John K. Lee, Senior Vice President & Associate General Counsel, Bank of Hope
John Lee-HEADSHOT-120x120

Dear ACC Southern California Colleagues,

Each October 1, the Chapter’s Executive Officers change, distinguished Board members hit their term limit, and a new crop of directors and future leaders join the Board.  It’s this rotation that keeps the Chapter strong and progressive.  As for my first message as your incoming President, I want to thank and acknowledge the following Directors who have served you honorably and volunteered thousands of hours over the last 6 years to better the Chapter:  Jeff Compangano, Word & Brown, Danielle Van Lier, SAG-AFTRA, Cary Berger, Artisanal Brewers Collective, Lidia Klinger, Wells Fargo Bank, Allen Peters, Northrup Grumman, and Joseph Treves, Undrsnd.  Without their dedicated service, the Chapter would not be at the top of its game.  You will be missed and we hope you remain active in the Chapter.  Second, I want to welcome the 2017 class of Directors to the Board:  Kush Desai, Beach Body, Relani Belous, Penthouse, Christina Zabat-Fran, St. John Knits, Nichole Nakagawa, SAG-AFTRA, and Ellen Yang, Penske Motor Group.  I know you will do many great things for the Chapter in the years to come.

I am not only honored and privileged to serve you as President but I’m humbled too considering the many outstanding, inspiring, and tireless leaders who keep this well-oiled machine running day in and day out throughout the year.  They are the Board of Directors (25 strong), Executive Director, Betty St. Marie, and Executive Committee:  VP Programs, Kobie Conner, Twentieth Century Fox, VP Services, Monica Johnson, Ventura Foods, LLC, Treasurer, Kenneth Block, New American Funding, Secretary, Lisa Harrington, ASICS America, and Immediate Past President, Shawn Murphy, Mazda North American Operations.  I’m grateful to work with such talented and hard-working individuals and am excited to see where they will take the Chapter in 2018.

I want to extend a special THANK YOU to my predecessor, Shawn Murphy, for his leadership in bringing home yet another distinguished accolade, the 2017 Chapter Achievement Award, which was presented by ACC Global at the Annual Meeting in mid-October in Washington D.C.  I also want to thank our Sponsors because our achievement would not have been possible without their continued support and dedication to excellence.  Finally, I want to CONGRATULATE our Past Board of Directors Member, Dawn Haghighi, for being recognized at the Annual Meeting Leadership Awards Ceremony with the Jonathan S. Silber Committee Member of the Year Award.

I became an in-house attorney nearly 10 years ago.  Back then, I was in private practice working on a particular M&A closing away from home (Los Angeles) in New York City, billing 17+ hours a day for 10 straight days.  It was in the thick of that transaction when I decided to make a career change.  Soon after the deal closed, I left private practice to join the in-house counsel ranks at Union Bank.  Literally, on my second day at the new job, I signed up for ACC Southern California because I knew the organization and had long marveled at the unique programs and events from my good friend, Past President, Peter Ching, would tell me about.  No, proudly brag about.  As fate would have it, I soon met Past President, Manisha Merchant, while she was interviewing at Union Bank.  Due to the ACC connection, I gathered key intel about her from Peter, which I of course conveyed to the decision makers.  I’m lucky Manisha joined Union Bank and became my colleague and close friend.  I credit Peter and Manisha for my path to getting involved with ACC by serving first on a couple of Chapter committees, then later the Board, and Executive Committee.  Because of ACC, I can honestly say I’ve grown in many ways, both professionally and personally.  It’s my hope that you have too and that you will continue to grow in the future as we head into 2018 and beyond.

In that respect, it’s my belief that you continue to be a member because of the incredible value proposition that comes with the $385 annual fee.  As you know, most of events are completely free, and only a few ask for a nominal charge.  For a small investment, our Board orchestrated for you over 70 events in 2017 where you could have (or did):

  • Earned over 24 hours of CLE through 24 Roundtable and ACCess lunchtime events;

  • Earned over 24 hours of CLE at the annual In-House Counsel Conference, In-House Boot Camp Conference, and Sports and Entertainment Conference;

  • Seen Former Secretary, John Kerry, live and listened to his eloquent keynote speech, and honored the Law Departments at Southern California Edison and Amazon Studios at the Annual Gala;

  • Volunteered in Pro Bono events where members (i) delivered needed legal services to veterans and unaccompanied and refugee children, (ii) read to children for Read Across America Day, (iii) advised budding entrepreneurs at the Small Business Legal Clinic, (iv) ensured that No Child Goes Hungry, and (v) empowered disadvantaged and diverse middle school children with career development outside of law;

  • Been amazed at the trickery of the Magic Castle, enchanted by Club 33 at Disneyland, and cheered the Dodgers against the Giants in our Doubleheaders;

  • Supported Diversity events such as ACColades: Women Who Inspire Us, Inside Diversity X  and the Diversity Scholarships;
  • Interacted at Networking Cocktail events at the Hyde Sunset, Sixty in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach Winery and Huntly Hotel;
  • Pitched potential new members to join ACC at Membership recruiting events at Sixty in Beverly Hills and Tommy Bahamas in Newport Beach;

  • Learned at ACC SoCal Works!! how to improve your LinkedIn profile, and have a chance to take a professional headshot;

  • Hit the links at the Tustin Ranch Golf Club in the Annual Golf tournament;

  • Rocked and danced the night away at Martinis ‘Til Midnight at the Annual Meeting; and,

  • Gotten soaking wet at Family Fun Day at SeaWorld;

FYI, the foregoing isn’t a complete list of Chapter events.

In 2018, my and the Board’s priority will be to (1) ensure that we keep delivering amazing value to you through our many best-in-class programs and events, (2) help you professionally whether that’s doing better at your job to advancing your legal career, and (3) continue to provide you avenues for community service and supporting diversity in the legal profession.  Again, we are thankful to our Sponsors who are integral at fulfilling those commitments to you.  That said, I’d like to use a modified quote from President John F. Kennedy to encourage you to give back, “Ask not what only ACC SoCal can do you, but ask yourself what you can do to help others internally and externally through ACC SoCal.”

If you’ve found value in membership, I want to embolden you to get involved with the Chapter.  On one end of the spectrum, if you have an idea, comment, improvement, or criticism, please contact any Director or Betty and convey your thoughts.  We will listen and respond - that I promise.  On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to do more, join one of the many committees that need volunteers.  Such Committees include Roundtables, ACCess, Doubleheaders, Annual Gala, Golf, IHCC, Networking Cocktails, Membership, CLO Suites, Diversity, and Pro Bono.  If you want to make a difference, reach out to the Chair of the Committee or Betty and let them know you are answering my call.

Ten years ago, I joined ACC for the resources and events but have stayed and become more deeply involved because of the people like you who are its members.  I look forward to working together with the Board but more importantly for and with you in 2018!

Very Respectfully,

John K. Lee

President, ACC Southern California, 2017-18
Senior Vice President, Bank of Hope



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