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Minami Tamaki Partners are ‘Super Lawyers’ for 7th Straight Year

From left: Jack W. Lee; Minette Kwok, Dale Minami, Donald K. Tamaki, Lynda Won-Chung and Brad Yamauchi. Not pictured: Mark Fong and Derek G. Howard.

Each of the five partners at Minami Tamaki LLP has been named by Northern California Super Lawyers magazine as among the top attorneys for 2010 for the seventh straight year. All three of the senior counsel in the firm have also been named to the Super Lawyers distinction in 2010.

Only five percent of the lawyers in California are named by Super Lawyers. And few firms (if any) have the distinction of having all the partners of a firm named by Super Lawyers magazine for seven years in a row.

Partners Dale Minami (Personal Injury), Donald K. Tamaki (Corporate), Brad Yamauchi (Employment), Minette A. Kwok (Immigration), Jack W. Lee (Employment), and Senior Counsel Lynda Won-Chung (Immigration), Mark Fong (Personal Injury) and Derek G. Howard (Consumer Law) were selected based on voting conducted by ballots sent to more than 56,000 lawyers in the region, an extensive process involving peer nomination and a blue ribbon panel comprised of lawyers from appropriate practice areas who scrutinized the list of nominees.

Minami was also selected as one of the Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers for the fifth year (2005, 2007-2010).

Northern California Super Lawyers is published annually in August in a special advertising section in San Francisco Magazine, which reaches more than 400,000 monthly readers. Northern California Super Lawyers magazine, featuring articles about the local legal community, is delivered to more than 64,000 readers, including Northern California lawyers, the lead corporate counsel of the Russell 3000 companies and the ABA-approved law school libraries.

The selections for Super Lawyers are made by Law & Politics, a division of Key Professional Media, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn. Each year, Law & Politics undertakes a rigorous multi-phase selection process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by the Law & Politics’ attorney-led research staff, a peer review of candidates by practice area, and a good-standing and disciplinary check.

San Francisco Japantown Foundation Provides Matching Grants to Ten Nonprofit Projects

don_tamakiThe San Francisco Japantown Foundation selected ten nonprofit projects and activities to participate in its 2010 matching grants program. These projects will be awarded up to $4,000 through a matching grants program instituted by the Foundation.

The Foundation was formed in December 2006 through generous endowments by Kintetsu Enterprises of America, Jack Hirose, Hats and Amey Aizawa, Union Bank and Minami Tamaki LLP.

Firm partner Donald Tamaki has served as the Foundation’s board president since the organization was founded.

Selected projects had until April 30, 2010, to fulfill their match by asking individuals to contribute to the Foundation and earmarking their donation for their specific project. The Foundation selected the projects based on criteria outlined in its submission guidelines and on how well each applicant advanced the Foundation’s mission to support cultural, community and educational activities for San Francisco’s Japantown or the Japanese American community.

The Foundation selected the following ten projects and activities to participate in the matching grants program:

  • nihonmachiROOTS Community Engagement Project
  • 2nd Annual J-POP SUMMIT Festival
  • Rosa Parks Elementary School Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program
  • National Japanese American Historical Society’s annual summer
  • Japantown Cultural Heritage Tourism Youth Leadership Internship
  • Kanrin Maru 150th Anniversary Celebration and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
  • Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Parade’s Kanrin Maru 150th Anniversary Floats
  • 18th Annual Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) Festival and School VisitProgram and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
  • Michiya Hanayagi Dance Studio
  • Nikkei Community Internship Program and the California Japanese
  • American Community Leadership Council
  • “What’s Next for J-Town? A Young Adults’ Perspective on San Francisco’s Japantown” by Aya Ino

For more information on the Foundation, visit

$3.5M Settlement to Help Brain Injured Client with Care and Lost Wages

pedestrian-crossingDale Minami, Mark Fong and Seth Rosenberg in our Personal Injury practice recently obtained a $3.5 million settlement for a man who suffered brain injuries after being struck and knocked unconscious by a waste management truck while walking in a crosswalk in San Francisco.

The client, “George,” had to undergo emergency neurosurgery to relieve bleeding and pressure on his brain. Afterward, he required physical therapy and rehabilitation. The incident prevented him from continuing work as a mechanic for San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority.

