For her impassioned representation of Asian Americans in Los Angeles’ recent voter redistricting effort, Thompson Coburn partner Helen B. Kim will be honored with a 2014 Civic Leadership Award from the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles.
Kim will receive the honor on March 20 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood. Proceeds from the Celebrating Leadership Awards Dinner will support the League’s voter education programs. Past winners of the Civic Leadership Award include Elise Buik, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, and Carla Christofferson and Kathy Goodman, the former co-owners of the Los Angeles Sparks.
Repeatedly named one of the top woman litigators in California by The Daily Journal, Kim serves as the vice co-chair of Thompson Coburn's Business Litigation group. She represents public and private companies and their directors, officers and principal shareholders, and has successfully guided clients through nationwide class actions, regulatory investigations and related insurance litigation.
An outspoken advocate for both women attorneys and Asian American attorneys, Kim is a past president of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), and a former assistant vice president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Kim was the first Korean-American woman to lead NAPABA since the organization’s founding; as president, she represented the interests of more than 40,000 attorneys.
As the current chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the Korean American Coalition (KAC-LA), Kim has tackled thorny civil rights and civic issues like the Los Angeles City Council’s recent redistricting effort. As one of two Korean Americans on the redistricting panel, Kim voiced her concerns about a controversial redrawing of district lines that divided Koreatown into two separate districts.
A Board member of KAC-LA since 2000, Kim contributed to a multi-year effort to establish the first Los Angeles Police station dedicated to Koreatown. Opened in 2009 with nearly 300 of its own officers, including many who are bilingual, the Koreatown community now enjoys more consistent and responsive access to public safety services.
Kim’s work for KAC-LA has also included the translation and distribution of ballot initiatives, the continuation of youth leadership programs, and services that have paved a path to U.S. citizenship for tens of thousands of people.
“I am incredibly honored to receive the Carrie Chapman Catt Award for Civic Leadership,” Kim said. “I was raised in a family that values hard work, determination, and, above all, service to the community. Very early on, I discovered that the best way I can be of service is to push for equal access — access to voting rights, access to education, access to career advancement for women and minority attorneys.
“At some point, everyone has to stand up for themselves to achieve their highest potential. But it can’t happen without equal access, without that first critical opportunity. I’ve been very honored to be one of the many, many people who fight for that access on a daily basis.”
Kim received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was a note editor of the Yale Law Journal, and was awarded her A.B., cum laude, from Harvard-Radcliffe College. She holds an M.M. from The Juilliard School in classical piano performance.