Lewis Brisbois Celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
(May 2021) - As Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month begins, Lewis Brisbois looks forward to celebrating the culture and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans who have enriched our country’s history and who are integral to its success. Throughout the month of May, our Asian American and Pacific Islander American colleagues across the firm will be sharing their diverse experiences and perspectives in a series of spotlight posts.
Our first contribution to this series comes from San Diego Partner Peter L. Garchie, who discusses how the cultural norms of his parents, who immigrated from the Philippines, allowed him to achieve professional success and to pass along important values to his children and grandchildren.
Peter joined Lewis Brisbois in 1984 and currently serves as vice-chair of its Toxic Tort & Environmental Litigation Practice. Throughout his career, he has represented national and international companies across a range of industries in state and federal courts, in national multi-district coordinated litigation, and before state regulatory agencies. A member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Peter has tried over 50 jury cases to verdict in matters involving professional liability, products liability, environmental/toxic torts, and commercial disputes.
Learn more about Peter's professional experience here.
As we continue our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series, today we hear from New York Associate Poonam Sethi, who points out the importance of celebrating AAPI heritage, particularly in light of the recent increase in violence against Asian Americans. She describes how her own experiences in the legal profession, which have included being mistaken for a court reporter or translator, have taught her the importance of representation.
Poonam is a member of the firm's General Liability Practice and focuses on New York State labor law, construction litigation, and general liability matters. Outside of her practice, Poonam is a member of the South Asian Bar Association of New York and previously served as Secretary.
Learn more about Poonam's professional experience here.
Today’s contribution to our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Los Angeles Partner Stephen Hiura, who reflects upon how his parents, who were both placed in internment camps, never allowed their experiences to negatively impact their views of others or society. Stephen hopes that, like his parents, every human will remain focused on respecting and supporting each other – values that he incorporates into his role as a husband, father, brother, friend, and lawyer.
Stephen is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ General Liability Practice, representing individuals, corporations, non-profit organizations, public entities, and financial institutions in a range of litigation matters. Stephen has handled several successful jury trials and is an active member of the Japanese American Bar Association.
Learn more about his professional experience here.
Next up in our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series is Houston Associate Gene Baldonado, who reflects upon the camaraderie among the diverse friends he has made within the legal profession who share the ideals of equal treatment and opportunity for all Americans. He encourages others, in honor of AAPI Heritage Month, to guard against distrust and remember that we are all more similar than different.
Gene is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Insurance Coverage Practice, with a background focused on first party insurance claims, bad faith, and personal injury litigation. He has also advised and represented commercial and individual clients on a range of civil matters, including business formation and contractual disputes.
Learn more about Gene's experience here.
As our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series continues, Sacramento Partner John P. Yung expresses his feelings on the recent violence targeting AAPI communities and calls for solidarity against racism and hate. Suggesting that food provides a wonderful window into new cultures, John also encourages people to support their local AAPI-owned restaurants and shares his recommendations for some of the tastiest AAPI-inspired dishes.
John is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Corporate Practice and focuses on corporate, securities, and international business matters, with particular emphasis on assisting Chinese companies in accessing the U.S. capital markets, and co-chair of our China Practice. With more than a decade of experience in representing publicly traded and private companies, John has handled a wide variety of financing transactions. He is also an executive director for the CalAsian, the largest statewide ethnic chamber in California.
Learn more about John's professional experience here.
Today’s contribution to our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Atlanta Associate Chae Mims, who describes the significance of the sacrifices that first-generation immigrant parents, including her own, make for their children. In doing so, she celebrates her mother and father, who both worked hard to provide educational and professional opportunities for her.
Chae is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Products Liability Practice. She also works with the firm’s Korean Business & Litigation Practice and has delivered presentations on product liability and civil procedure in Seoul, South Korea. Outside of her practice, Chae is a member of the Korean American Bar Association.
Learn more about Chae's professional experience here.
