The Dallas Business Journal has recognized Corporate partner Dilen Kumar in its 2022 class of "40 Under 40" honorees, which features rising stars in the North Texas business community. Dilen was one of only two attorneys named to the 2022 list. The class of 20 women and 20 men, who are leaders in a wide array of businesses that span several industries, were chosen from over 300 nominations.
"They represent companies from a variety of sizes and stages, a reflection of the diversity of industry and entrepreneurship that comprises North Texas' business ecosystem," according to the Dallas Business Journal, which honored the 2022 class during an in-person event on July 21 at the Marriott Dallas Uptown.
In a profile that chronicled his professional path, Dilen discussed how his legal career took root during college. Through an internship in the Texas Legislature, which stirred his interest in government, policy and politics, Dilen had observed that those effecting change were lawyers or individuals with legal backgrounds. Deciding to pursue a legal profession, Dilen attended Columbia Law School and became the first lawyer in his family.
Dilen, who is part of Katten's Mergers and Acquisition/Private Equity practice, recalled that his interest in a corporate M&A practice was sparked while working as a summer associate at a large law firm.
"As an M&A lawyer, I am the quarterback for the overall deal, and the project and people management aspects of the job suited my personality best, and it was appealing for me to learn about various industries," Dilen told the Dallas Business Journal. "I am someone who builds consensus on a team, and part of my job as a corporate attorney is to reach an agreement for my clients that satisfies all stakeholders involved in a deal."
However, the start to Dilen's legal career was not as planned. Having graduated law school during the middle of the Great Recession, he was one of many incoming first-year associates whose start dates at Biglaw firms were deferred for a year or more – and there was no certainty that those jobs would be available in the future. Dilen explained to the Dallas Business Journal that he tried to look at the disrupted start date "as an opportunity to try something new."
After taking the bar exam, Dilen was selected for an internship in the White House Counsel's Office during the Obama administration, which later led to a full-time job as an assistant counsel with a focus on judicial nominations. It was during his tenure as assistant counsel that former US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement. Dilen soon found himself as part of a small team tasked with filling the bench vacancy, and after months of work that included vetting potential nominees and preparing Justice Elena Kagan for her confirmation hearings, Obama's nominee was confirmed to the bench.
"The opportunity to play a role in this historic process was one I never expected and taught me to look at every obstacle as an opportunity," Dilen told the Dallas Business Journal. "I later started my law firm career, thankful that I could witness history firsthand."
When asked about the biggest driver of future change in his industry, Dilen identified "innovation."
"There's a growing interest and use in automation software to increase efficiencies and add value by using technology," he said. "But that's also changing the work junior associates are doing. We'll have to figure out how to best develop our talent and provide young associates the opportunity to gain the valuable experience they need working in conjunction with such programs."
"Q&A with Dilen Kumar, Partner, Katten," Dallas Business Journal, July 27, 2022
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