Affiliate Leader Spotlight: Keya Koul

Volume 37, Number 3

By

Sam Edmunds is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate with the Eagan, Minnesota, firm of Campbell Knutson P.A.

Education

Keya Koul’s family is from India. Though Keya was born in Philadelphia, she moved back to India for a few years during her childhood. She recalls visiting Srinagar, Kashmir, in the valley of the Himalayan Mountains, every summer while growing up. Keya speaks Hindi and Kashmiri, along with Spanish and some French and Arabic.

Keya received her undergraduate degree from Smith College in Massachusetts. She graduated in 1996 with a major in Spanish. Not yet ready to end her education, Keya enrolled in a Masters program at the University of California, Los Angeles. She graduated in 2000 with a Masters Degree in Medieval Spanish Literature.

Before law school, Keya developed a successful career in communications. She managed a newsroom in Los Angeles for a company called PR Newswire. At PR Newswire, Keya managed a newsroom of editors who processed press releases from publicly traded companies and distributed them to various disclosure points. Despite her thriving career in media, Keya felt like she needed a profession or degree that could help her get involved with international organizations or advocacy work. Law school was the logical next step for Keya.

Keya wanted a law school with a convenient location and a reputation for quality practical legal education. Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles was a perfect fit. During law school, Keya participated in two externships that took up most of her time. The first externship was at the Screen Actors Guild and the second was for the employment litigation department at 20th Century Fox. These externships provided practical experience while also providing credit towards law school. During her legal education Keya continued her work at PR Newswire. Her Juris Doctor was awarded in 2007.

 

Practice

Keya loved living in Los Angeles for 10 years but also was eager to relocate to a place with better quality of life and a lower cost of living. New Mexico called to Keya and she responded. Keya didn’t waste any time when she moved to New Mexico just a week after graduation. Keya passed the New Mexico bar examination in 2008 and was promptly admitted to the State Bar of New Mexico.

At her day job, Keya practices in the areas of real estate and bankruptcy. After receiving her law license, she started working for a solo bankruptcy practitioner. But Keya was soon offered a position with the Denver-based law firm, Castle Stawiarski, LLC. After just a year-and-a-half, Keya was promoted to the position of Associate Managing Attorney. She manages five attorneys and is second in command of the firm’s Albuquerque office. While Keya’s litigation practice focuses on real estate and bankruptcy, she is working hard to build an entertainment law practice for the firm in New Mexico.

The Bar Association

As she began her career as a lawyer, Keya was looking to meet people and get more involved. The State Bar of New Mexico offered those opportunities. Keya noticed an advertisement in the bar bulletin for an event called the “Equal Justice for All Ball,” which is an annual fundraiser for free legal services in New Mexico. Keya quickly met Martha Chicoski, who is now the Immediate Past Chair of the New Mexico Young Lawyers Division (NM YLD). The NM YLD was about to hold elections for the YLD Board when Martha asked Keya if she was interested in running for the open position of Director at Large Position Number One. Keya won the seat in a contested election. In her Director position, Keya sat on the Board with two other Directors at Large, various regional Directors, and the Vice-Chair, Chair-Elect, Chair, and Immediate Past-Chair of the NM YLD.

For 2011, Keya was elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the NM YLD. The Vice-Chair position doesn’t automatically ascend to the positions of Chair-Elect and Chair, but Keya was nominated and voted in as Chair-Elect for 2012. She will automatically become Chair for the 2013 bar year.

In her work for the NM YLD, Keya has focused primarily on two projects. First, Keya chairs a project called “Albuquerque Law Day Call In Program.” This is a statewide program in which young lawyers organize volunteer attorneys to give free legal advice to people that call in. The event occurs in the spring, sometime around Law Day. Keya also co-chairs the YLD’s University of New Mexico School of Law Mentorship Program. The Mentorship Program pairs young lawyers with law students according to interests. It includes an orientation with a CLE during which the attorneys receive ethics and professionalism credit. Keya then does follow-up with students and mentors so that she can report back to the law school dean. Keya also chairs the NM YLD speed networking event, which gives law students a chance to practice their networking skills with practicing attorneys. She also volunteers for all of the public service projects, including “Wills for Heroes” and “Serving Our Seniors” and participated in the launch of “Project Salute” at the Fall Conference in Seattle.

ABA Involvement

Keya says that she decided to become involved with the ABA YLD after encouragement from her friend and colleague, Roxanna Chacon. Roxanna was very involved in ABA YLD, serving as District Representative and on the ABA YLD Council. Encouraged by Roxanna, Keya applied for an appointment for the 2010–2011 bar year and was appointed to The Affiliate Newsletter Team. On The Affiliate Keya is serving her second term as an Assistant Editor. Although Keya will soon age out of the ABA YLD, she plans to continue her involvement in the ABA and will seek a position in the ABA Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law Section.

When I asked Roxanna Chacon to say a few words about Keya, she said, “Because of Keya’s strong dedication to public service and her demonstrated leadership abilities, she is an asset to both the New Mexico YLD and the ABA YLD. This was shown when Keya received the New Mexico Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award.” Although Keya has many accomplishments already under her belt, her career in law and her service to the bar are really just beginning. It is clear that we can expect many great things from Keya in the years to come.

 

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