In this episode of Reimagining Law, we hear from Patrick Dankwa John, a Chicago area attorney and president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, and Gary Zhao, a partner at SmithAmundsen LLC and past president at the Asian American Bar Association of Chicago. Patrick and Gary discuss the purpose of their respective bar associations, a legal professional’s role in combatting discriminatory behavior, and how their bar associations have remained relevant.
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- 0:46 – What is the purpose of your respective affinity bar associations?
- 2:30 – Patrick, you are the first Black non-Jewish president of the Decalogue Society, why did you pursue leadership in that bar association?
- 3:15 – There has been an uptick of anti-Asian conduct and rhetoric lately. What is the role of lawyers and/or judges in combatting discrimination and discriminatory language in society?
- 5:00 – How can people report hate crimes against Asians?
- 5:58 – Membership in bar associations generally is down. Is that the case in your respective bar associations? How do your bar associations remain relevant?
- 8:55 – How do you build bridges between bar associations and how do you combat the criticism that you’re creating silos in isolated communities?
- Hate Crimes Resources
- Confronting Anti-Semitism: What would Jesus do?
- Enough Is Enough: I Can’t Breathe!
- Understanding Farrakhan’s Appeal To African-Americans
- Black Christian anti-Semitism: a sad irony
Patrick Dankwa John
Patrick (Pat) Dankwa John is a Chicago area lawyer practicing in family law and the president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the nation’s oldest Jewish bar association. In June 2020, Pat became the first Black and first Christian president of the Society.
Several of Pat’s articles condemning bigotry have been published in the Times of Israel (linked above). Additionally, Pat volunteers with the Simon Wiesenthal Center whose mission is to eradicate bigotry and intolerance through public education programs. In January 2020, Pat wrote a screenplay called “Jesus: The Black Jewish Messiah.” The screenplay is intended to provoke thought and discussion about how religion has been used to justify discrimination against Blacks and Jews.
Pat is originally from Guyana, South America. He completed his undergrad at the City College Of New York in Harlem, where he majored in Urban Legal Studies and minored in Black Studies. Pat went on to earn a law degree from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Prior to law school, Pat served as an officer in the US Coast Guard, where one of his duties was that of civil rights officer. As a civil rights officer, he conducted training on civil rights and investigated complaints of discrimination.
Connect with Patrick
Decalogue Society of Lawyers: https://www.decaloguesociety.org/
Gary represents clients in high-stakes and complex business litigation matters nationwide. A partner in SmithAmundsen LLC’s commercial litigation group, Gary has secured victories through both trial and arbitration for his clients in cases involving breach of contract, intellectual property, false advertising, unfair competition, business fraud and other disputes. Gary is also fully engaged in his law firm’s diversity activities. From 2013 to 2015, Gary served as a co-chair of his firm’s diversity committee.
Most recently, until the end of June 2020, Gary was entrusted with leading the Asian American Bar Association of Chicago, as its president. For the past two years, Gary has served as National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)’s Treasurer and a member of NAPABA’s Executive Committee.
From 2011 to 2016, Gary served as the co-chair of the NAPABA national litigation committee, an active committee with over 200 members. Gary was recognized by NAPABA as one of the Best Lawyers Under 40 in 2015. He was recognized as one of 40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in 2011. In 2018, Gary received the Chicago Bar Association’s Vanguard Award, which honors lawyers that have made the law and the legal professional more accessible to and reflective of the community it serves.
About Reimagining Law
The Reimagining Law video series explores how legal and judicial professionals are adapting the delivery of services to meet the unique needs of today’s consumers. Reimagining Law is produced by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
This video was recorded on May 14, 2021.
Check out more episodes of Reimagining Law here.