NFALA News

2015



Robert Uy Recognized with Minority Bar Coalition Unity Award

 

 

Congratulations to Robert Uy, NFALA’s newly installed Regional Governor for Northern California and past president of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC), on receiving a 2015 Minority Bar Coalition Unity Award. FBANC and over twenty minority bar associations came together on November 18 at the UC Hastings College of the Law to celebrate the awardees and their commitment to diversity in the legal profession.


Robert Uy

NFALA Co-Signs Letter Calling on U.S. Attorney General to Investigate Alleged Racial Profiling of Asian American Scientists

NFALA joins the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), and over 70 other organizations in urging U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to open an investigation into allegations of racial profiling of Asian American scientists. For more information, see the press release from NAPABA below.

For Immediate Release
Nov. 16, 2015

For More Information, Contact:
Brett Schuster, Communications Manager
schuster@napaba.org, 202-775-9555

70+ Asian Pacific American, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Organizations Urge U.S. Attorney General to Investigate Possible Profiling of Asian American Scientists

“We firmly believe that otherwise innocent actions by Americans must not become suspicious simply because of the person’s ethnic surname or perceived national origin.”


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WASHINGTON — The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) are joined by 70 organizations in sending a letter today to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch seeking an independent investigation into what appears to be a trend of Asian American scientists being suspected of economic espionage, indicted and arrested, without the full support of the facts.

Science magazine has reported that in the past year alone, charges have been dropped against five Chinese-born scientists accused of crimes related to trade secrets theft or economic spying. The most recent cases of potential profiling involve U.S. citizens Dr. Xiaoxing Xi, chair of Temple University’s physics department, and Sherry Chen, a hydrologist and employee of the National Weather Service. All charges against both were dropped — but not before wreaking irreparable damage to their lives, careers, and reputations.

“We are deeply concerned at the prospect of anyone being targeted for their race, ethnicity, or national origin,” said NCAPA National Director Christopher Kang. “Two is a coincidence, and three is a trend. It is time for a full and independent investigation into the cases of Dr. Xi and Ms. Chen, so there is not even an appearance of profiling in cases moving forward.”

“We thank the more than 70 organizations in our growing coalition — from 16 NCAPA organizations and the NAACP to the ACLU and People For the American Way,” Kang continued. “This is not a Chinese American issue or an Asian American issue. It is an American issue — to preserve our fundamental values of fairness and due process and to protect our civil rights and civil liberties.”

“Americans across the country are very concerned that individuals appear to be targeted for investigations based on their perceived race, ethnicity, or national origin,” said NAPABA President Jin Y. Hwang. “Attorney General Lynch must lead a thorough and independent investigation to assure the American public that the protections afforded by the Constitution and enshrined in Department policy prohibiting profiling are being followed. The broad and diverse coalition of more than 70 civil rights and legal organizations calling for this investigation highlights the importance of a fair and unbiased legal system to our country.”

Dr. Xiaoxing Xi and Sherry Chen will join a Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) press conference Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 9:30 a.m. EST in the Capitol (H-137) with Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27) and Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Earlier this month in a letter led by Representatives Ted Lieu, Judy Chu and Keith Ellison, 42 members of Congress called upon Attorney General Lynch to lead the Department of Justice in an independent investigation.

Learn more in NCAPA’s one-pager on this issue.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or bschuster@napaba.org.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of approximately 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.

NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).


NFALA @ NAPABA 2015


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) held its 2015 Convention, "NAPABA Rising" on November 5-8 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside in New Orleans, Louisiana. Over 1,500 Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law students, academics, and elected officials attended the yearly gathering, including a sizeable contingent of Filipino Americans hosted by NFALA at various events before and throughout the span of the convention.  The lineup of "NFALA @ NAPABA" activities included:

- a kamayan dinner at Milkfish Philippine Cuisine
- a field trip to the town of Jean Lafitte, the site of the some of the oldest Filpino settlements in North America dating back to the 1700s
- the NFALA Annual Dinner and Installation Ceremony at Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen featuring special guest American Bar Association president Paulette Brown and keynote speaker Joe Centeno, past president of NAPABA
- the first-ever NFALA law firm partner/in-house counsel networking reception
- the NFALA annual membership meeting
- attending the Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints NFL game at the Superdome 

Thank you to Mayor Tim Kerner, Honorary Philippine Consul General Robert Romero, and the residents of Jean Lafitte for their hospitality. Special recognition also goes to NFALA's event planning team, which consisted of Benes Aldana, Christine Changho Bruneau, Janice Jabido, and Melissa Lee.

