A Toolkit Examining “A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0”

uploaded April 3, 2023

In 2017, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, the American Bar Foundation, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and other key contributors prepared A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law, a novel study and report regarding Asian Americans in the legal profession. In the years since, the Asian American community has experienced a series of major events, including a rise in anti-Asian hate and violence, increased attention to discrimination generally, and a global pandemic. Accordingly, in 2022, the authors released A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0: Identity and Action in Challenging Times (“Portrait Project 2.0”).

AABA is pleased to present A Toolkit Examining “A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0,” which digests the major findings in the Portrait Project 2.0 for AAPI attorneys in four major audiences: law students, private practice: law firms, private practice: in-house lawyers, and public service. AABA hopes this toolkit will be a useful guide for AAPI attorneys around the country in their career development, as well as a catalyst for conversations in various organizations to discuss how to best support the career development of AAPI attorneys.

Download the toolkit - pdf file

Special Thanks

AABA thanks Morgan Lewis and Sidley Austin for their generous support in creating this toolkit.

AABA also thanks Justice Goodwin Liu for his important work to support AABA and AAPI lawyers around the country.                    

Law Students: Action Items

  • Share prelaw program opportunities and engage with prelaw programs as mentors.
  • Utilize online professional platforms to connect with attorneys who are in your areas of interests and who may not be in the same location.
  • Develop a network of friends and colleagues who will support and encourage your efforts and goals in the profession.
  • Meet and develop a relationship with the career center and your advisors early. Let them know your areas of interest and seek recommendations and networking opportunities.
  • Participate in internships/externships to obtain practical experience, build your résumé, and expand your network.
  • 46% of 2022 survey respondents said a key reason for attending law school was to seek to change or improve society, but relatively few said they were motivated to pursue law in government/politics or become influential, so there is a need to explore other avenues in engaging/encouraging this motivation for society improvement.

Source: Portrait Project at 16-17.

Law Firms: Action Items

  • When seeking out mentorship from partners and other senior lawyers within the firm, be prepared to ask meaningful and insightful questions to maximize and gain from their experience. Be a prepared mentee. 
  • Actively seek opportunities to work on matters with other AAPI attorneys. 
  • Be an active and enthusiastic member of your law firm’s AAPI affinity network and seek opportunities to host networking events to reach more attorneys at the law firm. If your firm does not have one, consider request to create one. 
  • Find external and internal public speaking opportunities (such as training sessions, speaking on panels, etc.) to grow your network and demonstrate leadership skills.
  • To expand your network, actively engage with AAPI attorneys and clients (including those at a similar level of seniority as you) on matters that you are working on. 
  • Don’t hesitate to be more vocal in the workplace and find opportunities to present your work product.

In-House: Action Items

  • Join your local bar association or affinity bar associations (like NAPABA) (https://www.napaba.org/page/Affiliates) with a focus on participation in leadership programs and mentorships.
  • Seek to develop affinity networks within companies, if such networks are not already established. Include AAPI attorneys in diversity programs and leadership development programs.
  • Create formal and informal mentorships for AAPI attorneys in the same legal department and across companies. Provide more junior in-house attorneys with tools to cultivate their own mentors outside of formal programs.
  • Encourage AAPI attorneys to find public speaking opportunities to build their expertise and network outside of the company.
  • Seek to develop connections with AAPI students in law schools and AAPI attorneys in law firms and public service to leverage your strength in private companies, build a safety network for yourself, and advocate diversity and inclusion and more opportunities for AAPI attorneys in the entire legal community.
  • Sponsor AAPI law students as summer interns so they are exposed to in-house careers early.

Public Service: Action Items

Mentorship and Sponsorship

  • Actively seek mentorship within and outside the AAPI community.
  • Actively offer mentorship to AAPI lawyers and students.
  • Support your AAPI colleagues by recognizing their contributions.


  • Those considering clerking should speak to their law school career offices and mentors for guidance.
  • Law school career offices often have a list of unpublished clerkship spots, and they may provide support even if you have graduated.
  • Register for state or federal clerkship alerts.


  • Ana Karen Rivera
  • Angel L. Garrett
  • Carolyn M. Corcoran
  • Chingwin Pei
  • Daniel Wei
  • Eden Sung
  • Hang (Helena) Zheng
  • Irene Yang
  • Jason Siu
  • Jianbai Jenn Wang, Ph.D.
  • John B. Lough, Jr.
  • Kate Zheng 
  • Kelly Matayoshi
  • Kimberly K. Liu
  • Michelle Park Chiu
  • Nayef Andrabi
  • Nina Rani Dutta
  • Theresa T. Kalathil

Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area

P.O. Box 387 San Francisco, CA 94104

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