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The Michael Oshima Diversity Essay Competition was established in honor of Michael Oshima, an individual who dedicated much of his legal career to ensuring that our profession remains diverse and open to all people no matter their race, ethnic or national origin, sex or sexual orientation. Michael contributed countless hours to the betterment of the legal profession and he served on a number of bar committees, including as Chair of the Committee on Minorities in the Profession of the New York City Bar Association. The Committee on Minorities in the Profession is sponsoring this scholarship to honor the life and memory of such a worthy man.

Before his untimely passing, Michael was Deputy General Counsel at Safe Horizon Inc., an organization that provides support, prevents violence, and promotes justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities. Prior to joining Safe Horizons, he served for six years as the Administrative Partner for the New York office of Arnold & Porter LLP. At Arnold & Porter, Michael counseled corporate officers and foreign governments in Latin America and around the world in securities offerings, lending transactions, loan restructurings and corporate governance matters. Michael was also very active in pro bono work and, for example, helped a battered woman who was not a citizen of the U.S. obtain a self-petition to remain in this country under the Violence Against Women Act. In addition, Michael championed initiatives to increase diversity at Arnold & Porter. During his tenure as Administrative Partner, the New York office twice received (in 2003 and 2005) the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s Thomas L. Sager Award, which recognizes law firms’ efforts to improve diversity.

Born on April 4, 1957, Michael was raised in Kona, Hawaii and was a graduate of Brown and Harvard universities. Michael received his J.D. in 1987 from New York University School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Annual Survey of American Law. Michael was also active as a Board member of the Asian American Arts Alliance, Inc. and the Japanese American National Museum. In his biography, Michael described himself as an experienced leader and attorney with strong interpersonal skills, a sense of humor and a grace under fire. He could not have said it any better. The legal community suffered a great loss when Michael passed away suddenly on July 11, 2008.



Participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled part-time or full-time in an ABA-accredited law school in the New York City metropolitan area and in good standing as a first, second or third-year law student at time of the application. These schools include: Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Brooklyn Law School, Columbia University School of Law, CUNY School of Law, Fordham University School of Law, Hofstra University School of Law, New York Law School, New York University School of Law, Pace University School of Law, Rutgers University School of Law (Newark), Seton Hall University School of Law, St. John’s University School of Law, and Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.
  • A member of one of the under-represented racial/ethnic groups set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a member of the LGBT community or a student of a disadvantaged socioeconomic status.


In order to be considered for the Michael Oshima Diversity Scholarship, candidates must provide the following:


  • Completed application form, including essay
  • Current resume
  • Unofficial or official undergraduate and law school transcripts


Prepare a 5-7 paged, double spaced essay. You may choose from one of the two topics listed below. Michael was a champion for diversity and justice.


The New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) has engaged in an expansive stop-and-frisk policy over the past decade. From 80,000 stops in 2002, the NYPD made 685,000 stops in 2011, and though the number decreased to 533,000 for 2012, that is still over 600% higher than in 2002. The NYPD asserts that stop-and-frisk is a necessary practice to deter crime and remove guns from the streets. Opponents of the policy assert that only 6% of those stopped are arrested and guns are recovered at a rate of slightly over 1 per thousand stops (to which the police respond that this shows the policy is working). Opponents argue that since approximately 9 in 10 stops do not result in an arrest, issuance of a summons or the recovery of weapons and drugs, the policy is likely being carried out in violation of the constitutional requirement that such stops can be made only if the police have reasonable suspicion that a suspect has committed a crime, is in the act of committing a crime or is about to commit a crime.

In addition to the issue of the large number of innocent people stopped, approximately 85% of those stopped are black or Latino, out of proportion to their share of the City’s population. The NYPD asserts that this disparity occurs because they make most of their stops in high-crime areas, which are areas where the population is predominantly minority, and that most crimes are committed by individuals in those groups.

Discuss the implications of the stop-and-frisk policy on the City’s black and Latino communities, keeping in mind the importance of public safety, civil liberties issues and the effect of the policy on those being repeatedly stopped who have not committed a crime. What recommendations do you have regarding the policy? Explain your answer.

Reference Articles (you may use other sources, but you are not required to conduct additional research):






Use of Drones

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has developed a 16-page “white paper” (http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/doj-lethal.pdf) outlining the circumstances under which the federal government may use lethal force in foreign countries, outside the area of active hostilities, against US citizens who are suspected to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qa’ida or its “associated forces.” The paper concludes that such use of lethal force would be lawful where the following three conditions are met:

  1. where an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;
  2. where a capture operation would be infeasible – and where those conducting the operation continue to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and
  3. where such an operation would be conducted consistent with applicable law of war principles.

The DOJ concludes that if these conditions are met, “the ‘realities’ of the conflict and the weight of the government’s interest in protecting its citizens from an imminent attack are such that the Constitution would not require the government to provide further process to such a U.S. citizen before using lethal force.”

Evaluate and discuss the DOJ’s conclusion, and the test outlined above. Explain why you agree or disagree. You may include your thoughts on any of the following:

  • the balance of interests between national security and the Constitutional right to due process;
  • any practical implications of applying the 3-part test;
  • the balance of power issues involved, if any; or
  • any other relevant issues you feel are significant to the discourse.


General Instructions

This essay is intended to evoke your critical thoughts. You are presented with a “closed universe” of materials, consisting of the DOJ white paper and the following short articles, to inform your discussion, and are not required to conduct additional research.







Selection Criteria/Awards

Monetary awards will be made to three candidates on the basis of their essay submission and their having demonstrated significant personal achievements and strong community involvement. The first place winner will receive an award in the amount of $1,500, second place will be $1,000, and the third place winner will receive $500.

The materials will be evaluated by a special Subcommittee of the City Bar’s Committee on Minorities in the Profession. The essays will be evaluated based on quality of writing, analysis and originality.


Application Dates
The deadline for the submission/receipt of all materials is May 31, 2013. Prize winners will be notified in July 2013.

For More Information
Please contact S. Jeanine Conley, Chair of the Committee on Minorities in the Profession, jconley@bakerlaw.com, to learn more about this opportunity.

Completed Application
Please submit your completed application package to: