Koul moved to New Mexico after law school and worked diligently to find her place in the tight-knit legal community. She saw an opportunity to get involved in the Access to Justice projects coordinated by the state bar. Through this work, she connected with a number of State Bar of New Mexico Young Lawyers Division (SBNM YLD) leaders who recommended she run for a position with the Division’s Board. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Koul recently completed her term as Chair of the SBNM YLD and remains active on the Division’s Board as the Immediate Past Chair. “My two passions are public service and diversity initiatives and through the [SBNM YLD], I was able to participate in both of those,” said Koul.
Greg Gambill, District Representative to the ABA YLD for District 23, has worked closely with Koul at both the state and national levels. Gambill said of Koul, “She is someone who really understands what it takes to support people at the state level, to propel them and pipeline them into national positions of leadership.”
“I made sure everyone was informed and aware of the opportunities that existed. Opportunities are endless, but you must communicate to members and be transparent about everything going on,” said Koul. “I tried to be involved in the organization and implementation of our public service and member service projects on the local level. I worked to show the importance of the things I believe in—diversity and public service are two things I promoted when I was chair of SBNM YLD.”
“We had a very ambitious agenda at the beginning of her year as Chair, and we accomplished a ton,” said Gambill.
Among her initiatives, Koul co-chaired the Veterans Civil Justice Legal Initiative, a monthly clinic that provides pro bono civil legal service to veterans in New Mexico. She also facilitated collaboration between leaders from SBNM YLD and the diversity bars of the state. Koul also engaged in law student outreach and a pipeline initiative for diversity through mentoring and speed networking programs at the University of New Mexico.
Koul’s bar activities, however, do not end at the boundaries of New Mexico. She carried her passions to the national level through her involvement with the ABA. She wrote for The Affiliate for three years, serving as Associate Editor. She is a 2012–2014 ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section (RPTE) Fellow, Vice-Chair of the RPTE Community Outreach Subcommittee, Vice-Chair of the RPTE Uniform Laws Committee, and an ABA Presidential Appointee to the Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity.
“SBNM YLD and New Mexico in general have been very involved in the ABA and have a long tradition of involvement on the national level. We have done a fantastic job in implementing ABA YLD public service projects in New Mexico, like Wills for Heroes and Project Salute. All of those really fueled me to be involved on the local level and also apply for ABA YLD appointments,” noted Koul.
“It’s been a really fantastic outlet to give back and to promote public service for young lawyers here in New Mexico and at the national level,” she said.
Gambill, in his role as District Representative, is particularly appreciative of Koul’s support of ABA YLD activities during her tenure as SBNM YLD Chair. He emphasized that Koul “managed to make the connection between the affiliate organization and the ABA YLD very strong. This has carried over and we’re already seeing people making a habit of thinking about ways the Affiliate is working with the ABA on a continuing basis whether applying for awards or agreeing to participate in the Next Steps Diversity Challenge—I think under her strong leadership, she’s set the tone for future Boards in SBNM YLD.”
As for advice to other budding young lawyer leaders, Koul is quick to encourage them to find something they are passionate about and jump right in. “Just get involved, whether volunteering for just one event or through leadership positions. Once you get involved, you want to stay involved.”
Congratulations to Keya Koul on her outstanding accomplishments and for being named a National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award Finalist!
Nominations for the 2014 ABA YLD National Outstanding Lawyer Award are due August 31, 2014.