Catharina Y. Min
Catharina Y. Min

Catharina Y. Min, Reed Smith’s Silicon Valley office managing partner and leader of its Korea practice, has been named U.S.-based vice chair of the firm’s global business and finance department. She joins partners Scott A. Pearman in London and Michael Pepper in Hong Kong as the three new vice chairs of this global department, with David J. Boutcher in London serving as chair.

Min told WIPL her interest in global legal work came about naturally. “Part of me always thought I wanted to do something international, whatever that meant,” she said. Min grew up in Korea and came to the United States when she was 12. After law school, she spent four years based in Korea working for another firm. “I got deeply involved in the Korean business environment.”

However, M&A wasn’t always part of her career plan. “I thought I wanted to be employment lawyer, but I started working on some M&A deals as a summer associate,” she said. “It was very collaborative, and we were building something rather than coming in when something has gone wrong. While it can be very adversarial, in theory and in many ways in practice, the goals are the same—getting the deal done. It’s fun to work on these things, since you feel like you are achieving something where both sides are winners.”

Throughout her career, Min has seen many women attorneys start out in M&A, then switch to other areas. “Some wanted to switch to something with fewer peaks and valleys. That continues to be frankly one of impediments to the M&A world. Most people still think of this type of practice as a very old boys’ network, and women think it may not be as welcoming to them,” Min said. “That happens, but a lot of times, being a woman has not been a disadvantage. I’ve tried not to see that glass as half empty,” said Min, who pointed out that she must grapple within being Asian as well as a woman, which carries its own set of stereotypes.

She offered some advice for women attorneys. While many talk about a lack of mentors for women, no one can wait for someone to knock on their door and offer to mentor them. “That won’t happen,” she said. “Everyone is so busy, so you have to be a mentee or mentorable.”

Networking is also key, particularly in a field like M&A. “Keep in contact with people, find things you have in common and continue to fertilize your contacts and networks so your circle of influence continues to grow,” said Min. For Min, it’s a natural fit to see what worries people and then try to help them. “They might want to meet a customer, so if I can, I’ll try to arrange a meeting and see if there is interest on other side.”

She also suggested ways that in-house counsel can help further careers of women associates. “Try to identify women associates and work with them to give them a chance,” said Min, who is the mother of two daughters. “Then, when they do a good job, send a complimentary note to the managing partner. That goes a long way, and law firms listen to that.”

Min practices corporate and M&A law with an emphasis in representing both U.S. and international clients in mergers and acquisitions, private financings, joint ventures, strategic alliances, corporate partnering, securities offerings and other corporate transactions. A recipient of the 2013 Debra Zumwalt Pioneer Award, presented annually as part of InsideCounsel’s Transformative Leadership Awards West program in honor of leaders in women’s career advancement , she also represents emerging companies in general corporate matters and venture capital financings. In addition, she has extensive experience representing Asian clients doing business in the United States.