Celebrate the A100, the most impactful Asian Pacific Leaders.

Esther Yoo

The Legal Clinic/Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights

Esther S. Yoo, Esq., Senior Staff Attorney is a dedicated, long-time advocate for immigrants. Prior to her work at TLC, she was Director of the Academic Success Program at the University of Maine School of Law and an adjunct professor of legal methods and legal writing. Before joining the law school, she was a litigator in private practice, where she represented pro bono asylum clients who had been persecuted for various reasons, including their political opinion, race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, and membership in a particular social group. She also assisted pro bono clients in preparing their applications for naturalization and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Early in her career, Esther served as a law clerk for the Honorable Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Shortly before and during the clerkship, Judge Gee decided two landmark cases involving the rights of immigrant detainees: Franco-Gonzales v. Holder, which recognized a right to legal representation for mentally incompetent immigrant detainees, and Flores v. Johnson, which enforced a consent decree outlining the standards for the treatment of minors in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The experience of clerking for Judge Gee confirmed Esther’s interest in immigration law and commitment to immigrant rights. She is now excited to help meet the legal needs of Hawaii’s immigrant community. Esther has served in other public interest roles, including developing after-school programming and conducting educational outreach in underserved communities in Los Angeles for the University of California, fundraising and communications for the education advocacy and social work programs of the Massachusetts juvenile public defender’s office, and advocating for benefits on behalf of transition-age foster youth in Los Angeles. Esther received her A.B. from Harvard University. She attended UCLA School of Law, where she was an editor of the UCLA Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif.