Blog : Community

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.

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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 legallyasianlaw.com 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 (http://www.globaleir.org/advisors).

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.

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Dale Minami Public Interest Fellowship Dinner Honors Nicole Wong, former U.S. Deputy CTO

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Dale Minami Fellowship team: (from left to right) Bryan Springmeyer (Program Director), Cindy Dinh, Vina Ha (President), Francis Choi (2014 dinner co-chair), Hong Le (2014 dinner co-chair), Dale Minami, AnVy Nguyen, Fuyuo Nagayama, and Stephen Chang

The Eighth Annual Dale Minami Public Interest Fellowship Dinner was held on January 30, 2015, at Canton Seafood in San Francisco.

This year’s Fellowship Dinner honored Alumna of the Year Nicole Wong (Boalt ‘95), former White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer, and the 2015 Dale Minami Public Interest Fellow, Saira Hussain (‘14), a Staff Attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.

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), Daniel Kim (‘09) And Eunice Koo (‘09) are the board members whose leadership guides this Fellowship.

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.

Alumna of the Year Nicole Wong is the former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer focusing on internet, privacy, and innovation policy. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Nicole served as the Legal Director for Products at Twitter. From 2004 to 2011, she was Google’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, primarily responsible for the company’s product and regulatory matters.

Before joining Google, Nicole was a partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie and advised some of Silicon Valley’s early and notable tech companies, including Yahoo! and Netscape. She also has taught First Amendment, internet law and policy courses as an adjunct professor and lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University and University of San Francisco.

Nicole was one of the founders and the first editor-in-chief of the Asian Law Journal from 1992-1995. She served on the Board of Governors for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association from 1996-1998 and, in 2005, Nicole was honored as one of NAPABA’s Best Lawyers Under 40. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University, and a law degree and a Master’s degree in Journalism from UC Berkeley.

2015 Dale Minami Public Interest Fellow Saira Hussain is a Staff Attorney with the Criminal Justice Reform Program at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, CA. She addresses violations of the California TRUST Act, a state law that places limitations on local law enforcement from holding individuals for immigration purposes. Saira came to the Asian Law Caucus as a Berkeley Law Public Interest Fellow in the Immigrant Rights Program.

At Berkeley Law, Saira was a clinical intern in the International Human Rights Law Clinic where she worked on the Accountability for Sexual Violence in Uganda Project and Cambodia Justice Project. She also served on the California Law Review as a Notes & Comments Editor and on the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law as an Articles Editor. Saira was a member of the Board of Advocates Moot Court Team and Co-Chair of the Women of Color Collective. She has served as a Volunteer Advocate with the California Asylum Representation Clinic and worked during her summers at the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center and Disability Rights Advocates.

Saira is a Double Bear, having attended the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate majoring in Public Health with a minor in Spanish. She was also the recipient of the Alumni Leadership Award and served as a Senator with the ASUC. Prior to law school, Saira worked at the Community Services Planning Council in Sacramento, Calif., working as an Earned Income Tax Credit Project Coordinator.

Suhi Koizumi is New President of Korean American Bar

Suhi Koizumi is New President of Korean American Bar

Photo: President Suhi Koizumi (third from right on far side of the table) and her fellow Korean American Bar Association board members at their first meeting of 2015. Photo via KABANC on Facebook.

In April 2015, Senior Associate Suhi Koizumi took office as President of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California (KABANC).

For three decades, KABANC has served the Korean American community and encouraged the professional growth of Korean American lawyers and law students in Northern California.

Suhi continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Partner Minette Kwok served as a Commissioner on the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization Immigration and Nationality Law. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

“My primary goals include awarding more scholarships to deserving law students. KABANC has a very unique scholarship program that assists law students during the bar examination preparation period, said Suhi.

“We are also working very hard to increase the frequency of pro bono clinics as well. I co-founded KABANC’s Women’s Committee last year. The Women’s Committee opened 2015 strong with an MCLE Elimination of Bias panel, and I’m fully committed to continue to grow women lawyers and law students’ participation in legal community and career advancement.”

Suhi added: “KABANC works closely with other bay area minority bar associations, and I will continue to maintain KABANC’s close ties with sister minority bar associations so that our collective community can establish a stronger voice.”

A Senior Associate in our Immigration Practice Group, Suhi partners with executives and legal and human resources personnel to address a wide spectrum of immigration issues of corporate clients.

She has been recognized by Super Lawyers in the Rising Star category. She has served as General Counsel for the Asian Business League of San Francisco and as a board member of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce.

Suhi also regularly volunteers at immigration clinics where she advises indigent clients and has promoted the rights of women fleeing from persecution at the Center for Gender and Refugee studies.

San Francisco Approves Funding of Legal Services for Unaccompanied Minors and Families Facing Deportation

In mid-September of this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved $2.1 million for legal services for unaccompanied minors and families living in San Francisco without representation who face deportation to Central America. The funding was approved due to legislation introduced by Supervisor David Campos. The funding will apply to cases on the San Francisco Immigration Court’s expedited removal docket, often referred to as the “rocket docket.”