As we continue our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series, today we hear from Los Angeles Partner Scott Lee, who describes his own path to success in the legal profession and his desire to offer guidance to younger lawyers. He also explains the importance of honoring those who paved the way for him, including the first Korean American attorney in the U.S. and the first Korean American attorney at Lewis Brisbois.
Scott is the founding member and co-chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Korean Business & Litigation Practice Group, which spans multiple offices across the country. In this role, he represents large Korean companies in commercial litigation, general liability, and corporate and bankruptcy matters throughout the United States. Scott also serves on the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Learn more about Scott's professional experience here.
Next up in our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series is Salt Lake City Legal Secretary Belle Wade, who reflects upon how her Asian heritage, along with the values that her mentors instilled in her, have allowed her to flourish in society and in her profession. She has learned that regardless of where she began her journey, she can succeed by approaching challenges with the right attitude.
Belle has worked as a legal secretary for almost 20 years, assisting attorneys in a wide range of matters in the construction law, torts, contract, and products liability arenas. She has also served as an assistant to senior executives in multinational companies. A graduate of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Belle holds a degree in Office Administration and is fluent in Cebuano and Tagalog.
Learn more about Diversity & Inclusion at Lewis Brisbois here.
As our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series continues, today we hear from New York & Newark Partner Kenneth J. Kim, who shares why he decided to pursue a career as an attorney after realizing the Asian community lacked access to legal professionals. Since that time, he has taken great pride in serving the Asian community and is grateful for the platform that Lewis Brisbois provides.
Kenneth is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ General Liability, Transportation, and Korean Business & Litigation Practices. He focuses primarily on the defense of high exposure and catastrophic losses in the context of general tort liability, construction, motor vehicle accidents, and premises liability.
Learn more about Kenneth's professional background here.
Today’s contribution in our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Los Angeles Partner Caroline Chan, who expresses her gratitude to the individuals who have inspired and supported her in her path to becoming a partner at Lewis Brisbois. She also acknowledges the many contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our society, while recognizing that significant challenges for this community still exist.
Caroline is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Appellate Practice and a certified specialist in appellate law. For more than 20 years, Caroline has focused primarily on civil appeals, writs, and dispositive trial court motions, while also serving as a strategic advisor to clients and trial counsel in complex matters across several areas of law.
Learn more about Caroline's professional background here.
As we continue our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series, today we hear from Sacramento Partner Shane Singh, who explains that growing up in a predominantly AAPI neighborhood allowed him to experience AAPI culture as a young man. Notably, Shane also describes that as a ball boy for the Sacramento Kings, he was likely the first person of Indian descent to be on an NBA court.
Shane is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Labor & Employment Practice. He handles a variety of cases ranging from disability discrimination, employment law, business litigation, and real estate, to bodily injury matters. As part of his practice, he regularly assists AAPI-owned hospitality sector small businesses.
Learn more about Shane's professional background here.
Next up in our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series is Los Angeles Partner Rachel Lee, who emphasizes the importance of remembering that differences in backgrounds and cultures allow individuals to offer unique perspectives concerning challenging legal issues. She also expresses that it is incumbent upon Asian Americans to continue to pave the way for the next generation of Asian legal advocates.
Rachel serves as vice-chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Labor & Employment Practice. She has substantial experience representing employers in litigation and class actions involving claims of wrongful termination, employment discrimination, retaliation, harassment, as well as wage and hour issues.
Learn more about Rachel's professional background here.
As our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series continues, today we hear from Los Angeles Associate Benjamin Kim, who describes that growing up as a child of Korean immigrants, he did not understand how to access the American legal system. Today, Benjamin feels privileged that he is able to provide zealous representation to clients of various cultures and backgrounds.
Benjamin is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Toxic Tort & Environmental Litigation, Products Liability, and Korean Business & Litigation Practices. His primary focus is the defense of manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, and premises owners in toxic tort and environmental litigation. Outside of his practice, Benjamin is an active member of the Korean American Bar Association of Southern California and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
Learn more about Benjamin's professional background here.
