Section Spotlight: Catherine Lee, Labor & Employment Law
Article Date: Friday, November 19, 2010
Written By: Michael O. Young, Jr.
It is not surprising that Catherine Lee holds leadership roles within the North Carolina Bar Association and the American Bar Association. She’s exceptionally focused yet charismatic, and although a relatively new lawyer, successfully balances a variety of professional activities and a thriving practice.
Catherine graduated from the University of Texas law school in 2006, and, since beginning her practice with a large, Raleigh-based law firm, has distinguished herself as one of North Carolina’s rising stars.
Catherine is remarkably active as a lawyer and as a citizen.
Although many would set their volunteer activities aside during these difficult economic times, Catherine maintains her commitment to her community and provides pro bono services through Legal Aid of North Carolina. She also supports the men and women of the Armed Forces, as an ombudsman for the National Guard Reserve.
With a track-record impressive to both clients and colleagues, Catherine earned the Charles F. Blanchard Outstanding Young Lawyer Award from the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in 2009. In Catherine’s current employment and labor practice she splits her time between counseling and litigation, and says she finds both areas equally rewarding.
Catherine’s genuine interest in people fuels her counseling success. She enjoys “getting to know [her] client’s business almost better than they do,”– an opportunity she humbly suggests as necessary to an employment law practice. She does so by striving to understand and appreciate more than the legal challenges of their businesses, but each client’s particular business model and “market-culture,” as well. Client focus seems a signature-trait of Lee’s code of conduct since she applies that approach to her litigation practice, as well. Insightfully, Catherine says that although an employment law practice generally tends to be reactionary, the regular review of a client’s actual human resource practices is a far more effective tactic. She explains it helps avoid litigation and preserves helpful records when that eventuality does occur.
Catherine is also involved in her client’s professional organizations. She seems confident that her affiliation with organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management, for example, although it geared towards human resources professionals rather than lawyers, is immensely helpful for her understanding of how to simultaneously enhance her client’s business-practices, protect their legal interests and deftly avert potential liability.
Catherine is undeniably fond of the unique relationship which employment lawyers share with their clients; she excitedly professes, “It’s as though you’re managing your clients’ most valuable assets.” It is easy to see how Catherine’s derives fulfillment from her work, since her initial attraction to the practice was “the real, tangible effect [she] could have on a [client’s] business.”
Recently, Catherine has transitioned to Allen and Pinnix, P.A. to help build their employment law practice. By moving to a smaller firm – one with fewer than 10 attorneys – Catherine hopes for more courtroom exposure than was possible at her larger firm. She also anticipates expanding the scope of her practice. Although she eagerly anticipates the next step, Catherine still affectionately looks back, recalling all of the “amazingly positive energy,” contained in the work environment at her first law firm.
Michael O. Young, Jr. is a 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law. He currently awaits the results of the Maryland Bar Exam.
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