Millennial Attorneys Can Learn Priceless Life Lessons From Legal Affinity Groups Like NAPABA And GAPABA

Renwei Chung and his father

“Legacy. What is a legacy? / It’s planting seeds in a backyard garden you hardly ever get to see… / The us, you fantastic unfinished symphony, you sent for me / You permit me make a variation / A put where by even orphan immigrants / Can depart their fingerprints and increase up. — Hamilton

This time of 12 months is always a small bit tough for me. As some of our ATL visitors could remember, I wrote an posting titled, “3 Matters A Regulation Pupil Figured out From The Demise Of His Father” several many years in the past all around this time.

This 12 months has been specifically tricky for me now that my mom has been hospitalized for an indeterminate quantity of time. In 2015, I experienced the chance to create about her, Dontre Hamilton, and Starbucks.

Previous 7 days, I visited Atlanta, Georgia — missing the Masters Event by only a few times. Just as some use golf as therapy for dealing with the loss of life of a beloved just one, I have always employed basketball to hold my thoughts preoccupied. Just about every spring, observing the NCAA event, the NBA playoffs, as well as Ernie Johnson Jr., Charles Barkley, Kenny “the Jet” Smith, and Shaq communicate about basketball and lifestyle gets instead cathartic.

I certainly have a basketball jones. It’s why I create columns about basketball figures these types of as Steph Curry and the late Jim Valvano. From elementary faculty to superior faculty, my father expended countless evenings witnessing me shoot no cost throws. He would give me 50 cents every time I shot 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. It’s why I selected to supply his eulogy at the Breslin Middle — home of the MSU Spartan basketball team — in East Lansing, Michigan.

As a member of the oldest cohort of millennials, and anyone who was experiencing the prospective customers of a main occupation pivot, I wasn’t certain I was likely to make it in the stodgy, non-various occupation of regulation, specifically all through the first various months of regulation faculty.

To my shock, I created lifelong associations with other green 1Ls who were being hunkered down in the trenches of their authorized educations and navigating their winding paths in lifestyle. I’m still grateful for the significant team of classmates who attended my father’s funeral. Certainly, we all experienced the chance to bond alongside one another all through our instructional struggles and achievements. But much more importantly, we bonded via shared lifestyle encounters — birthdays, graduations, weddings, baby showers, funerals, and many others. Under no circumstances emotion a component of any tribe ahead of, I have a legitimate affinity for fellow lawyers.

A couple months in the past, a member of my LinkedIn tribe, Michael Wu, invited me to the Nationwide Asian Pacific Bar Association’s (NAPABA) Southeast Regional Conference and 25th Anniversary of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA) in Atlanta. I experienced a equilibrium in my “interesting people” fund and was impressed to make the pilgrimage to honor my late pal and very long-length mentor, NAPABA Trailblazer, and GAPABA Past President, Han C. Choi. Immediately after all, it was only a 12 months in the past, I wrote about one more trailblazing member of GAPABA — Trinh Huynh.

Han C. Choi

Choi was taken from us by pancreatic cancer at 52. Huynh was a victim of gun violence at 40. Even even though they both equally handed absent at a rather younger age, just about every of them certainly designed the most of his and her time right here on earth. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “it’s not the duration of lifestyle, but the depth of lifestyle.”

Trinh Huynh

Immediately after understanding about Choi’s Scholarship and Huynh’s Fellowship, and observing the committed montages to just about every individual, it became quite obvious to me that their legacies will go on and continue on to contact countless generations.

I was captivated by the 25 many years of GAPABA historical past that was exhibited on the projection screens throughout the Georgia Aquarium. Keynote Speaker Viet D. Dinh and Increasing Star Rep. Samuel L. Park implored the viewers to desire bigger. Even though Angela Hsu and Hon. Carla Wong McMillian reminded us of the shoulders we have been ready to stand on to see even more and urged us to develop upon the successes of our predecessors (like Hon. Alvin T. Wong). And the honorariums for both equally Choi and Huynh were being beautiful.

Lest I ignore to point out, there were being two other really outstanding individuals who attended previous Thursday’s celebration, who were being not NAPABA or GAPABA customers, whose remarks struck me to my core: Ernie Johnson, NBA commentator, and Catherine Abrams, wife of Han C. Choi.

I actually have watched EJ on Inside the NBA due to the fact the early 90s. But witnessing him perform as a Master of Ceremonies in man or woman was a lot superior than any commentating I have observed him do on Television, and that’s saying one thing impressive as I have watched hundreds of hours of his performances. At any time the consummate expert, it was obvious he completely rehearsed for this specific celebration.

A team picture from NAPABA/GAPABA

Johnson started the night time telling amazing tales and demonstrating entertaining pictures of his spouse and children, which include his daughter-in-regulation, Quynh Truong-Johnson, President-Elect of GAPABA. By the end of his MC duties, he obtained a small choked up when quoting the legendary mentor Jimmy V: “if you laugh, you feel, and you cry, that’s a entire working day — that’s a heck of a working day,” and then thanked GAPABA for bringing these a few actions out of him tonight.

Catherine Abrams thanked the GAPABA neighborhood for their generosity and kindness. Most of all, she was grateful for everyone who shared their tales with her kids — so that Choi’s lifestyle could be remembered by her little ones and her grandkids. Abrams then implored the viewers to go “all in” like Choi in their respective endeavors. She pleaded that “whatever you do, blaze trails so that others can adhere to.”

I was in Atlanta for a lot less than 36 hours. But all through my limited vacation, I felt a season’s worth of feelings. I visited the road corner where by Trinh Huynh was slain. I experienced the chance to operate into friends like Cyndie Chang and LinkedIn connections like Michael Chu and Bonnie Youn. Ernie Johnson designed me laugh out loud Viet D. Dinh, Samuel L. Park, Angela Hsu, and Hon. Carla Wong McMillian designed me feel about my possess long run and Catherine Abrams designed me cry tears of happiness. Suffice it to say, the vacation to Atlanta furnished some ease and comfort that I wasn’t knowledgeable I desired.

I’m so grateful for the bond I feel to NAPABA and its lots of affiliates. I just cannot emphasize enough how impactful I believe affinity groups, galas, and conferences can be for the thoughts, physique, and soul of their customers and attendees. I’m always impressed by the enthusiasm and determination of all the colleagues I fulfill in these type of groups and events.

Fellow millennials, I encourage you to set some cash apart every paycheck and devote these cash to checking out intriguing people today, attending affinity events, and likely “all in” on your respective pursuits. And never ever grow to be much too active to return your parents’ cellphone phone calls. They are entitled to to hear from you much more normally. In actuality, call them proper now and thank them for anything they’ve done for you.

One particular working day, you could not get the probability to do this.

To understand much more about the Han C. Choi Scholarship and Trinh Huynh Fellowship, be certain to visit GAPABA’s site.

Renwei Chung is the Diversity Columnist at Above the Regulation. You can contact Renwei by e-mail at, adhere to him on Twitter (@renweichung), or connect with him on LinkedIn. 

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