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First Generation Lawyers: Tips for Navigating and Thriving in Law

  • 13 Feb 2020
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Davis Wright Tremaine, 920 Fifth Ave, Ste 3300, Seattle


Registration is closed

Gov. Gary Locke, Senior Advisor & Consultant, Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP. A Seattle native born into a Chinese immigrant family, Gov. Gary Locke spent his first six years in Seattle’s Yesler Terrace, a public housing project for families of World War II veterans. Through his interactions and lived experiences, Gov. Locke learned to navigate and bridge his Chinese and American cultures together. This understanding bolstered his success when he was elected Governor of Washington, becoming the first Asian-American Governor on the mainland and the first Chinese-American Governor in the United States.

Over his two terms, he helped open doors for Washington businesses by leading 10 productive trade missions to Asia, Mexico, and Europe, significantly expanding the sale of Washington products and services and helping more than double the state's exports to China. Mr. Locke also had the most diverse cabinet in state history. More than half his judicial appointments were women and 25% were people of color.

Gov. Locke served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 2009 to 2011 and assumed a troubled 2010 Census process but which under his active supervision ended on time and $2 billion under budget; and achieved the most significant reduction in patent application processing in the agency's history: from 40 months down to one year.

As U.S. Ambassador to China from 2011-2014, he opened markets for made-in-USA goods and services; reduced wait times for visa interviews of Chinese applicants from 100 days to 3 days; and through the Embassy's air quality monitoring program, exposed the severity of the air pollution in China, causing the Chinese people to demand action by the government and the government in turn to begin addressing the issue.

Outside of work, Gov. Locke serves as a member on The Committee of 100, a national nonpartisan organization composed of American citizens of Chinese descent who have achieved positions of leadership in the U.S. in a broad range of professions. The Committee has dual missions: to promote the full participation of Chinese-Americans in American society and act as a public policy resource for the Chinese-American community, and advance constructive dialogue and relationships between the peoples and leaders of the United States and Greater China.

Gov. Locke graduated from Boston University with his law degree and obtained his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Yale University.

Jessica Nguyen, General Counsel, PayScale.  Jessica is the General Counsel of PayScale, a Seattle, Washington based technology company that offers compensation data and tools to help employees and employers make informed compensation decisions. PayScale’s products enable organizations to take a transparent and data-driven approach to their compensation strategy and pay their employees equitably. PayScale prides itself on being a thought leader on pay equity issues.

Jessica was hired as PayScale’s first attorney and General Counsel and built from the ground up a legal team at PayScale. At PayScale, she manages all legal affairs of the organization and is deeply involved with business strategy and operations. Prior to PayScale, Jessica supported the growth, scalability, and risk management of other organizations, including the Office 365 engineering teams at Microsoft (MSFT), Avalara (AVLR) during its early stages (where she was also its first in-house attorney), and was an attorney at Pacific Northwest law firms.

Jessica was recently selected as one of 15 attorneys awarded the 2019 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Best Under 40 and a top 100 2019 The Business Journals’ “Influencers: Law,” which consists of the most influential law executives in the U.S. by editors and staff writers across The Business Journals’ network of more than 40 publications. The Business Journals’ Influencers: Law are described as “executives who are driving business for their employers, and for their clients, in cities across the country.” Jessica was also recognized as one of The Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Honorees in 2018.

Jessica's family immigrated to the US when the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Like many other immigrant families, English was not her parents’ primary language and to get by they worked blue collar jobs - her father was a taxi driver and her mom was a hair stylist. Her dad struggled with addiction issues so her family moved often and lived paycheck to paycheck. Without any financial support from her family, after high school, Jessica attended Seattle University and later the University of Washington School of Law determined to build a better life. Networking, hustling, and taking smart career risks have been key to her journey to a General Counsel role.

Ken Payson, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Ken Payson is a litigation partner at Davis Wright Tremaine where he co-chairs the Class Action Defense Group. His practices focuses on class action defense, other complex commercial litigation, and appellate work, particularly with respect to claims under state and federal statutes and regulations regarding privacy, consumer protection, employment, and product liability.

Since joining DWT in 2008, Ken has held several roles to help ensure that all attorneys who join the firm feel supported and connected. As the Seattle Office Hiring Chair for most of the last decade, Ken and his team have championed increased hiring of diverse associates and lateral hires. His current focus, as an Office Diversity Ambassador, is on inclusive retention initiatives within our Seattle office. In both roles, he assists in our firm’s efforts to build and sustain a diverse firm that reflects the diversity of our clients and the communities in which we work by creating and nurturing a culture of inclusion that allows individuals and teams to do their best work.

Ken has served in leadership roles with various local, state, and national organizations furthering the legal interests of minority and disadvantaged communities, especially with respect to improving the diversity of the bench and bar. Ken is past-president of both the ABAW and the ABAW Student Scholarship Foundation, served on the Board of Governors of NAPABA, is past Board Chair of the Washington Initiative for Diversity, and served on the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission. He has received numerous honors and awards including the WSBA’s Excellence in Diversity Award for his work co-chairing the Minority Bar Associations of Washington’s Joint Committee on Law Firm Diversity.

Ken is a first-generation lawyer who immigrated from Japan when he was less than a year old. After Ken’s father abandoned the family, his mother worked multiple jobs as a janitor, delivering newspapers, and other menial positions to make ends meet for him and his three siblings. After dropping in and out of three colleges and three community colleges over the course of 10 years, Ken finally received his undergraduate degree from Cal State East Bay before receiving his JD from UC Berkeley.

Liz Lee, Senior Corporate Counsel, T-Mobile, Co-Chair of ABAW Mentorship and Social Committees. Liz is in-house counsel at T-Mobile, supporting the company’s fast-paced customer care business. Her practice areas range from consumer protection laws, regulatory compliance, crisis communications, social media, privacy, to IP and vendor transactions. Prior to T-Mobile, Liz served in various in-house roles, including as Associate General Counsel to a start-up AI and blockchain company, and Director of Legal Affairs to a Nasdaq-listed domain name company. Liz started her practice at Perkins Coie, advising companies ranging from start-ups to large public companies on securities, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance.

Liz is the first in her family to attend college, and first generation born in the United States. Liz grew up immersed in the immigrant experience, with early memories revolving around New York’s Chinatown. As the oldest child in a non-English speaking household, Liz often played the role of translator, tax preparer, and many times, advocate for her parents. As a seamstress and a carpenter, Liz’s parents struggled not only with language barriers, but also with their employment and other legal rights. In preparation for college, and to ease her parents’ financial burdens, Liz worked up to three part-time jobs during her time in high school. Early on, Liz recognized the power of legal knowledge and advocacy, no matter the issue, in effecting change and safeguarding rights.

Prior to law school, Liz worked in the Office of Congressman Mike Honda in Silicon Valley, advising the Congressman on various legislative issues including tech, civil rights, labor and education. Liz continues to seek opportunities to continue her passion to work in her communities. Liz has served on the boards of SafeFutures Youth Center, and the Pratt Fine Arts Center. She also provides pro bono counsel to non-profit organizations through Wayfind, and guest lectures at UW School of Law on corporate governance. Liz currently serves as co-chair of ABAW’s Mentorship Committee, and Social Committee. Liz received her BA from Scripps College, where she also serves on the Alumnae Leadership Council, and her JD from UC Hastings.

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