Six years ago, there were only 30.

A diversity milestone of 100 Asian American general counsel has been reached in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Recorder reports that there were only 30 Asian-American general counsel in the Bay Area six years ago, but now there are over 100.

The Bay Area Asian American General Counsel (BAAAGC), the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley celebrated the milestone together on Wednesday.

 

Andrew Kim, GC of Netgear Inc said, I was surprised. I didn’t meet an Asian-American GC until 2005. And that was in Chicago.”

Brian Wong, senior counsel and director of Global Employment Law at Gap Inc said the milestone demonstrated incredible progress for Asian-Americans in law.

“It shows young people they have role models and it shows firms and companies that it’s a great idea to have diverse attorneys,” Wong said.

However, underrepresentation is still an issue despite the milestone. Miriam Kim, a partner of Munger, Tolles & Olson and president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA), said Asian-American women are the least likely to make partner and are less likely to be promoted.

She also said Asian-Americans are disadvantaged in networking compared to Americans who grew up in law-based families.

“A lot of Asian-Americans in our generation, we were the first to go to law school,” she said. “We didn’t have contacts in the legal profession.”

California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin H. Liu who co-authored a report titled ‘A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law’ said of the report, “People said—especially women—that they’re often being thought of as not the lawyer.It’s still not natural for people to think of Asian-Americans as [lawyers].” 

 

“Asian-Americans are seen as worker bees but not the person you put in front of the client,” Liu added. “And some of that is stereotyping and some of that is developing a social skill set.”

Liu also said that as Asian-Americans are promoted to more important roles, they can mentor and inspire others.

 

“Now Asian-Americans are moving into the upper ranks and they can mentor people,” Liu said. “Mentorship makes a huge difference. Someone successful to pull them aside and say ‘these are the unwritten rules.’”

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