Jae Joon Shin ’25 is director of communications and community relations for the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) at UC Law SF.

To help promote diversity in the legal profession, affinity organizations at UC law SF connect aspiring attorneys with peers and mentors who share similar backgrounds.

One of these many organizations is the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA). Jae Joon Shin ’25, APALSA’s director of communications and community relations, explains what this organization means to him.

Q: What is APALSA?

A: APALSA is a student organization committed to elevating Asian Pacific American voices on campus and promoting justice, equity, and opportunity for Asian Pacific American Law Students. We host events with the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, hold workshops with leading Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) attorneys in their respective fields, and volunteer for the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, an organization committed to advancing racial equity, social justice, and human rights.

Q: Why did you join APALSA?

A: I wanted to find a community of students at UC Law SF whose similar backgrounds and experiences led them to pursue a career in law. By attending APALSA events, I got to meet and talk to Asian and Pacific American lawyers who were using their unique backgrounds to advocate and work toward a fairer and more just society.

Q: How is APALSA advancing your career goals?

A: APALSA has showed me that Asian and Pacific Americans not only have a place in the field of law but also can be leaders in those fields. For example, APALSA invited me to attend the 50th Anniversary Gala of the Asian Law Caucus, where I heard prominent AAPI attorneys Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, and Peggy Saika speak about their experiences representing first-generation workers mistreated by their employers.

Through APALSA’s connections to the Asian American Bar Association (AABA), I also gained mentors, who were more than willing to help me through the job-finding process. Because of APALSA, I had the opportunity to talk to AAPI judges, who were shaping key decisions and setting the gold standard of what a lawyer should strive to be. By providing these opportunities, APALSA has helped me envision myself in their shoes and kickstarted my own journey in the law.

Q: Share more about yourself.

A: I emigrated from Seoul, South Korea, when I was 8 years old. From the third grade through high school, I spent most of my time in Southern California. After high school, I moved to the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in English and political science. At this time, I also joined the U.S. Army Reserves and still serve as its mortuary affairs specialist. I came to law school because I knew I had a talent for writing and speaking, but I wanted my work to impact people’s lives concretely. In other words, while literature and political science taught me what the world should be, I needed an avenue to make my beliefs into reality. For me, the law is that avenue. In my free time, I like going on runs, checking out cool bars, and singing karaoke.

Q: What else should people know about APALSA?

A: APALSA is a fantastic way for law students to get involved in the greater AAPI legal community. As an APALSA member, you feel you belong in this movement of excellence and purpose. APALSA has your back in your legal journey and will do everything within our power to allow you to connect with AAPI attorneys who have paved or are paving the road ahead. All you have to do is show up.

For more information on APALSA and its events, email apalsa@uclawsf.edu.