Blog : Corporate & Nonprofit Counseling

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2018

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2018

Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Seema Bhatt recently attended the annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) National Convention in Chicago. The Convention had over 2,000 Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law students, and elected officials attending from around the country.

This year, Dale, Don, and Karen Korematsu (Founder & Executive Director of The Fred T. Korematsu Institute) were awarded with the NAPABA President’s Award.  This award recognizes NAPABA members who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to NAPABA, the legal community, and the broader APA community.

Dale, Don, and Karen received this year’s award for their work on the “Stop Repeating History” campaign (StopRepeatingHistory.Org), which educates the public on the dangers of unchecked presidential power and the parallels between the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the current administration’s policies targeting minority groups based on race or religion.  In his award acceptance remarks, Don urged APA attorneys to lead on this issue due to our communities’ experience with racist and xenophobic immigration policies.


Partners Donald K. Tamaki (left) and Dale Minami (right) meeting audience members after their panel on the Korematsu v. United States and Trump v. Hawaii cases.

Don and Karen also spoke on a panel with Hoyt Zia (an original founding member of NAPABA), and moderated by Dale, about the parallels between the Korematsu v. United States and Trump v. Hawaii cases.  Don and Dale were members of the legal team that overturned Fred Korematsu’s conviction for his defiance of Japanese American exclusion orders during World War II.  

The panel discussion was preceded by a screening of the powerful film, “And Then They Came For Us,” which compares the Japanese American incarceration with the Muslim travel ban.  The film, produced by Peabody award-winning director Abby Ginzberg, won the 2018 ABA Silver Gavel Award, and has been a cornerstone of the “Stop Repeating History” campaign.


Associate Lisa P. Mak (second from left and on screen) served as panelist for a plenary session on the #MeToo movement.

Lisa was a panelist for a convention plenary luncheon session entitled “Beyond #MeToo: How Asian Americans Can Challenge Sexual Harassment in the Workplace,” with about 1,000 attendees.  The all-women panel discussed the impact of the #MeToo movement in the workplace, strategies to improve equality for women in the legal industry, and the unique challenges of addressing sexual harassment in APA communities.  During her remarks, Lisa emphasized the importance of being upstanders and allies for harassment victims in order to create a cultural change for the fair treatment of women.

Our firm also helped to sponsor the NAPABA Solo & Small Firm Network (SSF) stipend program, which provides funds for SSF committee members to attend the conference and future NAPABA events.  “Minami Tamaki is a longtime proponent of SSF’s work, including the committee’s CLE Bootcamp that provides legal skills training and business advice to SSF attendees at the Convention. The firm is proud to contribute to SSF’s mission of building and supporting APA-owned law firms,” said Partner Sean Tamura-Sato.


Partner Sean Tamura-Sato (left), Associate Lisa P. Mak (right), with other attendees at one of the NAPABA convention lunches.

This year, the late San Francisco Mayor Edwin Mah Lee was honored with the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, NAPABA’s most prestigious award which recognizes the outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership of lawyers who have paved the way for the advancement of other APA attorneys.  The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) spearheaded the nomination of Mayor Lee for this award.

Our firm congratulates outgoing President Pankit Doshi from San Francisco for his successful leadership this year. Daniel Sakaguchi, also from San Francisco, was sworn in as the new NAPABA President. Both Pankit and Daniel are members of AABA, which was co-founded by Dale Minami over 40 years ago.

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

Photo credits: John B. Lough, Lisa P. Mak, Betty Hsu, Winston Liaw

Congratulations to Our Firm’s 2017 Northern California Super Lawyers


SUPER LAWYERS 2017 (Photo by Gary Wagner) – BACK ROW (L-R): Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars); Donald K. Tamaki (10-plus years); La Verne A. Ramsay; Suhi Koizumi (Rising Stars); Sean Tamura-Sato (Rising Stars); Olivia Serene Lee (Rising Stars); Heather Osuna; B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers); FRONT ROW: Jack W. Lee* (10-plus years); Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars); Minette A. Kwok (10-plus years); Dale Minami (Top 10, Top 100, 10-plus years)

We’re proud to announce that all of Minami Tamaki LLP’s Partners and more than 70 percent of our Associates were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers for 2017. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Three of our Partners have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 14 consecutive years. Dale Minami was named to the Top 10 and Top 100 lists.