During the NAPABA Convention itself, our Fil-Am colleagues shined bright. Benes Aldana and California Assemblymember Rob Bonta both received the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, while Christine Bautista was honored as one of NAPABA's Best Lawyers Under 40. Panel speakers included: Benes Aldana, Christine Bautista, June Casalmir, Eric de los Santos, Marita Etcubanez, Rio Guerrero, Janice Jabido, John Laney, David Lat, Glenn Magpantay, Carmelyn Malalis, Julia Markley, Connie Montoya, Carmina Ocampo, Ryan Poscablo, Ireneo Reus III, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Vincent Roldan, Rachel See, Rodney Villazor, Professor Rose Cuison Villazor, and Michael Yap.


NFALA Join Amicus Brief Supporting the University of Texas at Austin's
Admissions Policy in Fisher v. University of Texas


NFALA has signed onto the amicus brief filed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice in support of the affirmative action policy currently being challeged in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas. The brief is available here. Below is a press release detailing the three amicus briefs filed separately by leading Asian American and Pacific Islander legal and civil rights organizations.   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2015

CONTACT:
Comrequests@advancingjustice-aajc.org

Randy Bunnao, 213.241.0227, rbunnao@advancingjustice-la.org
Kenny Fuentes, 212.966.5932 x208, kfuentes@aaldef.org
Brett Schuster, 202-775-9555 x2, BSchuster@napaba.org

MORE THAN 160 ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER GROUPS FILE AMICUS BRIEFS IN SUPPORT OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION


U.S. Supreme Court Hears Fisher v. University of Texas Case a Second Time

 

WASHINGTON – Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), have filed three separate amicus briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold University of Texas at Austin’s (UT-Austin) affirmative action policy. See Advancing Justice's brief here, and visit AALDEF's and NAPABA's websites for more information on the additional briefs.

Together, the briefs represent over 160 organizations in support of equal opportunity and affirmative action in higher education, representing the tremendous diversity within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, including Arab, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander organizations. In addition, the briefs represent 53 individuals, including higher education faculty and officials.

“With long histories of serving the most vulnerable members of our community, these organizations range from large, pan-Asian national organizations and professional associations, to student and grassroots groups,” says Laboni Hoq, litigation director at Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. “Such broad support for race conscious admissions policies sends a clear message that AAPIs overwhelmingly support these policies and will not be used as a racial wedge to disenfranchise other communities of color.”

The amicus brief filed by Advancing Justice argues that an applicant cannot be evaluated holistically without the consideration of race. In UT-Austin’s holistic review program, where test scores play a dominant role in the admissions process, it is even more crucial to consider race because these tests disproportionately limit access to educational opportunities for minority students. The brief also shows how race conscious admissions programs opened the doors of higher education for AAPI students after a century of discrimination and exclusion and continue to benefit many AAPI students who face significant educational barriers today.

A closer look at disaggregated data reveals large disparities in educational attainment among Asian American ethnic groups. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, the educational attainment of Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans is the lowest among Asian American ethnic groups and similar to those of Latinos and African Americans. Only 61 percent of Hmong Americans hold a high school diploma, while only 12 percent of Laotian Americans have graduated from college.

"Supporters of Fisher have mischaracterized UT-Austin's race-conscious admissions policy. It can benefit Asian Americans through an individualized review of applicants that avoids harmful stereotypes based on the ‘model minority’ myth," says AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung.

As summarized in AALDEF's amicus brief: "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders--a unique cross-section of identities and experiences that spans a range of comparative privilege and disadvantage--benefit from this individualized approach to admissions, as do African Americans, Latinos, and Whites.” The AALDEF amicus brief also distinguishes between the two distinct concepts of negative action and affirmative action, noting there is no evidence in the record of discrimination by UT-Austin.

