GW Law Makes Strong Showing at DC APABA Conference

APALSA President A.J. Sutton (left) and GW Law and other area
law school students take a photo with Supreme Court Justice
Sonia Sotomayor at the event.
The 24th Annual Asian Pacific American Bar Association conference was a perfect opportunity for GW Law students to network with attorneys, other law students, and even a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

With the conference being held at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue, members of GW Law’s chapter of the Asian/Pacific–American Law Student Association (APALSA) were in a perfect position to attend. Unfortunately, the cost of tickets to the event proved to be prohibitive for many students who wanted to go. Only a handful of volunteer positions for law students were available, and with a high level of demand among law students in the DC area, those positions filled up quickly.

A.J. Sutton, President of GW Law’s chapter of APALSA, and Priyam Bhargava, President of the South Asian Law Student Association (SALSA), asked the GW Law Student Bar Association for funding, and as a result 25 GW Law students were able to attend the conference at a reduced rate.

“With the conference being held in DC, this was an excellent opportunity for GW Asian Pacific American students to make a significant showing,” says Sutton. “The funding we received allowed us to do just that.”

The conference proved to be a valuable experience for all of the attendees. “The majority of the students who attended the conference are still looking for summer employment,” says Sutton. “There were numerous CLE panels, and a number of mentoring and speed networking events that allowed students and practicing attorneys to have one-on-one time for professional development.”

“A lot of the attorneys at this conference have a tendency to show up year after year,” says Bhargava. “If you keep attending, you end up having a network that you can build on.”

The conference featured speakers and panelists on multiple legal topics, including pro bono and public interest work, international law, and licensing technology across international borders. Participants were also given the opportunity to hear Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, which left a deep impression on A.J. Sutton.

“During her speech, she mentioned that as a Latino woman, she realized she had a duty to take on this role,” says Sutton. “That was my takeaway point. If you have the ability to step up and become a leader or a role model for your community or minority group, then you have an obligation to do so, so that you can create opportunities for others.”

With that in mind, Sutton entered the student organization elections that were being held at the conference, and is now NAPALSA’s Southeast Regional Director. “I’m in charge of coordinating APALSA chapters from Maryland all the way down to Florida,” Sutton says. “I’m in the process of contacting law schools in the Southeast and encouraging them to start an APALSA chapter if they don’t have one, and if there is one I encourage them to get involved and connect with other members.”

While career development is an important part of the conference, it also provides law students with the opportunity to build friendships in the legal community.

“The Convention and the people who participated made concerted efforts to make law students feel welcome, included, and motivated,” says Elise Ko, APALSA Social Chair. “It reinforced and crystallized the notion that networking should be about building friendships, and not just getting that next job.”

-- Adam Dawson

Please stay tuned for more information about the upcoming:

Vietnamese American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area (VABA-DC) and GW Law APALSA's Fifth Annual Scholarship Dinner | March 19, 2013 at 6pm in the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom.