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Release: Nov. 18, 2002

UI law school Asian-American student group wins national award

The UI College of Law’s Asian-American Law Students Association received the Outstanding Chapter Award from the National Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (NAPALSA) at its annual meeting Nov. 7-10 in Atlanta.

About 15 chapters were considered for the award, said Jamie Lai, AALSA co-president with Jerry Lin. She said the criteria NAPALSA considers to determine the award winner are the events a chapter organizes or sponsors, its involvement in recruiting Asian-American students for its law school, involvement in both the university and local community, and coalitions formed with other minority organizations on campus.

AALSA has about 40 members. It was led last year by co-presidents Trang Mai and Phuc Lu and is advised by law school professors Barry Matsumoto and Mark Sidel.

In the past year, the UI chapter has sponsored such events as campus-wide conferences on racial profiling and internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, started a Big Sibling/Little Sibling program to provide mentors for first-year Asian-American law students, was part of the UI Asian-American Coalition, formed partnerships with the Asian Alliance in Des Moines, and participated in UI’s Cultural Diversity Day.

Lai said AALSA also places a high priority on recruiting Asian-American students to the UI law school. Their efforts paid off as the number of Asian students in the incoming first-year class increased from 10 last year to 17 this year and membership in AALSA increased from 22 to 40.

Later this year, Lai said AALSA plans such activities as a seminar on affirmative action in university admissions, an Asian Heritage Week in cooperation with the Asian Alliance, and fundraisers to help support other Asian-American groups on campus.

Also at the NAPALSA meeting, Lai and UI law student Alex Perez were elected to the organization’s board. Lai will represent the Pacific Region and Perez the Central Region. In addition, Jennifer Liu, a 1992 UI law school graduate, was named as one of the Top Asian Pacific American Lawyers Under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, which held its meeting concurrently with NAPALSA’s. Liu is currently director of legal and business affairs for Sony Computer Entertainment America in Foster City, Calif.