When a law student is described as a “rock star,” this usually means she has a high-ranking position on law review and is going to clerk for the D.C. Circuit. The closest most lawyers get to rock stardom is playing Rock Band (a favorite pastime of Elie and Kash; I can’t quite get the hang of it).
Well, what if we told you that a real international pop star is in law school now? And that she’s currently summering at a well-regarded boutique law firm in Chicago?
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?
Sometimes, a law school is graced by the presence of a famous classmate and fellow students are completely unaware of their good luck — if, for example, that law student is huge overseas but little-known on this shore.
When Lee So-eun got into Northwestern Law School, it was national news in South Korea. From the Chosun in June 2009:
Singer Lee So-eun has been accepted at a number of law schools in the United States. Lee’s management on Wednesday said the singer, who debuted as a high schooler in 1998, received offers from Northwestern, Cornell, Georgetown and Notre Dame.
Lee had been preparing for U.S. law school since she graduated with a degree in English Literature from Korea University in 2007. She has chosen Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. “I plan to leave for the U.S. in July, and want to focus on international and human rights law,” she said.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.