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Portrait Project 2.0 Funding Challenge

A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law – The Next Research Phase

Asian Americans are a growing presence in all sectors of the legal profession. They work in BigLaw and in smaller firms and solo practice, and as government attorneys, corporate counsel, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and more. But they fall short in attaining leadership positions and have the highest attrition rates from major law firms. Research has not substantially studied the myriad ways in which Asian American lawyers and law students struggle and thrive, and the unique incentives and constraints that shape their career paths.

The first stage of the 2017 Portrait Project study, supported by Yale Law School and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), published a widely-circulated report that revealed that while Asian Americans have entered every facet of the legal profession, they are underrepresented in top leadership positions across all sectors.

The second phase of this research project moves beyond asking the “what” questions to probing “why” these trends occur and “how” we can address them.

In collaboration with the American Bar Foundation (ABF), Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, NAPABA, and the Yale law School, we are conducting a deeper exploration of the empirical reasons and potential solutions for the current challenges faced by the Asian American legal community.

The next step in research will focus initially on three questions:

  • What accounts for the high attrition rates of Asian Americans at major law firms?

  •  What challenges and opportunities do Asian American attorneys encounter within corporate legal departments?

  •  Why do minority law students fail to get clerkships in proportion to their numbers at top law schools?

Portrait Project 2.0 will be conducted under the auspices of the American Bar Foundation (ABF) which is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3), research organization based in Chicago, IL.

AABANY is challenging its members to meet at least the Silver Sponsor level listed below. 

  • Platinum Sponsors – $25,000 annually for three years
  • Gold Sponsors – $15,000 annually for three years
  • Silver Sponsors – $10,000 annually for three years

AABANY will match up to $5,000 in donations from its members for the Portrait Project Fund.  All donations will be given to the ABF, and every donor will receive a charitable contribution letter from ABF reflecting their individual donation.  The challenge will officially end on September 21, 2019 at the Annual Fall Conference.

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