“We recognize that Asian Pacific Americans, like other groups, have endured cases of discrimination and lack of opportunities which continue to impact us today. The low numbers of minority groups in the legal profession, government, and corporate leadership underscore the need to remove barriers to higher education and increase diversity,” says George C. Chen, president of NAPABA. “Courtrooms, law firms, and law schools must be filled with people of different backgrounds so that we can better understand and respect the diversity of the American public.”

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that universities may consider race as part of a holistic review process to increase racial diversity on campus. When instructed to look more carefully at whether UT-Austin tried other methods of achieving greater racial diversity before considering race, the 5th Circuit determined that UT-Austin’s efforts to increase racial diversity through race-neutral means (e.g. “Top Ten Percent” Plan) did not result in the qualitative diversity that it sought, and therefore upheld the University’s use of race as a factor in its holistic admissions policy. Fisher appealed this decision forcing a second hearing of the case by the U.S. Supreme Court in December.

The Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) amicus brief represents 141 Asian American organizations, student groups, and bar associations, as well as, 9 members of academia. Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC served as pro-bono co-counsel. For a copy, visit www.advancingjustice-la.org.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) amicus brief represents 21 Asian American education and youth-serving groups, including the Asian/Asian American Faculty and Staff Association and the Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective at UT-Austin, and 44 higher education faculty and officials. Foley Hoag LLP served as pro-bono co-counsel. For a copy, visit http://aaldef.org.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) amicus brief, filed by the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC), consisting of NAPABA, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Bar Association (NBA), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA), highlights the importance of race conscious admissions policies in order to preserve a diverse pipeline of individuals into the legal profession. For a copy, visit, www.napaba.org.

# # #

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation's members are: Advancing Justice - AAJC (Washington, D.C.), Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice - Atlanta, Advancing Justice - Chicago, and Advancing Justice - Los Angeles.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of approximately 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.


12th Filipina Leadership Global Summit

NFALA is a proud community partner of the Filipina Women's Network 12th Filipina Leadership Global Summit, which will be held in San Francisco from October 29-31. Among the distinguished Pinay attorneys who will be speaking at this year’s conference include:

• Aimee Alado (Chair, ENFiD: European Network of Filipino Diaspora)
• Aurora Austriaco (Past President of the Chicago Bar Association)
• Loida Nicolas Lewis (CEO and Chair of TLC Beatrice, Co-founder of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA))
• Hon. Lorna Schofield (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York)
• Hazal Dolio Tag’at (Director, Andersen Tax)

Thank you ladies for your leadership and inspiration! For registration info, visit http://www.filipinasummit.org.



Eric de los Santos and Mary Delahunty Receive ACC Awards

NFALA is incredibly proud of two Fil-Am colleagues who have been honored by the Association of Corporate Counsel. Congratulations to Mary Delahunty, vice president and general counsel of Invocon, on being named Jonathan S. Silver Committee Member of the Year and to NFALA board member Eric de los Santos, assistant general counsel and director of employment law at TrueBlue Inc., on receiving the Matthew J. Whitehead II Individual Diversity Award. Also a co-founder of the Filipino Lawyers of Washington (FLOW), Eric will be sworn in as NFALA’s vice president of membership at our annual dinner during the NAPABA Convention in New Orleans on November 5. For more on Eric’s inspiring story, check out this recent interview in Westlaw Corporate Counsel Connect by Thomson Reuters executive and fellow Fil-Am attorney Bernadette Bulacan.



Michael Chu Named to 2015 Business Leaders of Color List

 Congratulations to FALA Chicago honorary board member Michael P. Chu on being recognized as a Business Leader of Color by Chicago United. He is one of 45 business executives named to Chicago United’s biennial list, putting him in the esteemed company of past honorees like First Lady Michelle Obama and senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett. In addition to practicing intellectual property law as a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, Michael is a former president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and presently serves as board president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago. For more background on Michael and his award, please consult this announcement from MWE.



FALA Chicago president Jasmine Hernandez with Michael Chu at FALA Chicago's 3rd Annual Summer Soiree in August 2015.

Election Results for 2015-16 NFALA Board of Governors

 

 

 

 

Voting for the 2015-16 NFALA Board of Governors went underway last month and the following candidates have been elected to office:

President-Elect: Jhanice V. Domingo 
VP of Programs and Operations: David Mesa
VP of Membership: Eric de los Santos
VP of Communications: Mark Calaguas
Secretary: Janice Jabido
Treasurer: Mark Punzalan

Congratulations to these individuals, who will also be serving with NFALA president Rudy Figueroa. Formal installation of board members takes place on November 5 in New Orleans at the NFALA Annual Dinner held during the 2015 NAPABA Convention.



