The Honorable Tony N. Leung is now a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Minnesota – the first Asian-Pacific American to serve on the federal bench in the state.
Magistrate Judge Leung was sworn in on April 29, 2011 by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Davis in Minneapolis. A formal ceremony will be held at a later date.
United States Magistrate Judges are appointed by the Judges of the U.S. District Court for a term of eight years and are eligible for reappointment to successive terms. Leung will chamber in the St. Paul courthouse, where he will join Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan, Magistrate Judges Noel, Mayeron, Graham, Keyes, Brisbois, Rau, and Klein on the Magistrate Judge Bench.
Leung was a selected from a list of candidates that were reviewed by an eleven-member panel of attorneys and business professionals to advise the court on candidates. The panel was appointed by Chief Judge Davis and his colleagues and was chaired by Bill Manning.
Leung was the first Asian American judge in Minnesota, when he was appointed a state District Court Judge in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District in Hennepin County in 1994 by Governor Arne H. Carlson. He held the district court position for the next 17 years until this federal appointment.
Before taking the bench he was an equity partner of Faegre & Benson, a law firm based in Minneapolis with a number of offices nationally and internationally, and practiced primarily in the areas of real estate and asset-based transactions. He graduated cum laude with a B.A. in political science from Yale University, and received his J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Leung also studied in obtained an International Exchange Diploma from Beijing (Peking) University.
Leung is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and is a founding member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association – Minnesota Chapter. He received the NAPABA 2000 Trailblazers Award in Washington, D.C.
“We are proud to see another first in Asian Pacific American history with the appointment of Judge Leung,” said Paul O. Hirose, President of NAPABA national chapter in Washington. “This is a great achievement and Judge Leung is exceptionally well-suited for this prestigious position. NAPABA congratulates Judge Leung and looks forward to his term as magistrate judge.”
Leung regularly attends and supports NAPABA-MN functions, including an annual event to congratulate the new APIA attorneys and recent law school graduates in Minnesota. He often reflects on attorneys choosing the Twin Cities over the east or west coast as a preferable place to balance their profession with a devotion to raising a family in a wonderful community.
Leung describes NAPABA as a personal and professional support network and a resource for attorneys all through their careers as they grow and their jobs and responsibilities change. He was instrumental with initiating programs and retreats including Vision 21, or the Twin Cities Lawyers Group, which provides educational forums and workshops for leadership, partners and associates.
“Judge Leung is one of the founding members and a great supporter of NAPABA-MN,” stated Rebecca A Chaffee, an Attorney with Best & Flanagan LLP in Minneapolis, and current NAPAB-MN President. “Congratulations to Judge Leung and his family!”
He was also on the founding board of the Twin Cities Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, which started the annual Minnesota Minority Recruitment Conference. Judge Leung was also one of the founding board members of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, and served as its first board chair. He co-chaired for several years the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Court Rules and Administration Committee.
Leung was born in Hong Kong in 1959. He immigrated to the U.S. with his family at age six in 1966. He is a past president of the Organization of Chinese Americans – Minnesota Chapter.
“Tony has been an exceptional role model for Asian-Minnesotans in professional excellence and public service,” said Paul Gam, an international vice president at St. Jude Medical and community volunteer.
In May 2010 Judge Leung delivered the keynote address at the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month kickoff event at the State Capitol, where he spoke about the history and legacy of the Exclusion Era and scapegoating.
Judge Leung concluded by noting that Heritage Month is a time to solidify the APIA community by understanding the shared experience of becoming Americans. He said to be vigilant in understanding the history of where we came from as a possible predictor of the future.
He concluded the talk by adding, “This is a reminder to all of us to ensure equality and fairness and access to the American dream.”