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VOL. 133 | NO. 12 | Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kuo Brings ‘Power Is Female’ Platform To Role as President of Women Attorneys Group

By Michael Waddell

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Incoming Association for Women Attorneys president Eileen Kuo sees women changing how the game is played in the field of law and redefining what it means to be leaders.


Kuo will be sworn in as the 2018 AWA president on Wedesday, Feb. 7, at the 38th annual AWA Banquet to be held Downtown at 409 S. Main St.

Claudia Haltom will be honored with the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award for outstanding achievement in the legal profession. 

“Eileen is a dynamic and creative person and lawyer, and she will bring those qualities to her presidency,” said Diana Comes, outgoing AWA president and attorney with Butler Snow LLP. “I’m excited to see the AWA change and grow under her leadership.”

As a lawyer with the Jackson Lewis PC management-side labor and employment law firm, Kuo represents employers in employment discrimination litigation, harassment and retaliation claims among other cases.

Over her career, she has managed training on employer issues, including sexual harassment, and has experience working with health benefit plans.

Kuo joined the AWA in 2015 and has been one of the chairs of the AWA’s CLE Committee every year since. She said it’s an honor to be selected as president of the AWA.

“These are all women that I really look up to, people who have blazed the trail in Memphis. Regardless of what stage in their career they are in, all of our members are the finest people I know in Memphis.”

Kuo’s platform theme, “Power is Female,” is especially timely right now considering recent headlines, with the AWA striving to support women in achieving their goals as lawyers and also emboldening their voices in the legal and justice system.

“The legal field has been so male-dominated for such a long time,” Kuo said. “Law school demographics have seen a big change from years ago, and now law school enrollment is closer to a 50-50 male/female split. But if you look at upper management in law firms, it’s still predominantly male.”

The number of female partners is increasing, but it’s still disproportionately men.

“So part of my platform is to give female attorneys the tools to rise to the top of a law firm and become partners, equity partners, and managing partners if that’s the track that they choose,” Kuo said, “and also to empower and highlight women in our membership who have started their own law firms.”

A focal point of the AWA, a 200-member bar association of Memphis and Shelby County founded in 1979, is how attorneys’ work affects women in the community. The organization strives to provide better access to legal services for those in the community that need them most.

Another goal for Kuo for this year is to continue the work of the AWA in highlighting and supporting the many ways that its members embody and redefine leadership. Whether as founders/managing partners of their own law practices, legislators, judges, or new lawyers, she sees women changing how the game is played.

“For the past few years, Eileen has, as co-chair of the CLE Committee, organized exciting and innovative programs, including the AWA’s inaugural Women in Law & Leadership Conference, that empower our members to achieve their goals,” Comes said.

Kuo, a native of Boulder, Colorado, received her J.D. in 2008 from Duke University School of Law and completed an LLM in international and comparative law in 2009. She moved to Memphis to take her first job out of law school with Kiesewetter Wise Kaplan Prather PLC, where she handled employment discrimination litigation.

A Cordova resident, Kuo is active in the arts – playing the piano, bass, and guitar and acting in community theater. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and also enjoys training in muay thai and jiujitsu.

She served as vice president of AWA in 2016 and president-elect in 2017.

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