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California Reparations Task Force Releases Interim Report

California Reparations Task Force Releases Interim Report

Minami Tamaki LLP co-founder and Senior Counsel Donald K. Tamaki serves on the task force.

As part of California’s historic Assembly Bill 3121 (AB 3121), the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans (Reparations Task Force) today released an interim report providing an in-depth overview of the harms inflicted on African Americans in California and across the nation due to the ongoing legacy of slavery and systemic discrimination.

The interim report includes a preliminary set of recommendations to the California Legislature and a final report is expected to be issued in 2023. The Reparations Task Force is a first-in-the-nation effort by a state government to study slavery, its effects throughout American history, and the compounding harms that the United States and Californian governments have inflicted upon African Americans.

Some of the key findings noted in the interim report include:

  • In order to maintain slavery, colonial and American governments adopted white supremacy beliefs and passed laws in order to maintain a system that stole the labor and intellect of people of African descent;
  • In California, racial violence against African Americans began during slavery, continued through the 1920s, as groups like the Ku Klux Klan permeated local governments and police departments, and peaked after World War II, as African Americans attempted to move into white neighborhoods;
  • Due to residential segregation and compared to white Americans, African Americans are more likely to live in worse quality housing and in neighborhoods that are polluted, with inadequate infrastructure;
  • American government at all levels, including in California, has historically criminalized African Americans for the purposes of social control, and to maintain an economy based on exploited Black labor; and
  • Government laws and policies perpetuating badges of slavery have helped white Americans accumulate wealth, while erecting barriers which prevented African Americans from doing the same. These harms compounded over generations, resulting in an enormous gap in wealth between white and African Americans today in the nation and in California.

Minami Tamaki LLP firm co-founder and Senior Counsel Donald K. Tamaki serves on the task force as an appointee of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Learn more about the interim report and the next steps of the task force.

Media Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Lisa P. Mak Leads AABA Gala in Honoring Community and AAPI Legal Luminaries

Lisa P. Mak Leads AABA Gala in Honoring Community and AAPI Legal Luminaries

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA), one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the nation, held its 46th Annual Gala on March 30, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Minami Tamaki LLP was proud to be a Title Sponsor for the gala this year. Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak is serving this year as President of AABA.

Some of the Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys and staff at the AABA gala (from left): Katie Chan; Lisa P. Mak; Jack W. Lee (retired); Donald K. Tamaki; Gail Lang; Mark Fong; and Dale Minami. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

The AABA gala theme for this year was “Speak Up, Rise Up.” In her President’s Address at the gala, Lisa said the theme “was inspired by how our community and our allies spoke up and fought back against the rising anti-Asian hate and violence in the Bay Area and across the country in the last two years.” Lisa shared her family’s experience with racism after they immigrated to this country, emphasized the importance of speaking up in unity, and encouraged the AABA community to think about how they can make a difference.

The program celebrated several distinguished honorees, including Michael G.W. Lee as the recipient of this year’s Minami Impact Award, named after Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami to acknowledge attorneys who have had a positive impact on the Asian American community and the legal profession.

Dale Minami presents Michael G.W. Lee with the Minami Impact Award, honoring attorneys who have had a positive impact on the Asian American community and the legal profession. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Judge Lucy H. Koh from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit received the AABA Trailblazer Award. The late Justice Harry W. Low was recognized, along with an announcement of the new Justice Harry W. Low Fellowship that will be administered by the AABA Law Foundation later this year.

The gala concluded with a fireside chat between Lisa and Michelle MiJung Kim, an entrepreneur, activist, and author of “The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change.”  

AABA President Lisa P. Mak, a Minami Tamaki LLP attorney, in a fireside chat with Michelle MiJung Kim. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Over 500 guests attended the Gala this year, including over 30 judges, and San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. Betty Yu from KPIX 5 CBS was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The gala opened with a musical performance from the Oakland Youth Chorus, the longest-running youth chorus in the East Bay.

