Q&A with Paul Hastings' Global Diversity Chair, K Whitner
June 21, 2016
Paul Hastings is excited to bring you a Q&A session with K Whitner, chair of the Firm’s Global Diversity Committee, conducted by Rhonda Mims, Managing Director of Corporate Social Responsibilities.
Rhonda Mims and K Whitner
RM: Thanks for chatting with me today, K! We are looking forward to learning about your career in law, path to partnership and what drove you to get involved with various committee roles. Can you speak about what drew you to a career in the legal industry and the beginning of your legal career?
KW: Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer but was only familiar with what was shown in movies and on TV shows; so, being a successful lawyer only meant being a trial lawyer. Upon graduating from Yale Law School, I was presented with two fulltime job offers—from the firm where I had been a summer associate and from Paul Hastings. I decided to join the firm where I had been a summer associate, which I now reflect back on noting; Paul Hastings is where I should have been all along.”
RM: What factored into your decision to later join Paul Hastings?
KW: Paul Hastings allows people the opportunity to come here with a clean slate and create their own destiny. There is no blueprint for being at Paul Hastings, which enabled me to continue pursuing outside interests while working toward partnership—including my involvement with a recording studio, a record label, and a logistics company. Through those outside opportunities, I learned lessons, which I still apply to my legal practice and client interactions.
RM: How has your career as a lawyer impacted your personal life?
KW: As the husband of a fellow lawyer, and the father of two daughters, I am driven by my goal of simply being the best I can be. Whether in the workplace or at home, I strive to maximize myself in everything. I admit that, despite all of the long hours we both work, sharing a profession with my wife has been very rewarding. Appreciating the pressures, hard work and dedication that come with being a successful professional and understanding the time commitments that inevitably follow is something we share and pass on to our daughters as life lessons.
RM: What advice can you give to law students transitioning from student to law firm professional?
KW: I encourage both recruits and young associates alike to forge their own paths because there’s no one way to be successful. I am a strong advocate for individuality and doing what is unique to one’s own wants and needs. Achieving “balance” is a personal endeavor. Along those lines, a satisfying career is to be the best lawyer you individually can be, while maintaining a personal sense of satisfaction and the results and success will follow.
RM: Reflecting on your career, can you summarize the impact Paul Hastings has had?
KW: Although the path to partnership was not an easy one, I am satisfied with where I have gone so far. Working at Paul Hastings, a firm that not only accepts individuality, but encourages it and that believes in transparency, provided an environment that allows me to reach my full potential. I don't know that I would still be practicing law had I not been at Paul Hastings.
RM: What does diversity mean to you?
KW: Diversity means embracing and recognizing the value in all the differences amongst us that make us one firm, on society, one humanity.