Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association

President's Newsletter | February 2017

Thu, March 02, 2017 9:45 AM | Benjamin Kwan

Concluding February with reflections on service, community, and a vibrant lineup of upcoming events

February may be the shortest month measured in days--but let it be known that this month comes to a close having seen active participation from all corners of our Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association membership.

From Lunar New Year dim sum to our annual Winter Retreat to serving a couple dozen clients in need at our Legal Advice Day in St. Paul, MNAPABA members and friends came out in force to celebrate our community and serve. 

February was also a month the APA community took stock of of where we've been and how far we still have to go (and help others go, frankly).  On February 19, many of us took pause to note the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As we all know, the order authorized the evacuation of all persons deemed a purported "threat" to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland. In the next 6 months, over 100,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were moved to assembly centers. They were then evacuated to and confined in isolated, fenced, and guarded relocation centers, known as internment camps. Fox 9 did a story on the commemoration of the historic anniversary at the Minnesota History Center that aired on the 19th and featured survivors of the incarceration camps (full disclosure, that's my fiancé Ted Haller, journalist/lawyer reporting--let's say I'm glad I talked this up a lot at the dinner table). 

There's a recap of our February events below, but before we dwell too much on the past, I'd like to highlight another action-packed month ahead that I hope each and everyone of you will join us for.

Judges & Craft Beer - A New Twist on Our Annual Judges Reception (Next Tuesday!)

The number eight is really great, isn't it? If you're familiar with Chinese customs--you know the number eight carries a lot of lucky significance.  Eight also happens to be the number of active and senior MNAPABA Asian Pacific American judges we can now celebrate in the State of Minnesota.  Eight!  We're only about half way to full demographic representation, but we're making progress as an APA community.

Please join MNAPABA on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. to celebrate our APA state and federal judicial officers at this year's annual Judges Reception. This year, our "host" judge is the Hon. Tony Atwal, Ramsey County District Judge. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Judge Atwal to the bench last May.

Instead of congregating in chambers this year, we are taking the Judges' Reception out into the community. Next Tuesday, join us at the Boom Island Brewing Company in Northeast Minneapolis where we'll also get to celebrate an APA-owned business. The Belgian-styled brewery is co-owend by Qiuxia Welch, who supervises the business and marketing side of things along with her brewer husband, Kevin. Even Qiuxia’s parents played a critical role in the business, leaving their home in Chengdu, China, to help construct the brewery and fill in as needed during the company's early years. Both Qiuxia and Judge Atwal will both have remarks for us about their journeys to places few APAs have gone before.

Don't forget to RSVP so we have enough provisions--light appetizers provided by MNAPABA. 

Affinity Bar Job Symposium: This Summer & Beyond

If you've ever talked to longtime friend and sponsor of MNAPABA, Jerry Blackwell, about the work we do in the diversity bar you've probably heard him talk about B-HAGs -- Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. 

Five affinity bars got together after the first of the year and came up with a BHAG (bee-HAG) to serve our Twin Cities law students -- the Affinity Bar Jobs Symposium: This Summer & Beyond on March 21, 2017 at Dorsey & Whitney.

Registration is nearly full--so employers and students who want to participate should register as soon as possible

We set out to create an event that would answer student questions at a critical time before spring finals and with about two months until summer--we want to bring our diverse law students into one room and demystify the legal hiring process across the profession and for students at each level. The event will include a one-hour panel/Q&A with attorneys with job-seeking tips from all corners of the profession followed by an "organized but informal" networking session where legal employers will assume mapped-out stations in the room and students will get the opportunity to traverse the space. They'll be encouraged to work the room and learn about new areas of practice and meet hiring reps and lawyers from areas where they know they have interest. 

I'm particularly excited about this event and thankful for our very own Aalok Sharma, VP of Membership, for taking the lead on planning this B-HAG along with representatives from MABL, MHBA, MLBA, and MWL. Thanks, Aalok, and thanks to Dorsey & Whitney for hosting what looks to be a full-house on the 21st!

Our Second (of Many More to Come) Legal Advice Day is a Huge Success

Last Wednesday, more than two dozen lawyers and law student intake volunteers gathered at the Hmong American Partnership on Arcade Street in St. Paul to serve the community in our second-ever MNAPABA/HABA/VLN Legal Advice Day.

All together, we served some 29 clients on issues including immigration, criminal, housing, civil, and family law matters. (Right: MNAPABA member Victor Chan advises a client at the Legal Advice Day on February 22, 2017)

It was quite something to hear some of our clients' stories and address their needs--from the dire to just a basic desire to understand their legal rights and obligations. It was also amazing to see the diversity of participation from among our membership and friends--from the newest law students to the general counsel of a Fortune 100 company, it wasn't about us. Our clients looked at us all the same, with appreciation.

Very special thanks to Summra Shariff of Robins Kaplan LLP for coordinating the clinic along with Volunteer Lawyers Network, the Hmong American Bar Association, and the Hmong American Partnership. Summra is MNAPABA's former VP of Outreach and coordinates her law firm's pro bono efforts. We appreciate Robins Kaplan's support of this effort including all that the firm did to host our clinic training day. 

Our Legal Advice Day was so smoothly run that its organizers plan to bring it back to HAP on a periodic basis--perhaps for a few hours one day a month. Be on the lookout for details in an upcoming newsletter. 

The Winter Retreat Fosters MNAPABA Relationships Amongst the Pines

About 25 members took part in this year's Winter Retreat in Deerwood, Minnesota, the weekend of February 10th. Law students and practitioners gathered for a fun weekend away from the Twin Cities. 

We'd like to thank the Hon. Peter Reyes of the Minnesota Court of Appeals for joining us at the retreat and presenting a seminar on the importance of personal and career planning. Thank you, Judge Reyes for being a tremendous MNAPABA members, supporter, and "honorary Asian." 


That'll do it for this edition of the President's Newsletter. Here are some other bar and community events you don't want to miss:

Always check our homepage at mnapaba.org where we post our events, other bar and community events, and recent news. 

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

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