Blog : Minami Tamaki Spring 2011

Minami Tamaki Sponsors Japantown Foundation Fundraiser

Minami Tamaki LLP sponsored the San Francisco Japantown Foundation’s first annual New Year’s Fundraiser on Jan. 13, an event that raised almost $28,000 to support the Foundation’s mission to support cultural, community and educational activities in San Francisco Japantown.

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. He also chaired the New Year’s fundraiser.

The event, which was held at the New People Gallery, featured Osechi Ryori, a traditional Japanese New Year’s cuisine. Sake expert Miwa Wang of True Sake offered tastings of various types of sake, and Kagami Kai performed a mochi-making demonstration.

For the past several years, the Japantown Foundation has provided grants to nonprofit projects that support Japantown and the Japanese American community. The Foundation held the fundraiser to involve more individual donors to support the future of Japantown and the Japanese American community.

The Foundation is dedicated to preserving and honoring Japantown’s history; welcoming and serving its residents, visitors, businesses, congregations and community organizations; and supporting the growth and development of the community’s Japanese cultural theme.

Minami Tamaki Negotiates Health-e-App Agreement

Donald K. Tamaki of Minami Tamaki LLPCorporate/Business practice partner Donald K. Tamaki recently represented the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) in negotiating an agreement with California state government agencies to license “Health-e-App,” software developed by CHCF to streamline the enrollment of uninsured Californians into public health coverage programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, and Access for Infants and Mothers Program.

“Because of the software licensing agreement, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board are now using Health-e-App to enroll applicants over the Web, reducing to minutes a process that used to take hours,” said Tamaki. “Thousands of uninsured Californians are now better able to secure health insurance coverage.”

Health-e-App was developed by CHCF in 2001 and licensed to the state to help reduce the number of uninsured children in California. Certified application assistants who are trained to help persons complete the application form have used it statewide.

“Health-e-App was the first internet-based system in the nation to fully automate the application process for low-income uninsured children and now it is available to the public via the Internet,” said Lesley S. Cummings, Executive Director of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board.

CHCF, a client of Tamaki’s since 2005, works as a catalyst to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians. The Foundation supports ideas and innovations that improve quality, increase efficiency, and lower the costs of care.

Employee News and Updates

Senior Counsel Derek Howard recently joined the Board of Directors of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Founded in 1962, the Consumer Attorneys of California’s mission is to keep courts open to everyone, not merely the wealthy. Consumer attorneys have led efforts to bring the tobacco industry to heel, make cars safer, protect individual privacy, defend wage-earners against bosses who exploit them, and help working people whose life savings have been ravaged by unscrupulous financiers.

La Verne Ramsay joined the firm as a Senior Associate in our Immigration Practice Group. Ms. Ramsay handles all aspects of employment-based and family-based immigration, and post-permanent resident applications, including re-entry permits and naturalization applications. Prior to joining Minami Tamaki LLP, Ms. Ramsay practiced immigration with several firms, including a boutique immigration firm and a large full service immigration firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ms. Ramsay received her Juris Doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1998.

Kevin Allen joined the firm as an Associate in its San Francisco Office. Mr. Allen practices civil litigation with an emphasis in employment law, wage and hour issues and class action litigation. He attended law school at the University of Santa Clara where he graduated in 2005 in the top 10 percent of his class. Prior to joining Minami Tamaki LLP, Mr. Allen worked at a prominent class action firm where he directed the day-to-day litigation efforts in more than 25 class actions involving wage and hour issues.

Natalie Joy Ang joined the firm as an Associate in our Immigration Practice Group. Ms. Ang’s practice focuses on all aspects of employment-based immigration, representing startups and Fortune 500 companies. She also handles family-based immigration matters, consular processing, re-entry permits and naturalization. Prior to joining Minami Tamaki LLP, Ms. Ang worked at a large global immigration firm, focusing on employment-based U.S. immigration matters. Ms. Ang received her Juris Doctor from Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law.

Minami Tamaki Sponsors Cameron House Gala

Minami Tamaki Sponsors Cameron House Gala
From left: Lynda Won-Chung, Mark Fong and firm guest Bernice Toy

B. Mark Fong, senior counsel in our Personal Injury practice, and Lynda Won-Chung, senior counsel in our Immigration practice, on February 12 attended the annual Soul & Elegance gala for Cameron House, one of the oldest continuously operating social service agencies in San Francisco. Fong is Vice-President of the Cameron House Board of Directors and Minami Tamaki LLP was an event sponsor.

