Why Aren’t There More of Us?

Jamie poses with her published article

(Originally Published in AAJ Trial Magazine – April 2024)

Growing up in California can put you in a bubble – at least it did for me. I grew up in the Bay Area, where the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community flourished. I watched AAPI women on television who broadcasted the news, and I saw AAPI women running for and serving in elected office positions.

When I moved to Sacramento to work for the California Legislature, Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court – she was a Filipina American, just like me. Seeing a Filipina American hold this position was inspiring. When you see someone who looks like you hold a position you hold in high regard, it directly impacts your belief in what you can achieve. It's a powerful message that says, "You can be anything you want to be."

I had always been exposed to AAPI women leaders and role models, so imagine my surprise when I started practicing law to find that there were actually very few AAPI female trial attorneys. My California bubble burst, leading me to ask the question: Why aren't there more of us?

When it comes to law school graduates, women have steadily outnumbered men for the past decade, yet the percentage of women in private practice has remained relatively stagnant at 37-39% over that same time periodi. And, in particular, women of color are still underrepresented in the law, especially in firm leadership positionsii. We should all care about diverse representation in the legal field. It creates an environment where diverse clients and jurors feel seen and understood. Moreover, diverse firms can solve a wider range of challenges because their teams have rich collaboration that stems from their different backgrounds, perspectives, and insights. Legal teams that lack this might operate in an echo chamber and miss important solutions and points of view for their clientsiii.

To get to the underlying goal of justice for all, we need to ensure that we are doing our part to create a more equitable and representative legal field. Promoting diversity and inclusion requires a concentrated effort from our entire legal community. Some strategies and initiatives that can help achieve this are:

  • Ensuring diverse hiring practices

  • Establishing formal mentorship and sponsorship programs that connect AAPI women and women of color

  • Reviewing and revising policies and practices to ensure they are inclusive and do not disproportionately disadvantage AAPI women and women of color

  • Supporting legal advocacy efforts that address systemic discrimination and inequality in the legal profession.

Diverse representation in the legal field is not just a matter of diversity for diversity's sake – a diverse legal profession is better equipped to serve the diverse needs of society. I think we're moving in the right direction, and overall trends point to a more positive outlook: The number of AAPI women entering law school has steadily increased, more corporations are hiring AAPI attorneys, and there is notable progress in the appointment of AAPI federal judgesiv.

However, there is still more work to do. I hope the next generation of AAPI women starting their legal educations and careers are consistently surrounded by diverse female role models-including more inspiring AAPI women trial attorneys!

i Staci Zaretsky, Women Are Dominating When It Comes to Law School Enrollment, Above the Law, July 14, 2022,; Am. Bar Ass'n, Profile of the Legal Profession, 2023,

ii Nat'l Ass'n for Law Placement, Inc., 2023 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms, Jan 2024,

iii David O'Connor, Increasing Law Firm Diversity, Am. Bar Ass'n, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Newsletter, Winter 2020, trial insurance_practice/publications/committee-newsletters/increasing_law_firm_diversity/.

iv U.S. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n, California Supreme Court Justice Discusses Diversity Project With SEC Staff, Apr. 6, 2023,; Nat'l Asian Pac. Am. Bar Ass'n, A Portrait of Asian Americans in th

Reprinted with permission of Trial® (April 2024)
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