The defendants, the company that owned and operated the truck, litigated the case for more than a year, claiming that George was not paying attention in the drizzling rain. They claimed the umbrella he was holding blocked his view of the right turning truck, as well as the driver’s view of him.

Lawyers for George were able to prove that he had suffered subtle, but significant mental and emotional changes and, using advanced technology, could demonstrate through a simulated video that the truck driver could have seen George despite the conditions and the rain.

The defendants eventually agreed to pay George $3.5 million dollars for his past medical expenses, lost wages, future care and residual brain damage. He will now be able to afford life care assistance for the rest of his life and not have to worry about his future medical care or providing for his family.

Dale, Mark and Seth felt the settlement sent a message to the truck company to pay more attention to the safety of the public and will donate some of their attorneys’ fees to the distribution of a pamphlet on pedestrian safety.

“I’ve seen so many auto/pedestrian accidents in San Francisco where drivers were simply not paying attention,” said Dale. “I’m glad we were able to help George’s family.”

Cameron House’s Children Become Its Leaders

Cameron House provides food baskets to needy families in Chinatown. This year, youth created spice blends to raise money for food to put in the baskets.

Among the thousands of service agencies and community nonprofits struggling to make it through these tough economic times, Donaldina Cameron House counts among its blessings the multi-generational extended family it has nurtured throughout its 136-year history.

From its founding, Cameron House has nurtured a cycle of giving that began with the Presbyterian Church and Donaldina Cameron and has come full circle with the members of this family giving back to the organization.

Two examples of this are Cameron House Board President Heidi Wong, an organizational planning consultant specializing in nonprofits, and Minami Tamaki senior counsel Mark Fong.

mfong1Mark, like many other Chinese American children in San Francisco in the 1970s, used to attend the Friday night Club program, starting in junior high school.

“Maybe a hundred kids would get together to play sports and hang out,” said Mark. “It was a great place to make friends and meet girls.”

“Along with the recreational and social activities, the advisors would give us things to do, such as work projects and helping to raise money or collect food for folks in the neighborhood. I realized later in life that they were teaching us about service to the community and we didn’t even realize it.”

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Kristi Yamaguchi’s ‘Always Dream’ Fundraiser

I am on the Board of Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation and we’re having an annual fundraiser on May 30 in San Francisco. Her fundraisers are always fun and for good causes she supports so please consider joining us.

A one-night-only dinner/ballroom dancing extravaganza titled Kristi Yamaguchi’s “Dancing the Night Away” will showcase an all-star cast of participants from ABC’s popular “Dancing With The Stars” television show. All ballroom dancing performances will be performed live to the Bay Area’s renowned Dick Bright Orchestra.

Your support of this event will help build Always Dream Playpark, an extraordinary place where all children, including those confronting the challenges of a disability, can play together and learn from each other.

The details are on her website:

A Chance of a Lifetime

When our legal team stood in the courtroom of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on a rainy Nov. 10, 1983, to argue for the overturning of Fred Korematsu’s 40-year-old conviction for failure to obey the military orders directed at Japanese Americans in 1942, we knew that an extraordinary event would be unfolding before us.

Our first clue was the reassignment from Judge Marilyn Hall Patel’s courtroom to the “ceremonial courtroom,” a larger and more grandiose venue for what might become a historic occasion.

The second clue was the crowd. Folding chairs were brought in to accommodate the more than 1,000 people. Reporters were stuffed into the jury box that usually seated only 12 people. Third, the composition of the audience was unusual for a court case – many JAs including Nisei, former internees, 442nd members and our friends and family were there.

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Educating Seniors About Traffic Safety

Since the 1950s, San Francisco pedestrians have faced a steady risk of being injured or killed by motorists.

Senior citizens, in particular, face the greatest risk for being fatally injured when hit by cars. A S.F. Health Department’s study of pedestrian deaths revealed that while adults 65 years of age and older account for 15% of the city’s total population, they account for nearly 50% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents.

As an attorney who has handled numerous cases in Japantown, I have seen too many tragedies of accidents with the elderly. After my last case involving Kenji Suzuki’s unfortunate death, I felt that public education of the elderly in Japantown was necessary to prevent future deaths and injuries.

So, with the generosity of the Suzuki/Sato families, we decided to do SOMETHING about this problem and created a website, Please share this website with elderly Japanese Americans and their families who live, work and visit Japantown.