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.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
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