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Lisa P. Mak Joins Board of The Bar Association of San Francisco

Lisa P. Mak Joins Board of The Bar Association of San Francisco

Minami Tamaki attorney Lisa P. Mak recently started a two-year term on the board of directors of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF).

The BASF board has two seats designated for representatives of the Minority Bar Coalition. Lisa was selected by the Coalition for one of the seats. She served as co-chair of the Coalition in 2017 and continues to serve on its board.

The Minority Bar Coalition (MBC) is a network of over 40 diverse bar associations dedicated to working in a unified manner to advance the cause of diversity in the legal profession. MBC does this by sharing best practices and resources in bar association programming and advocacy, finding issues of common cause, and building shared platforms.

“I hope to contribute to BASF’s commitment to engage our members with service opportunities, educational programs, and community advocacy,” said Lisa. “I want the legal community to know about the meaningful work this organization has been doing, especially in the current political climate. I’m also excited to continue working with both BASF and the MBC to drive our shared goals of increasing diversity in the legal profession.”

Lisa’s new BASF role is an extension of her ongoing leadership in the community and in the legal profession. She serves on the boards of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and is Co-Chair of the Diversity Outreach Committee of the California Employment Lawyers Association.

Lisa is part of our Consumer and Employee Rights Group and passionate about protecting the rights of consumers and employees as individuals and in class actions. Her practice includes employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation, contract claims, and labor code violations. She is experienced in litigation, from pre-litigation negotiations to trials and appeals. Lisa also advises employees on employment contracts and severance agreements.

PHOTO: Minami Tamaki attorney Lisa P. Mak (left) with other members of the BASF board.

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2017

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2017

TOP PHOTO: (back row) Partner Dale Minami (second from left) with the Hon. Holly J. Fujie (left), Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge; Pankit Doshi (second from right), incoming NAPABA national president; Ameek Sidhu (right); (front row) David Louie (left), former Attorney General for the State of Hawai’i; Joan Haratani (middle), the 2006 president of the Bar Association of San Francisco; and Michelle Park Chiu (right), AABA Bay Area board member (photo courtesy of AABA).

Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys Dale Minami, Sean Tamura-Sato, Suhi Koizumi, Lisa P. Mak, and Seema Bhatt recently attended the annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) National Convention in Washington, D.C.  The Convention had a record-breaking turnout of over 2,000 Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law students, and elected officials from around the country.

Suhi Koizumi, a Senior Associate in our Immigration Practice Group, was honored with the prestigious NAPABA Best Under 40 Award, which recognizes talented individuals in the Asian Pacific American legal community who are under the age of 40 and have achieved prominence and distinction in their respective fields, and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to Asian Pacific American civic or community affairs.

Minami Tamaki’s Suhi Koizumi (left of podium) receiving one of NAPABA’s ‘Best Under 40″ awards at the 2017 national convention (photo by Lisa P. Mak).

During CLE breakout sessions, Dale Minami, a Partner in our Personal Injury Group, joined with members of the Asian American Bar Association of New York in a moving re-enactment of the story and trial of Fred Korematsu, which resulted in the overturning of a 40-year-old conviction for Mr. Korematsu’s refusal to obey exclusion orders aimed at Japanese Americans during World War II.  Since Dale was the Lead Counsel for Fred Korematsu, he played himself in the re-enactment, which he described as “quite stressful.”

Minami Tamaki Partner Dale Minami participating in a re-enactment of the Korematsu trial (photo by Lisa P. Mak).

At the Convention, our firm also raised awareness about the Stop Repeating History ( campaign, which seeks to educate the public on the dangers of unchecked presidential power and the parallels between the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II with the current administration’s travel ban executive orders.

All of our attorneys who attended the Convention were a part of the NAPABA Solo and Small Firm Committee, which promotes the interest of small firms through “Boot Camp” seminars, networking, and cross referrals.

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA), represented by President Miriam Kim, was honored with the NAPABA Affiliate of the Year Award, which recognizes an outstanding local affiliate bar association for its best practices and accomplishments in its local community.  Nassiri & Jung LLP of San Francisco, represented by Charles Jung, was recognized as the APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year.  Pankit Doshi of San Francisco was sworn in as the new President of NAPABA.

Dale was a co-founder of AABA.  Sean Tamura-Sato, a Partner in our Consumer & Employee Rights Group, and Lisa P. Mak, an Associate in the same group, currently serve on AABA’s Board of Directors.

