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.
“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.