Spotlight on AAPI Heritage Month

How one firm spent May amplifying AAPI voices

May 27, 2024 Photo

Wilson Elser celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month by featuring various AAPI employee resource group (ERG) members in the firm’s newsletter during the month of May. Additionally, the firm held a national webinar across its 43 offices with award-winning author Bernice Chao, co-author of The Visibility Mindset. The program was led by AAPI ERG Chair Karen L. Bashor (Las Vegas) and moderated by associates Madeeha Syed (New York) and Young Eun (Evelyn) Ko (McLean, Virginia).

Chao presented on the history of AAPI heritage month and the contributions of Asian American Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians to our country, beginning with the first Filipinos who arrived on Oct. 18, 1587, at Morro Bay in what is now the continental U.S., before the first pilgrims. She also discussed personal experiences and addressed how stereotypes can inhibit advancement for some AAPI individuals, particularly under the “Model Minority” myth and difficulty in breaking through cultural norms.

Chao, Syed, and Ko held a dynamic discussion about overcoming obstacles and succeeding in the workplace. Strategies included speaking up in various professional settings, overcoming the imposter syndrome, knowing that it is not enough to just work hard, and being mindful of demonstrating your value so that you are considered when opportunities surface. The national presentation with Chao was part of the firm’s Diversity Dialogue series coordinated throughout the year with various employee resource groups (Wilson Elser has five active employee resource groups (ERGs) operating under the firm’s broader Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee chaired by Angela Russell). The series was launched to celebrate diverse backgrounds in the firm and to help facilitate a more inclusive workplace that enriches the personal and professional lives of the firm’s members.

In the practice of law, an appreciation of diverse backgrounds can play a role in effective representation of clients. Certainly, as we prepare cases from the discovery phase up through trial, the odds are that we will encounter individuals with viewpoints and life experiences that differ from our own. They can be witnesses, experts, judges, jurors and even our own clients. However, as the players become more diverse, we are finding more common ground as well.

An ability to connect with people of different backgrounds on a personal level could be a useful tool to help break down barriers and advance the interests of those you represent. At the end of the day, resolving conflicts and coming to a resolution requires creativity and an ability to appreciate the different perspectives of the various players involved, as well as to empathize and address their concerns appropriately.

In a perfect world, society would be color-blind and should operate as such, consistent with the ideals set forth in the United States Constitution. [See Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, 600 U.S. 181 (2023)]. In such a world, our clients would be judged without passion or prejudice with regard to their race or background, and on individual merit, and so would their attorneys. However, we all are cognizant of the realities of the world and so must be mindful when it comes to our own professional growth and representation of our clients in and out of the courtroom.

About The Authors
Multiple Contributors
Karen L. Bashor

Karen Bashor is partner at Wilson Elser.

Anthony Ling

Anthony Ling is of counsel at Wilson Elser.

Sponsored Content
Daily Claims News
  Powered by Claims Pages
About The Community

Through education and action, CLM’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee advances the mission of inclusion, and identifies and supports practices that demonstrate leadership in common core values. The committee offers unique opportunities to help strengthen CLM’s partners and perspectives.

Community Events
No community events