Congratulations to 2015 NAPABA Trailblazers Judge Benes Aldana and California Assemblymember Rob Bonta

 

NFALA congratulates this year's Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award recipients, which include NFALA's own Benes Aldana and Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American elected to California's state legislature. The prestigious Trailblazer Award is bestowed by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). The announcement from NAPABA is below.

News Release

For Immediate Release
Oct. 8, 2015

For More Information, Contact: 
Brett Schuster, Communications Manager
bschuster@napaba.org, 202-775-9555


 Update: NAPABA Announces 2015 Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award Recipients

 

 

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) has selected five exceptional attorneys to receive NAPABA’s highest honor — the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award. This award recognizes the outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership of lawyers who have paved the way for the advancement of other Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys. These Trailblazers have demonstrated vision, courage, and tenacity, and made substantial and lasting contributions to the APA legal profession, as well as to the broader APA community.  

The 2015 Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazers Awards will be presented on Nov. 6, 2015, at a special ceremony during the 2015 NAPABA Convention in New Orleans, to the following recipients:

Captain Benes Z. Aldana — United States Coast Guard
Assemblymember Rob Bonta — California State Assembly
David Louie — Kobayashi Sugita & Goda LLP
Justice Sabrina Shizue McKenna — Supreme Court of the State of Hawai’i
Judge Amul Thapar — United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky

The 2015 Trailblazers class is represented by a diverse and impressive group. Captain Aldana serves as the Staff Judge Advocate (Chief Legal Officer) of the Eighth Coast Guard District, the largest district in the Coast Guard, and is responsible for providing legal advice to the district commander and oversees the provision of legal support to Coast Guard operations spanning 26 states, including the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, he is currently a judge on the U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. He is believed to be the first Asian Pacific American to be appointed as a military trial judge (2005) and as an appellate judge (2015) in the U.S. military. As a leader in the American Bar Association, he is currently a board member of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative and on the ABA Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360.

Assemblymember Bonta is the first and only Filipino American ever elected to the California State Legislature in the 165 year history of the state and has led a number of significant legislative efforts to empower the APIA community, including: Assembly Bill (AB) 7 to establish a state day of recognition to honor Filipino American labor leader and California hero, Larry Itliong; AB 123 to require the state public school curriculum to include the contributions of Filipino Americans to the farm labor movement in California; and AB 817 to assist the nearly 2.6 million eligible voters in California who are not yet fully proficient in English by providing them with language assistance at the polls.

Mr. Louie most recently served as the attorney general of the State of Hawai‘i from 2011 to 2014 — the first Chinese-American attorney general in the nation. As attorney general, Mr. Louie was the chief law enforcement officer for the state, providing advice, counsel, and representation to all aspects of state government (including the Governor) on all legal matters for the state, both civil and criminal. Mr. Louie helped to pass and defend Hawai’i legislation legalizing same sex marriage, settled 30-year-old claims of Native Hawai’ians against the State for $200 million, negotiated a $40 million conservation easement on 665 acres of ocean front land, and worked with other state attorneys general on the national mortgage foreclosure settlement, Internet safety and consumer protection.

Justice McKenna was a trial judge for 17 years before joining the Hawai’i Supreme Court in 2011 as its third woman and as the first open member of the LGBT community of Asian Pacific heritage to serve on a state court of last resort. Throughout her career, she has pursued civil rights, social justice, and equality in access to justice for all. As a young associate in the early 1980’s, she successfully advocated for her firm to provide 50 hours of annual billable hour credit for pro bono time, a policy that was also later adopted by other Hawai’i firms. Justice McKenna oversaw implementation of Hawai’i's court interpreter certification program, instituted a policy requiring free language access for all participants in Oahu's family courts as the then presiding judge, then advocated for adoption of the same policy for the entire judiciary. As an appellate and trial judge over the last 22 years, she has ruled in many high profile and important cases. 