This recent funding approval in San Francisco is now looked to as a model to provide funds for legal representation in other jurisdictions since the federal government does not provide legal representation for undocumented immigrants in removal proceedings.

The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies and the American Immigration Lawyers Association Northern California were among the groups that supported the funding. Partner Minette Kwok is on the Center’s board. Associate Olivia S. Lee is on AILA NorCal’s board.

Jon Cote of the San Francisco Chronicle described the legal crisis:

More than 25,000 deportation proceedings are pending in San Francisco, and, as of the end of June, at least 4,100 involved juveniles, according to an analysis of court data by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The Syracuse study found that about 2,200 of those children do not have legal representation, which heavily influences their future: Only 1 in 10 juveniles who appeared in immigration court in recent years without a lawyer was allowed to stay in the U.S., according to the university’s analysis.

By contrast, almost 50 percent of children with legal representation were allowed to remain in the country, the university found.

Suhi Kozumi to Lead Korean American Bar in 2015

Suhi Kozumi to Lead Korean American Bar in 2015

PHOTO: From left to right, Associate Olivia S. Lee, firm client Aerin Lim (Director of Investor Relations at 500 Startups), Senior Associate Suhi Koizumi (KABANC President-Elect), Senior Associate La Verne Ramsay, and Parner Minette Kwok at the KABANC 2014 annual dinner.

On September 26, Senior Associate Suhi Koizumi was recognized as President-Elect of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California (KABANC) at the organization’s annual gala dinner held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Palo Alto, Calif.

Suhi will serve as President of KABANC starting in 2015. For three decades, KABANC has served the Korean American community and encouraged the professional growth of Korean American lawyers and law students in Northern California.

Suhi continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Partner Brad Yamauchi serves as Vice President of the National Asian Pacific Bar Association. Partner Minette Kwok served as a Commissioner on the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization Immigration and Nationality Law. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

A Senior Associate in our Immigration Practice Group, Suhi partners with executives and legal and human resources personnel to address a wide spectrum of immigration issues of corporate clients.

She has been recognized by Super Lawyers in the Rising Star category. She has served as General Counsel for the Asian Business League of San Francisco and as a board member of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce.

Suhi also regularly volunteers at immigration clinics where she advises indigent clients and has promoted the rights of women fleeing from persecution at the Center for Gender and Refugee studies.

Minami Tamaki Supports Human Rights and Economic Justice Fellowship

TFI_Fellow_Toan_DoMinami Tamaki has been a longtime supporter of the work of a San Francisco-based nonprofit, The Forgotten International (“TFI”). We are proud to partner with TFI and support their mission to alleviate poverty in the U.S. and worldwide, especially poverty experienced by children and women.

Minami Tamaki congratulates TFI and its Founder and President, Thomas Nazario, for publishing a photo book titled “Living on a Dollar a Day.” The book shares the personal stories of some of the poorest people around the work who survive on a dollar a day or less, and encourages those who can help to act. Associate Eunice W. Yang volunteered with TFI in the past and continues to support the organization’s mission.

Minami Tamaki is also proud to sponsor a TFI Fellow, Mr. Toan Do (pictured, above left), to do social justice work abroad starting this summer. TFI’s Fellowship Program recruits and sends skilled volunteers abroad for a minimum of two months to work directly with grassroots agencies and serve the poorest communities around the world. As a TFI Fellow, Mr. Do will work with the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Dharamsala, India. He will be working on issues involving human rights violations and refugee rights.

Mr. Do graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law in May 2014 and will be taking the California Bar Examination this summer. Afterwards, he will travel to India to begin his fellowship.

While in law school, Mr. Do was a member of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), completed internships with the Homeless Advocacy Project, Legal Service’s for Prisoners with Children, Federal Public Defender’s Office, and was a Judicial Extern for Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu.

He was involved in community outreach projects such as the Street Law program and the Asian Pacific Island Legal Outreach Naturalization Clinic, and served on the Mott Court Board, while remaining on the Dean’s List and graduating near the top of his class.

Mr. Do’s strong academic background and commitment to social justice issues makes him an ideal choice for this Human Rights and Economic Justice Fellowship, and Minami Tamaki is proud to join TFI in making this work and experience possible.

Remarks by Don Tamaki Introducing California State Bar Leaders at AABA Dinner

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Partner Don Tamaki delivered the following remarks for his introduction of State Bar of California CEO Joe Dunn, President of the State Bar Luis Rodriguez, on March 14, 2014, at the annual dinner of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. AABA presented the State Bar with an award for its role in enabling Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, be admitted as a lawyer. The State Bar retained Don and Minami Tamaki LLP as counsel in the matter.

Tonight, AABA recognizes the State Bar for its historic stand in recommending to the Court that Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, be admitted as a lawyer.  That set the stage for a case of first impression, unprecedented action by the Legislature–and ultimately–a ground-breaking Supreme Court decision on immigrant rights in California.

Before I introduce State Bar CEO, Joe Dunn, and the President of the Bar, Luis Rodriguez, to accept this recognition, let me frame the issue.

