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210. The Portrait Project: A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law

DATE: Friday, July 21, 2017      TIME: 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
LOCATION: City Hall, Committee Room 120

This session will present findings from a first-of-its-kind comprehensive study on the past, present, and future of Asian Americans in the legal profession. Over the past three decades, Asian Americans have been the fastest-growing group in the legal profession. Asian American enrollment in law school has more than quadrupled since the mid-1980s, and today there are nearly 50,000 lawyers who are Asian American, a 250% increase since the year 2000. Within the span of a generation, Asian Americans have become a visible presence in all sectors of the legal profession. Yet there has never been a systematic study of the career paths of Asian Americans in the law. The Portrait Project is the first such effort. The Portrait Project, comprised of data collection and analysis, focus groups conducted at the 2015 NAPABA Convention, and a novel survey administered in the spring of 2016, document the remarkable progress of Asian Americans in the legal profession over the past 30 years, and they illuminate the sectors and positions where Asian Americans remain under-represented, possible barriers to advancement and promotion, and familial, societal, and cultural influences that shape the career paths of Asian American lawyers. These findings will provide an empirical grounding for broader conversation within and beyond the Asian American community about the unique challenges and opportunities we face in the legal profession and possible directions for reform. Funding for the Portrait Project has been generously provided by NAPABA, the NAPABA Law Foundation, Yale Law School, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and several individual donors.

No CLE credit will be provided for this panel. Click here for this panel's reading materials.


Judge Edward Chen

District Judge, U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California

Judge Chen was first nominated by President Obama to the U.S. District Court on August 6, 2009 after being recommended by Senator Dianne Feinstein. He was rated unanimously “well qualified,” the highest rating, by the American Bar Association and “exceptionally well qualified by the Bar Association of San Francisco. After a lengthy confirmation process, Judge Chen was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2011. He handles a wide variety of civil and criminal cases. His civil caseload includes litigation involving copyrights, trademarks, patents, antitrust, civil rights, and domestic and international business disputes. In addition to his judicial duties, Judge Chen has participated and led judicial seminars in Mexico, Malaysia and India on case management, alternative dispute resolution and digital copyrights, and serves as a member of court committees dealing with access to justice and judicial education. From 2001 to 2011 Judge Chen served as a federal Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California. He is the first Asian American to serve on that Court’s bench in its 150-year history. Judge Chen is a 1979 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He served on the California Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif. After clerking for U.S. District Judge Charles B. Renfrew and U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge James R. Browning, he practiced as a litigation associate with the law firm of Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer. He joined the legal staff of the ACLU Foundation of Northern California in 1985. At the ACLU, Judge Chen co-founded the Language Rights Project of the ACLU and Employment Law Center. He worked on the legal team representing Fred Korematsu in successfully overturning his WWII conviction for failing to comply with the Japanese internment order.

Judge Alison Matsumoto Estrada

Judge, Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County

Judge Alison Matsumoto Estrada was elected as a Superior Court Judge in June 2014. Since taking the bench on January 5, 2015, she was has had several criminal assignments which include presiding over misdemeanor calendar matters and jury trials. Judge Estrada currently presides over criminal arraignments at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Department 40.

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Estrada was a Deputy District Attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for 18 years. During that time, she conducted 70 felony jury trials to verdict. She was assigned to Central Trials 11, Family Violence Division and Public Integrity Division during her tenure as a Deputy DA.

Judge Estrada has served on the board of the Japanese American Bar Association, including as President in 2011. She served as the Southern California Regional President of the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association (NAPIPA) from 2012-2014. She also served as a member and subsequently, an advisor, on the State Bar of California’s Criminal Law Executive Committee from 2010-2014.

Judge Estrada attended the University of California, San Diego and the University of San Diego School of Law.