Associates Seema Bhatt (left) and Lisa P. Mak (right) attended their first NAPABA convention (photo courtesy of Lisa. P. Mak).

Lisa and Seema were first-time Convention attendees and were inspired by the experience of seeing so many influential API attorneys in diverse roles and meeting many judges, politicians, and other prominent members of the legal community.

Minami Tamaki is proud to continue supporting NAPABA and its efforts to address civil rights issues, promote community service, and increase diversity in the legal profession.

Partners Dale Minami (left) and Sean Tamura-Sato at the NAPABA 2017 convention (photo by Lisa P. Mak).

Echoes of History: From the Incarceration of Japanese Americans to the Travel Ban

Echoes of History: From the Incarceration of Japanese Americans to the Travel Ban

This article by Partner Dale Minami was original written for the October 2017 issue of Contra Costa Lawyer, the official publication of the Contra Costa County Bar Association.

December 7, 1941.  The United States is suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.  A Day of Infamy.  Within two months, President Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066 which banishes 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast states, two-thirds of whom are American citizens.  They suffer indefinite confinement in prison camps in the nether reaches of the country.  No notice of charges, no right to attorneys, no trials.  Japanese Americans are sent to live in horse stalls, ramshackle barracks in deserts behind barbed wire in abject living conditions.  The old, the infirm, the children are all deemed national security risks.  Their crime:  racial ancestry.

The Supreme Court validated the curfew and exclusion orders aimed at Japanese Americans in the infamous landmark decisions of Hirabayashi vs. United StatesYasui vs. United States and Korematsu vs. United States, meekly accepting the military’s bald assertion of “military necessity” despite the absence of any acts of disloyalty or any proof of espionage or sabotage by Japanese Americans. The Court pronounces a rigid scrutiny test but it fails to perform any thorough analysis of the military’s claims.

Almost 40 years later, in 1983, along with a group of young lawyers [1], I represented Fred Korematsu in his coram nobis petition (“Korematsu II”) to overturn his conviction. This rare writ is limited to cases in which a “fundamental error” has been committed after a sentence has been served.  Based upon evidence discovered by Professor Peter Irons and Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig demonstrating that the government had knowingly presented falsified and altered evidence of disloyalty and espionage by Japanese Americans, we filed the coram nobis petition in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to overturn Korematsu’s conviction.  Later parallel filings were made in Portland, Oregon for Minoru Yasui and in Seattle for Gordon Hirabayashi.

When we filed the petition the stakes were significant.  Japanese Americans, along with allies of all colors, had sought redress and reparations from Congress for this monumental injustice.  Opponents of redress argued that the Supreme Court had validated the exclusion and by implication, the detention, in the Hirabayashi, Yasui and Korematsu cases in 1943 and 1944.  Losing these cases a second time would surely set back the redress movement.  However, winning a judicial declaration of the government misconduct and lack of military necessity would discredit the validity of those Supreme Court decisions and undermine a central argument by the opponents of redress.

When our legal team stood in the courtroom on a rainy 10th day of November in 1983 to argue for overturning Fred Korematsu’s 40-year-old conviction, we knew that an extraordinary event would be unfolding.  Judge Marilyn Hall Patel had the case reassigned to the “Ceremonial Courtroom,” a larger, more grandiose venue.  Folding chairs were brought in to accommodate the more than 1,000 spectators, and reporters were stuffed into the jury box.  The audience included many Japanese Americans, young and old, including former prisoners and Japanese American veterans of the US Army who volunteered while their families were incarcerated.  The entire scene produced palpable electricity for Japanese Americans who were about to get their first day in court on the issue of their imprisonment.

Fred Korematsu, who lost his case in 1944, felt the weight of responsibility for a decision that essentially justified the incarceration of his people.  The legal team felt that weight too, but understood that the powerful evidence of misconduct admitted by government attorneys in 1944 refuted the arguments advanced by the Solicitor General that Japanese Americans were dangerous or disloyal.  The Supreme Court never saw the favorable evidence which the Solicitor General intentionally suppressed. Clearly, a fraud was committed on the United States Supreme Court in 1943 and 1944.

In the middle of the litigation, the government first offered a pardon to resolve Korematsu’s petition which he rejected, then offered a “Pardon of Innocence,” a government construct which would both forgive punishment and establish Koremtasu’s innocence of charges.  But after we presented the offer to Korematsu and his wife, their response was what we had hoped for and reflected their integrity, resolve and principles – “We won’t accept a pardon from the government; if anything, we should pardon the government!”

