Vol. 46, No. 3

Leadership Chat: Checking in with leaders from the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area

Eric T. Cooperstein, Michelle Park Chiu, and John Hamasaki

Eric T. Cooperstein, Michelle Park Chiu, and John Hamasaki

Welcome to the second installment of a new audio feature called Leadership Chat, in which we spend a few minutes with a pair of leaders at a particular state, local, or special-focus bar. For this issue, Eric T. Cooperstein spoke with Michelle Park Chiu and John Hamasaki from the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA). The bar has about 1,000 members throughout the Bay Area (in and near San Francisco).

Cooperstein is a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services, a past president of the Hennepin County (Minn.) Bar Association, a frequent faculty member at the ABA Bar Leadership Institute, and a small-firm lawyer whose practice is focused on legal ethics. Chiu is 2021 president of AABA, a term that began with the new year (shortly after this conversation was recorded). Hamasaki was president in 2020.

Chiu is a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Morgan Lewis, representing corporate clients in complex civil litigation, including antitrust and California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) claims. She also has an active pro bono practice representing individuals in immigration matters. Hamasaki is a trial lawyer and the founder of Hamasaki Law, where he defends individuals facing prosecution in state and federal courts throughout Northern California. His practice has a focus on defending constitutional protections in complex criminal cases involving civil rights and civil liberties. 

Together, the three discussed AABA’s roots in the Civil Rights movement, how to recruit and motivate volunteers at an active bar with only one full-time staff member, and what new ideas from 2020 AABA hopes to retain, even once the pandemic is over.

Listen in—and get ready for another Leadership Chat, featuring a different bar leadership team, in a future issue of Bar Leader.