Advancing Justice-LA Celebrates Our Pro Bono Advisory Council and Over 700 Volunteers

Thursday, January 26th 2017

Advancing Justice-LA pro bono awardees with staff (L-R): Evelyn Shieh, Annie Chao (on behalf of Andrew Chao), President & Executive Director Stewart Kwoh, Firdaus F. Dordi, Ryan Iwasaka, Pro Bono Director Christina Yang, and Kathy Khommarath (on behalf of the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance).

On January 18, 2017, we honored our pro bono attorneys, interns, and other volunteers at our third annual Pro Bono Advisory Council Volunteer Awards Mixer, which drew nearly 150 guests and featured a live performance from activist and artist Jason Chu.

This year, we celebrated five extraordinary individuals and organizations for their pro bono and volunteer contributions to Advancing Justice-LA in 2016:

  • Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance (APAWLA).  This bar association has generously supported Advancing Justice - LA’s criminal justice clinics since their inception in 2015.  At these clinics, pro bono attorneys and other volunteers helped individuals with completing required paperwork for record expungement and felony reclassification under Proposition 47.  In 2016, APAWLA also provided funding to establish two new law clerk fellowships for our Survivor and Family Empowerment (SAFE) unit, which assists domestic violence survivors with family law and immigration issues.

  • Andrew Chao.  In 2016, Mr. Chao contributed nearly 150 hours to assisting our Health Access Project (HAP), with its partnership with the national interview project StoryCorps to collect health-related stories.  He also previously interned with HAP in the summer of 2014, using his bilingual Chinese skills to support the unit's healthcare enrollment work.

  • Firdaus F. Dordi, Dordi Williams Cohen LLP.  For many years, Mr. Dordi has advised our litigation unit regarding criminal law issues sometimes faced by the unit's clients.  Given the sensitivity and urgency of these matters, Mr. Dordi has been an invaluable resource and has never hesitated to help.

  • Ryan Iwasaka, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP.  As a real estate law expert, Mr. Iwasaka has provided our litigation attorneys with pro bono consultations on more than one case.  This has been crucial assistance, especially when defendants seek to liquidate their real estate assets to keep property and any sale proceeds out of our litigation clients’ hands.

  • Evelyn Shieh.  Evelyn volunteered over 100 hours of their time to do bilingual phone banking with our Democracy Project’s Your Vote Matters! Campaign almost every night during the month leading up to the November 8, 2016 elections.  With help from Evelyn and other volunteers, the campaign was able to make over 40,000 calls to Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community members to encourage them to vote.

The Pro Bono Advisory Council with Christina Yang and Stewart Kwoh

With the help of pro bono counsel and volunteers, Advancing Justice-LA is able to continue serving low-income and limited-English proficient communities. Our volunteers and pro bono counsel worked on areas such as workers’ rights, citizenship and naturalization, family law, and immigration. There was also heavy participation in voter outreach and voter protection during this election year.  In fact, in 2016, over 700 individuals volunteered or interned with us, donating over 18,000 hours, valued at approximately $2.7 million.

The Pro Bono Advisory Council Volunteer Awards Mixer was hosted by the members of Advancing Justice-LA’s Pro Bono Advisory Council. Advancing Justice-LA relies on the Pro Bono Advisory Council to assist and promote pro bono matters and volunteer opportunities, and members also raise important funds and resources to support Advancing Justice-LA’s pro bono programs. The Council, which includes attorneys from major law firms, boutique law firms, and in-house counsel at Fortune 100 companies, has grown to over 30 members.

Advancing Justice-LA thanks the members of the Council, API bar associations, and other new and returning partners who provided support for this year’s event:

Champion Partner

Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP

Major Partner

Bank of America

Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Reed Smith LLP

Community Partners

Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County

Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance & Esther Ro, Esq.

Bird Marella PC

Dordi Williams Cohen LLP

Japanese American Bar Association

Korean American Bar Association of Southern California

Latham & Watkins LLP

Lynn M. Chau & Netflix

Orange County Asian American Bar Association

O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association

Thai American Bar Association

Walker Stevens Cannom Yang LLP


Advancing Justice-LA is also grateful to the many guests who joined us to celebrate pro bono work on January 18. We are constantly inspired by all the people committed to lending a helping hand to our clients and communities -  we are able to serve so many more individuals in need because of your support!  We look forward to working with you in 2017 and seeing you at our next volunteer awards event in 2018.

To make a contribution to Advancing Justice-LA’s pro bono program or to volunteer with Advancing Justice-LA, contact Christina Yang, Pro Bono Director. Read more about current volunteer opportunities.

Advancing Justice-LA staff with this year’s Volunteer Recognition Awardees.  Top left-right: Kelly Osajima, honoree Evelyn Shieh, and Shelly Chen; Ayano Wolff and Kathy Khommarath representing honoree APAWLA. Bottom left-right: Nicole Ochi, honoree Firdaus F. Dordi, honoree Ryan Iwasaka, Laboni Hoq, Yanin Senachai, Chris Lapinig; Marianna Yamamoto, Leslie Toy, Annie Chao representing honoree Andrew Chao, Doreena Wong, Janelle Hu.



Advancing Justice-LA Advancing Justice-LA's helplines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: discrimination, family, immigration, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights. 

English: 888.349.9695
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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.