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National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

1612 K Street N.W., Suite 1400
Washington, D.C. 20006

April 4, 2008

Contact: Aleli Samson
(202) 775-9555


Washington, DC – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the NAPABA Law Foundation (NLF) celebrate the success of two NAPABA & NLF Diversity Symposia, inaugural events specifically focused on improving Asian Pacific American (APA) diversity in large law firms. The first of the two symposia was held at O’Melveny Myers LLP in Los Angeles on March 18; the second at White & Case LLP in New York City on April 1. Over 50 of the Nation’s top large law firms sent representatives to attend the events, including managing partners, hiring partners, partners with promotional authority, and partners responsible for firm diversity. “Diversity has to be a top-down message to effectuate change,” said Peggy A. Nagae, member of the symposium leadership team and professional diversity consultant. “With the symposia, we have finally sent a loud and clear message to the right people that there is not enough APA diversity in their partnership ranks.”

The symposia challenged the perception that the state of APA diversity in large law firms is acceptable by exposing the disproportionately low number of APA partners in large firms as compared to the relative number of APA associates in large firms. Michael P. Chu, President of NLF, noted, “Many believe that APAs are doing well in law firms and therefore exclude APAs from conversations on diversity.” He added, “But statistics strongly suggest that APAs have the lowest conversion rate to partner than any other group.” In addition to addressing the barriers to advancement that APA associates in large firms face, the symposia also tackled the issue of continued obstacles to becoming valued, relationship partners that junior APA partners must face. “The goal is not just to be partner—it doesn’t stop there. The goal is to have a real opportunity to become indispensable to the firm,” said Bruce L. Ishimatsu, member of the symposium leadership team and partner at Loeb & Loeb LLP.

The initial success of the Los Angeles symposium, highlighted by comments from KB Home General Counsel and Executive Vice President Wendy Shiba, bolstered the success of the New York symposium, where APA partners, associates, and general counsel, as well as law firms, were challenged to consider their roles in improving APA diversity in large law firms. Keynote luncheon speaker Don H. Liu, Corporate Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Xerox Corporation, called on APA attorneys to work together to bring pressure to bear for law firms to improve APA diversity. “The message we heard in New York is that diversity is a two-way street; firms have to do their part and APAs have to do theirs as well,” said Sylvia Fung Chin, member of the symposium leadership team and partner at White & Case LLP.

Made possible by a Diversity Dollars grant from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) awarded to NLF last spring, the NAPABA & NLF Diversity Symposia succeeded in bringing to light many of the unique obstacles APAs in large law firms face. “NAPABA is eager to continue moving forward with the momentum that we have generated through the symposia,” said Les Jin, Executive Director of NAPABA.


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 40,000 attorneys and approximately 55 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service 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 federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.

The NAPABA Law Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization established by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association to provide financial support for legal education and legal services to the Asian Pacific American community. For more information about the NAPABA Law Foundation and its programs, please contact Mike Chu, NAPABA Law Foundation President at (312) 321-4200 or mpc@brinkshofer.com


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