Today’s contribution in our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Los Angeles Partner Karen Tang Milligan, who reflects upon the unique culture and perspective that Asian Americans bring to this country. She also describes the importance of instilling in children an appreciation for diversity.
Karen is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Professional Liability and General Liability Practices. She regularly represents real estate and insurance brokers and agents, and handles surety bond matters.
Learn more about Karen's professional background here.
Next up in our AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight series is Hartford Partner Angelica Agnitti, who reflects upon how the values she learned while living in the Philippines allows her to embrace and appreciate her journey as a young, female Asian American attorney.
Angelica is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ General Liability Practice. She has extensive experience handling matters in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut, including in construction litigation, OSHA violations and the New York State Labor Law, contract and coverage disputes, auto accidents and commercial trucking vehicles, premises liability and Dram Shop actions, and general defense against cases involving personal injury.
Learn more about Angelica's professional background here.
As our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series continues, today we hear from Los Angeles Partner Liana Yoon, who describes that as an Asian American, she shares the struggles faced by all communities affected by systemic barriers, bias, and violence.
Liana is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Products Liability Practice. She represents multinational conglomerate corporations, manufacturers, designers, and distributors handling claims of design, manufacturing, and warning defects in state and federal courts.
Learn more about Liana's professional background here.
Next up in our AAPI Heritage Month series is Portland Associate A.C. Estacio-Heilich, who reflects upon the selfless determination of her mother who, like so many hard-working immigrants, sacrificed everything so that she could see her children thrive in this country.
A.C. is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Labor & Employment Practice. She has significant experience representing clients in civil litigation suits involving discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wage and hour, and termination claims.
Learn more about A.C.'s professional experience here.
Today’s contribution to our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Dallas Nurse Consultant and soon-to-be Healthcare Associate Christine Chasse, who describes how she was taught to “mask” her heritage and was forbidden from entering the legal profession. Nevertheless, after a decade in nursing, she decided to begin law school and, upon graduating this spring and passing the bar exam, she will become an associate at Lewis Brisbois.
Christine is currently a nurse consultant in Lewis Brisbois’ Healthcare Practice, where she assists with various aspects of healthcare litigation. She recently accepted an offer to join Lewis Brisbois’ Dallas office as an associate in the Healthcare Practice.
Learn more about Christine's professional background here
As we enter the final days of our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series, we hear from New York Associate Dong Phuong Nguyen, who emphasizes how Asian Americans have persevered and flourished, despite day-to-day challenges and larger scale aggression against their communities. She also points out the importance of honoring the differences among Asian Americans, who come from various countries, each with unique traditions and culture.
Dong Phuong is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Labor & Employment Practice. She defends employers in employment disputes involving wage and hour, employment discrimination, and retaliation matters at the federal and state court levels as well as before administrative agencies.
Learn more about Dong Phuong's professional experience here.
In the penultimate contribution to our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series, New York Associate Joan Lopez explains that instead of using this platform to discuss her own experiences as a Filipino American attorney, she decided to focus on extending her thanks to Asian American leaders. She expresses her gratitude to these individuals who have shattered ceilings and continue to advocate for the rights of the Asian American community.
Joan is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Labor & Employment Practice. She represents employers in employment discrimination, retaliation, and wage and hour matters at the federal and state court levels, as well as before administrative agencies.
Learn more about Joan's professional experience here.
In the final contribution to our AAPI Heritage Month spotlight series, San Bernardino Associate Edward Dailo, who is the first Filipino American (Fil-Am) attorney in his family, describes the important role that the Philippine American Bar Association (PABA) has played throughout his legal career. He explains that as a law student, PABA connected him with other Fil-Am law students, judges, and attorneys, including those at Lewis Brisbois, who have since served as his mentors. He looks forward to “paying it forward” for the next generation of AAPI attorneys.
Edward is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Medical Malpractice Practice. Outside of his practice, Edward serves on PABA’s Board of Governors.
Learn more about Edward's professional experience here.