Newsletter presented by the Asian/Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento
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Asian/Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento
January 17, 2017
ABAS President Sophia Kwan, Magistrate Judge Allison Claire holding baby Allison Jo, and Brent Jo

In this Edition:
President's Message
2017 Membership
Meet Your 2017 Board Members
Celebrating the Lunar New Year
Events to Look Forward to in 2017 
ABAS Happy Hour - Wednesday, January 25
ABAS Munch Bunch
14th Annual Valentine Run - Saturday, February 11 
Member Successes and News

President's Message

Happy New Year, ABAS! 
I hope you all had a happy and restful holiday.  I am thrilled and honored to serve as this wonderful organization’s President this year.  As you know, ABAS has provided successful and meaningful service to its membership and the Sacramento community over the years.  On behalf of your 2017 ABAS Board, I am excited to welcome you all to yet another ABAS year filled with fun, food, friends, and fantastic events -- with some new twists and turns!  Have some great news (professional or personal) you would like to share with the membership?  Email and we will sing your praises from the tops of the Nota Bene mountain!  Curious about a restaurant in town and in search of some fellow Foodies?  Look out for the ABAS Munch Bunch food schedule!  Want to meet other awesome members of ABAS and other organizations?  Check your e-mail and Facebook for our Happy Hours!  Need CLE credit because your reporting year is up?  Sign up for the thoughtful ABAS CLE events!  Now these are only a few of the things you can look forward to this year -- there is also, of course, our annual dinner, mentorship activities, and community service events!  Please check our website, Nota Bene, and join our Facebook group for more timely updates!
ABAS would not be the remarkable organization it is without the help and support of its members. So, please join us in continuing to make this organization great by renewing your membership, participating in our events, and letting us know how we can better serve you.  We always strive to improve and appreciate hearing your comments, questions, or suggestions at
On behalf of the Board, we wish you a happy, healthy, and memorable 2017!

Best Regards,
Sophia S. Kwan

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Renew Your ABAS Membership  
Not a Member Yet?  Join Today!

ABAS's objectives are to foster the exchange of ideas and promote the professional growth of the members of the Association; to provide an opportunity for fellowship among the Association's members; to provide service to the general and local community; to develop and encourage cooperation with other organizations of minority attorneys; and to provide a vehicle and forum for the unified expression of opinions and positions by the Association upon current social, political, economic, legal or other matters or events of concern to the members of the Association.

Sign up to be a 2017 member of ABAS here.
Meet Your 2017 ABAS Board Members
This year's ABAS board had the privilege of being sworn in by the Honorable Allison Claire, Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California.
President: Sophia Kwan is an attorney at Seyfarth Shaw.  Sophia represents employers from a diverse array of industries, including agriculture, tech, insurance, healthcare, and retail in all aspects of labor and employment litigation, including discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour, and class action matters in state and federal courts.

Sophia moved from Hong Kong to the United States in 1996.  She received her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, and her M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics and B.S. in Managerial Economics from U.C. Davis. Sophia and her husband, Brent, recently welcomed a baby girl to their family and are learning to be new parents!

Sophia has served on the ABAS board since 2010, holding the positions of president-elect, vice president, treasurer, and ex-officio member.  She is also co-chair of the Sacramento County Bar Association, Diversity Fellowship Program.
President Elect: Cindy Liu is an attorney with the California Department of Managed Health Care, Office of Plan Monitoring, where she surveys and evaluates health plans' compliance with health care statutes and regulations. She has served on the board since 2014. Cindy received her B.A. from UC Santa Barbara and J.D. from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
Vice President:  As a Navy dependent, Chris Alvarez grew up overseas. He started his college career in Okinawa, Japan, and eventually moved to Sacramento at the age of 18. Chris received his Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a Minor in Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento. After graduation, he worked in the California Legislature for an Assemblywoman who represented San Diego for five years. Subsequently, he earned his Juris Doctorate from UC Davis School of Law. During law school, he served as a Senior Notes and Comments Editor for the UC Davis Law Review and was a member of the Trial Honors Board.

