Would you trade in being a pop star to be a legal rockstar? Last week, we wrote about So-eun Lee, a South Korean pop star who left behind her music career to attend Northwestern Law.
We emailed with the now-2L to find out how she achieved pop stardom back in Seoul and whether it seems easier to break into the music industry than the legal industry these days. We also found out she goes by Nikki Lee here in the States.
ATL: How did you break into the music industry in South Korea?
I participated in a national song writing contest when I was thirteen, and it was broadcast on television. I got calls from various recording companies after that went on air, and that was the beginning.
ATL: Why did you decide to leave your music career for the law? Are you glad you decided to go to law school?
I am glad, although I have to admit that sometimes during the last year I wondered why I ever decided to come. I did music for a long time, for eleven years, and I felt and knew that I wanted a change in direction. I was a spokesperson for a couple of organizations as an artist, and I wanted to be able to know and participate in the substantive issues instead of just being the “face” of something, and a legal education seemed like the right path.
So what substantive issues is she diving into this summer?
ATL: What are you doing this summer?
I am working with a professor on a book on music copyright and legal issues related to the Asian hip-hop market. It’s super interesting. I am also working part-time at the Bluhm Legal Clinic on a program for prison reentry reform. I am also finishing up the manuscript for an autobiographical book that will be published in Korea at the end of the year.
ATL: Are you doing anything musical now? Are you going to take part in Northwestern’s award-winning Law Revue, for example?
I didn’t do Wigmore Follies or Law Revue this year, one L would have been too challenging with that on top of everything else. But I do think that I will at least once before I graduate. I thought they were fantastic. I did perform at school, and I am always writing songs. I heard that the Chicago Bar Association has some musical groups that I might want to participate in.
ATL: Are you planning to practice in the U.S. or South Korea, or elsewhere?
I want to work in the States, and get as much experience as I can. I would like to work with international companies, firms, or organizations, but I’ll have to see what happens as I get more familiar with the legal world. It’s still pretty new to me.
ATL: Which field seems more challenging to break into right now: law or pop stardom?
Great question. I would say both have many, many struggles. I think pop stardom may be a bit more difficult because so many factors have to work together, and many that are not always within your own control, the music and your own artistry of course, but also the marketing, the market itself, promotions, your agents, the fashion, luck, the whole package. I think the legal profession also calls for many different qualities, but many that really depend on if and how hard you are willing to work. So in a way it’s more in the realm of what you can control or work at.
We hope she’s right about that!