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Alisa Shin is an associate trying to meet billable hours. She has two children and a third on the way. She has a husband in the Army Reserve at a time when each day seems to bring the country closer to war. And Shin, a sixth-year associate in Philadelphia-based Duane Morris’ trusts and estates department, has just taken on even more responsibility: She is the new president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley. The 90-member group, which is affiliated with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, provides a forum for Asian-American lawyers to network and discuss issues unique to their community. Shin will serve a one-year term, during which she hopes to boost the association’s membership numbers by holding more events, some in conjunction with other local organizations for minority lawyers, like the Hispanic Bar Association and the Barristers Association. Besides getting Asian-American attorneys to participate in the AABA, Shin, 32, also wants to encourage their involvement in the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania bar associations to “make sure that the Asian legal community’s voice is heard and it’s well-represented.” Shin also acknowledged the importance of getting Asian-Americans to consider practicing law in the area. The organization plans to hold special events for local law students to showcase the AABA and the region’s Asian-American legal community. Shin said that once she began to practice in Philadelphia, she was “pleasantly surprised” to discover how close-knit and supportive the region’s Asian-American legal community is. “If I had known everything that I know now, it would have been a no-brainer that I would be in Philadelphia,” she said. Also on the AABA’s agenda for the coming months are two projects that will pay tribute to William Marutani, the first Asian-American judge in Pennsylvania. The association has commissioned a portrait of the judge, to be completed in the next few months, and hopes to establish a scholarship in his name. The details of the scholarship have yet to be ironed out, but Shin said it will likely benefit Asian-American law students. “I hope one of the things we accomplish is to create a legacy for everything that Judge Marutani has done,” she said. “It’s very important for Asian-Americans to have a role model.” Shin herself was first attracted to the legal profession while studying for a master’s degree in government administration at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. While at Penn, she started working at the Philadelphia Children’s Network, a nonprofit organization aiming to get unwed fathers more involved with their children’s lives by helping them develop parenting skills, finish their education and find jobs. The group, later folded into Penn’s National Center on Fathers and Families, was run largely by lawyers and formulated policy on issues such as welfare and child custody. “I really started to see the connection between law and policy and how the legal training you could receive, how you could use that in the policy world,” Shin said. Shin realized then that she wanted to become a lawyer. From Fels, it was just a short trip to Penn Law, and then, after graduating in 1997, to Duane Morris. These days, Shin seems to gravitate towards chaos. In addition to juggling work, Bar activities and parenting — not to mention being seven months pregnant — she volunteers with the family support program at her husband’s Army Reserve unit, helping to make sure soldiers’ families are prepared when their loved ones are deployed. “She’s balancing many things,” AABA founder and past president Tsiwen Law said of Shin. “The rest of us are really going to have to step up this year. That’s going to be a challenge, but we’ll do it — we’re happy to do it.” Law said he enjoys seeing young lawyers like Shin taking over the leadership of the AABA because they face challenges older attorneys may not, such as balancing work and family, which gives them a different take on the issues the group tackles. “We want new blood in the organization,” Law said. “We want people who bring the perspective of younger lawyers, who have to make these quality of life decisions.” Shin is the third AABA president in recent years from Duane Morris. Last year’s president, Julie Lu, is also an associate at the firm, and Lisa Lanphear worked there when she was president in 1997, though she has since left the firm. Shin said the Duane Morris-AABA connection is likely a coincidence but that the firm does encourage lawyers to get involved in various legal associations.

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