Judge Thapar was nominated by President George W. Bush to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2007, making him the nation’s first South Asian American Article III judge. Prior to his confirmation, Judge Thapar served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. While U.S. attorney, Judge Thapar was appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) and chaired the AGAC’s Controlled Substances and Asset Forfeiture subcommittee.

NAPABA congratulates the 2015 Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award recipients and thanks them for paving the way for Asian Pacific American attorneys.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or bschuster@napaba.org.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.

NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).


Congratulations to 2015 NAPABA Trailblazers Judge Benes Aldana and California Assemblymember Rob Bonta

 

NFALA congratulates this year's Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award recipients, which include NFALA's own Benes Aldana and Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American elected to California's state legislature. The prestigious Trailblazer Award is bestowed by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). The announcement from NAPABA is below.

Christine Bautista Named to NAPABA's 2015 "Best Under 40" List

 

 

NFALA extends its congratulations to Christine Bautista, one of 14 attorneys chosen to receive the 2015 Best Lawyers Under 40 Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). An accomplished trial lawyer, Christine spent seven years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, where she investigated and prosecuted white collar crimes as well as high-profile international drug trafficking and money laundering cases. During her time in California, Christine also served as a board member of the Philippine American Bar Association of Los Angeles. Upon moving back to her native Chicago, she joined the law firm of Akerman LLP as a partner in the Litigation Practice Group before returning to government service, this time in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition to her full-time position at the SEC, Christine currently serves as the secretary of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (FALA) and is an active member of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, the Federal Bar Association of Chicago, and the Women's Bar Association of Illinois.  


Celebrating Filipino American History Month in Washington, D.C.

 

 

On October 2, 2015 NFALA members convened in Washington, D.C. for a full day of activities revolving around the first-ever White House Filipino American History Month Celebration. In addition to the star-studded afternoon gathering, our ‪NFALA family‬ also attended the Fil-Am National Town Hall meeting organized by KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). The event featured a distinguished panel of elected officials, policy experts, and political advocates addressing the topic of civic engagement in the Fil-Am community. Special thanks to NFALA DC for organizing the post-FAHM celebration dinner at Purple Patch DC. All in all, a whirlwind weekend that provided the perfect momentum for next month’s “NFALA @ NAPABA” events in New Orleans!


"The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession 2014"
(NFALA Co-Sponsored Symposium on September 24, 2015)

 

Join NFALA and the Philippine American Bar Association (PABA) on Thursday, September 24 for The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession's symposium, “The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession 2014” at the offices of Sidley Austin LLP in Los Angeles. The panel will share the latest data on this pressing topic and discuss the implications for attorneys navigating their career paths today. For more information or to register, contact Sarah Miller at sarah.miller@theiilp.com or 312.554.2053, or visit http://www.theiilp.com/calendar.




2015 NFALA Midyear Conference

 

 

On Saturday, August 15, 2015, NFALA held its first-ever Midyear Conference in Las Vegas, which was attended by NFALA executive team members, local bar presidents, and various regional representatives. This historic meeting brought together leaders from across the country to discuss the future growth of NFALA and to promote unity among Fil-Am attorneys on a national scale. In addition to monitoring NFALA’s current progress, conference delegates also engaged in long-term strategic planning and prepared an action plan for 2016.

A big thank you to Esquire Solutions for hosting us in their Las Vegas office and a massive high-five to all the members of our ‪#‎NFALAfamily‬ who contributed their time and talent over the weekend: the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (FALA Chicago), Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALA New York), Filipino American Lawyers of San Diego (FALSD), Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC), Filipino Lawyers of Washington (FLOW), National Filipino American Lawyers Association of Washington, DC (NFALA DC), and the Philippine American Bar Association of Los Angeles (PABA).



2015 NFALA EXECUTIVE TEAM, LOCAL FILIPINO AMERICAN BAR ORGANIZATION PRESIDENTS, AND REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES


Front row (L to R): Melissa Lee, Jill Yu, Jasmine Hernandez, Vanessa Candelaria, Julia Markley, Jhanice Domingo, Janice Jabido, Mimi Castillo, Laurie Lubiano. Back row: Melissa Deleon, Mark Calaguas, Arnold Pamplona, Mark Punzalan, David Mesa, Rudy Figueroa, Billy Chan, Vincent Roldan, Erid de los Santos, Robert Uy, Jonah Toleno.


