Center on Asian Americans and the Law Holds Second Annual Summer Scholarship Conference


The Center on Asian Americans and the Law held its Second Annual Summer Scholarship Conference on July 13. The day-long event was co-sponsored by the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), as part of the Center’s continuing effort to promote Asian American legal studies.

Building upon the success of last summer’s program, the Second Annual Conference had two parts. In the morning session, the Center’s co-directors—U.S. Circuit Court Judge Denny Chin ’78 and Leitner Family Professor of International Law Thomas Lee—presented a “master class” on Asian Americans and the Law, surveying the topics covered in their co-compiled course materials and covering three specific case studies. The master class gave students, professors, lawyers, and general public attendees from around the country a chance to experience a condensed version of Judge Chin’s and Professor Lee’s “Asian Americans and the Law” class, which has been taught by one or both of them at Fordham, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale law schools.

The class, which had a waiting list last spring, examines the legal history of people of Asian descent in the United States, mostly through primary legal sources such as the Constitution, statutes, regulations, and federal and state judicial decisions. The class also explores deeper themes of Asian American identity, anti-Asian bias and violence, and the role of lawyers and judges. More recently, Judge Chin and Professor Lee have expanded their course materials to cover developing cases like the Harvard/UNC affirmative action cases, as well as new scholarship, including by some of their own former students. They have made their course materials available to other professors and are currently working on course materials for teaching college and high school students.

Judge Chin also discussed some of the Center’s major accomplishments since its launch last year, such as the co-sponsorships of several Law School programs, two film screenings (“The Courtroom” and “Free Chol Soo Lee”), three reenactments of historic cases, and other presentations and workshops. The Center has also seen a number of Fordham Law students get their articles published or accepted for publication, including two students who have won the prestigious Robert T. Matsui Annual Writing Competition two years in a row. The students’ winning submissions were based on papers they originally wrote for the “Asian Americans and the Law” seminar.

A Learning Opportunity for All

Professor Thomas Lee, Co-Director, Center on Asian Americans and the Law

The conference, according to Lee, served as an opportunity for attendees to discuss ideas, to network, and “to hopefully increase exposure to the very interesting legal cases and issues that we’ve come to appreciate, understand better, and really love, over several years of teaching this class together” in a mutually supportive and nurturing environment.

During a lunchtime discussion, Judge Chin and Professor Lee, as well as Professor David Law of the University of Virginia School of Law, and Adjunct Professor Andrew Hahn of Cornell Law School, shared tips and advice from their own experiences teaching the course at their respective schools.

In the afternoon session, three scholars presented their works-in-progress. Professor Catherine Kim of Brooklyn Law School presented a project about her own family’s experience with immigration law, with commentary by Professor Elain Chiu of Saint John’s Law School; independent scholar and prominent AABANY member Chris Kwok presented a project about birthright citizenship, with commentary by Professor Thomas Lee; and retired University of Colorado Law School Professor Peter Huang discussed his recently published book, Disrupting Racism, with commentary by Professor Law.

Afterwards, the group participated in an off-the-record discussion of the Supreme Court affirmative action cases and their impact on the Asian American community, led by Professor Lee. The full day concluded with a reception for all attendees.


Comments are closed.