Since I started practicing law, the legal profession has made significant strides in terms of diversity and inclusion efforts with respect to the hiring, retention and furthering opportunities for diverse attorneys. I’ve always seen this as an area with continued room for growth, and something that has been top of mind for me both in and outside of my firm.
As a litigator, I spend much of my time representing, guiding and counseling employers and businesses. These cases often involve commercial disputes, such as breaches of contract, concerning employment and non-compete agreements, restrictive covenants, or other professional services agreements, wage and hour issues, discrimination and business torts. Employment and commercial litigation are the focuses of my practice, where relationship building and communication skills are of the utmost importance.
I also have the privilege of serving and working with tribes and tribal entities. I have had the opportunity to work in the unique area of tribal human resources and to provide advice in connection with employment policies, handbooks and investigations. I recently obtained my Tribal Human Resources Professional certification through the National Native American Human Resources Association (NNAHRA). I regularly speak on emerging topics at NNAHRA conferences. This area of my practice allows me to assist with ensuring the respect of cultural values and tribal sovereignty.
This prioritization of diversity and inclusion has not only woven its way into my litigation practice, but has also been an important part of professional development and community building for me. As a first generation American, finding affinity with local attorneys of color has been of paramount importance. Since I joined the Arizona bar, I’ve been heavily involved in organizations whose primary goal is to support attorneys of color and women in an effort to help diverse attorneys succeed at their respective firms – by achieving equity partnership status or obtaining meaningful leadership positions – and to create intentional pathways for diverse attorneys to join the bench.
My initial efforts were made through the State Bar of Arizona’s Council on Minorities and Women in the Law (CMWL). As part of this community of volunteers, who assisted with the annual minority bar convention and to create programming that would help benefit diverse attorneys, I was also keenly aware of the very good work the Arizona Asian American Bar Association (AAABA) always seemed to be achieving – the annual family picnic, celebrations for those diverse attorneys who made it to partnership status or received well-deserved promotions, the Giving Tree ceremony for AAABA members joining the bench, and AAABA’s famous 10-course meal at its annual spring banquet.
Having been a member of AAABA for years and years, and having completed several terms with the CMWL, I decided to join AAABA’s board and to become an integral part of supporting not only diverse attorneys of Asian descent but also through the Collaborative Bar. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by AAABA and the Collaborative Bar’s energy to continue to serve diverse attorneys and witnessing their success in making a splash within their organizations.
This work has also led me to serve as current co-chair of my firm’s Attorneys of Color Employee Resource Group and as a 2015 fellow with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, and to be recognized as the 2015 Corporate Leader of the Year by Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders. Also a longtime court-appointed special advocate volunteer, I speak up for abused and neglected children in court.
My time with AAABA and other organizations has proven extremely valuable not just in terms of professional development and my personal growth, but more importantly in terms of civic growth, having advanced our communities as a whole and provided opportunities in leadership and education through encouraged cooperation, important conversations and a deepened understanding of diverse members of the profession and the community. AAABA, in particular, has allowed me to become more active in promoting access to legal services and education, while simultaneously promoting justice, equity and inclusion for Asian-Pacific Americans. This experience has been invaluable to all aspects of my life. SHARON NG