In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we asked members of MoFo's Technology Transactions Group (TTG) from across our offices to share their thoughts on the month-long celebration, their advice for the next generation of law students, and why they feel diversity is crucial to providing innovative solutions for our clients.
Established in 1883, MoFo's San Francisco office is where it all started, and the office has been a leading member of the Bay Area's legal community ever since. Situated in close proximity to Silicon Valley, MoFo's Technology Transactions team in San Francisco, along with Palo Alto, serves at the epicenter of the most recent technology revolution.
Their deep understanding of not only the legal issues, but also the technological and business issues that arise in a range of new technology sectors, make them the go-to team for full service corporate, finance, intellectual property, and litigation capabilities to clients at all stages of development. The team's client-based approach is further strengthened by the diversity of their lawyers, who bring their own unique perspectives and skills when solving some of their clients' most challenging issues.
San Francisco's Technology Transactions Group is made up of 48% minority lawyers and 43% women lawyers. To further support and encourage an inclusive culture, the San Francisco office offers a number of networking events, training and mentorship opportunities, and affinity groups designed to provide a safe space for diverse voices, including the San Francisco Asian, Black Attorneys, Latina/o, LGBTQ+, Women, Women of Color, and Working Moms Affinity Groups.
San Francisco Partner Billy Schwartz encourages more Asian Pacific Americans to pursue a career in law. "I think it's important for members of the AAPI community—and of other communities that are historically the targets of discrimination—to become lawyers. The most recent spike in AAPI hate crimes is just a reminder of that. The law is an essential tool—along with education, political involvement, community organization, and other tools—for addressing the ills in our society, including racism and xenophobia, and the use of that tool by the AAPI community can be both powerful and empowering."
MoFo's Technology Transactions Group has always recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion. That is why the U.S. group, of which 68% of its members identify as female, minority, or LGBTQ+, continues to leverage the creativity and innovation its members bring to our clients' most difficult legal and commercial issues.
Read what some of the other lawyers in San Francisco's TTG had to say about the significance of celebrating this month every year:
Evangeline Phang is an associate whose practice focuses on transactional matters involving intellectual property and technology, including licensing, development agreements, collaboration agreements, services agreements, manufacturing and supply agreements, outsourcing, investments, and mergers and acquisitions.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges that Asian Pacific Americans face in American society today? What changes have you seen starting to take shape in order to ease or eliminate these challenges?
A: The challenges that Asian Pacific Americans face in American society today are not new. They were merely drowned out under the guise of the model minority myth. In reality, our struggles are often shaped by our various identities, e.g., a collective identity in the broad category of "Asian Pacific Americans," a sub-group identity, an identity shaped by our familial, communal, and socio-economic environments, and our individual identity. The bamboo ceiling still exists. The glass ceiling still exists. The upward mobility challenges still exist. What is changing in my opinion is the rise of a new generation of persons whose primary focus may no longer be conformity to the traditional American ideals like their predecessors, whose voices are bolstered by events forced upon their own communities and other communities of color, and who possess the language to educate allies in their experiences. As an Asian Pacific American attorney, as a South East Asian attorney, as a woman attorney, and as an attorney who is a first-generation immigrant, I am fortunate to find myself at a place like MoFo, where I have not only been given the room to grow into the person I am supposed to be without erasing my experiences, but also the opportunities to discuss my experiences with allied colleagues, and the opportunities to work with clients who share the same values on meaningful projects.
Jackie Li is an associate whose practice focuses on technology and intellectual property matters, including license agreements and general commercial agreements. She has advised clients on the commercial, IP, and technology aspects of M&A transactions.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges that Asian Pacific Americans face in society today? What changes have you seen starting to take shape in order to ease or eliminate these challenges?
A: In light of recent events, it is all the more important that we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and our diverse cultural identities. I am hopeful that the Asian Pacific American community will continue to use its voice and speak out against racial injustice, while building stronger allyship with the broader community.
Monica Cai is an associate and was a Keith Wetmore Fellow for Excellence, Diversity, and Inclusion in the San Francisco office during the summers of 2018 and 2019.
Q: What advice would you give to encourage more Asian Pacific Americans to pursue a career in law?
A: If you choose to pursue a career in law, you will find incredible support from the Asian Pacific American community both in law school and when practicing. I didn't realize when I first started how willing people would be to give advice and serve as a sounding board and that sense of camaraderie and even family has been extremely valuable and rewarding for me.
Scott Chen is an associate and was a summer associate in the San Francisco office during the summer of 2019. While at New York University School of Law, he was the Treasurer of the Social Enterprise & Startup Law Group and the Notes Editor for the NYU Environmental Law Journal.
Q: What does Asian Pacific American Heritage month mean to you?
A: To me, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity for the community to come together and share personal experiences of both challenges overcome and success and to celebrate our diverse cultural backgrounds.
Gilbert Choi is an associate and was a summer associate in the San Francisco office during the summer of 2019. While at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, he was Co-President of the Patent Law Society and an editor of the Berkeley Business Law Journal.
Q: How, if at all, has being Asian Pacific American made you a better/different kind of lawyer?
A: Being Asian American helped me realize that there's already a wealth of diversity in cultures and backgrounds just within the Asian Pacific American community. Understanding that this diversity—and diversity in general—makes us stronger reminds me to consider and include others' thoughts and viewpoints into my practice.
Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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