New at the U: Meet Professor Christine Kim

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law welcomes two new faculty members to campus this fall.

Professors Young Ran (Christine) Kim  and Matthew Tokson bring new expertise to the law school’s outstanding faculty. 

Kim moves to Utah after most recently living and teaching in New York. Her area of interest is international tax policy and taxation on complicated investment structures. Her doctoral project is built upon an insight that although cross-border investments by private equity funds (PEFs) raise unique policy concerns, there has been relatively little study for PEFs. In a series of her recent papers, she analyzes the current international tax regime with regard to the taxation of PEFs, and suggests a new approach for PEFs, which will defer to the OECD’s basic policy on the taxation of funds while creating an implementation strategy using the exchange of information among tax authorities

She is a J.S.D. candidate in tax law at the New York University School of Law. She received her Bachelor of Law degree summa cum laude from Seoul National University College of Law in South Korea (2002), where she graduated first in her class and received the President of Seoul National University Award. She earned her LL.M. from Harvard Law School (2012), where she was awarded the Landon H. Gammon Fellowship for academic excellence.

Kim is a member of the Korean Bar since 2007 and the New York Bar since 2013. She has worked at Yulchon in Korea (2007-2011), Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C. (2012-2013, 2014, 2017), and Sullivan & Cromwell in New York (2015). She was selected as an Up and Coming Capital Markets Lawyer by Chambers Global (2008) and by Chambers Asia (2010), and won several notable tax cases at the Supreme Court of Korea.

Kim discussed her relocation and research plans in a recent Q&A with the college. (Editor’s note: Tokson is profiled separately here).

Q: What drew you to the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law? 

A: I have always wanted to be a tax law teacher, and I believed that the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law is a unique institution to pursue my academic career because of its impressive commitment to tax law and the unparalleled reputation of its global legal education initiative. As a lawyer who has practiced both in the U.S. and South Korea, I thought that I would be a great resource for the U to develop its U Asia Campus. Moreover, I was very impressed by the student body and the faculty members during my hiring process.


Q:  Describe your research expertise. What area of research will you be diving into as you start your new position?

A: My research interests involve a diverse range of topics in tax law. I am particularly interested in researching international tax policy, business taxation, and tax and development. I have a couple of works in progress, among which I would like to share my research on private equity funds. I examine the current rules that apply to PEFs in bilateral and multilateral settings in a series of articles. The first paper, Carried Interest and Beyond: The Nature of Private Equity Investment and Its International Tax Implications, which will be forthcoming in the Virginia Tax Review, relates to a bilateral analysis. I question the view that treats PEFs as passive investors, suggest a new classification of various cross-border investments, propose a new pass-through tax system applicable to international tax, and analyze possible revenue effects on relevant countries. In my next work, I will analyze international tax implications on multilateral investments by PEFs, particularly focusing on tax treaties and pass-through taxation.

Q:  You’ve had many interesting experiences along your path to now working at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. How have those experiences prepared you for your new role at the U?

A: I earned my first law degree, Bachelor of Law, as an undergraduate degree from Seoul National University (SNU) College of Law in South Korea, where I graduated summa cum laude. I was fascinated by tax law during my undergraduate studies, and decided to pursue a Masters at SNU. I then joined Yulchon, a major law firm in Seoul, to gain practical tax law experience. At Yulchon, I was a recognized transactional lawyer by Chambers Global and Chambers Asia and won several high-profile tax cases as a lead litigator before the Korean Supreme Court. Then I wanted to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complicated tax structures involved in those cases, such as derivatives and private equity funds (“PEFs”), which are structures originally developed in more advanced economies. I, therefore, pursued an LL.M. at HLS with Landon H. Gammon Fellowship for outstanding achievement in the LL.M. program, followed by a J.S.D. in tax law at NYU Law. At the same time, I continued practicing tax law in leading U.S. law firms, such as Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C. and Sullivan & Cromwell in New York, which has equipped me with the necessary experience and skills to teach and research U.S. tax law and international tax policy.

Q:  With many interesting experiences in your portfolio, what is one of the most important pieces of career advice you received along the way? What advice do you give students on how to move forward to have a successful career after law school that you will incorporate into your teaching practices here?

A: It is difficult to choose just one piece of advice that I want to share with my students, so I would like to share a couple of lessons that I have learned from my practice experience. First, be proactive. Focus your time and energy on things you can control. For example, you might want to get a good assignment as a junior associate, but more often than not you cannot control it. However, you will be surprised how often you can develop your matter into a more interesting one by being proactive. And once you realize what you want to do in your life, don’t let yourself get distracted by doubting yourself. Instead, just make your best efforts to pursue your goal. Second, be thorough in your work. Pay extra attention to your writing, research, and calculation. This is especially important for junior lawyers. Third, be connected with people at work. Practicing law entails service, so display a good attitude, such as attentiveness and enthusiasm, to your clients. And you will be working as a team in many cases. Being a good colleague not only helps you become a better lawyer, but it also makes the workplace a more enjoyable environment for you on a daily basis. The ability to build and keep working relationships will be your valuable assets.

Q: Outside of work, what do you like to do?

A: I like traveling, listening to music, going to concerts, and watching movies. I am fond of exploring the national parks in Utah and ready to enjoy the best powder snow on earth in this coming winter.