Minami Tamaki LLP Managing Partner Sean Tamura-Sato (right) with Doris Cheng (middle) and AABA Treasurer John B. Lough, Jr. Sean is a former AABA board member. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Through her term as AABA President this year, Lisa will aspire to honor and continue AABA’s history of speaking up for our community while elevating our members in the legal profession and keeping our voice at the table.

Watch Lisa’s president’s address below and view the other presentations of the gala awards on YouTube.

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee was elected last week to the Board of Governors for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. As a board member, she will help the organization promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. Olivia will serve a three-year term that started on June 11.  

Olivia’s new role as part of AILA’s national leadership continues her service to the organization that started in 2009 when she joined the Advisory Council of the AILA Northern California chapter. From June 2016 to July 2017, she served as the Chair of AILA Northern California. During that time, the chapter won the Platinum Award, the highest recognition for AILA chapters. Before her election to the AILA Board of Governors, Olivia served as Chair of the AILA National Diversity and Inclusion committee. She also served as faculty on local and national AILA CLE panels on topics such as O-1s, H-1Bs, entrepreneur visa options, and business immigration litigation in federal court.

Olivia also serves on the American Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and on the board of Chinese for Affirmative Action.  She is a member of the National Implicit Bias Network.  

She continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Associate Lisa P. Mak serves as Vice President/President-Elect of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA). Partner Sean Tamura-Sato and Associate Claire Y. Choo also serve on the AABA Board. Claire also serves as President of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association and on the board of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

Remembering and Honoring Garrick Lew on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing

Remembering and Honoring Garrick Lew on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing

It was five years ago today on March 19, 2016, that we lost our dear friend and this firm’s former law partner Garrick S. Lew. His absence is still deeply felt to this day.

We remember Garrick on this anniversary with love to his family – wife Diane Hiura, sons Dillon and Brandon, father Share, sister Sherene, and brother Rictor and Rictor’s wife Patty.

Throughout his life, Garrick stayed true to the principles that guided his life: advancing justice, fighting for the underdog, mentoring young attorneys, and being fiercely loyal to family and friends.

Garrick, the first of three children, was born on July 25, 1950, in Oakland, Calif., to parents Share and Jennie Lew. A product of Oakland’s public schools, Garrick received his B.A. with Honors from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971, and his J.D. from UC Berkeley Law in 1974. From his first years as a student at Cal, he fought for the establishment of an ethnic studies program, demonstrated in the Third World Strike, and helped establish youth organizations in Oakland’s Chinatown.

Throughout his legal career, Garrick was an ardent champion of civil rights and social justice, and a staunch defender of those unable to defend themselves. As a fearless young lawyer, he represented Wendy Yoshimura, the fugitive who was caught with Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army. He was also part of the legal team fighting the eviction of tenants from the International Hotel, and provided pro bono services to demonstrators arrested in anti-Vietnam war protests.

It was out of this sense of justice and pride in his heritage as an Asian American that he helped establish the Asian Law Caucus while still a law student. Garrick later co-founded Minami, Tomine and Lew, one of the first Asian American law firms in the country. The firm later became Minami Lew & Tamaki, and then Minami Tamaki LLP when Garrick started his own practice in 2006.

In his 42 years of practicing law, Garrick specialized in criminal defense trial work with a focus on complex white-collar cases, but also served on the federal court’s Criminal Justice Panel for 30 years, handling hundreds of cases for indigent clients.

Garrick received numerous honors, awards, and recognitions for his professional accomplishments. He was also one of the funniest people alive, sometimes unintentionally.

To honor Garrick’s lifetime of accomplishments, the MTYKL Foundation established the Garrick S. Lew Legacy Fund. Because of the generosity of numerous donors to the Fund, the MTYKL Foundation was able to partner with the AABA Law Foundation in creating the Garrick S. Lew Fellowship, which awards $10,000 to a third-year law student committed to a criminal defense practice after graduation.

