Blog : People

NAPABA Spotlight on Lisa Mak

NAPABA Spotlight on Lisa Mak

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Women’s Leadership Network profiled Minami Tamaki LLP attorney Lisa P. Mak in its “July Member Spotlight.” We reprint the NAPABA Women’s Leadership Network post here with their permission.

By Carolynn Beck

This month’s member spotlight is Lisa Mak, a San Francisco employment and consumer rights attorney with Minami Tamaki, LLP.

Name:  Lisa P. Mak
Title:  Associate Attorney
Practice Area:  Employment and Consumer Rights
Contact Info:  Minami Tamaki LLP, 415-788-9000, LMak@minamitamaki.com
City & State:  San Francisco, CA

Short Bio: Lisa Mak is a plaintiff-side employment and consumer rights litigator at Minami Tamaki LLP. She has served as trial counsel in a wide variety of employment disputes in state and federal court. Lisa is actively involved in the Asian American bar and plaintiffs’ bar communities. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, and the non-profit Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach. She also co-chairs the Diversity Outreach Committee of the California Employment Lawyers Association.  Additionally, she writes for CELA Voice, a plaintiffs’ advocates blog discussing workplace legal issues.

Recent Work Achievement/Highlight: In 2016, Ms. Mak was co-lead counsel on a five-week jury trial which resulted in a $3.5 million total verdict for four female officers with retaliation claims against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.  Additionally, she has been recognized as a SuperLawyers Rising Star since 2015, and she recently received the Legal Advocate Award from the Center for Workers’ Rights in Sacramento.

Fun Fact: One of her life goals is to visit all of the Disney theme parks in the world… she’s 50% of the way there!

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!

Olivia Lee Leads AILA NorCal to Highest Honors in National Organization

Olivia Lee Leads AILA NorCal to Highest Honors in National Organization

PHOTO: AILA NorCal Chair Olivia Lee (second of left) with other chapter leaders accepting the Platinum Chapter Award.​

The Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) received the Platinum Chapter Award, the organization’s highest honor for chapters, at AILA Annual Conference last week in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Olivia Serene Lee, an associate in our Immigration Practice Group, has served as 2016-2017 Chair for AILA NorCal. She has served on the AILA NorCal Executive Board for the past four years.

Under Olivia’s leadership, AILA NorCal has been 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 aiports, and offering assistance to those impacted.

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.

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

Sean Tamura-Sato Named Partner

Sean Tamura-Sato Named Partner

The Minami Tamaki LLP law firm has named Sean Tamura-Sato as Partner, effective January 1, 2017. He has been an attorney in the firm’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group since August 2007.

“Sean has helped lead or been an integral part of every major case in our consumer and employee rights practice in the past decade,” said Partner Jack W. Lee. “He has played a critical role in our success representing tens of thousands of individuals in class action and individual cases. We look forward to Sean’s continued leadership in our firm.”

Minami Tamaki’s Consumer & Employee Rights Group litigates class actions and individual cases on behalf of consumers, investors, and employees who have been harmed by illegal or unfair business or employment practices. The group has recovered tens of millions of dollars for its clients.

Sean represents clients in complex business disputes, with an emphasis on employment law, business torts, breach of contract, and class actions. He has successfully tried employment discrimination and wrongful termination cases in federal court and before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

He has been involved in some of the largest class action cases on behalf of consumers in the history of antitrust law, including the In re TFT-LCD (flat panel) Antitrust Litigation. Sean also has substantial experience representing low-wage and immigrant workers in actions combating wage theft and worker exploitation.

Sean also advises entrepreneurs, executives, startup founders, and investors in matters involving employment contracts, executive compensation, shareholder & partnership disputes, trade secrets, media and technology, severance agreements, and strategic business decisions.

Sean has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer Rising Star from 2013 through 2016. He is a member of the California and Hawai’i bars. Sean received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.Congratulations, Sean!

Remembering Don Nakanishi

It was 27 years ago last month that a widely watched, three-year multi-racial struggle involving thousands of supporters came to a successful conclusion with the granting of tenure to Don Nakanishi at UCLA.

Minami Tamaki partner Dale Minami led the legal fight, Dale Shimasaki coordinated the legislative advocacy, and Glenn Omatsu and many others organized student and grassroots support.

Don went on to achieve acclaim as a national scholar and pioneer who established Asian American studies as a viable and relevant field of scholarship, teaching, community service, and public discourse.

Sadly, Don passed away on March 21 in Los Angeles at the age of 66.

“Don’s courage and commitment to a diverse academia inspired him to challenge the irrational and biased decision to deny him tenure,” said Dale Minami.

“Although it required winning two grievances for irregular and biased review and sit-down strikes, demonstrations, boycotts of donations, critical editorials, and legislative hearings over two years, he finally achieved tenure, and, in so doing, became a symbol and inspiration for all those academics of color who had been shut out of the Ivory Tower because of their ethnicity.”

The fight for Nakanishi’s tenure is widely regarded as a landmark moment in academia, and has been taught nationally as an important case study for student-community mobilization. A year after gaining tenure, Nakanishi was appointed Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, which he helped develop into the largest and most prominent program of its kind.

Nakanishi retired in 2009 after 20 years as the Center’s Director and 35 years as a professor at UCLA.

In this video taken May 20, 2010, Nakanishi speaks about his writings and Asian American politics at a gathering celebrating the UCLA Asian American Studies Center’s 40th anniversary.

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.

Remembering Bill Hirose (1929-2014)

william_hiroseOne our mentors, an Of Counsel to our firm, and just a good friend, passed away in May.

Bill Hirose was one of the first Asian American attorneys to graduate from Boalt Hall (Berkeley Law) in the 1950s. With his law degree, Bill pursued a career as a tax accountant, but because big accounting firms were not hiring Asian Americans back then, he started a small accounting firm.

We met Bill in 1972 when his firm, Hirose, Oto and Bailey, donated pro bono services to an upstart group of attorneys and students at the newly formed Asian Law Caucus. He later became the first donor to a secret project we were working on, which we couldn’t even describe to him except in general outlines.

Bill would find out later that he invested in our efforts to overturn the convictions of Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Minoru Yasui. He was a generous supporter of our work on those cases, as well as the redress movement, and all of our civil rights work.

Bill Hirose offered us great financial wisdom, legal support, and a quirkiness that we loved. He was a person of principle, generosity, humor, and warmth. He was lucky enough to be married to May, a remarkable woman, gracious wife and lifelong partner. They had one son, three daughters and eight grandchildren; his son, Paul, former President of NAPABA, is a good friend of the Partners. Bill will be missed.

25th Anniversary of UCLA Granting Tenure to Don Nakanishi

Photo of Don NakanishiTwenty-five years ago yesterday (May 25, 1989), a widely watched three-year multi-racial struggle involving thousands of supporters came to a successful end with the granting of tenure to Don Nakanishi at UCLA. Our firm partner Dale Minami led the legal fight, Dale Shimasaki coordinated the legislative advocacy, and Glenn Omatsu and many others organized student and grassroots support.

The fight for Nakanishi’s tenure is widely regarded as a “landmark movement in academia,” and has been taught nationally as an important case study for student-community mobilization. A year after gaining tenure, Nakanishi was appointed Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and helped to develop it as the largest and most prominent program of its kind.

Nakanishi retired in 2009 after 20 years as the Center Director and 35 years as a professor at UCLA.

In this video from May 20, 2010, Nakanishi speaks about his writings and Asian American politics at a gathering celebrating the UCLA Asian American Studies Center 40th anniversary.