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Dale Minami on the ‘Live Your Dream’ Podcast with Celina Lee

Dale Minami on the ‘Live Your Dream’ Podcast with Celina Lee

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami was the featured guest of the “Live Your Dream” podcast hosted by Celina Lee.

On the podcast, Dale shared with Celina his thought on a wide range of topics.

On how the Japanese American incarceration: “My parents and older brother were put in the concentration camps. First in the horse stalls in race tracks which was Santa Anita Racetrack, which was converted into a temporary – they called it a euphemism – ‘assembly center.’ It was a prison. And then they were transported to Arkansas where they spent various amounts of time, I think it was about two years.

On the impact of the incarceration on Japanese Americans: “There have been studies [about] how even though the children of these incarcerees didn’t know much about their parents’ experience, the effects go down generations and generations – psychological issues. And for our family, and I think a lot of Japanese American families, we were pushed to be 100 percent American, which meant we barely learned much Japanese. … We didn’t know much about our culture. We were protected, so to speak by our parents so that we would never stand out as a racial minority again. In that way we would be hopefully assimilated and that the experience of being incarcerated because of your race would never happen to us again.”

On how Dale might have been Dr. Dale: “I was interested in social psychology as well. So the choice was law school, social psychology. My father thought law would be more practice. … I think deep down, the law did not protect our parents. [Many] second-generation [Japanese Americans] have issues with the law and racism. They felt that they could obtain some knowledge of law essentially to protect their families.”

Listen to the podcast here.

In addition to hosting the podcast, Celina is a career coach and lawyer. She started her career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and worked as a corporate lawyer at Ropes & Gray LLP. She is the General Counsel and Business Development Director of AKA Study, a startup that develops artificial intelligence engine to create innovative educational services and software.

Celina is also the author of an award-wining book in Korea, “꿈을 이뤄드립니다” (“Live Your Dream”), a collection of life stories of people who overcame failures to achieve success in diverse industries.

Minami Tamaki LLP Law Firm Marks 45th Anniversary Guided by Strategic Leadership Transition

Minami Tamaki LLP Law Firm Marks 45th Anniversary Guided by Strategic Leadership Transition

Dale Minami Transitions to Senior Counsel

When the Minami Tamaki law firm started in 1974, Asian American attorneys faced discrimination in employment and the courtroom, just as Asian Americans did in other aspects of society. The firm’s founders were determined to fight for social justice on their own terms and created a firm that would “do good” while “doing well.”

This was not a simple mission. Asian American attorneys were few and unorganized, and they confronted racial stereotypes and open hostility in the courts. Survival was often precarious and starting from scratch was either a fool’s errand or a fool’s vision.

Forty-five years later, Minami Tamaki LLP and its attorneys remain among the nation’s leading social justice champions while building award-winning and thriving commercial practices in the areas of consumer and employee rights, corporate and nonprofit counseling, immigration and nationality law, and personal injury. The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association recognized Minami Tamaki’s pioneer status with its inaugural APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award in 2012.

The firm has received numerous awards and accolades, including top tier rankings on the U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list under the Personal Injury Litigation and Immigration categories for the San Francisco metro area. The firm was also named as one of California’s Top Ranked Law Firms by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell and Best Attorneys in the Bay Area by Bay Area Lawyer Magazine. Minami Tamaki attorneys have been recognized for decades on the Super Lawyers list.

A key component of the firm’s success has been the implementation of a strategic leadership transition that entered its next phase with the promotion of Olivia Serene Lee to Partner at the start of 2019. Olivia’s elevation followed the promotions to the partnership of Sean Tamura-Sato in 2017 and B. Mark Fong in 2014. Olivia, Sean, and Mark joined veteran Partners Minette Kwok and Donald Tamaki in leading the firm.

The transition also includes a new role for personal injury attorney Dale Minami as Senior Counsel. The firm co-founder will continue to guide Minami Tamaki’s involvement in social justice causes, work on business development, and advise other attorneys on cases.

Dale has been listed on the Top Ten Super Lawyers in Northern California for six straight years, the Top 100 list for 13 years since 2005, and every year on the Super Lawyers list since its initial publication in 2004, all in the Personal Injury category. He has also been named one of Northern California’s Best Lawyers, recognized three times as one of the 500 Best Lawyers in America by Lawdragon Magazine (2005, 2013-2014, 2014-2015), and listed in the top three percent of attorneys in the nation by The Legal News.

During his legal journey, Dale tried cases in many different areas of law:  criminal defense, personal injury, employment discrimination, commercial contract disputes, child custody disputes, juvenile and dependency hearings, conservatorships, mechanics’ liens, and unlawful evictions.

Dale represented clients in administrative forums such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Merit Systems Protection Board, Unemployment Development Department, California Labor Commission, and in university grievance hearings. He has also handled incorporations, wills and trusts, probate matters, dissolutions of marriage, entertainment and newscaster contracts, life story rights, endorsement and book contracts, and other talent negotiations.

Dale played a crucial role in the firm’s long history of fighting for the rights of people of color, women, immigrants, marginalized people, and others. In addition to building a successful law firm, he co-founded the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans, and many other organizations.

Early in his career, Dale served as lead counsel in numerous landmark cases involving the rights of Asian Pacific Americans:  Chann vs. Scott, a class action lawsuit against the San Francisco Police Department to enjoin the unconstitutional arrests and detention of young Asian Americans, United Pilipinos for Affirmative Action v. California Blue Shield, the first class action employment lawsuit brought by Asian Pacific Americans on behalf of Asian Pacific Americans, Spokane JACL v. Washington State University, a class action on behalf of  Asian Pacific Americans to establish an Asian American Studies program at Washington State University and Nakanishi v. UCLA a claim for unfair denial of tenure which resulted in the granting of tenure after several hearings and widespread publicity over discrimination in academia.

