Blog : Immigration Practice

Five Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America 

Five Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America 

Minami Tamaki LLP Partners Minette Kwok, B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associate Suhi Koizumi were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Dale and Mark were selected for the list in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. It is the seventh year in a row that they received this honor.

Minette, Olivia, and Suhi were selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It is Minette’s sixth and Olivia’s third consecutive time on The Best Lawyers in America list. This year is Suhi’s inaugural listing.

These individual awards qualify Minami Tamaki LLP for consideration by the U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list. The firm has recognized five times on the “Best Law Firms” rankings, which are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

Best Lawyers is a respected peer review publication in the legal profession. Recognition in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

The Best Lawyers lists of outstanding attorneys are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. If the votes for an attorney are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that attorney must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition.

Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2019 Super Lawyers

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2019 Super Lawyers

PHOTO BACK ROW (L-R): Kaa Bao Yang; Julia Macri; Donald K. Tamaki*; La Verne A. Ramsay; Dale Minami* Top 100; Lisa P. Mak**; Seema Bhatt**; Angela C. Mapa; Dian Sohn. FRONT ROW: Sean Tamura-Sato**; Olivia Serene Lee**; B. Mark Fong*; Minette A. Kwok*; Suhi Koizumi* (*2019 Super Lawyers) (**2019 Rising Stars)

We’re proud to announce that nine of Minami Tamaki LLP’s attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars for 2019. Two of our Partners and our Senior Counsel have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 16 consecutive years.

PERSONAL INJURY
Partner B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers, 10 years)
Senior Counsel Dale Minami (Top 10 (2013-2018), Top 100 (2007-2019), Super Lawyers, 16 years)
Associate Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars)

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW
Partner Minette A. Kwok (Top 50 Women (2007-2008, 2014-2016), Super Lawyers, 16 years)
Partner Olivia Serene Lee (Rising Stars)
Senior Associate Suhi Koizumi (Super Lawyers)

CONSUMER AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS
Partner Sean Tamura-Sato (Rising Stars)
Associate Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars)

CORPORATE/NONPROFIT
Partner Donald K. Tamaki (Super Lawyers, 16 years)

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is independent, and attorneys cannot purchase placements on the list.

Let’s Break Down the Perpetual Foreigner Stereotype

Let’s Break Down the Perpetual Foreigner Stereotype

This post by Partner Olivia Serene Lee was originally published on thinkimmigration.org, a website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, as part of the site’s Diversity and Inclusion Blog Post Series.

May marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. You are forgiven if you’re not quite sure whose month exactly this is! Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is a rather broad term and encompasses more than 50 ethnic groups from Asia and the Pacific Islands who live in the United States.

While the AAPI communities have roots that span the globe, our success stories are uniquely American.  May is a significant month in Asian American history, as it includes the first entry of an immigrant from Japan to the U.S. (May 7, 1843), the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad (May 10, 1869) in which the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants, as well as a dark time in our nation’s history with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (May 6, 1882).

In fact, Asian American history dates back to the 16th century with the first recorded presence of Filipinos in what is now the U.S. to October 1587 around Morro Bay, California, with the first permanent settlement in Saint Malo, Louisiana, in 1763.  Less than fifteen years later, in 1778, Chinese immigrants settled in Hawaii.  From ancient, to more recent, the impact of Asian Americans on U.S. history is undeniable.

But, despite our long history in the U.S., there is still a stereotype that we are the “perpetual foreigner”, with many of us being asked the dreaded question “Where are you from?”, which is then normally followed by the question “No, where are you really from?”, or the variant “Where are your parents from?”

“Where are you really from?” is a tough question to answer, even for me. Until only a few years ago, I thought my family had just immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s.  However, through interviews with people from the Chinese American community, including AILA member Helen Hui, I learned that my family had a much more significant and lengthier history in the U.S.

In fact, I have a paternal great-great-grandfather who lived and settled in Chicago.  His son, my great-grandfather, lived in Chicago for some time before moving to San Francisco.  On my maternal side, my great-grandmother came to the U.S. as an aide to her daughters, who were acclaimed Cantonese opera singers and recruited to perform in San Francisco Chinatown theaters.  One of these singers had a life partner who was the first Chinese woman attorney in California – Emma Lum.  Her father, Walter U. Lum, was a renowned civil rights advocate and has a street named after him in San Francisco Chinatown.

Walter U. Lum was one of the founders of the Native Sons of the Golden State (renamed the Chinese American Citizens Alliance in 1915) which advocated for Chinese American rights and opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was finally overturned in 1943 with the Magnuson Act.  However, while the Magnuson Act overturned the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1924 only allowed a national quota of 105 Chinese immigrants per year. This extremely small quota impacted families, as it was difficult for American citizen men to bring their Chinese citizen wives and children to the U.S. This was, in fact, the case with my family, where several generations of husbands and sons were separated from their wives and children.

