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11/29/2023 By Shreyas Malhotra

I wanted to take a moment to highlight an insightful and thought-provoking panel discussion that took place last month at the DRI Asbestos Medicine conference in Austin, Texas, as part of DRI’s ongoing Diversity Initiative. Our very own Jonathan Terrell led a distinguished panel of speakers, including Mahsa Tippins, Macy M. Chan, Hannah Mohrman, and Raghu Bandlamudi, to delve into the experiences and challenges faced by Asian American lawyers in defense law firms.

The event, which was the second installment in the multi-year exploration of the experiences of various minority groups, aimed to shed light on what it truly means to be an Asian American in the legal profession. The panelists, each with their unique backgrounds and perspectives, shared their stories, providing valuable insights and fostering meaningful discussions.

Here are some of the overarching themes that emerged from this enlightening discussion:

Promoting Positive Conversations
Mahsa stressed the importance of positive messaging in advancing diversity goals. She shared a poignant story about her daughter’s experience with skin color, highlighting the significance of fostering open conversations and curiosity, rather than making quick judgments.

Respecting Cultural Diversity
Raghu’s immigration journey from India to the United States underscored the value of respecting cultural differences. He recounted a heartwarming story from his first day at school, emphasizing the importance of mutual respect in embracing diversity.

Leveraging Strengths
Hannah discussed how Asian Americans can harness positive stereotypes to their advantage. Emphasizing the enduring values of hard work and dedication, she encouraged individuals to embrace their unique strengths.

Navigating Assimilation
Macy shared her experiences of assimilating into a predominantly white male profession while preserving her cultural identity. Her insights illuminated the complexities of straddling the line between being Asian and American.

Fostering Cultural Understanding
Jonathan urged the audience to engage in conversations that transcend stereotypes. He encouraged genuine interest in each other’s cultures, fostering deeper understanding and appreciation.

Empowering Voices
Mahsa emphasized the importance of finding one’s voice, irrespective of concerns about pronunciation or cultural differences. She encouraged individuals to overcome barriers and speak their truths.

Mentorship Transcending Boundaries
Raghu and Hannah highlighted the pivotal role of mentorship in professional growth. They underlined the value of mentorship that transcends cultural backgrounds, emphasizing the universal aspects of career development.

Recognizing Superpowers
The panelists shared their unique “superpowers” as Asian Americans in the workplace, including resilience, the ability to see the best in people, and the willingness to work tirelessly without considering it a disadvantage.

Encouraging Future Legal Minds
The panelists offered inspiring words to young Asian Americans contemplating a career in law. They underscored the strength in embracing one’s differences and emphasized the value of hard work in achieving professional success.

In conclusion, Mahsa left us with a powerful message: Be curious, not judgmental. That encapsulates the essence of the entire discussion, encouraging open dialogue, empathy, and mutual understanding.

Jonathan and the panelists shared invaluable insights, igniting crucial conversations about diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. We are grateful for their contributions and look forward to continuing our journey towards a more inclusive workplace.

Shreyas Malhotra

Shreyas Malhotra