Perhaps Dale’s most significant case was overturning Fred Korematsu’s 40-year-old conviction for challenging the U.S. government’s order that resulted in the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.  Korematsu’s conviction was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in a landmark decision in 1944. In 1983 Dale, Don, and a group of young lawyers presented evidence of massive government misconduct in the Supreme Court case, and convinced Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to set aside Korematsu’s conviction.

In 2017, Dale, Don, and the legal team that represented Korematsu in the 1980s reconvened to represent the adult children of Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Min Yasui, and filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the Muslim ban. This group also created the Stop Repeating History public education campaign to educate the public about the Japanese American incarceration and the present-day dangers of similar policies targeting individuals based on race, national origin, or religion.

After 45 years, thanks in large part to Dale, the Minami Tamaki LLP law firm’s commitment to social justice remains strong, aided by dynamic changes to the firm’s leadership and its community-oriented approach to practicing law.

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.

Minami Tamaki LLP Accepting Applications for 2019 Summer Clerk Program

Minami Tamaki LLP Accepting Applications for 2019 Summer Clerk Program

The Summer Clerk Program is a 10-week paid internship at Minami Tamaki’s San Francisco office.  Our Clerks work primarily on employment litigation, catastrophic injury claims, consumer and antitrust class actions, and business immigration filings. Summer Clerks also receive substantive assignments from the firm’s business transactional group.

Summer Clerks perform extensive legal research and writing, and receive hands-on experience in case evaluation and management, discovery practice, and trial preparation.  Summer Clerks also have the opportunity to contribute to the firm’s social justice work with numerous bar associations and community organizations.

The firm is seeking highly motivated and detail-oriented second year law students who are genuinely interested in plaintiff-side civil litigation and/or business immigration work.  Applicants must have outstanding academic credentials, strong legal research and writing skills, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills.  We value Summer Clerks who have a demonstrated interest in civil rights and community service.

Interested 2Ls should email cover letter, resume, and academic transcript to skoizumi@minamitamaki.com. Application deadline is Noon Pacific Time on October 26, 2018.

Established in 1974, Minami Tamaki LLP takes pride in providing the highest quality legal representation with an emphasis on personalized service.  Minami Tamaki has a strong and historical commitment to social justice and community outreach.  The firm brings its deep background in civil rights work to its current practice in the areas of Consumer and Employment Rights, Personal Injury, Corporate and Nonprofit Counseling, Immigration and Nationality Law, and Entertainment.  The firm’s culture is collegial and collaborative, but tenacious in its representation of its diverse clientele.  The lawyers at Minami Tamaki combine outstanding lawyering skills with an ethical and progressive approach to solving the legal problems of its clients.

Lisa Mak Honored with AABA’s Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy

Lisa Mak Honored with AABA’s Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) celebrated its 42nd annual gala on March 22 at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco with more than 800 attorneys, judges, elected officials, and other distinguished guests.

Founded in 1976, AABA is the largest local Asian American bar association in the country, and one of the largest minority bar associations in California. Dale Minami, Partner in our Personal Injury Group, was a co-founder of AABA. Sean Tamura-Sato, a Partner in our Consumer and Employee Rights Group, and Lisa P. Mak, an Associate in the same group, serve on AABA’s board of directors.

Lisa was also honored with this year’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy for her advocacy on behalf of employees, including a $3.5 million verdict in 2016 on behalf of four female Sacramento Sheriff’s Department officers, and her commitment to serving the community.

Joe Morozumi was one of the first Asian American trial lawyers in the Bay Area and a role model of zealous advocacy for the poor and the powerless. In 1997, Dale Minami, Mike Lee, and AABA established the Morozumi Award to recognize Asian American attorneys who exemplify his spirit of uncompromising legal advocacy in matters of conscience.

“I am honored to be a part of and a product of this community that supports the advancement of minorities in the legal profession,” Lisa said in her acceptance remarks. “A community where courageous lawyers like Joe … paved the way for advocacy on behalf of those who need support, protection, and a voice.”

The late San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, the city’s first Asian American mayor, posthumously received the AABA Trailblazer Award, which his wife Anita Lee accepted on his behalf. The gala included a moving tribute to Mayor Lee from Donald K. Tamaki, Partner in our Business & Nonprofit Counseling Group; U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen; and Esther Leong, Administrative Director of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.

From left to right: Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Donald K. Tamaki, U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen, Esther Leong of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and AABA President David Tsai pay tribute to the late Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco.

“Ed devoted twelve formative years at the Asian Law Caucus working for almost nothing, representing Chinatown tenants and sweatshop workers, and organizing them to demand their rights,” said Don. “This defining experience shaped his values, served as his moral compass, and informed his decisions as Mayor.”

John So, a 3L student at UC Hastings College of the Law, received this year’s Garrick S. Lew Fellowship through the AABA Law Foundation. The Fellowship is funded through a grant from the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation’s Garrick S. Lew Legacy Fund, and awards $10,000 to a 3L law student committed to a criminal defense practice after graduation. The MTYKL Foundation created this Legacy Fund in conjunction with the Lew family to continue Garrick’s legacy of advocating for our Asian American communities. Garrick, who passed away in 2016, was a former Partner in our firm.

Minami Tamaki is proud to continue supporting AABA and its efforts to protect civil rights, engage our community, and increase diversity in the legal profession.

From left to right: Minami Tamaki’s Dale Minami, Lisa Mak, California State Treasurer and candidate for governor John Chiang, and UC Hastings Prof. Eumi Lee (former AABA President).
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.