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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Q&A with Kim Cochran '13

Why did you choose to attend the South Carolina School of Law?  

Prior to coming to law school, I was working in Charlotte, North Carolina. I quickly fell in love with Charlotte so knew that I wanted to stay in the region. My younger sister was attending South Carolina as an undergraduate at the time so I was familiar with university. When I visited, I was really impressed with the school and the faculty and alumni. I thought it would be a great fit for me and it was. 

Were any family or friends surprised when you chose to pursue law? 

My dad is a lawyer, so maybe there's some family history that led me down this path, but prior to going to law school I was a teacher. I joke that I am still getting yelled at, but instead of by teenagers it’s adults now. I don't know that those closest to me were surprised when I went to law school. I've always been interested in advocacy and problem-solving, and those are big pieces of being a lawyer. 

What was your trajectory after law school? 

I started as an associate at Moore & Van Allen on the litigation team. As a big firm with sophisticated clients, I learned from a lot of great lawyers. While I was there, I had an opportunity to do a secondment, where my law firm lent me exclusively to Wells Fargo. The in-house path was really attractive to me, so I made the jump to the legal department at Wells Fargo. Now I’m an associate general counsel at Novant Health, focusing on corporate governance. It's a pretty fast-paced environment, but it's a small team made of great people. Although I have a focus area, I've appreciated the opportunity to be more of a generalist because we're a leaner team. That's been a cool challenge.  

What did you most enjoy about attending South Carolina Law?  

I loved my experience at USC law. I think I have a love of education generally – I've always enjoyed being a student. I know that may sound cliché because we all have our gripes about the work that comes with being a law student, but I just have a natural curiosity. And I'm grateful I had some professional experience before I went to law school. I think that gave me a little bit more life perspective on doing law school right. 

As a “non-traditional” student – someone that didn’t go straight from undergrad to law school – did you find it difficult to establish a community of peers?  

I think everyone was really welcoming. I think it's generally a friendly community and there was a lot of camaraderie. I think I have heard in the past that law schools are competitive, but I felt like it was really a collegial environment, where people were willing to help and collaborate with one another. It's nice to go to a place where you feel supported and like people are rooting for you.   

After roughly ten years in the field, do you still enjoy working in law? 

I definitely still find aspects really engaging that keep me interested in and enjoying the work. There's a balance maybe between having a niche and becoming really good at something and also opening yourself up to different angles and issues and fact patterns along the way that keeps things spicy. 

Are there any moments in your career so far that you look back on and are proud of? 

I feel like I have worked, particularly in private practice, on some big matters in terms of the dollar threshold involved in the lawsuit or just the nature of them. And I would count them as really proud moments, but when I was at Wells Fargo, I took leadership over our pro-bono program. When I was a teacher, I was doing hands-on work, and now I'm in a corporate world. I still consider my work helping people but it's in a much different way.  

Do you have any advice for current students? 

Be open-minded about career opportunities. I think we often envision a particular path after we graduate. I would also say I was often told, in the context of being a lawyer, that you should be willing to run into a burning building. Sometimes when there are big problems there are big opportunities to help. Tackling those issues head on is going to be your best learning experience and an opportunity for growth.  

What do you enjoy doing most – either personally or professionally? 

My husband and I love spending time with our dog, and we travel a lot – we're going to Croatia and Venice this year. We did an African safari a couple of years ago, which was fantastic. But probably what I enjoy the most is I play a lot of tennis and some soccer. 

Any final thoughts you’d like to share? 

I'm really proud to be an alumna of USC Law. It has opened a lot of doors for me, connected me with a lot of wonderful people, and set me up for success in my professional life. I'm really grateful and proud to be able to give back and hopefully allow the next generation to have that same experience that I had. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.