Walter U. Lum and the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA) continued advocating to change the U.S. quota system so that Chinese families could be together.  In fact, many of our clients today benefit from the legacy of Walter U. Lum’s work, especially with our current definition of immediate relatives.

In 1936, the CACA successfully campaigned for a partial alleviation of the inhumane separation of American citizens from their wives. Through continued advocacy work, including repeatedly appearing before Congressional immigration committees, CACA succeeded in getting Congress to pass a law granting non-quota status to Chinese wives of American citizens on August 9, 1946.

The pen which President Harry S. Truman used to sign this law is housed at the CACA lodge in San Francisco, and this pen has been shown at events with the local AILA Northern California Chapter at the CACA lodge.  The passage of the 1946 act served as a basis for the definition of immediate relatives, and the CACA members on October 15, 1952 appeared before President Harry Truman’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization to continue advocating.  Finally, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 gave us our current definition of “immediate relatives” and also abolished the national-origins quota, which limited Chinese immigration to only 105 per year.

When I look back at my Chinese American heritage, I am grateful to the Chinese American community members (including above-mentioned AILA member Helen Hui) for giving me more context to the history of my family in the U.S., for continually advocating for immigrant rights, and for teaching me our significant and long history in the U.S.  I am also grateful and proud that my own family played a part in  overturning the Chinese Exclusion Act and contributing to the concept of immediate relatives.

While the Chinese Exclusion Act no longer keeps families apart, as we know, these days there are other policies in place that do. The Muslim ban, the Remain in Mexico policy, even delays in processing at USCIS are keeping families apart and benefit no one; there have also been legislative changes proposed that would prevent families from reunifying. We’ve been down that road before and it harmed generations of children, in my case resulting in ignorance about my family’s history until very recently.  We must use the lessons of the past to halt current policies that exclude and separate immigrant families.

With confidence, I can say that my family has been here at least five generations, but due to the racist and anti-Chinese sentiments which gave rise to the Chinese Exclusion Act and national origins quota, my family was separated for generations between two continents. I don’t feel like a perpetual foreigner anymore. Now, if only people would stop asking me that question…

Julia Macri Joins Minami Tamaki’s Immigration Practice

Julia Macri Joins Minami Tamaki’s Immigration Practice

Julia Macri has joined Minami Tamaki’s Immigration and Nationality Law practice group as an Associate.

Julia has more than eight years of experience providing immigration solutions to multinational companies and individuals, having worked in Europe, Canada, and the United States. She has performed immigration audits for Fortune 500 companies and overseen the development of global programs for growing companies.

She provides advice on all aspects of immigration, including nonimmigrant and immigrant status. Julia has extensive experience working on extraordinary ability cases (from movie directors to regulatory affairs managers), outstanding researcher cases (from software engineers to molecular biologists), and complex requests for evidence. She has also worked on numerous successful appeals to the Administrative Appeals Office.

Julia is a member of the California State Bar and the Law Society of Upper Canada. She received her Honors Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, where she majored in history, and obtained her Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Ottawa. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, including the Global Migration Section. She was also a member of the Global Migration Section’s 2017-2018 Steering Committee and she is currently Vice Chair of AILA’s Global Migration Section’s Audiovisual Committee

Olivia Serene Lee Named Partner at Minami Tamaki LLP

Olivia Serene Lee Named Partner at Minami Tamaki LLP

The Minami Tamaki LLP law firm has named Olivia Serene Lee as Partner, effective January 1, 2019. She has been an attorney in the firm’s Immigration and Nationality Law practice since January 2009.

“We are so thrilled to have Olivia join the partnership,” said Minette Kwok, the firm partner who leads the Immigration and Nationality Law practice. “She brings her dedication, smarts, rainmaking, vision, and heart to this next generation of leadership to the firm. The future of Minami Tamaki LLP is in good hands.”

Olivia’s expertise is in counseling companies on a variety of employment-based immigration matters. She regularly advises on immigration matter for companies in all phases, including pre-formation, funding, accelerator/incubator programs, acquisitions and mergers, spinoff, and public offering.

She has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2014-2018 and listed in the 2018 and 2019 Best Lawyers in America for Immigration Law. Olivia was instrumental in Minami Tamaki LLP being recognized with a top ranking on the U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list in the Immigration category.

Olivia this year also received a Unity Award from the Minority Bar Coalition in her role in championing diversity and inclusion for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Northern California Chapter and for AILA National.  She is a leader and former chair of AILA NorCal and currently serves on AILA National’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Olivia served as 2016-2017 Chair for AILA NorCal and previously as a member of the AILA NorCal Executive Board.  AILA is the national bar for immigration attorneys, and AILA NorCal is one of its larger chapters, with over 1000 members.

She has also met with Congressional offices in Washington, DC, and in the local San Francisco area to advocate for immigration reform. She served as faculty on local and national AILA CLE panels on topics such as O-1s, H-1Bs, and business immigration litigation in federal court.

