Get to know KIM L. KIRN, a full-time mediator and arbitrator located right here in St. Louis, who has dedicated over three decades to working in the legal system.
What Do You What To Be When You Grow Up?
Although she has spent her entire professional career in law, that commitment actually came on a whim when she did an interview with a local newspaper.
“I was valedictorian of my high school class, so the local newspaper, The Perry County Monitor, came and did an interview with me and I was chatting away, I am not sure what I said, I guess I must had said something about being interested in law school,” Kim said. “The newspaper came out that week with the headline on the front page, above the fold, ‘SV Valedictorian Plans Law Career.’” I really had not planned a law career, but it turned out to be true!
From there, Kim went on to study Political Science and Pre-Law in her undergrad at University of Missouri. Dr. Fred Spiegel, who taught in the political science department at Mizzou in the ‘70s and ‘80s, played a significant role in helping Kim get into a law school program that was the right fit for her. Thanks to his mentorship, Kim was accepted and later attended law school at Notre Dame.
After graduating, Kim gained wide-reaching experiences in her legal practice areas working with the mega firm Lord Bissell & Brook (now Locke Lord) in Chicago, where she spent six years. Kim then moved to Springfield to relocate for her husband’s job.
In Springfield, Kim received a unique opportunity writing legislation during a legislative session when she worked for the Illinois State Senate as counsel to the Judiciary Committee. This opportunity led Kim to work with Dawn Clark Netsch, the Illinois State Comptroller from 1991-1994. Dawn was the first woman elected to a statewide office in Illinois. “I felt like I had “arrived” at this point. I had an office with a window at the state capitol!.”
After her time in politics, Kim became University Legal Counsel at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. This position ended up having the largest impact on her career. Kim took on a case where the university was a residuary beneficiary of a donor’s estate.
During the process of verifying of the estate’s value, a dispute arose, and Kim suggested using a mediator to settle the case, instead of spending more and more time and money debating the value of the assets and flying in experts. Kim had the chance to observe the mediation process firsthand and her interest was piqued. Ultimately, the dispute settled with the help of a very able mediator which led to the single largest donation the university had ever received.
Kim notes this case as the most pivotal case in her career. “We were able to take the Donor’s bequest and spend it on kids who needed scholarship money to come to college,” Kim said. “I just felt incredible gratitude that I was able to help make that happen.”
Transition to Mediation & Arbitration
Kim’s experience at SIUE led her down the path of becoming a full-time mediator and joining US Arbitration & Mediation — something she considers the best decision she has ever made.
“I was excited to join the team at US A&M under the founder Mike Geigerman. At the time I joined their team they were looking to expand their reach in the Illinois market and also wanted to elevate women in the mediation and arbitration industry.”
When reflecting on what led to her success early on as a mediator with US A&M, Kim points back to her diverse 20+ years background in the legal industry.
“I think the smartest thing I ever did to become a mediator – and I didn’t do this on purpose – was to spend a good amount of time in a big firm, a good amount of time in-house as general counsel and a good amount of time in a plaintiff’s solo practitioner or small office, because those are three dramatically different environments,” Kim said. “Those three environments, many times, come together in a mediation.”
The Person Behind The Mediator
Outside of work, Kim found a passion for playing tennis.
“I played tennis for years and years and years on a United States Tennis Association team.” Kim said. “In fact, my team went to national’s one year.”
Now, that her “professional” tennis days are over, she enjoys family bike rides, walking her dog and hiking. Kim went on a recent trip hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. perhaps the most difficult part of that trip was not the hiking but corralling her two sons who hiked it with her.
When not being active outdoors, you can find Kim watching “Schitt’s Creek” and doing her best Moira Rose impression, sewing or listening to podcasts.
Both in the office and at home, Kim is driven–her risk-taking mindset allows her to be the best at what she does.
Skilled mediators like Kim can help resolve a variety of legal issues without litigating in court. If you are in need of a mediator, contact KIM L. KIRN today.