We came to this moment in time after almost two years of work grappling with some difficult legal questions:  How to overturn a 40-year-old conviction affirmed by the Supreme Court?  How to prove that a fraud was committed on our highest judicial body?  Can we introduce evidence so old that most of the authors and creators of the evidence are deceased?  Can we show that the Justices of the Supreme Court would have reached a different decision if they had known the truth?  Perhaps most importantly, how do we turn a civil rights disaster not well known in the American community into a tool to educate Americans?

I argued the case for my client with an introduction:  “We are here today to seek a measure of justice denied to Fred Korematsu and the Japanese American community some 40 years ago.”  The United States attorney argued that no legal or factual decisions were necessary.  In an unusual accommodation, the Court allowed Korematsu to speak.  In a strong, firm voice, he asked the Court to overturn his conviction so that what happened to him would never happen to another American again.

Judge Patel then ruled from the bench and stated decisively that the justification of “military necessity” for the executive and military orders were based on “unsubstantiated facts, distortions and representations of at least one military commander, whose views were seriously infected by racism.”  She also declared that serious governmental misconduct resulted in a manifest injustice.  With those words, she overturned Fred Korematsu’s 40-year-old conviction.

Following the Korematsu decision, Minoru Yasui’s conviction was overturned but without any explanation.  Gordon Hirabayashi tried his case to a mixed verdict but received full vindication in the 9th Circuit in a strong decision by Judge Mary Schroeder.  All three men had their convictions vacated and in due time, all three men received the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country.

The significance of Korematsu II and the Hirabayashi and Yasui victories are in the critical lessons taught about the role of courts and political power.   The original Korematsu Court failed to demand justification for the military orders and granted virtually complete deference to the military orders and the President.  The result was a civil rights disaster.  By revealing the extraordinary misconduct undermining the government’s case during World War II, Korematsu II highlighted the dangers when judicial review becomes a rubber stamp.

For Japanese Americans, Korematsu II lifted the cloud of disloyalty and validated their political birthright to dissent.  And, in a larger sense, the Court’s decision was a victory for all Americans.   It taught America about the fragility of civil rights especially during times of international tensions.  It reinforced our belief that civil rights must be fought for and are not simply guaranteed by the Courts or by any governmental institution. Civil rights are not gifts; they are challenges.

Fast forward:  35 years after Fred Korematsu’s conviction was overturned and 75 years after President Roosevelt’s Executive Order incarcerating Japanese Americans, the echoes of history resound today.  In the battle against terrorism, President Trump issued an executive order banning persons from certain Muslim majority countries from entering the United States.  He argued that his order was unreviewable by the Courts and was justified by national security.  This time, however, both the Fourth Circuit and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals rejected those arguments which the original Korematsu decision endorsed:

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

State of Washington, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, et al. (9th Cir. 2017) 847 F.3d 1151, 1161.

The Ninth Circuit stated emphatically:  “[C]ourts are not powerless to review the political branches’ actions with respect to matters of national security.”  Id. at p. 1163.  Quoting United States v. Robel, the Court observed:  “[N]ational defense’ cannot be deemed an end in itself, justifying any exercise of legislative power designed to promote such a goal…. It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties … which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile.”  Id.  To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin:  A country which values security over liberty deserves neither.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear full arguments on the immigration ban in October.  Through the lens of history, Asian-Pacific Americans remember the first immigration bans imposed on an ethnic group – the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Exclusion Act barring Japanese Americans in 1924 and the racial profiling of Japanese Americans during World War II which accepted group rather than individual guilt.  President Trump’s justification of “national security” for the ban on immigration from majority Muslim countries is eerily similar to the justification of “military necessity” proffered in times past.  History should teach us to be wary of the wrongs that can be perpetrated under the mask of sweeping justifications of national security.  It should teach us that our courts need to exercise their proper authority in the checks and balances system. Without that balance, we veer toward losing the democracy we cherish.

[1] Other core members of the Korematsu legal team included Don Tamaki, Karen Kai, Judge Dennis Hayashi, Judge Edward Chen, Lorraine Bannai, Robert Rusky, Eric Yamamoto, Leigh-Ann Miyasato, Marjie Barrows and Donna Komure.

