please email Summra Shariff.

For those of you who have been and remain committed to service within the profession, don't forget to log your pro bono hours with the MSBA's North Star Lawyers program--MNAPABA would love to see your names on the annual list of those who give back through pro bono service.

Now is the time for all MSBA members who meet the program requirements to certify their 2016 pro bono service, including members who previously participated in the program. Please don't delay – the deadline for submitting your information is February 28, 2017. Full program information and the certification form can be found on the North Star Lawyers website at: http://www.mnbar.org/NorthStar/

MNAPABA Working to Engage with Stakeholders on Minnesota's Upcoming Article III Appointments

Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-03) announced the formation of a judicial selection committee to review candidates and make recommendations to President-elect Trump to fill two vacancies on Minnesota’s federal district court.

MNAPABA leaders are currently engaged with various stakeholders including the co-chairs of the Rep. Paulsen committee and leaders from the affinity bar community to continue to advocate for a federal bench that reflects Minnesota's changing demographics. Last week MNAPABA's board voted to sign onto a letter with other affinity bars supporting the same. 

Those wishing to be considered for the positions of Judge,U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota should submit a letter of interest and resume between Monday, January 9, 2017 and Wednesday, January 25,2017 to: 250 Prairie Center Drive, Suite 230, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. Materials may also be emailed to the Committee at mndistrictcourt@mail.house.gov. References will be requested at a later date during the interview process.

MNAPABA endorses highly qualified candidates for judicial office who meet our organization's endorsement criteria and participate in our vetting and interview process. Information on seeking our endorsement is located on our website.

Gov. Dayton Announces Court of Appeals Vacancy

Likewise, MNAPABA is seeking candidates to support for a new vacancy recently announced by Governor Mark Dayton on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  No Asian Pacific American has ever served on Minnesota's second-highest court. 

Governor Mark Dayton announced the commencement of a process to fill an upcoming Eighth Congressional District vacancy on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. This vacancy will occur upon the retirement of the Honorable Lawrence B. Stauber at the end of May.

The application process is now open for this vacancy. Only persons who have resided in the Eighth Congressional District for at least one year shall be eligible. An individual wishing to apply may request an application by contacting Lidya Makonnen, Appointments Coordinator, via email at lidya.makonnen@state.mn.us. Application materials are due by close of business on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Interviews are scheduled to be held on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in Duluth.

MNAPABA Advocacy on Sentencing Reform Issues

MNAPABA took the lead last month on authoring a letter to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission on the issue of drug sentencing reforms. Five other affinity bars co-signed the letter.  MNAPABA took the stance that sentencing for repeat drug offenders should apply less-onerous sentencing guidelines that are congruent with legislative amendments signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton last year. Communities of color are disproportionately affected by the application of the old guidelines in calculating new sentences. 

Unfortunately, the commission went the other way.  We will continue our advocacy on this front.  You may view our letter here.

HCBA Event: 13th: From Slave to Criminal With One Amendment

The HCBA Diversity and Inclusion Committee would like to invite you to a unique event entitled, 13th: From Slave to Criminal with One Amendment? A Movie and Popcorn… and a Meaningful Discussion of an Important Amendment.

The event is taking place on Tuesday, Jan. 24 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. See the event flyer for more information

* * * 

Hope you've enjoyed this edition of the President's Newsletter -- until next time, lookout for your next set up updates in our February monthly newsletter--if you haven't seen our recent monthly newsletter, be on the lookout for them on the first Tuesday of the month. VP of Communications Vince Pham has done a phenomenal job making them easy-to-read and valuable sources of information for our members. Thanks Vince!

Mailing Address:
MNAPABA c/o Minnesota State Bar Association
600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 380, Minneapolis, MN 55402

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