Chris has been in private practice since he graduated law school representing employers in labor and employment matters. He is an associate at Fisher Phillips’ Sacramento office.

Chris is a current board member of the Asian/Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento and ex-officio board member of the Barristers’ Club of Sacramento. He is also an Ambassador for the Sacramento Asian Chamber of Commerce.
Secretary:  Michael Wang is the managing attorney of Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC’s Sacramento and San Francisco offices.  Michael has been an attorney at Wilner & O’Reilly since 2010.  He started with the firm in Southern California and relocated to Sacramento to start its Northern California offices in 2013.  Michael practices exclusively in immigration and nationality law ranging from family immigration, employment and investment immigration and removal defense.  As an immigrant from Taiwan, he has gained valuable experience with the immigration systems in the United States.  Michael is fluent in Mandarin, Chinese.
Treasurer:  Henry Chu is a real estate associate at Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP.  His practice focuses on all aspects of commercial real estate, including purchase and sales, leasing, easements and CC&Rs.  He received his undergraduate degree from UC Davis, and he completed his legal education at UC Hastings.

A recent transplant to the Sacramento area, Henry began serving on the ABAS Board in his capacity as an Ex-Officio member beginning in 2016.  He is also a member of the Sacramento County Bar Association - Real Property Section and the Urban Land Institute.
Member At Large: Teresa Chan Dykstra is environmental counsel with ICF International, in Sacramento, California. Her role at ICF focuses on environmental permitting and regulatory compliance with California and federal law. Teresa earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, Tennessee and received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Teresa has served on the board of the Asian Bar Association of Sacramento since 2012 and has held the positions of Secretary and Treasurer. She is a member of the Environmental Law Section of the Sacramento County Bar Association, and volunteers with the Putah Creek Council, Solano County Resource Conservation District, the C.K. McClatchy Law and Public Policy Academy, and the Sacramento Children's Home Crisis Nursery.
Member At Large: Colleen Howard is a shareholder at Porter Scott. She focuses on general liability defense, ranging from premises liability to civil rights litigation to employment matters. She originally joined the ABAS board in 2010 and planned numerous events, annual dinners, and helped a team lead the recent website overhaul. In addition to her activities with ABAS, Colleen served as a board member for the Barristers' Club of Sacramento. Aside from work and professional organizations, Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Member At Large: Priscilla M. Parker is an attorney at Law Offices of Frank D. Penney and represents injured plaintiffs.  She has been with Frank Penney since 2007 and started out as a law clerk and worked full- time while completing her legal education.  Priscilla has been involved with ABAS since 2014.  She has helped organize several ABAS events, including ABAS’s annual dinner and CLE luncheons.