Garrick will always be greatly missed, and his legacy continues with those who walk the path he helped blaze.

Minami Tamaki LLP Announces Retirement of Partner Minette Kwok and Transition of Donald Tamaki to Senior Counsel

Minami Tamaki LLP Announces Retirement of Partner Minette Kwok and Transition of Donald Tamaki to Senior Counsel

Minami Tamaki LLP today announced that Partner Minette A. Kwok will retire from the firm and that Managing Partner Donald K. Tamaki will transition into a Senior Counsel position, both effective on January 1, 2021.

Minette has led Minami Tamaki LLP’s immigration law practice for more than two decades, growing it into an award-winning and successful practice nationally recognized and ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

“Minette developed a solid team of stellar, hardworking professionals and nurtured a firm culture promoting collegiality, collaboration, and mutual respect,” said Don Tamaki who worked with Minette since she joined the firm in 1990 as the first woman Partner. “She built an immigration law practice with superb clients, including numerous technology leaders, and dedicated countless hours to the nation’s immigration bar and to community organizations. Minette is an inspiration to all attorneys.” 

Minette’s achievements during her 30-year career include recognized leadership in AILA, numerous awards and recognition for legal excellence, and years of service on nonprofit boards and pro bono work.

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ABA Journal Profiles Dale Minami, Recipient of ABA Medal

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami, recently awarded the ABA Medal, was profiled by Lorelei Laird in the September-October 2019 issue of the ABA Journal, the flagship publication of the American Bar Association. Published monthly, it is read by more than half of the nation’s 1.1 million lawyers.

ABA Medal recipient Dale Minami built a career around inclusion and civil rights for Asian Americans

Dale Minami didn’t know what the ABA was for the first nine years of his legal career. Then, in 1981, an invitation came.

The ABA was hosting a national institute of minority lawyers in Washington, D.C., along with several affinity bar associations. Minami was invited to help hash out reforms within the profession to help attorneys of color and their clients. But the subtext—based on Minami’s recollections and contemporary coverage from the ABA Journal—was an apology for past discrimination and an appeal to minority lawyers to join forces with the association.

The event prompted Minami and others to form the first national bar association for Asian Pacific Americans. Though that effort failed, he says, it planted the seed for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, which was founded in 1988.

“And now we have an organization that was inspired by the ABA, truthfully, in many ways,” says Minami, who practices at Minami Tamaki in San Francisco and has been an ABA member for some 30 years. “They set us on the road to forming an organization. They welcomed us.”

On Aug. 10, Minami received the ABA Medal—the association’s highest honor—because he has spent his career working toward exactly that type of inclusion. It will not be the first ABA award for the attorney, who is also a past recipient of the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall Award and Spirit of Excellence Award.

Though Minami’s law firm calls him senior counsel in personal injury law, he’s better known as one of the lawyers who helped overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, the Japanese American man whose name is on a notorious and widely repudiated U.S. Supreme Court case. With far less publicity, he’s also helped blaze trails for Asian Pacific Americans and other people of color.

“He has a powerful passion for social justice that drives him,” says friend and former law partner Mike Lee, a solo in San Francisco. “And he puts his efforts and time into addressing his passion for justice.”

Read the full article.

Podcast: ‘On The Road’ Interview with Dale Minami

Podcast: ‘On The Road’ Interview with Dale Minami

In a podcast recorded at the recent 2019 ABA Annual Meeting, “On The Road” host Michele Wong Krause interviews ABA Medal winner Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami on his legal career and passion for using the law to empower the Asian Pacific American community.

They talk about Dale’s most exceptional professional accomplishments, including his work to overturn the conviction in a 1942 case, Korematsu v. United States. They also discuss current issues of immigration, racism, and inequality, and Dale cautions lawmakers against repeating egregious mistakes of the past.

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.