40 Under Class – 2016
Paula Kim has mastered that tough balancing act of juggling both a thriving legal career and giving back to her profession and community.
Kim, a shareholder with Chicago’s Polsinelli, has earned respect from her peers as one of the top commercial-litigation attorneys in the city. At the same time, she’s donated countless hours to pro bono and community work.
Kirk Lambright with L-II Enterprises said that Kim regularly excels in the courtroom. He points to a complex commercial case that Kim handled that involved more than 100,000 documents. Kim met all deadlines and properly prepared people for depositions, making them feel at ease throughout the process.
“Paula’s summaries, updates and analysis of the cases were some of the best I have seen,” Lambright said. “Even after the matter was finished, she kept me aware of various happenings. She did not just end the relationship when the billable hours stopped.”
Tim Hudson of Tabet DiVito & Rothstein witnessed Kim’s abilities first hand had this to say, “In the case in which I watched, from a front row seat, the performance of Ms. Kim she was vested with the responsibility of representing an important client of her firm; she commanded the respect of her clients, co-counsel and especially difficult co-counsel.” Hudson continued, “Any client would be fortunate to have her in their corner for any significant commercial litigation.”
In addition to her thriving practice, Kim is involved in helping the profession. And Kim doesn’t just join legal and community organizations. She actively participates in them, in many cases taking on demanding leadership roles.
Kim’s fellow attorneys praise her for that commitment.
“Paula does not merely sit as a silent board member,” said Michael Chu, with Chicago’s McDermott Will & Emery. “She pays attention, reads and understands the mission, materials and financial data, asks important questions and, most importantly, provides helpful guidance, fund-raising and support.”
Chu knows of what he speaks. He has volunteered on several of the same organizations on which Kim has sat. This includes the Korean American Bar Association, an organization that Kim has served as president. Chu calls Kim’s term one of the most effective and memorable in the organization’s history.
Sang-yul Lee, of Locke Lorde has worked together closely together as colleagues for over three years, and have also worked closely together in multiple organizations, including the International Association for Korean Lawyers, Korean American Bar Association, and Korean American Community Services organizations. Had this to say “Paula has what I would call a 98 percentile ability to drive home a result when a matter or issue is stalled.”
Kim has also devoted her time and energy to Asian Americans Advancing Justice|Chicago and the International Association of Korean Lawyers.
Pro bono work is another passion of Kim’s. Chicago attorney Jonathan Baum points to Kim’s work representing a woman facing deportation for having allegedly engaged in a fraudulent marriage to order permanent residency in the United States. The woman’s ex-husband provided a written statement to immigration authorities saying that Kim’s client had paid him to marry her so she could stay in the country.
Kim, in her first appeal, presented such a compelling brief and oral argument, that they persuaded the court to issue a precedent-setting decision that people facing deportation have a right to compulsory process to cross-examine those whose information is the basis for the deportation decision.
“Paula has always put pro bono service at the heart of her practice of law,” Baum said. “She brought dedication, skill and compassion of the highest order to all the matters on which I supervised her.”
Retired lawyer Steven Bashwiner who worked with Kim at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, added this about Kim, “Put simply, I loved working with her. In my almost fifty years of trial work, I have worked with dozens if not hundreds of young lawyers, and Paula was one of the best I ever worked with