In addition to her work with ABAS, Priscilla is also a member of Capital City Trial Lawyers Association (CCTLA), Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), Sacramento County Bar Association (SCBA), and Placer County Bar Association (PCBA).  Ms. Parker is bilingual and speaks Chinese fluently.
Member At Large: Jinnifer Pitcher is an attorney at Orrick.  She graduated from Pacific McGeorge in 2007.  She has clerked for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eastern District of California.  She has served on the boards of the Sacramento County Bar Association Diversity Fellowship, the Sacramento Lawyers for the Equality of Gays and Lesbians (SacLEGAL), and the C.K. McClatchy High School Law and Public Policy Academy (LPPA). Jinnifer was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States when she was adopted.  Jinnifer looks forward to becoming more involved in the API community in Sacramento.
Ex-Officio Member: Tiffany Tran is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department of Seyfarth Shaw’s Sacramento office. Ms. Tran represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation matters, including discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour, and class action and collective matters in state and federal courts.  Although Tiffany grew up in Los Angeles, she graduated from University of California, Davis School of Law in 2013 and moved to Sacramento thereafter. She loves spending time with her fiancé and dog and exploring the “eats” around town.
Immediate Past President: Karen Kim is an associate in the healthcare law department of Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld, where she represents and advises healthcare providers with respect to litigation and compliance issues, including payment disputes with commercial managed care payors, Medicare and Medi-Cal provider appeals, HIPAA compliance, and anti-kickback statute compliance. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Karen worked as a press secretary to California State Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer and as a newspaper reporter for the community division of the Los Angeles Times.  She has served on the ABAS board for three years in various capacities and serves as co-chair of the ABAS community service and mentorship committees.  She also serves as President of the Sacramento-based Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project of California. 
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Celebrating The Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year is celebrated by many different East Asian countries on the first day of the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is not coordinated to a Gregorian/Western calendar at all. China celebrates the New Year (also called the "Spring Festival") from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. Japan has not officially celebrated the Lunar New Year since 1873, when the official Japanese New Year has been celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar, on January 1 of each year, but the celebration of the traditional Japanese New Year (正月 Shōgatsu) is still marked on the same day as the contemporary Lunar New Year. Korea celebrates the Korean New Year (음력 설날 Seollal) for a three-day period: the day before Korean New Year day, Korean New Year day itself, and the day after Korean New Year day. Vietnamese Tết is similar to Chinese New Year in many respects, including using the same zodiac animals and also considering Tết to be the first day of spring. The Mongolian New Year (Цагаан сар, Tsagaan Sar) is celebrated very differently depending on the region of Mongolia you are in. And the Tibetan New Year (ལོ་གསར་, Losar) is celebrated for 15 days with the main celebrations on the first three days. 

This year, the Lunar New Year falls on January 28, 2017 and will herald in the Year of the Rooster according to the Chinese zodiac. The Rooster is a sign of dawn and awakening, and indicates that in this new year, triumph and success can only be achieved at the price of hard work and patience. Rooster Years are a blend of righteousness and justice, bombast and logistical efficiency.

Here are some stories from our ABAS board members about their own Lunar New Year traditions:

- Vietnamese people also celebrate Lunar New Year, or “Tết.” In preparation for the new year, many Vietnamese people get haircuts, buy new clothes, clean and decorate their homes, and purchase traditional cakes, fresh fruit, and flowers. It is also common to see older people giving away red envelopes filled with lucky (new) money to younger people. Moreover, people make offers (food, cakes, fruit, and burn incense and other objects such as fake money, cars, and houses) to their ancestors to honor them and invite them to join in the celebration. Chuc mung nam moi (happy new year)! 

- Growing up in Hong Kong, I remember Chinese New Year was a week-long event, and NO SCHOOL! TV commercials were all about CNY and businesses wishing us a fruitful new year. My parents and I would sit around the living room, stuffing red envelopes "lai see" in preparation of the big family event. It was pretty cool because my parents would go to the bank and get huge stacks of brand new crisp bills to stuff the lai see

My family and all our relatives would go to my grandparent's home every NYE and stay up all night. We were told no showers on NYE because that washes away the luck. All the children went around to the aunts and uncles and collected red envelopes. In order for me to get my red envelope from my parents (which had more money in it than the others), I had to present them with tea. The adults would gamble and play mahjong all night. The kids got to gamble as well! We used to play this game called "fish, shrimp, and crab," which is essentially a dice game . . . kind of like craps. 

I remember that every household would have a Chinese New Year candy box had Chinese candy and red melon seeds.  I always hated the Chinese candy, but had fun sitting around the table w/ all the family eating the red melon seeds (eaten a lot like sunflower seeds). Oh, and how can I forget the loud firecrackers, that I hated as a kid because I was afraid of them! I don't remember all the food items we ate, but I know that all the food that we did eat symbolized some sort of "good luck" for the next year . . . such as eating "fat choy." It's a "hair" looking type moss. The word "fat choy" sounds similar to the saying for "strike it rich" in Cantonese, "kung hei fat choi."

I miss it, the Chinese New Year atmosphere in the US is just not the same, plus I don't have all my relatives around!

