Ruth Kim is general counsel at St. Louis-based FleishmanHillard Inc., a communications firm specializing in public relations, public affairs, reputation management and social content. Founded in 1946, the company employs about 2,500 people at more than 80 offices in the United States and overseas, serving corporations, brands and organizations.
The firm is a unit of Omnicom Group Inc., a publicly held company that acquired FleishmanHillard in 1997. Chairman of the company is John Graham. Dave Senay is president and chief executive officer.
Kim heads a team consisting of two in-house lawyers, a ­paralegal and an executive assistant. She occasionally supervises contractor lawyers. For big legal tasks, she has access to the legal department at parent company Omnicom.
Kim said her team typically handles client, vendor and third-party contracting matters. They also field legal strategy questions.
For attorneys considering a job move in-house, she offered some advice: “Understand your company and the working relationships,” she said. “Listen well.”
Kim relies on various law firms as needed and consults with outside counsel on matters including intellectual property, government contracting, regulatory compliance, litigation and certain employment issues. Firms she turns to include Bryan Cave, Davis & Gilbert and Latham & Watkins. The outside firms usually bill on an hourly basis at negotiated rates. Other types of billing arrangements are typically suited to large, heavy-volume legal engagements, she said, adding the outside legal work for her company does not fit that criterion.
Kim gets to the office at about 9 a.m. and generally leaves at around 6:30 p.m., but her day is often extended by meetings with offices “on the other side of the world.” She’ll take her laptop home for a “couple hours of work as needed.”
Each day varies widely and usually involves contract negotiations, meetings with senior managers or other colleagues, ethics and compliance activities, and interaction with outside counsel.
She said the best part of the job is working with colleagues “who are great at what they do.”
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Kim received a juris doctor degree from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in 1984.
Following law school, she worked for the law firms Lewis & Rice, Suelthaus & Kaplan and Gallop Johnson & Neuman, where she developed particular skills in corporate and transactional work and health care law. In 1993, she joined Spectrum Healthcare Services (later Valitas Healthcare Services) as assistant general counsel and was promoted to general counsel in 1999. Kim joined FleishmanHillard as general counsel in 2007.
Born in Manhattan, Kan., Kim likes to travel with her husband, David Hamilton, managing partner of Hazelwood & Weber in St. Charles, Mo. She enjoys reading and spending time with their three dogs “and a few thoroughbred horses.”
LAST BOOK AND MOVIE
The last book Kim read was “The Round House,” a novel by Louise Erdrich and winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 2012. The last movie she saw was “Enough Said,” starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.