75th Anniversary of E.O. 9066 in the Spotlight at Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference

75th Anniversary of E.O. 9066 in the Spotlight at Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Dale Minami joined Judge Marilyn Hall Patel (Northern District of California), Judge Mary Schroeder (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) and Karen Korematsu at the recent Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference to discuss Korematsu v. U.S. and the persisting relevance of the government’s malfeasance in the Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

The annual Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference is a prestigious invitation-only forum that includes judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. district courts and lawyers practicing in these courts. This past conference was held July 17-20 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown San Francisco.

The conference included a special program marking the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 and the presidential directives that led to the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans citizens during World War II.

The program focused on the extraordinary search for justice by Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui – who waited four decades to be exonerated of criminal convictions for violating government orders based on the dangers posed by Japanese Americans, claims that were later proven false.  Documents admitting their falsity by government lawyers were suppressed and other evidence discounting the danger of Japanese Americans were altered, destroyed or suppressed from Supreme Court review.   In addition to historical accounts, the discussion focused on the imperfect balancing of civil rights and national security during a period of national uncertainty.

“The court gave almost complete deference to the military, and they refused to look at any underlying facts in the justification for the incarceration,” said Minami. “The duty of the courts is to judge any decision by any person on constitutional law – nobody is above the constitution. Those issues are still relevant today, as we well know.”

Judges Patel and Schroeder who authored the decisions in the Korematsu and Hirabayashi cases, respectively, told poignant stories of how the cases affected them and became some of the most significant rulings in their long and respected careers.  Karen described the ostracism her father suffered from his own community for challenging the Military Orders and appealing to the Supreme Court for relief.

Read more about the program in this article on

Dale to Speak on Korematsu Case at Japan Society Event on Aug. 24

The Japan Society of Northern California has invited Dale to speak at its event on August 24, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Dentons law firm, Spear Tower, 1 Market Plaza, San Francisco.

Dale will share details of the Korematsu coram nobis team’s successful effort in 1983 to overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, whose defiance of the World War II Japanese American exclusion order led to Korematsu v. United States, one of the most controversial United States Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century.

The Korematsu cases remain highly relevant today as our nation wrestles with issues of race, ethnicity and immigration. Earlier this year a Ninth Circuit federal judge referred to the Korematsu case to raise questions about President Trump’s proposed ban on visitors from Muslim-majority countries.

For more information about the August 24 event, visit

Spotlight on Mark Fong’s Work with Chinatown Community Development Center

Spotlight on Mark Fong’s Work with Chinatown Community Development Center


Minami Tamaki Partner B. Mark Fong (right in photo) and other members of the firm attended Chinatown Community Development Center’s (CCDC) 39th Gala and Tribute to Rose Pak on October 7. More than 800 guests joined together to pay tribute to Rose, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., and current Mayor Edwin Lee.

CCDC is a community development organization primarily serving Chinatown, North Beach and the Tenderloin. The organization plays many roles: neighborhood advocates, organizers and planners, and developers and managers of affordable housing.

Mark has served on the CCDC board of directors since 2013. He’s currently the chair of the board’s Governance Committee.

In late 2015, Mark worked with staff at CCDC to develop two Public Service Announcements which ran on Chinese television station KTSF to educate drivers and pedestrians on ways to avoid pedestrian accidents.

At least 800 pedestrians are hit by cars in San Francisco every year. In 2014 alone, 17 pedestrians died in the City. Seniors in particular face the greatest risk for being fatally injured when hit by cars. For many years, Minami Tamaki LLP has engaged in efforts to raise awareness of pedestrian safety, especially among seniors in areas such as San Francisco’s Chinatown and Japantown.

As a board member – and someone who grew up in Chinatown – Mark is proud that CCDC recently assumed responsibility from the San Francisco Housing Authority to own and manage the Ping Yuen housing projects, along with other public housing in the Chinatown cluster — a total of seven buildings with 576 units of deeply affordable housing for families and seniors in the heart of Chinatown.

Ping Yuen was built in 1955 and the buildings have never been substantially renovated until now. Under CCDC’s management, the Pings will be upgraded to meet seismic, structural, mechanical, electrical and safety standards, and each of the units will be renovated.

“This will require relocation of the tenants while work is being done, after which they will be invited to return,” said Mark. “This is a huge project which has required CCDC to increase the number of its staff to ensure the project runs smoothly and tenant relocation is handled with sensitivity.”

As a result of diminishing federal funds and declining investments in public housing, Mayor Lee selected Chinatown CDC and other nonprofit housing developers to participate in HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which has brought in new resources to rehabilitate public housing such as the Pings.