- Whenever I can make it (depending on when the Chinese New Year falls), I try to make it home to celebrate the New Year with family. For our traditional CNY dinner, we try to have 8 dishes, since the pronunciation for the number 8 sounds a lot like the Chinese word for "wealth/fortune." There are a bunch of traditional "good luck" foods that should be part of your feast, but one of the less typical ones that my parents always do is shiitake mushrooms which are large and round and look like coins (so, they told me they were symbolic of wealth). Here is a good website with other good "lucky" foods to have for CNY. When I was younger, I thought the best part of the New Year was getting red envelopes from family elders! Traditionally, red envelopes or red packets (lai see; 利是, 利市 or 利事) are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is also common for adults or young couples to give red packets to children. 

- Though New Year’s Day is traditionally celebrated at the start of the year on the lunar calendar, many Koreans in the United States celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1 of each year. New Year’s Day is one of the biggest Korean holidays, and it is usually an entire family ordeal (including extended family, friends, acquaintances). In some households, New Year’s Day usually begins with “seh bae,” where all the family members gather around and pay respect to their elders by bowing and absorbing words of wisdom (often accompanied by money) from the elders. Seh bae is then followed up with the entire family eating “dduk gook,” which is a rice cake soup. New Year’s Day also consists of playing traditional Korean games, having great conversations and overall, it is a great family bonding experience.

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Events to Look Forward to in 2017
  • Social Events and Happy Hours:  See details for our first happy hour below.  Foodies should check out the Munch Bunch.
  • MCLE Events: My Sister's House hosts an annual human trafficking conference to work towards preventing labor and sex trafficking in the greater Sacramento area.  This year's conference is on Tuesday, January 31, at Sacramento State.  See the flyer and agenda for details, and register here.  CLE accreditation is anticipated and pending.
  • 14th Annual Race for Justice Valentine Run/Walk.  See details below.
  • Mentorship Events 
  • Annual ABAS Dinner in the fall
  • ABAS Law Foundation Golf Tournament in the fall
  • Unity Bar Dinner in the fall
Celebrate the New Year with ABAS
at Our First Happy Hour on Wednesday,
January 25

ABAS loves to eat, drink, and be merry, and our membership mixers have proven to be wonderful opportunities to do all three, all while mixing and mingling with familiar and new faces in the local legal community.

Our social committee chair, Daniel Kim, and our membership chair, Tiffany Tran, are pros at picking the new “hot spots” in Sacramento to host our monthly mixers, so please join us and catch up with old contacts and make some new ones!

Our next mixer will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday January 25, 2017, at the brand new Sauced located by the Golden 1 Arena. Come check it out with us!

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ABAS Munch Bunch
  • Do you like to try new restaurants as soon as they open?
  • Do you ever get a hankering for hot pot, dim sum, or crab and garlic noodles, but your friends or significant others don't love it as much as you do? 
  • Do you occasionally whip out your phone to take a photo of that perfect presentation of steak tartare and popovers, or xiao long bao?
  • Do you just plain LOVE FOOD like we do?  
Well, you're in luck! ABAS is starting up its Munch Bunch this year!! We'll be organizing monthly events (sometimes lunch, sometimes dinner, occasionally even a weekend outing!) to get together and EAT!  No need to commit for the whole year, just come when you can or when you're interested in the restaurant and everyone will pay their own way.

We will have a separate mailing list for this, so if you're interested in being added to it, please email to receive future notifications or to make suggestions about where you'd like to go to get your munch on!!
Join the ABAS Legal Eagles Team for the Valentine Run - 2/11/2017  - Sign Up Today!

Don't forget to sign up for the 14th Annual Race for Justice Valentine Day Run!  This fun event benefits the Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC).  Register today at and select "ABAS Legal Eagles" when prompted in the registration process.  Questions?  Please contact Christopher Lee at  See you there!
ABAS Members: Successes and News

ABAS Member Yoshinori H. T. Himel recently authored a law review article regarding the use of the word "internment" to describe the race-based mass incarceration of Asian-American citizens during WWII, available here.
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Get promoted?  Change jobs?  Win a motion or a case?  Have an addition to your family?  

Email and we'll feature your success in our next email. 
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