The 2015 Jack Berman Award of Achievement Goes to Bryant Yang
The recipient of the 2015 Jack Berman Award of Achievement is Bryant Y. Yang, who is incredibly devoted to pro bono work and community service, both individually and through his practice at Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles.
A 2007 graduate of U.C. Berkeley School of Law, Mr. Yang served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Barry G. Silverman, Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Honorable S. James Otero, District Judge for the Central District of California. He previously tried misdemeanor cases for terrorist threats, child endangerment, petty theft, and unlawful use of a controlled substance as a Special Prosecutor for the City of Burbank.
In 2012, Mr. Yang joined Irell & Manella LLP, where he has committed hundreds of hours to pro bono work. In 2014, Mr. Yang devoted approximately 150 hours to representing Mr. Edel Gonzalez, who is believed to be the youngest juvenile offender to have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in Orange County's history. On behalf of Mr. Gonzalez, Mr. Yang obtained the first ever recall and resentencing of an inmate under Senate Bill 9, the California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act. As a result of Mr. Yang's work, Mr. Gonzalez was paroled after serving twenty-four (24) years in prison.
Also, in partnership with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Mr. Yang devoted approximately 100 hours of pro bono work to representing homeless and soon-to-be-homeless residents of Kern County in a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the County from denying general assistance. While the lawsuit has not yet resolved, as a result of this impact litigation, Kern County has increased general assistance funding and improved access for qualified residents.
Through Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Mr. Yang spent numerous hours of pro bono work representing two garment workers before the California Labor Commissioner against their former employer. The clients had been denied minimum wage and overtime pay. In May 2014, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement awarded the two clients $81,370.73 in wages, damages and reasonable attorneys' fees.
Mr. Yang's community service through bar associations and non-profits is equally impressive. Last year, Mr. Yang created the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association's Diversity Fellowship. The fellowship gives a diverse law school student an opportunity to work for an in-house legal department. He also worked to secure funding and persuaded Honda Patents & Technologies North America, LLC to host the inaugural fellow. In 2014, Mr. Yang also developed a 3L Bar Stipend for the Asian Pacific American Bar Association ("APABA") of Los Angeles County, which covers the cost for a bar study program for a law school graduate interested in pursuing public interest law. While a member of the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2011 for OCA-Greater Los Angeles Chapter (formerly known as Organization of Chinese Americans), he created a naturalization grant that helps pay the fees for a legal permanent resident to become a United States citizen. For close to a decade, Mr. Yang has helped run the Jeff Sein Kwan Yang Memorial Scholarship, which supports immigrants and children of immigrants in their pursuit of higher education.
Mr. Yang is currently the President-Elect of APABA, and has served on the State Bar's Civil Justice Strategies Task Force. He is Vice Chair of the State Bar Committee on Administration of Justice, and a member of the American Bar Association's Legal Opportunity Scholarship Committee and the Los Angeles County Bar Association's State Appellate Judicial Evaluation Committee.
Mr. Yang's service, leadership, energy, and results on behalf of those he represents are truly outstanding and worthy of recognition as the recipient of the 2015 Jack Berman Award of Achievement.