As Asian Americans, we know something about immigration.  Most of us in this room are only a generation or two removed from our immigrant ancestors.  In fact, many of you are immigrants yourselves.  The common denominator is that most of our families arrived here with nothing more than a belief in this country, and a desire to build a new life in America. We are the result.

Was our entry into the United States lawful? Not always. We’d like to think that we came here on the Mayflower, but we know that’s not true.  Many of us are descendants of “paper sons or daughters” who bought documentation identifying them—falsely–as children of American citizens, and who studied coaching books with detailed information on their “paper” families in order to pass grueling interrogations at Angel Island. My grandfather skipped Angel Island entirely—he was a stowaway, having paid a cook to hide him in the pantry of a steamer.  And when that ship arrived in Eureka, he slipped out of that pantry into the confusion of the dock, and made his way to San Francisco as an undocumented immigrant.

Fast forward to 1977.  Sergio Garcia was born in Mexico. When he was a baby, his father, a lawful permanent U.S. resident at the time, brought Sergio into the United States without papers.  Subsequently his father became a U.S. citizen and filed a petition for his son to adjust to lawful status.  That petition was approved in 1995.  Nevertheless, Mr. Garcia has been waiting, in an undocumented status, for the past 18 years for his visa to become available.  During this time, he attended high school, college, and law school, and passed the Bar Examination on his first attempt.  But for this backlog created by the immigration system, Mr. Garcia would have lawful, documented status today.  Worse, it may be many more years before his visa finally issues.

Despite the obvious controversy, the Committee of Bar Examiners and the Board of Trustees took a very principled stand, rooted in the rule of law, concluding that Mr. Garcia’s undocumented status should not disqualify him from becoming an attorney.  In making its recommendation, the legal team in the State Bar’s Office of General Counsel, in particular, Rachel Grunberg, Larry Yee, and Rick Zanassi, deserve special recognition.  Under the now retired General Counsel, Starr Babcock, they did an enormous amount of work over a 2-year span to analyze the hugely complicated legal issues–not the least of which is a federal statute barring undocumented immigrants from receiving State benefits, including professional licenses, unless the State Legislature passes a law allowing it.

On January 2, 2014, in a case of first impression, the Court unanimously agreed with the State Bar and admitted Mr. Garcia.  This important decision was the culmination of the unfaltering resolve of Sergio Garcia,–but also the extraordinary efforts of the State Bar led by State Bar CEO Joe Dunn, and the support of the Legislature which passed in record time a law allowing the Court to admit qualified bar applicants who, notwithstanding their undocumented status, have met all of the requirements.

For the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, including many young Americans who were brought here as children—who have known no other country, and who have excelled in grade schools, colleges, and even graduate schools including law schools—the Garcia case is highly significant and addresses–at least in California–one aspect of an otherwise very broken immigration system.

Folks–it is a huge event when an institution as big and as influential as the State Bar of California, together with Sergio Garcia, the Legislature, and a unanimous Supreme Court, take a giant step towards integrating the children of undocumented immigrants–popularly known as “DREAMers”–into the fabric of our society.  It gives hope to other aspiring DREAMers, that perhaps they too might one day be a lawyer–or for that matter, a doctor, or a teacher, or any other profession that requires a license.

Therefore, it is my great pleasure to ask that the CEO of the State Bar of California, Joe Dunn, and Luis Rodriguez, the President of the State Bar, accept AABA’s recognition.

Ladies and gentlemen, won’t you join me in welcoming Joe Dunn and Luis Rodriguez to the stage.

Read AABA’s article about the event

Pro Bono Client Spotlight: AnonyMouse

Partner Don Tamaki and Associate Phil Zackler of Minami Tamaki LLP’s Corporate & Nonprofit Counseling Group recently assisted AnonyMouse with its web privacy and user policies.

AnonyMouse is a new website that seeks to revolutionize the way people seek anonymous help with an initial focus on the LGBT community and aspirations to expand to other demographics to assist in other causes.

Aaron Moy, one of the co-founders of AnonyMouse, approached Don for assistance. “I’ve known Don for many years through our church,” said Aaron. “I shared with him what I was working on and asked him if he could help.”

Aaron and his team were launching AnonyMouse on a shoestring budget, but did not want to cut corners on critical website policies related to user and privacy agreements.

Don, together with Associate Phil Zackler and legal assistant Atticus Lee, set out to help Aaron with this innovative site.

“Don and his team provided three essential things for us. The first was the user agreement for the mentors, to define and document their roles in the service. The second was the agreement for users and the terms of service. The last item was the privacy policy, which describes the site’s use of information, our intentions, security, and other important legal terms.”

“It was great working with Don, Phil, and Atticus. We couldn’t have launched the site without their help. We’ve been working on AnonyMouse for more than two years and we absolutely needed the site’s legal policies in place, or our launch wouldn’t have happened.”

Clients of Minami Tamaki count on Don, Phil, and Minami Tamaki’s Corporate & Nonprofit Counseling practice group to provide practical, effective counseling on the issues they face every day. From start-ups in the early stages of development to non-profit organizations with hundreds of millions of dollars under endowment, we have the experience counseling management on a wide array of subject matters.