Edward T. Kang serves as the managing partner of Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt LLC (KHF), with offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Edward devotes his practice to business litigation and other litigation matters involving business entities and entrepreneurs. He regularly tries cases, including jury trials. He focuses on cases related to business divorce, business torts (such as tortious interference, unfair competition, and breach of fiduciary duty), contract disputes, and civil RICO. Edward frequently handles, usually on behalf of plaintiffs, “bet-the-company litigation.” KHF is a boutique law firm established in 2013 by a close-knit group of lawyers focused on providing effective and value-driven legal services.
Micah Buchdahl (MB): What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?
Edward Kang (EK): I would have pursued a career in management consulting. I was a consultant before becoming a lawyer. Being a lawyer was more fulfilling for me. However, my management consulting experience has provided a necessary perspective in regard to understanding how successful (and unsuccessful) businesses function.
MB: Name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader. Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
EK: Although I did not appreciate when I was a kid, my father had a big impact in my life. He was stoic. I saw him only once a week as he left for work before I got up and came home after I went to bed. One of the things I’ve learned from him by watching him is being responsible. He took his responsibilities seriously and carried out his responsibilities without delegating to others.
MB: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
EK: Speak the truth no matter what. I understand the sometimes-necessary white lies (or “gift” as Gerry Spence calls it in his book “How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere…). With that “gift” being the exception, I think speaking the truth will help every leader.
MB: What advice would you give a new managing partner?
EK: Get an excellent office manager for handling all non-legal work, including administrative work (billing, office management, etc.) and marketing. Investing in an excellent office manager will pay dividends immediately by giving you more time to focus on legal matters. This is true even if you are the only lawyer at the firm. A great lawyer prefers to spend the majority of his or her time actually practicing law. The better your non-lawyer staff is, the more effective and efficient your law firm will be.
MB: What are the most important/difficult decisions you make as a leader of your firm?
EK: Hiring good people, including non-lawyers, and firing those who don’t fit in with the firm’s system. There are times when you will need to fire someone who is good to you but bad for the firm. Although firing someone is never easy, you have to make the decision and fire the person. You cannot be afraid to admit your mistakes sometimes. You also should hire the people who will best fit with the spirit and culture of your law firm.
MB: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
EK: Honesty. If you have a reputation for honesty, everything else will come that much easier.
MB: What is the biggest challenge facing law firms today?
EK: The practice of law is becoming increasingly commoditized. As a result, the amount of the lawyer’s fee sometimes becomes the only differentiating factor from other lawyers. Getting new clients has become more difficult —doing a good job for your clients in and of itself is no longer sufficient as clients expect more from you. “How to differentiate your practice from others” has been a frequently discussed topic for some time now. While I don’t think there is one answer to this question, a successful manager should have a plan about how to differentiate his or her practice.
MB: What does the legal profession need to do to improve opportunities for diverse lawyers?
EK: Hire more diverse lawyers. You always hear excuses as to why a law firm is not diverse. The truth is that if you provide an opportunity and an environment, it is not a difficult thing to make sure your firms’ attorneys are diverse. I also believe that a diverse firm is a stronger firm—getting a wider range of experiences to draw from. Our firm is built on diversity. We are very active in many organizations dedicated to improving lawyer diversity, including NAMWOLF, NAPABA, and the Barristers among them. It is great to see many in-house counsel and corporate legal departments insisting on diversity in selecting outside counsel—that is the only way to truly force the issue with some.
MB: What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
EK: Wilkes on Trial by Charles Sevilla. I’d read this book many years ago. I’ve read it again this year. It’s a fun read.
MB: If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?
EK: W. A. Mozart.
About the Author
Micah Buchdahl is an attorney who works with law firms on marketing and business development, and is a past chair of the ABA Law Practice Division. Micah is a past editor-in-chief of Law Practice Today. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 856-234-4334, and on Twitter at @mbuchdahl.