When Arizona lawyers think about bar membership, it’s likely that the State Bar of Arizona first comes to mind. With limited exceptions, membership in the State Bar of Arizona is mandatory for those who want to practice law in Arizona. Beyond the State Bar, however, the Arizona legal community is enriched by a variety of specialty bar associations offering voluntary membership in exchange for a wealth of professional, social, and networking opportunities.
Among these specialty bar associations is the Arizona Asian American Bar Association (AAABA). Founded in 1993 by the late Honorable Thomas Tang – the first Chinese- American judge appointed to the federal bench – AAABA is a community of attorneys, law students, and non-attorney community members who are interested in Asian American issues.
AAABA’s mission is to engage the community at large by providing opportunities for leadership, education, community service, and networking. This mission is accomplished in part by promoting the professional growth of Asian American lawyers and assisting Asian American law students through scholarship and mentorship programs.
In furtherance of its mission, AAABA organizes numerous professional and social events throughout the year. In June 2018, for example, AAABA presented a continuing legal education seminar at the annual State Bar of Arizona Convention entitled “Race, Color, and Citizenship.” The CLE consisted of reenactments of U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments from the 1920s exploring topics on U.S. citizenship and naturalization.
AAABA’s annual capstone event is its banquet. The purpose of the banquet is to raise money for scholarships that are awarded to law students in Arizona. In 2018, AAABA awarded four scholarships to Arizona law students in the amount of $2,500 each. At this year’s 23rd Annual Scholarship Awards & Installation Banquet March 28, 2019, our keynote speaker was the national Deputy Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union, Cecilia Wang.
AAABA also offers the unique opportunity to lawyers to be part of a tight-knit “Networking Circle,” a group of approximately three to five attorneys (and possibly one law student). Networking Circles meet monthly both in Phoenix and in Tucson, offering opportunities for small-group networking and mentorship. For those looking for broader networking opportunities, AAABA also hosts several happy hour networking events throughout the year for attorneys and law students in Phoenix and Tucson.
AAABA membership is open to anyone interested in Asian American issues. All members are encouraged to participate in planning and implementing AAABA’s services, programs, and events by joining a commit tee or volunteering to help with specific programs.