Dale Minami – Personal Injury
Super Lawyer Top 10, 2017 (5 years)
Super Lawyer Top 100, 2017 (10 years)
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)

Minette A. Kwok – Immigration
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)
Super Lawyer, Past Top 50 Women, Northern California (3 years)

Jack W. Lee – Consumer and Employee Rights (*Retired)
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)
Super Lawyer, Past Top 100 (1 year)

Donald K. Tamaki – Corporate and Nonprofit Counseling
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)

B. Mark Fong – Personal Injury
Super Lawyer, 2017 (8 Years)
Super Lawyer, Past Top 100 (2 Years)

Sean Tamura-Sato – Consumer and Employee Rights
Rising Stars, 2017 (5 years)

Suhi Koizumi – Immigration
Rising Stars, 2017 (8 years)

Olivia Serene Lee – Immigration
Rising Stars, 2017 (4 years)

Lisa P. Mak – Consumer and Employee Rights
Rising Stars, 2017 (3 years)

Seema Bhatt – Personal Injury
Rising Stars, 2017 (inaugural year)

Congratulations to all of you!

Helping Nonprofits Relocate from SF to Oakland

Almost 2,000 nonprofits in San Francisco had to move out of San Francisco or fold between 2011 and 2013 because of the rapidly escalating real estate costs. Two years later, the exodus continues in 2015 with more nonprofits seeking less costly office space as their S.F. leases expire.

Minami Tamaki LLP’s Business and Nonprofit Counseling practice recently helped three nonprofits move from The City to Oakland, applying its considerable experience with commercial leasing for companies like Straits Restaurant Group, which operates four locations.

Leasing new office space can be bewildering, especially since most nonprofits don’t have the in-house expertise to ensure the organization is treated fairly and is sufficiently protected in agreements with new landlords.

Partner Donald Tamaki and Associate Phillip Zackler were retained by Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, and the Women’s Foundation to help with the leasing process and contracts for these organizations’ new homes in downtown Oakland.

With almost 40 years of experience in business law, Don has been named 10 consecutive times to the Northern California Super Lawyers list and has received the AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest from the Martindale-Hubble attorney directory. His long list of nonprofit clients include the California HealthCare Foundation, the State Bar of California, and the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco. Phil has also been named to the Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars list.

Nonprofits turn to Don and Phil because they bring a rare combination of legal expertise and hands-on experience as managers and fiduciaries of nonprofits. They know nonprofits from the inside and bring that perspective to serve clients.

Don was the first executive director of the Asian Law Caucus and has been a director on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Glide Foundation and the San Francisco Japantown Foundation, where he currently serves as President. Phil is on the Glide board and its executive committee.

“Nonprofit clients want the best legal counsel at reasonable rates,” said Don, “but they also want attorneys who understand that corporations in the nonprofit sector have different needs and challenges than their private sector counterparts. Phil and I know nonprofits from the inside and bring that insight to the nonprofits we serve.”

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

AABADinner_DTamaki_JoeDunn_LuisGonazales

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

Don Tamaki Featured in Nihonmachi Little Friends Video

Partner Don Tamaki, head of Minami Tamaki LLP’s Corporate and Nonprofit Counseling practice, was featured in a recent video produced by Nihonmachi Little Friends, a private, nonprofit childcare center in San Francisco Japantown. In the video, Don recounts the fight over the historic building, home to Nihonmachi Little Friends, which was at risk in the late 1990s of being sold by the YWCA, even though it was not their building to sell. The building was founded by Nisei women who placed the building in trust with the YMCA in the 1940s because the U.S. government incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II. When the YWCA tried to sell the building, Don and a team of attorneys helped stop the sale and settled with the YWCA, resulting in the preservation of the historic building.

Don’s section in the video begins at 04:01.

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.