Nonprofits such as CCDC depend on community members like Mark to help provide leadership and assistance.  Says Mark, “Even though I grew up in Chinatown, serving on the CCDC board has taught me a lot about this community, and has given me the opportunity to support an organization which has made a tremendous impact to improve the quality of life for people not just in Chinatown but the City as a whole.”

Olivia Serene Lee to Chair AILA NorCal Chapter for 2016-2017

OLeeOlivia Serene Lee, an associate in our Immigration Practice Group, was selected as the 2016-2017 Chair for the Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA NorCal).

Olivia began serving as Chair on July 1. She has served on the AILA NorCal Executive Board for the past three years.

She has been actively involved in AILA NorCal since 2009, leading and organizing more than 30 Continuing Legal Education programs in all aspects of immigration law, including prosecutorial discretion, export control, PERM, waivers, asylum, and events with immigration judges, USCIS, CBP, DOL and asylum officers. She also served as faculty on local and national AILA CLE panels on topics such as O-1s and H-1Bs.

“It’s an honor to serve the AILA community,” said Olivia.  “Our Chapter is incredibly diverse, ranging from nonprofit attorneys, experts in crimmigration issues, advocates for universal representation in immigration court, to family and business immigration attorneys.  We must stay dialed-in to the current affairs at home and around the world that may impact immigration. With the presidential elections this year, immigration issues will be at the forefront of political debates, and the outcome of our presidential elections may have a lasting impact on our immigration system.”

Olivia recently participated in an immigration lobby day in Washington, DC, to advocate for immigration reform, and she served as the chapter co-liaison to the San Francisco USCIS Field Office. She also spoke on a NAPABA panel in Arizona on the topic of immigration.

AILA is the national bar for immigration attorneys, and AILA NorCal is one of its larger chapters, with over 850 members.

2016 Dale Minami Fellowship Dinner Focus on ‘Immigration: Succeeding Through Adversity’

The Ninth Annual Dale Minami Public Interest Fellowship Dinner was held on January 29, 2016, at Canton Seafood in San Francisco.

This year’s Fellowship Dinner honored Alumna of the Year Linda Tam (Boalt ’00) of the East Bay Community Law Center (Boalt ‘95) and featured a keynote by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge My-Le Jacqueline Duong.

The 2016 Dale Minami Public Interest Fellow was awarded to Yanin Senachai (Boalt ‘12).

Yanin Senachai, 2016 Dale Minami Fellowship recipient
Yanin Senachai, 2016 Dale Minami Fellowship recipient

Yanin is a staff attorney at the Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles Impact Litigation Unit.  Yanin started at Advancing Justice – LA as a Skadden Fellow with a project focusing on combating wage theft and labor exploitation of Thai and other Asian undocumented low-wage workers.

Yanin represents low wage workers in administrative individual and group claims and settlement negotiations for unpaid wages, retaliation and employment discrimination. She also represents workers in civil claims for human trafficking and labor law violations as well as helping these workers petition for immigration relief.

Yanin has successfully represented Asian and Latino restaurant workers in mediation to settle claims for employment discrimination, wage and hour violations and retaliation. She has also represented Indonesian and Filipino victims of human trafficking in civil litigation in state and federal court.

Yanin got her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, where she won the 2012 Francine Diaz Memorial Award, the Jim Fahey Safe Homes Fellowship for Women and the Berkeley Law Foundation Phoenix Fellowship for her commitment to social justice.  While at Berkeley Law, Yanin also participated in Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, Domestic Violence Practicum and East Bay Community Law Center’s Neighborhood Justice Clinic. Moreover, she served as the auction co-chair in the Berkeley Law Foundation, co-chair in the National Lawyers Guild, and the symposium editor of the Asian American Law Journal.

Since 2008, the Dale Minami Public Interest Fellowship and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, have hosted this event to bring together students, alumni, and friends to celebrate and honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the Asian Pacific Islander community. Vina Ha (‘09), Bryan Springmeyer (‘10) and Eunice Koo (‘09) are the board members whose leadership guides this Fellowship.

Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys Olivia S. Lee, Sean Tamura-Sato, Seema Bhatt, and Partner Mark Fong.
Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys Olivia S. Lee, Sean Tamura-Sato, Seema Bhatt, and Partner Mark Fong.

Each year, law firms, businesses, and friends of APALSA underwrite the Fellowship Dinner. All proceeds from the dinner go toward the endowment and funding of the Dale Minami Public Interest Fellowship, which provides critical support to individuals who pursue legal careers in the public interest. Minami Fellows are selected for their diverse backgrounds, record of exceptional academic and professional accomplishment, leadership in community service, and commitment to social justice and public interest work.

