First Chinese lawyer in US gets law license 125 years later

Updated: 2015-03-18 11:13

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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First Chinese lawyer in US gets law license 125 years later

Hong Yen Chang, the first Chinese lawyer in the US. (Courtesy of the Family Archives of Hong Yen Chang)

Other states have posthumously admitted applicants who were excluded from their respective bars based on similar discriminatory laws, said Chin.

In 2001, the Washington Supreme Court admitted a Japanese immigrant who had been refused admission to the profession in 1902; and in 2010, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court posthumously admitted an African American who had been denied admission in 1847 because of race.

"I think it (the court's decision) is particularly significant that it comes from a state supreme court that has Asians, African Americans, Latinos and women on it," he said.

Chong said it was also significant as it reminds people not to forget there was a time when no immigrants were allowed to practice law and represent immigrants from their home country.

"It also reviewed the stilted and rather appalling laws over the decades that were persecuting Chinese immigrants here in California. It apologizes for them and makes it clear that these types of discriminatory acts are illegal under equal protection of the law," she said.

The decision was also backed by advocates like the Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, an organization dedicated to promoting fair and equitable treatment for all.

"We celebrate Chinese-American lawyer Hong Yen Chang finally being granted a California law license posthumously and applaud the hardworking legal team that made this victory possible," said Angela Chan, policy director and senior staff attorney for Asian Law Caucus.

"Drawing the connection to the struggles of our immigrant communities today, we at Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus will continue to challenge the discriminatory immigration, race and language barriers that many immigrants face now to obtaining equal opportunity in all areas of life, including education and employment," she told the newspaper.

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