Olivia received her Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2008. She was admitted to the California Bar in 2008 and is also admitted to practice in the United States District Court, Northern District of California.

The Immigration and Nationality Law practice group of Minami Tamaki LLP offers expertise in a broad array of immigration services, routinely assisting employers and employees in obtaining temporary and permanent employment-based visas. The practice group also helps individual clients to secure family-based immigration status through marriage or other qualifying family relationships.

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2019 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration and Personal Injury Practices

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2019 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration and Personal Injury Practices

Minami Tamaki LLP has again received a Tier 1 ranking on the U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list under the “Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs” and “Immigration” categories for our metro area.

This is the fifth consecutive recognition by U.S. News/Best Lawyers of our Personal Injury practice and the fourth consecutive year of our Immigration and Nationality Law practice.

The U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

To be eligible for a U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metro.

Earlier this year, Partners Dale Minami, Minette A. Kwok, B. Mark Fong, and Senior Associate Olivia Serene Lee were selected by The Best Lawyers in America, which qualified the firm to be considered for the Best Law Firms list.

The attorneys in Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Practice Group fight for the rights of people who are injured or have suffered the loss of loved ones due to the carelessness of others. We use a team approach which brings all of the resources of our practice group to bear on our cases. This has allowed us to recover multi-million dollar settlements and large verdicts for our clients.

The Immigration and Nationality Law Practice Group of Minami Tamaki LLP offers expertise in a broad array of immigration services. We routinely assist employers and employees, nation-wide, in obtaining temporary and permanent employment-based visas. And, just as often, we help individual clients to secure family-based immigration status through marriage or other qualifying family relationships.

Olivia Serene Lee to Receive Minority Bar Coalition Unity Award on Behalf of AILA Northern California

Olivia Serene Lee to Receive Minority Bar Coalition Unity Award on Behalf of AILA Northern California

Olivia Serene Lee will receive a Unity Award from the Minority Bar Coalition in her role in championing diversity and inclusion for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Northern California Chapter and for AILA National.  She is a leader and former chair of AILA NorCal and currently serves on AILA National’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

A Senior Associate in our Immigration and Nationality Law practice group, Olivia served as 2016-2017 Chair for AILA NorCal and previously as a member of the AILA NorCal Executive Board.  AILA is the national bar for immigration attorneys, and AILA NorCal is one of its larger chapters, with over 850 members.

This year’s Unity Awards reception will be held at 198 McAllister Street at U.C. Hastings Law School, on November 13, 2018, in the Louis B. Mayer room on the ground floor. The Minority Bar Coalition will honor Olivia and other members who have shown dedication to working in a unified manner to advance the cause of diversity in the legal profession.

The Minority Bar Coalition 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.

During her tenure as chair of the Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the chapter received the Platinum Chapter Award, the organization’s highest honor for chapters, in June 2017. Under Olivia’s leadership, AILA NorCal was at the forefront in proactively responding to the institutional assault against immigrants. When the Trump administration attempted to enact a travel ban on Muslims, AILA NorCal was one of the first groups to respond, providing services at airports, and offering assistance to those impacted.

Olivia 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.

Four Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Four Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Minami Tamaki LLP Partners Dale Minami, Minette Kwok, B. Mark Fong, and Senior Associate Olivia Serene Lee were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in the 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Dale and Mark were selected for the list in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. It is the sixth year in a row that they received this honor.

Minette was selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It is Minette’s fifth consecutive time on The Best Lawyers in America list.

Olivia was also selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It’s Olivia’s second listing in The Best Lawyers in America.

Best Lawyers is a respected peer review publication in the legal profession. Recognition in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

The Best Lawyers lists of outstanding attorneys are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. If the votes for an attorney are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that attorney must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition.

Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.

Minette Kwok Honored by SF Supervisor Norman Yee as Part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Minette Kwok Honored by SF Supervisor Norman Yee as Part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee today recognized firm partner Minette Kwok as a District 7 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month honoree for her leadership advocating for immigrant families and mentoring the next generation of Asian American leaders.

PHOTO: San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee (left) and Minette Kwok at the May 8 recognition ceremony at San Francisco City Hall for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Photo courtesy of Gerry Okimoto.

Supervisor Yee: “I am proud to honor nationally-recognized immigration attorney, Minette Kwok, partner at the Minami Tamaki LLP firm. For over 25 years, she has advocated on behalf of immigrants seeking to work and contribute to our country. Recently she helped win a state Supreme Court case allowing undocumented immigrants to be licensed as attorneys. On Jan 1, 2018 when Gov. Brown signed a bill into law, California became the first state in the country to license undocumented immigrants as attorneys. Let’s keep fighting for our immigrant communities and standing in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

Congratulations to Minette on this well-deserved recognition!