The 2016 Dale Minami Fellowship Dinner was co-chaired by Evangeline Phang, Cynthia Huynh, Yesol Han, and Peggy P. Ni — mentored by Fellowship co-founders and mentors Bryan Springmeyer and Vina Ha.

Learn more at

Legally Asian Pre-Law Conference Promotes Diversity in Legal Profession

The 7th Annual Legally Asian Conference was held on February 6 at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Downtown Campus. Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak served as one of the conference coordinators. Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Sean Tamura-Sato was a panelist.

Minami Tamaki Associate Lisa P. Mak (right), one of the conference coordinators, and USF law student Victor Ng welcome attendees.

Started in 2010, the all-day conference encourages Bay Area high school, college, and post-college students, especially those from diverse backgrounds, to consider law school and the legal profession.

The Legally Asian conference is hosted by the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) and co-sponsored by other local minority bar associations, law firms, and law schools.

Panels and keynotes featured notable firm attorneys, public sector attorneys, judges, and in-house counsel, as well as those who have used their law degrees outside traditional law practices. A panel of Bay Area law students shared their experiences about law school, and attendees also got a taste of the law school setting through an interactive mock class. Dean John Trasviña of USF School of Law delivered opening remarks.

Minami Tamaki Associate Sean Tamura-Sato speakers with USF School of Law Dean John Trasviña.Minami Tamaki Associate Sean Tamura-Sato (right) speaks with USF School of Law Dean John Trasviña.

Sean spoke on the Law Firm and In-House Panel, providing attendees with perspectives on working at Minami Tamaki, a minority-owned law firm with a social justice background and diverse practice areas, such as Immigration, Consumer and Employee Rights, Corporate and Nonprofit, and Personal Injury.

Other panelists during the day included San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Tracie Brown; Salle Yoo, General Counsel of Uber; and Victor Hwang, Deputy Director of API Legal Outreach.

Claire Y. Choo, James J. Lee, Stephen T. Chong, and Lisa coordinated the conference. Lisa is also Co-Chair for the AABA Community Services Committee.  The Committee organizes pro bono legal clinics, community service volunteer events, and diversity-oriented events for Bay Area attorneys and law students.

The Legally Asian Conference co-sponsors included the USF School of Law, Vietnamese Bar Association of Northern California, South Asian Bar Association of Northern California, Filipino Bar Association of Northern California, and the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California.

Visit for more information about this annual event.

Olivia S. Lee Joins Global EIR’s Legal Advisory Committee

Olivia S. Lee Joins Global EIR’s Legal Advisory Committee

Minami Tamaki LLP Immigration Practice Associate Olivia S. Lee was recently named one of ten attorneys on the Legal Advisory Committee for the Global EIR Coalition (

The Global EIR Coalition is a nonprofit that fixes the startup visa problem for founders. The organization is led and advised by some of the staunchest advocates at the intersection of startups and immigration, including Jeff Bussgang, Vivek Wadhwa, and Cyrus Mehta.

Global EIR allows universities and startups to work together to connect founders as mentors to students considering entrepreneurship, which gets the founders access to the visas they need to raise capital and build their businesses.

As the current immigration system is broken, especially when it comes to startups, Global EIR offers a bridge over visa risk. More and more cities around the country are looking to startups to create jobs and grow the local economy, and Global EIR is a useful tool to encouraging locally educated entrepreneurs to stay in the area and help build the startup community.

“I want to thank Craig Montuori, the Executive Director of Global EIR, for selecting me for the Legal Advisory Committee,” said Olivia. “Global EIR is going to help great startup founders achieve their American Dreams.”

Olivia’s expertise at Minami Tamaki LLP is on startups and emerging companies in a variety of non-immigrant and immigrant matters.

She advises clients on immigration matters related to all stages of the startup process, including pre-formation, seed funding, accelerator/incubator programs, early and late stage, acquisitions and mergers, and public offering. She has extensive experience providing guidance on E-3, H-1B, J-1, O-1, and TN non-immigrant issues, as well as EB-1 and AOS (green card) issues in relation to emerging companies.

Olivia has also been active in professional and civic affairs. Between 2009 to 2013, Olivia has served on the Advisory Council and Executive Board of the American Immigration Lawyers Association of Northern California (AILA NorCal). Olivia is currently the AILA NorCal Vice Chair and co-liaison to San Francisco USCIS.

She was recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2014 and again in 2015.