Asia

There are more Asian American lawyers than ever — but not in the top ranks

There are more Asian American lawyers than ever — but not in the top ranks

Two years ago, an unusual matter came before my court: a petition for posthumous bar admission brought by the descendants of Hong Yen Chang, a native of China. Chang came to America in 1872 at age 13. He graduated from the Phillips Academy, Yale College and Columbia Law School, and passed the bar exam. But in 1890 my court denied him a law license because the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited him from becoming a citizen, then a prerequisite for bar membership. In 2015, my court admitted Chang to the bar, calling his exclusion “a grievous wrong” that denied our society “the important benefits of a diverse legal profession.”

For most of our nation’s history, Asians were excluded from...

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