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Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession

IILP Review 2011: The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession
Fall 2011

Asim Bhansali, an Indian American partner at Keker & Van Nest LLP, was interviewed for the article "Asian Pacific American Lawyers: Differences Abound!," part of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession's annual review. The author explains that Asian Pacific Americans, the fastest growing racial minority group within the legal profession, are strangely grouped under one umbrella despite being among the most diverse, encompassing ancestry and cultures that stretch from Japan to Turkey; family histories ranging from sojourners to immigrants to refugees; and degrees of acculturation spanning new arrivals to sixth generation Americans.

Asked to comment on why the number of Asian Pacific American attorneys who advance to partnership remains relatively small, Mr Bhansali "recognizes there is no particular answer that readily accounts for these statistics, but notes two issues might factor into the analysis. First, cultural attributes of APA attorneys may play a role in their appreciation of time and flexibility concerns. He relays that Indians, for example, tend to have a heightened sense of familial obligations, sometimes making it hard for them to excel professionally in the private law firm setting. “It is not an unwillingness to work hard,” he notes, but rather that some Asian American lawyers may have a more difficult time balancing extended family expectations -- which often includes parents, not just children."

"Second, he observes that some APA attorneys might hit the proverbial glass ceiling because they enter firms with a specialized competency that does not translate easily into other skill sets in law. As an example, he has seen Asian American attorneys at other firms who come in with strong technical skills such as in the patent field, but for whatever reason -- whether ones of external perception or lack of skills training -- cannot translate that technical ability to stand-up courtroom or deposition skills. Ultimately, those stand-up skills are required to excel in a litigation practice, even a technically oriented one."

To read the complete article, please visit this link.

Asim Bhansali has extensive trial and litigation experience in antitrust, intellectual property, and complex commercial matters. His antitrust cases span a range of high-technology, financial, and life-science industries, and have included several of the largest private civil actions in U.S. history. Mr. Bhansali has defended clients in consumer class actions, including alleged violations of California unfair competition laws. His intellectual property cases have included patent and trade-secret actions in the pharmaceutical, computer-software, internet, and semiconductor industries.