Name: Sae Youn Kim
Law School: Seoul National University
- Where is home? What is it famous for?I was born in Seoul and lived there for the most part of my life. Seoul is the capital city of Korea, and was made known worldwide through the Olympic Games of 1988 and World Cup Games of 2002. Seoul is a city where you can experience the charms of both cultural heritages and modern city-life. It is also well known for the great Korean dishes, as well as wonderful people.
- You were a judge in South Korea for seven years and now are Partner of one of the major law firms in South Korea. What made you decide to pursue an LLM degree?Dispute resolution, especially litigation, has been the love of my life ever since I became a judge. Since I wanted to broaden my field of practice to international arbitration, I decided that I would need to study Common Law system of dispute resolution. Pursuing an LLM degree in the United States seemed to be the right answer for that.
- Why did you choose Duke for your LLM?Duke is one of the most prestigious law schools in this country with renowned faculty members. The fact that Duke has a relatively small number of students and maintains good accessibility of faculty members helped a lot, too. Furthermore, since I have two school-age boys, the excellent educational environment of Chapel Hill/Durham area was very important for me.
- What do you like most about Duke so far?It is very hard for me to decide which would be the answer; the classes that I enjoyed so much, wonderful relationships and help I got through the contacts with faculty members, the strong sense of community that every member of the law school shares, great friends… I think I can just say that I liked Duke so much that I decided to continue studying here, and the best thing that ever happened to me last year was the school’s decision to accept me for the SJD candidacy!
- What is your plan after graduation? How do you think the LLM will help you with your career?I will stay at Duke for some more time, pursuing my SJD in the field of international arbitration. I will also return to my firm to actively practice international arbitration. I know I would have been able to do neither had it not been for the LLM at Duke.
- How many women judges do you currently have in South Korea? Given the prestigious status of being a judge, what made you decide to join private practice?There are currently around 400 women judges in Korea. Although there is no doubt that being a judge is an honor that cannot be compared to anything else, as Korean judges are subject to a rotation system that sends them to different parts of the country for certain periods of time, I was not sure whether I would be able to live apart from my kids after they reach their teens. Besides, since I always wanted to become an attorney at law and life as a litigator seemed very attractive to me after seven years of experience in court, I decided to start private practice earlier than I expected.
- What advice will you give to international students studying in American law schools?It would be fair to say that being a lawyer in one jurisdiction no longer means that you only need to know the law of your jurisdiction. Having a basic knowledge of the American law, as well as going through the experience of being taught law in the American way, will not only help you understand the American law, but also make you look at the law you are used to from a different perspective. This would help you greatly in pursuing a career that involves international practice. To achieve this, I would encourage international students to take an active role in the class they choose to take.