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Janet Kwuon lands on 2021 Top Women Lawyers list

McGeorge alumna Janet Kwuon

McGeorge alumna Janet Kwuon, '89, is a member of the executive committee, global governing board, finance committee, and talent committee at Reed Smith, one of the world's largest law firms, and is one of the Daily Journal's 2021 Top Women Lawyers in California.

Janet Kwuon, '89, was named to the 2021 Top Women Lawyers in California list published by the Daily Journal, California’s legal newspaper. The senior partner at Reed Smith LLP in Los Angeles was honored for her work in the firm's renowned global litigation disputes group and her leadership in its diversity and inclusion council.

Reed Smith is one of the largest law firms in the world with more than 1,600 lawyers in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The firm traces its roots back to the days of business tycoons Andrew Mellon and Andrew Carnegie and was founded in 1877 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Kwuon has worked for the firm for three decades, counting her service with San Francisco-based Crosby Heafey that was absorbed by the firm in 2001.

Kwuon recently served as trial counsel for the University of California, Los Angeles in a complex, multi-district litigation arising from a worldwide superbug infection outbreak at hospitals. The lawsuits were consolidated and resolved in Los Angeles Superior Court. Her other clients include many major pharmaceutical and medical device companies. In previous years, she has been a member of defense trial teams in heart valve, testosterone replacement therapy, breast implant, and diet drug litigations.

“I was the first in my extended family to become a lawyer. I benefited from many mentors who both trained me to be a good lawyer and also helped me navigate the law firm,” Kwuon said. “ I strive to do the same for others, particularly our women and diverse lawyers. Although more women than men have been graduating from law school for years, only 22% of law firm equity partners are women and only 3% are women of color. We all have to rally, support, push, and pull together – even more now during the pandemic.”

While raising a family, Kwuon limited herself to client work but has now leapt into Reed Smith's management ranks. She is currently a member of the firm's executive committee, global governing board, finance committee, and talent committee. She previously chaired the firm's audit committee and served as the Los Angeles office's managing partner.

"I was a late bloomer in leadership, but I started catching up around 2017," Kwuon told the Daily Journal. "I realized even my one voice could help shape firm-wide decision making and make me a better mentor for diverse and women lawyers in the firm." Of note, Janet often teams up with Cristina Shea, ’92, Reed Smith’s Global Chair, Women's Initiative Network ("WINRS").

Kwuon, a Korean-American, is now the most senior woman of color in firm management. Under her leadership, Reed Smith has partnered with Fortune 1000 general counsel to form The Alliance for Asian American Justice. The pro bono group offers legal services to victims of anti-Asian hate crimes, which have recently been on the rise.

"This firm is exercising its social consciousness, and my active role here is to be visible and supportive of all diverse talent," she told the Daily Journal.