Randy Choy joined JAMS after 43 years of practicing personal injury, family, commercial and construction litigation. His interest in mediation started early in his career and continues to this day.
From Teacher to Attorney
Mr. Choy was a student at UC Berkeley and was planning to be a teacher. About that time, he met a young Asian attorney who had started his own firm in Oakland. He was combining an ethical practice of law with community activism. Mr. Choy thought that that was a great way to stay involved in his community while still having a profession that would be challenging.
Growing up in the Bay Area of San Francisco, Mr. Choy notes that when he started practicing, there were very few Asian litigators. Sometimes, people would mistake his white client for the attorney when he went to meetings.
Historically, Asian attorneys had to have a non-Asian counterpart who was expected to take over if the case went to trial. He noted that over the years, this has changed and is no longer the case in today’s courtrooms.
Supporting Diversity in the Community
Early on, Mr. Choy worked as a clerk for Legal Aid. He was an active member of the Asian Law Students Association and the Asian American Bar Association. Most importantly to him, he was able to do pro bono work for both the Asian community and the San Francisco community at large.
“Supporting diversity is such a personal thing. There are so many little things you can do as well as macro things. Being receptive and understanding of other people’s perspectives, I think is the most important thing that we can do.”
Diversity Leading to Strength
One of the hobbies that Mr. Choy enjoys is playing tennis. A few years ago, his tennis team made it to the USTA national championship among thousands of entrants. He noticed that many of the teams were homogeneous—all Caucasian, all Taiwanese, all Korean, etc.
Meanwhile, Mr. Choy’s team represented the entire San Francisco community and was made up of Lebanese, Persian, Chinese, Vietnamese, African American and Caucasian people. He felt this was so important, not just for representation and outreach, but because it exemplified the potential of what was possible with diversity.
Advice for the Future
“As a young man, I thought that you go to school, you get your degrees, you become a lawyer, you open your law firm and you just do that for 40 years. And I found that that does not happen. Life happens and change happens. So embrace it. . .”
Mr. Choy has always embraced change, an outlook that has helped him succeed throughout his esteemed career.
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