Cameron House provides family support services, counseling to victims of domestic violence, bilingual after school tutoring and runs a very vibrant youth program, among other services.

The event was held at the South San Francisco Conference Center and honored youth leader Sherman Gee; Rev. Glenda Hope; Kathy, Benson and Helen Kwan; and Jeannette Wei with the 2011 Donaldina Cameron Award for Excellence in Service and Leadership.

An earlier post on this blog shared more background about Cameron House and the involvement of Minami Tamaki LLP and Mark Fong in the organization.

Olivia Serene Lee Delivers Workshop on Immigration to University Students

Olivia Serene Lee, Minami Tamaki LLPOn Feb. 12, Immigration Practice associate Olivia Serene Lee delivered a workshop on immigration law and immigrant communities at the 2011 Asian Pacific Islander Leadership Retreat held in Folsom, Calif., with University of California, Davis, students.

The Asian Pacific Islander Leadership Retreat develops student leadership within the Asian Pacific Islander community by enhancing self-awareness and personal growth. The retreat provides students the opportunity to learn about issues concerning API communities, develop a stronger bond within our communities and gain leadership skills that last a lifetime.

Lee’s interactive workshop focused on identity, community and the idea of pan-ethnicity, with a particular emphasis on immigration law and immigrant communities. She led discussions on the xenophobic movement in the 1800s that sought to drive every “Asiatic” out of America, U.S. Supreme Court decisions preventing Asians from acquiring U.S. citizenship, shifts in immigration and naturalization laws and the misuse of immigration policies in the name of homeland security.

The two dozen students attending the workshop shared personal stories reflecting the variety of their backgrounds, including those of Hmong descent and those with families from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines and across the U.S.

Lee discussed race as a social construct, the DREAM Act and a task force started in UC Davis that revealed 60 percent of undocumented students were of AAPI descent.  Of those undocumented AAPI students, 40 percent were Korean. There was also a discussion about the proposal to allow food trucks and carts in San Francisco’s Chinatown and how that might impact immigrant communities.

Lee’s workshop was an example of the ongoing contributions by Minami Tamaki attorneys in service to our communities.

Minami Tamaki to Launch Pedestrian Safety Awareness Campaign

San Francisco pedestrians face a steadily increasing risk of being injured or killed by motorists.

Senior citizens, in particular, have the greatest chance of being fatally injured when hit by cars. A recent San Francisco Health Department study of pedestrian deaths revealed that while adults 65 years of age and older account for 15 percent of the city’s total population, they make up nearly half of the pedestrians killed in traffic accidents.

Our attorneys at Minami Tamaki have handled numerous cases involving tragedies of accidents with the elderly.

Jane D (fictitious name), a 75-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of 10, was returning home from her morning walk when she was struck by a commercial vehicle in 2009 on a busy San Francisco intersection near Chinatown. She suffered serious injuries that crushed her pelvis and eventually required amputation of her left leg.

Kenji Suzuki was struck by a S.F. Municipal Bus in Japantown on January 11, 2007, and passed away five days later.

These any other cases motivated Minami Tamaki to explore the creation of a pedestrian safety awareness campaign to help prevent future deaths and injuries.

Our campaign, Walk Safe Bay Area, will seek to decrease pedestrian injuries and fatalities in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose by increasing awareness among senior citizens and other monolingual pedestrians.  We hope to involve nonprofits, the media and other interested parties in the effort to educate seniors, their families and support circles on how to get around safely.

Since December, Senior Counsel B. Mark Fong has been giving presentations at senior centers and community service agencies in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. During the presentation, he describes to seniors the risk of pedestrian injury, provides tips on how to reduce risks and distributes brochures published by Minami Tamaki in Chinese and English to aid them in remembering the information.

We started this effort in 2008 with the launch of, a website created with the generosity of Kenji Suzuki’s family, in cooperation with the Japantown Task Force and KIMOCHI, Inc.

Our campaign will include a website at and will include other public education efforts.

Minami Tamaki at the 22nd Annual NAPABA Conference

By Eunice Yang

I attended my first National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) conference in Los Angeles in November with partners Dale Minami and Brad Yamauchi.  NAPABA’s 22nd Annual theme of ‘Inspire’ celebrated the achievements of dynamic Asian American Pacific Islanders in the legal community, collegiality among NAPABA members and elevation of AAPI attorneys to new heights.

