15 Asian Pac. Am. L.J. 30 (2009-2010)
The Great Opportunity in Law

handle is hein.journals/asiapalj15 and id is 32 raw text is: The Great Opportunity in Law'

Bill Ong Hing2
When I was a young law student in the San Francisco Bay Area almost 40
years ago, holding an event this large would have been impossible, because there
were probably only a couple dozen Asian American lawyers in northern
California law   schools.3  Twenty-five years ago there were only two tenured
Asian American law professors in the region,4 neither of whom identified with
Asian American civil rights issues. And it was not until 1983 that an Asian
American made partner at a major Bay Area law firm.5
I began my legal career as a legal services attorney at San Francisco
Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation,6 in its Chinatown-North Beach
branch - right at the corner of Broadway and Columbus. For me, deciding to
engage in public interest law at the outset was not complicated; it simply felt like
the right thing to do. I'm happy to have been able to continue on that path - even
as a full-time law professor since 1979 - in my writing, teaching and pro bono
work.
Although many of you are still in your early years of law practice, I'm not
going to try to twist your arm into devoting your fulltime careers to public
interest - at least not blatantly. But I am here to urge all of you - young and old
- to commit to community service work for at least a meaningful share of your
time whatever you choose to do. Among my many heroes and heroines in my
professional life, I include folks like my friends at the Asian Pacific American
Legal Center in Los Angeles, the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, and the
1. Keynote speech given at the Korean American Bar Association of Southern California's
Twenty-Ninth Annual Installation and Scholarship Awards Dinner at Union Station in Los Angeles,
Calif. on April 16, 2009. The editors of the UCLA ASIAN PACIFIc AMERICAN LAW JOURNAL, along with
Professor Hing, have modified this transcript only as needed, with the goals of improving readability and
preserving the integrity of the original text.
2. Professor of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law and Professor of Law Emeritus,
University of California, Davis School of Law.
3. As a law student in 1972, I interviewed Gordon Lau, one of the few Asian American lawyers in
northern California at the time. He estimated that there were less than fifty Asian American attorneys in
the region at that time.
4. Victor Li was the Shelton Professor of International Legal Studies at Stanford Law School from
1971 to 1982; Sho Sato was a Professor of Law at Boalt Hall at University of California, Berkeley from
1951 to 1986.
5. Cedric Chao became partner at Morrison & Foerster in 1983.
6. In 2000, the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation joined with Contra
Costa Legal Services Foundation and Community Legal Services of Santa Clara County to form Bay
Area Legal Aid. Bay Area Legal Aid, Fact Sheet, http://baylegal.org/about-bay-legal/press-room/media-
kit/fact-sheet/ (last visited Mar. 26, 2010).

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