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Professional Spotlight: Jandi Keum Founder of EDI Section of the El Paso County Bar Association

Jandi Keum practices family law in Colorado Springs as an associate at Modern Family Law. Prior to practicing law, Jandi was a domestic relations and small claims mediator, a Spanish-English interpreter, and a teacher. She is the founder and chairperson for the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Section of the El Paso County Bar Association (EPCBA).



What made you decide to pursue a career in law?


I have vague memories of writing a law school application that was centered around my desire to improve access to justice for people from underserved communities. At that time, because of my life experiences, I wanted to become an attorney to provide Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals with improved access to the legal system. Ambitious, I know.


However, after I graduated from law school, I wanted to stay far away from the practice of law. Instead, I taught, I interpreted, and I mediated. While I enjoyed mediation, it was difficult breaking into the field and making enough to live on. When the opportunity to practice family law arose, I decided to go for it, and I’ve been practicing ever since.


What is the best part of your job?


I like my colleagues. At least for me, being a family law attorney can be emotionally taxing. As a newer attorney, I value having trustworthy mentors around me, so I’m lucky that my colleagues have provided both the mentorship and the stress relief.


As to clients and cases, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking of how satisfying today was for me. This morning, I had a successful Final Orders hearing for a relatively simple case. Even so, when the judge gave the decree of dissolution, I saw the joy on my client’s face when he realized that he finally had stability for his children, after almost a decade of uncertainty. Both the expression on his face and his gratitude toward me reminded me of why this job is worth doing.


What do you like to do for fun?


Growing up, I thought I would grow up to be a classical pianist and music theory professor, but now, I just take opera lessons on the weekends. I’ve also been taking French lessons, and I’m in a Spanish-language book club that’s been meeting biweekly since 2020. And finally, my mom is concerned that I am too obsessed with my dogs.


It may sound like a lot, but I think these hobbies and spending time with my dogs help me remember that I am not my job and that there’s more to me than being an attorney.




What inspired you to start the new EDI Section of the El Paso County Bar Association?


When I first became an attorney, I joined the Colorado Bar Association (CBA) and the EPCBA, and several affinity bars. I did this to network, because I’m an immigrant without connections to Colorado, and because I went to law school in North Carolina. For context, I personally believe networking isn’t just about improving your professional standing – it’s also about finding like-minded people who will make the difficult days more bearable, and who will be there to cover you when you have a human moment.


As I participated in these groups, I realized that the best way for me to get involved would be to do so locally, with the EPCBA. The EPCBA already does great things, and the board is very supportive of EDI values and efforts. However, I felt that there was a vacuum that needed to be filled, to not only touch on EDI values but to bring them front and center for the benefit of the community.


What was the process for starting a new section of the bar?


It took a little while, but the EPCBA board has been genuinely helpful throughout the process. To start, I reached out to a couple board members, and we then discussed my vision for the new Section over a video call. The Section was approved in concept at the following board meeting, and I am being trained as a Section Leader in October.



What does the EDI Section hope to accomplish in its first year?


We just co-hosted a CLE on practical skills for family law practitioners who are working with parents of LGBT children. Right now, the Section is just me, so what I hope to accomplish this year is 1) grow membership; 2) host another CLE, possibly on disability etiquette; and 3) host a Lunar New Year networking event in Colorado Springs by collaborating with APABA.


How can people get involved with the new EDI section?


People can join the Section through the EPCBA website, but I’m also happy to help facilitate that process if people reach out to me at jandi.keum@modernfamilylaw.com.




 


Aili Miyake is a 2L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (DU) focused on studying civil rights and labor law. She is the Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association at DU and is interning for APABA Colorado. Outside of school, Aili enjoys painting, baking, and ice skating.


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