Miriam Kim

Partner, Munger Tolles & Olson

Miriam Kim is a partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson. Her practice focuses on complex business litigation, intellectual property disputes and government and internal investigations for high technology companies. Recently selected as a Best Lawyer Under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), Miriam has significant experience litigating trade secret cases and conducting effective and efficient investigations into potential theft of trade secrets or other confidential information. Miriam also has substantial experience handling complex business litigation for technology companies and taking such cases to trial. She represented LG Electronics in federal multi-district antitrust litigation and several state attorney general actions regarding cathode ray tube price-fixing allegations. She represented Rambus in antitrust litigation involving multi-billion dollar claims against the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers, including Samsung which settled for $900 million.

Miriam’s pro bono practice focuses on the needs of victims of sexual abuse. Before joining the firm, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Levin Campbell, U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit. She is president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) and serves on the board of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Justice & Diversity Center. Miriam graduated from Harvard College and University of California, Berkeley School of Law. When not practicing law, she enjoys teaching preschool at Christ Church East Bay and volunteering with her husband and sons (ages 6 and 9).

John W. Kuo

Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Varian Medical Systems

John joined Varian in 2003 as senior counsel, focusing on commercial transactions, securities, corporate governance and M&A, and became GC in 2005. Today, his management responsibilities include the company's Legal, Trade Compliance, Environmental Affairs and Ethical Compliance functions. Before Varian, John was General Counsel at Broadvision and held senior legal positions at 3Com Corporation, Acer America and Baroid Corporation, and was also at Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich (now, DLA Piper) and Fulbright & Jaworski. John graduated from Cornell University and got his law degree from UC Berkeley. John credits his two expat assignments, first to Scotland in a Europe/Middle East role and later to Singapore in a Asia/Pacific Rim role, as seminal to his professional development. He also has worked across three industries – energy, high tech and life sciences. He has served on the board of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, Law Cabinet of the United Way Silicon Valley, Boalt Hall Alumni Association board (President) and the Cornell University Council. He and his team have been awarded the 2016 Corporate Counsel Lifetime Achievement Award from the Silicon Valley Business Journal, 2015 Justice in Action award from AALDEF, the 2015 Best Legal Department – Product Counseling from The Recorder, and the 2014 Diversity award from APABA-SV.

Associate Justice, California Supreme Court

Justice Goodwin Liu

Justice Goodwin Liu is an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. He was confirmed to office by a unanimous vote of the California Commission on Judicial Appointments on August 31, 2011, following his appointment by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on July 26, 2011. The Governor administered the oath of office to Justice Liu in a public ceremony in Sacramento, California on September 1, 2011.

Before joining the state’s highest court, Justice Liu was Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). His primary areas of expertise are constitutional law, education law and policy, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has published widely on these subjects in books, law reviews, and the general media.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Justice Liu grew up in Sacramento, where he attended public schools. He went to Stanford University and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1991. He attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a masters degree in philosophy and physiology. Upon returning to the United States, he went to Washington D.C. to help launch the AmeriCorps national service program and worked for two years as a senior program officer at the Corporation for National Service.

Justice Liu graduated from Yale Law School in 1998, becoming the first in his family to earn a law degree. He clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then worked as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, where he developed and coordinated K-12 education policy. He went on to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the October 2000 Term. In 2001, he joined the appellate litigation practice of O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., and worked on an array of antitrust, white collar, insurance, product liability, and pro bono matters.

Justice Liu is a prolific and influential scholar. He has published articles on constitutional law and education policy in the California Law Review, Michigan Law Review, NYU Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and Yale Law Journal, among others. His 2006 article, “Education, Equality, and National Citizenship,” won the Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law, conferred by the Education Law Association. Justice Liu is also a popular and acclaimed teacher. In 2009, he received UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s most prestigious honor for individual excellence in teaching. He earned tenure at Boalt Hall in 2008 and was promoted to Associate Dean. The Boalt Hall Class of 2009 selected him as the faculty commencement speaker.

Justice Liu serves on the Council of the American Law Institute, on the Board of Directors of the James Irvine Foundation, and on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science, Technology, and Law. He has previously served on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University and the board of directors of the American Constitution Society, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Public Welfare Foundation. In 2008, he was elected to the American Law Institute. He has also served as a faculty advisor to the California College Prep Academy, a public charter school co-founded by UC Berkeley and Aspire Public Schools.