NFALA Signs Joint Letter Re: Family Reunification for
Filipino World War II Veterans

 


 

August 10, 2015

 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

 

Dear Secretary Johnson:

 

On behalf of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, the undersigned Filipino American leaders and other allies, we write concerning the White House’s recent announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will create a parole program to reunite Filipino American veterans with certain family members. We applaud the Administration for taking this important step to recognize the service of these veterans and help reunite their families more quickly.

 

As DHS moves forward to implement this parole program, we hope to work with you closely to create a program that helps as many families as possible. In the spirit of collaboration, we would like to share several specific recommendations for the parole program:

 

·    Implementation Timeline

 

We urge DHS to develop and implement the parole program as quickly as possible. We all recognize that most of the remaining veterans are quite elderly and that time is of the essence if the Administration expects to help as many families as possible. We request that the parole program is formally launched and accepting applications by the end of 2015.

 

·    Program Eligibility

 

o At a minimum, to preserve family unity, spouses, widows and children of Filipino World War II veterans with approved I-130 petitions, regardless of expected priority dates, should be eligible to apply for parole through this program. Children of Filipino veterans may be adult or minor, married or single. Given the veterans’ ages and the relatively small number of family members impacted, we urge DHS to allow spouses, widows and children of veterans with approved I-130 petitions to apply for parole.
 

o Surviving spouses of Filipino veteran petitioners who are residing in the United States

are awaiting the visa availability of the petitions filed on behalf of their children. Children of deceased veterans should be allowed to apply for parole as long as the veteran’s surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen and currently residing in the United States. This will allow the children to take care of their aging parents who are surviving spouses of Filipino veterans.
 

o Under our immigration laws, the death of a petitioner automatically revokes an I-130 petition. Sadly, as time has passed and visa backlogs have grown for the Philippines, veterans have died and their petitions became null. Immigration law does allow for some surviving relatives to continue with approved petitions upon the death of a qualifying relative and also for I-130 petitions to be reinstated in certain cases based on humanitarian factors. When reviewing requests for reinstatement of revoked I-130 petitions and for surviving relative petitions, we urge DHS to take into consideration the spirit and purpose of this policy which is to promote family unity for Filipino veterans and their loved ones. For family members who are able to reinstate an I-130 petition or otherwise continue their petition after the petitioner-veteran’s death, we urge DHS to permit them to apply for parole.

 


o The lengthy backlogs and wait times have also meant that some derivatives (e.g., children of beneficiaries) have aged out. We urge DHS to consider extending parole eligibility to aged-out individuals related to Filipino veterans.


o Last, we ask DHS to permit family members of Filipino veterans who are without legal status currently living in the United States to apply for parole and employment authorization so they can remain here to care for their aging parents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) already has a policy permitting “parole in place” for certain family members of U.S. military service members and veterans. Filipino

veterans and their family members should also benefit from parole in place and we urge DHS to consider extending this policy to them.

 

·    Application Process

 

o In contrast to the existing parole programs for Cuban and Haitian nationals which require DHS, specifically USCIS, to first invite specific people to apply for parole, we recommend that DHS permit all eligible family members to affirmatively apply for this parole program. An invitation-based process is impractical considering time constraints and humanitarian factors involved in Filipino veterans’ cases. Rather, DHS should identify the types of family members eligible for parole and people can apply if they choose to do so.


o We assume that veterans will need to verify their veteran status as part of the parole application process. We recommend that DHS accept a broad array of documents, including military discharge papers issued by the Philippines government and affidavits, to prove an individual’s veteran status. Documenting veteran status has been challenging in the context of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and otherwise-eligible individuals have been denied benefits for lack of documentation. We urge DHS to dialogue with veterans, other community leaders, and their VA colleagues about best practices for documenting veteran status.


o Due to the veterans’ advanced age and in an effort to reunite families as quickly as

possible, we ask that DHS consider offering an expedited processing mechanism.

 

·    Community Outreach

 

As part of the implementation process, we strongly encourage USCIS to work with community leaders to develop a strong outreach plan to inform veterans and their families about the program. Outreach materials should include information translated into Tagalog, Ilocano and

 

Cebuano. Program information should be disseminated officially by USCIS widely here in the

U.S. as well as the Philippines to prevent confusion.

