The Life and Career of Amy Lin Meyerson: President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

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<<A sole practitioner with a corporate boutique law firm, Meyerson said participating in the NAPABA has put her in contact with mentors and clients and helped her stay connected with other attorneys once she decided to start her own firm.

 
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"In addition to providing opportunities for networking, for me to give back to my community, and for civic engagement and advocacy efforts, NAPABA provides a professional environment where APAs [Asian Pacific Americans] are the majority," she said.

NAPABA advocates for the legal needs and interests of Asian American legal professionals and represents the interests of more than 40,000 attorneys and 47 local APA bar associations.

The organization, which was started in 1988, champions civil rights and works to combat anti-immigrant backlash and hate crimes, while increasing the diversity of the federal and state judiciaries.

A first-generation Chinese American, Meyerson was born in New Orleans and raised in Durham, NC. After graduating from Duke University, she worked in New York City for a spell before receiving a full scholarship to attend law school at the University of Connecticut.

When she founded the Connecticut Asian Pacific American Bar Association (CAPABA) in May 2000, she was surprised by how many Asian American attorneys were working in the state, including a former law clerk of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Dean of Yale Law School, several Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and the General Counsel of Colt Manufacturing.

"I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by lawyers who are tops in their fields, yet are grounded and have managed to maintain a balance between work, fitness, and home," she said.

Founding the local chapter helped her adjust to starting her own business, she said, because she had a close network of attorneys to bounce ideas off, plus people who referred clients.

Meyerson started her firm in April 2004 and mainly represents businesses. Her reasons for branching out on her own were practical, particularly because she wanted to spend more time with her five-year-old son. Before starting her firm, Meyerson worked in the corporate group of a large international law firm in New York City and then for two small corporate boutique firms in Atlanta and Stamford, CT.

"I did not have a dream of starting my own firm, but the experience of owning my own business has been extremely rewarding," she said. "I am able to enjoy the practice of law and still have time to attend my son's school concerts. Being my own boss also gives me the luxury of making time to participate in bar activities at the national and local level and give back to my community."

Meyerson urged attorneys to get involved in various associations like the NAPABA at the local and national levels. She first became active nationally as a vice president of communications after a board member familiar with her work writing newsletters at the local level asked her to join the national board. She has served on the national board since 2001.

"As NAPABA president, I represent the organization at the local, state, and national level. I set the agenda for the bar year and work with our national board and staff to implement projects and policies that I believe will make a positive impact on the Asian Pacific American legal profession," she said. "For example, this year, we are working to improve language access to the courts for Americans with limited English proficiency. For years, we have also advocated for diversity in the federal judiciary in meeting with governors' offices and members of the United States Congress."

 
She said the group has a duty not only to serve its members, but also to contribute to the Asian American communities through public service.

Meyerson, who said she decided to become an attorney after a mock trial exercise in high school, in which a lawyer from the Durham (NC) County Bar Association served as her team's coach, said attorneys interested in starting their own firms should make a business plan and save money before they open shop.

As a sole practitioner, Meyerson says she is able to offer her clients more personal service than she could in a big firm.

 
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"Make sure you have the drive and ambition to run your own business, even during the lean times," she said. "Be sure that you can competently handle the matters in the areas of law you intend to practice. Fully understand your client's legal issues and problems."

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