A record-breaking 1,600 attendees included legal, business, and government leaders and future leaders. I met a number of civil rights attorneys and general counsel of multinational corporations.  Attendees from all walks mixed and mingled.  It was truly inspiring to meet colleagues who have contributed so much to our communities.

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA 2011
From left to right: Leighton Oshima, Marji Fujioka (former President of NAPABA and AABA), David Louie (Acting Attorney General of Hawai’i) and Minami Tamaki associate Eunice Yang

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Minami Fellowship Dinner Honors Former President of Calif. State Bar

Fourth Annual Dale Minami Fellowship Dinner 2011

The Fourth Annual Dale Minami Boalt Alumni Fellowship Dinner on January 28, 2011, honored Holly Fujie, the 84th President of the State Bar of California, the third woman and the second Asian American to hold that position.  Fujie (pictured below with Dale) is a litigation Shareholder with the Los Angeles-based law firm of Buchalter Nemer, APC.

Fourth Annual Dale Minami Fellowship Dinner 2011, Dale Minami and Holly Fujie

The fellowship dinner, organized by the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association at the University of California, Berkeley, raises funds for the endowment of the Dale Minami Public Interest Fellowship, which provides financial support to outstanding individuals committed to serving the public interest.

Fourth Annual Dale Minami Fellowship Dinner 2011

The organizers this year awarded the Fellowship to Stella Kang (pictured above), a 2010 graduate of University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and currently working at API Legal Outreach as a Borchard Fellow in Law & Aging. Kang received her B.A. with high honors in Russian Language and Literature from Smith College in 2001 and from 2005-2006 worked in Russia as a Fulbright Fellow on women’s human rights issues. She speaks Russian, Korean and Spanish and has extensive experience working with low income immigrants and refugees in the Bay Area and abroad.

While in law school, Kang interned at the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach and the East Bay Community Law Center. Her work at API Legal Outreach includes developing, strengthening and implementing a sustainable model for the provision of culturally competent legal services to Asian Pacific Islanders facing elder abuse.

The Dale Minami Fellows are selected for their diverse backgrounds, record of exceptional academic and professional accomplishment, leadership in community service and commitment to social justice and public interest work.

Fourth Annual Dale Minami Fellowship Dinner 2011, Don Tamaki

Minami Tamaki LLP partner Don Tamaki (pictured above) introduced Fujie, this year’s honoree. Fujie is currently the 2010-2011 President of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association, the 2010-2011 Vice President of the Chancery Club, and Chair-Elect of Bet Tzedek (the House of Justice) Legal Services. She also serves on the Board of Governors of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles; the Boards of Directors of VIP Mentors, the Federal Bar Association (Los Angeles Chapter) and the California Bar Foundation; and sits on the Advisory Board of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles.

Previous dinner honorees include United States Magistrate Judge Edward Chen and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund attorney Khin Mai Aung.

Glen S. Fukushima and Minami Tamaki LLP were Platinum Sponsors of the event.

All photos courtesy of Grace Keh.

First Korematsu Day Celebration Attracts More Than 700 Attendees

Speakers at First Fred Korematsu Day

More than 700 attendees packed the Wheeler Auditorium at the University of California, Berkeley, for the first Fred Korematsu Day celebration on Jan. 30, 2011 — Korematu’s birthday.  He would have been 92 years old.

Minami Tamaki LLP partners Dale Minami and Don Tamaki were members of the legal team that helped overturn Korematsu’s wrongful conviction for defying the military orders that ultimately led to the evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, including Korematsu and his family.Highlights of the event included a keynote by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and remarks by Korematsu’s daughter, Karen,, spoken word artist Beau Sia, California Assemblymember Warren Furutani and a video greeting from Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.  CBS 5 anchor Sydnie Kohara emceed the program.

The first Korematsu Day celebration marked a milestone in the ongoing effort to educate the public about the dangers of rolling back civil liberties in the name of national security.

In September 2010, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1775 into law, establishing January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day, the first time in United States history a day has been named after an Asian American.

The Korematsu Institute, launched last year by the Asian Law Caucus in partnership with the Korematsu family, plans to roll out curriculum in K-12 schools that week and on all future Korematsu Days.