Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

APALC Attorney, Yungsuhn Park, Wins Social Justice Prize From Thelton E. Henderson Center For Social Justice At Boalt Hall

LOS ANGELES and SAN FRANCISCO -- The Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at Boalt Hall announced its 2009 award winners and has named Yungsuhn Park recipient of its coveted Social Justice Prize. The Social Justice Prize is given to one Boalt Hall graduate a year who is pursuing a career dedicated to social justice and  best exemplifies the intellectual rigor, integrity, courage and vision that are distinctive of the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson, a trailblazing civil rights attorney and judge.

"I am deeply humbled to receive this honor and would like to share this recognition with my clients, colleagues, and mentors--without their partnership and support, my work would not be possible.  This award has re-affirmed my personal commitment to fighting injustice in our communities through legal advocacy and community empowerment," said Yungsuhn Park.

Yungsuhn Park began her legal career at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) in 2005 as a Skadden Fellow.  The Skadden Fellowship Foundation gives approximately 25 fellowships a year to stellar law graduates.  In the four years she has worked at APALC, Ms. Park has litigated cases that impact hundreds of workers, tenants, low-income consumers, and elderly immigrants.  In Ms. Park's third year as an attorney, she took a case to trial and won. The Superior Court judge that presided over the case called her the "star" of the trial team.  Ms. Park represented a group of Koreatown tenants who endured uninhabitable living conditions after their landlords turned their apartment units into construction zones, tearing down walls, exposing electrical wiring, and removing kitchen and bathroom facilities. After a 6-day jury trial in June 2008, Ms. Park and the tenants, with the able pro bono assistance of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, won their case and were awarded $609,000 in damages, restitution of relocation assistance money, attorneys' fees and costs against their landlords.  It was one of the first judgments obtained to enforce the City's new relocation assistance ordinance.  It took another year and the pro bono help of Goodwin Procter LLP to enforce the judgment and get the tenants paid.  Ms. Park not only saw the case through from beginning to end, she impressed partners at the big law firms many years her senior with her intelligence, strategic thinking, tireless hard work, and superb litigation skills.  The case also received wide media attention, providing vital community education on tenants' rights in both Korean and English.  Ms. Park speaks Korean, English, and Spanish.

Yungsuhn Park has also been a fearless leader outside the courtroom.  She plays a critical role in efforts to ensure that Los Angeles public dollars do not go to subsidize sweatshops in the production of City products, and she regularly teaches and speaks in law school and undergraduate courses. 

"Yungsuhn is a superstar," said Julie A. Su, Litigation Director at APALC, who met Ms. Park when Park was a young college activist and has worked closely with her for the last 5 years on cases ranging from protecting elderly Korean War Veterans from being scammed when purchasing cemetery plots to protecting the First Amendment rights of taxi workers and their allies.  "In a few short years as an attorney, she has emerged as a force in the Asian American community and in the legal world, turning tough cases into victories, inspiring clients to speak out and fight back, and making justice real in our communities.  All of us at APALC are so proud that the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice recognized what those of us who work with Yungsuhn see everyday, that she is a brilliant, effective advocate for social justice."

Wilda White, Director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at Boalt Hall, said, "We received three times as many nominations this year over last and every nominee was well-qualified.  What distinguished Yungsuhn was her nonpareil creativity in advocating for social justice using a combination of media strategies, public speaking, community activism, and trial advocacy.  She has forged deep ties to her community and clients, and like Judge Henderson, her integrity was beyond reproach."

The 2009 Gala where Ms. Park was honored was held in November at San Francisco City Hall.  During her speech, the room of nearly 400 attendees listened with rapt attention as Ms. Park described her journey as an activist, her work at APALC, and how her own family background informs her approach to her clients and to social justice.  Along with Ms. Park, the Center honored Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton with its Trailblazer Award.

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About Advancing Justice - LA: 
Founded in 1983, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for civil rights, providing legal services and building coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. APALC is affiliated with the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.