By Bicvan Brown
On December 9-11, 2021, I had the pleasure of attending the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Convention in Washington, D.C. While I previously attended the conventions as an associate, this was my first year attending as a partner. I was promoted to partner in January 2020! This was also the first year that Tressler's Chairman, Daniel Formeller, attended the convention. My NAPABA friends very much enjoyed meeting him because he is such an inspiration and a great ally. The convention is typically in the first week of November. Because of COVID-19, the convention was moved to December of 2021, so the last time I saw my NAPABA friends was two years ago in November 2019. What a reunion!
Tressler attorneys Dan Formeller and Bicvan Brown at NAPABA 2021.
I first attended a National Conference of Vietnamese American Attorney (NCVAA)/Vietnamese American Bar Association of D.C. (VABA DC) dinner Thursday night. It was a great pleasure to meet with the Vietnamese-American attorneys in person as opposed to virtually. Friday's lunch was at Le Diplomate and I met up with some NAPABA friends from the 2019 Austin Convention as well as my first NAPABA friend, whom I have known since 1995. My 2019 NAPABA friends also introduced me to a new friend and we all enjoyed a lovely lunch that I will not forget.
On Friday evening, I was invited to my very first Partner/In-House Counsel Cocktail Reception. I did not know what to expect. The speaker announced to all that I was a new partner and had me wave “hello” to all at the reception. He spoke of the staggeringly small statistic of Asian-American attorneys promoted to partners, and he encouraged everyone to support the new partners. From this cocktail reception, I met more new friends, including a NAPABA past president. My new friends and I dined at Café Milano in Georgetown that evening. A celebrity sat directly behind me; it was so exciting.
On Saturday, I attended CLE sessions. The speakers were engaging and dynamic. Afterward, I asked some of them (and they agreed) to speak on an employment law panel I am coordinating for the NCVAA in New York in the Spring of 2022. The plenary lunch’s theme “Not Your Model Minority” was well done and eye-opening. Later in the evening at the gala, a race-based hate crime victim told an emotional story that hit me hard. The story resonated with me because the victim was also a Vietnamese-American and the victim reminded me so much of my Vietnamese elders. Towards the conclusion of the gala, Keynote Speaker Cincinnati Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval lifted everyone with his witty, self-deprecating humor. What an amazing orator and natural comedian.
The NAPABA Convention has always served me well at different stages of my career. When I was an associate, NAPABA helped me to become a partner. As a partner, NAPABA helps me to accomplish my goals. NAPABA has given me and my law firm, Tressler, a national platform for networking and recognition for our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and programs. I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s convention and am already planning for next year’s in Las Vegas. Thank you, Tressler, for your continued support of me at NAPABA.