 

*          *            *

 

Thank you for considering the above recommendations. We are very excited about the parole program and we look forward to finally reuniting these veterans with their close loved ones. We commend the Administration honoring the veterans’ service and courage by helping them be with their family members. We look forward to discussing our recommendations with DHS and working with you to implement this program.

 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE Chicago)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles
Filipino Advocates for Justice

KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

National Federation of Filipino American Associations

National Filipino American Lawyers Association

San Francisco Veterans Equity Center

 

cc:       The Honorable John Kerry, Secretary, Department of State
            The Honorable Leon Rodriguez, Director, USCIS Cecilia Muñoz, Director, Domestic Policy Council

 


THIS LETTER IS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AT THE ASIAN AMERICANS ADVANCING JUSTICE | AAJC WEBSITE.


NFALA President Rudy Figueroa Receives
FALA Chicago's Inaugural Trailblazer Award


 

 

Congratulations to NFALA president Rudy Figueroa, who was presented by the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (FALA Chicago) with its inaugural Trailblazer Award during FALA Chicago's 3rd Annual Summer Soiree held on August 6, 2015 at Loyola University Chicago’s Beane Hall. Rudy was recognized for his efforts in founding NFALA and his instrumental role in relaunching FALA Chicago as an active local bar organization. Among those who delivered remarks in honor of Rudy were Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) president Vanessa Candelaria, Louisana Asian Pacific American Bar Association (LAPABA) president and NFALA executive team member Christine Changho Bruneau, and Rodney Villazor, partner at DLA Piper and a member of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALA New York).

During the awards ceremony that evening, FALA Chicago also celebrated two rising law students who were the first-ever recipients of the FALA Chicago Scholarship, Jordannah Bangi of John Marshall Law School and Dennis Pangindian of Loyola University Chicago School of Law.



Pictured (L to R): FALA Chicago Scholarship recipient Dennis Pangindian, FALA Chicago president Jasmine Hernandez, FALA Chicago Trailblazer Award recipient and NFALA president Rudy Figueroa, FALA Chicago Scholarship recipient Jordannah Bangi.

Hon. Jessica Arong O'Brien Installed as First Asian American
President of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois

 

 

 

On June 4, 2015, Hon. Jessica Arong O'Brien was sworn in as the first Asian American president in the 101-year history of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI) during the WBAI's 2015 Installation Dinner and Reception held at the Radission Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. A veteran leader in the local bar community, Judge O'Brien was a founding member of the Filipino American Bar Association (FABA), which was the predecessor organization to the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (FALA Chicago).   In 2012, she became the first Filipino American attorney elected to the bench in the state of Illinois, where she currently sits as a Cook County Circuit Court judge. NFALA extends its warmest congratulations to Judge O'Brien and the other incoming officers and board members of the WBAI. Special thanks also goes out to the evening's emcee, Fil-Am attorney and entrepreneur Billy Dec, who currently serves as commissioner at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.


Congratulations to MCCA 2015 Rising Star Rudy Figueroa



 

NFALA extends its congratulations to Rudy A. Figueroa on being named as a 2015 Rising Star by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA).  Each of the 15 attorneys nationwide to receive this honor are profiled in the March/April 2015 issue of the MCCA's Diversity & the Bar magazine.   Currently serving as NFALA's president, Rudy is the Vice President for Admininstration, Legal & Human Resources, General Counsel, and Secretary ofMitsui Rail Capital, LLC and sits on the board of directors of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (FALA Chicago).  Below is the MCCA's press release announcing this year's RIsing Stars:

 

 

March 31, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

 

 

CONTACT:

Marcela Salazar: (202) 587-2861 - msalazar@rabengroup.com

Kim Howard, CAE: (202) 739-5909 - KimHoward@mcca.com

 

 

MCCA NAMES 2015 LIST OF RISING STAR ATTORNEYS 

 

Lawyers Profiled in the 2015 March/April Issue of Diversity & The Bar Magazine 

 

Washington, D.C. – Today the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) announced the names of its 2015 Rising Stars; 15 stellar attorneys whose accomplishments and dedication to the legal field and to their respective communities place them among those attorneys to watch. MCCA chose the 15 Rising Star attorneys out of a large nomination pool.

 

"I am honored to name MCCA's 2015 Rising Stars. These energetic individuals exemplify the diversity in the legal profession, and share one common trait: they contribute to society through the law and service to others. They represent the future of the legal profession," said MCCA President and CEO Joseph K. West.

 

Here is the list of MCCA's 2015 Rising Stars:

 

  • Alisha Cieslak, General Counsel, Gordon Food Service

  • Ian Clement, Senior Associate, Wong Fleming 

  • Andrew Diaz-Matos, VP, Assistant General Counsel, Director of Enterprise Transactions Law, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.

  • Nicole Duclos, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP

  • Rudy Figueroa, VP Admin, Legal & HR, General Counsel and Secretary, Mitsui Rail Capital, LLC

  • Jamil French, Director and Senior Counsel, Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC, a BNY Mellon Company

  • Doris Gilliam, Senior Attorney, AARP

  • Nicky Jatana, Shareholder, Jackson Lewis P.C.

  • Stephen Lessard, Senior Associate, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

  • Tamika S. Mayes, Senior Tax Attorney, General Motors Company

  • Alex Ponce de Leon, Counsel, Google Inc.

  • Schuyler A. Smith, Associate, Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP

  • David J. Tsai, Partner, Perkins Coie LLP

  • Joycelynn Watkins-Asiyanbi, Assistant General Counsel, Global Supply Chain and InternationalBusinesses, W. W. Grainger, Inc.

  • Michael W. Weaver, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

 

MCCA congratulates the 2015 Rising Stars and celebrates the diversity of their race and ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and generational differences, as well as the diversity in their practice areas and career paths. Nominees included attorneys who have a minimum of five years of experience in the legal profession, show outstanding achievement in their profession, and do pro bono or community service work. The MCCA 2015 Rising Stars are featured in the 2015 March/April issue Diversity & the Bar magazine.

 

#  #  #

 

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) was founded in 1997 to advocate for the expanded hiring, retention, and promotion of minority attorneys in corporate law departments and the law firms that serve them. MCCA furthers its mission through the collection and dissemination of information about diversity in the legal profession. MCCA takes an inclusive approach to the definition of “diversity.” Therefore, its research addresses issues of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and generational differences which impact the legal profession’s workforce.

 


Community Meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III

 

 

NFALA and the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (FALA Chicago) joined members of the Filipino community in Chicago and from across the Midwest as well as U.S. local, state, and federal officials to welcome President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines during his working visit to Chicago on May 6, 2015. President Aquino marked this first trip to the Windy City since entering office in 2010 by highlighting the strong commercial ties between Chicagoland and the Philippines and also discussing his administration's efforts to strengthen and maintain the Philippine economy. On behalf of the Filipino American attorneys invited by the Consulate General of the Philippines in Chicago to represent NFALA and FALA Chicago, we are grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this rare and momentous gathering of political, business, and non-profit leaders.



NFALA's Benes Aldana Sworn in as Judge on the
U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals


 

Congratulations to NFALA executive team member Captain Benes Aldana, who was sworn in as a judge on the United States Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals on April 27, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. We are incredibly proud of Judge Aldana, who most recently served as a staff judge advocate in New Orleans and has been a tireless mentor in the bar community. In addition to being a key figure in the founding of NFALA, he is an active leader at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and previously chaired the American Bar Association's Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division.



Supreme Ambitions Book Signing and Discussion with Author David Lat

 

 

On February 12, 2015, NFALA and its local affiliate FALA Chicago presented a discussion and book signing with David Lat, author of the recently published novel Supreme Ambitions. Drawing upon David's own professional experiences, Supreme Ambitions tells the thrilling story of a young Filipina American law graduate who navigates the drama and intrigue of a prestigious federal clerkship in hopes of one day working in the chambers of the highest court in the land. Using the novel as a jumping off point, David engaged our guests in a thoughtful discussion on professionalism, ethics, women and minorities in the law, the art of writing, and the meaning of "success," among other topics.
 

Before delving into popular fiction, David was a practicing attorney who clocked in stints at the prominent New York firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, New Jersey. In 2006, David founded the groundbreaking legal website Above the Law, which reaches more than one million unique visitors a month. David's writing has also appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, in addition to other publications. We are grateful to David for sharing his time with us this week, and to the Chicago office of Akerman LLP, which hosted the event.
 



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