On July 27, 2023, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Eumi K. Lee to serve on U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Lee has served as a judge on the Superior Court of California in Alameda County since 2018. Previously, Judge Lee was a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco.
Judge Eumi Lee was born in 1972 in Madison, Wisconsin. She earned her B.A. from Pomona College in 1994 and graduated cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1999.
After law school, Judge Lee served as a law clerk for Judge Jerome Turner on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee from 1999 to 2000. She worked as a litigation associate at Thelen, Reid & Priest LLP in San Fransico from 2000 to 2001.
Judge Lee went on to clerk for Judge Warren J. Ferguson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2001 to 2002. Afterward, she returned to private practice at Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, where her practice focused on complex civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense, and appellate work. She handled a wide range of civil matters in state and federal trial as well as on appeal on topics including intellectual property, trade secrets misappropriation, legal malpractice and ethics, securities, insurance, commercial real estate, and general business litigation. She also did significant pro bono work, representing clients in consumer debt, asylum, civil rights, and state criminal proceedings, as well as federal habeas appeals.
In 2005, Judge Lee joined the faculty at the University of California College of Law in San Francisco, then named the Hastings College of Law, directing and teaching clinical programs, including the Individual Representation Clinic. Through the Individual Representation Clinic, students represent low-income tenants, low- and moderate-wage workers, indigent individuals with disabilities, and people with past arrests or convictions. From 2005 to 2018, Judge Lee supervised students representing clients at all stages of litigation. During that period, from 2005 to 2012, she worked directly with students to represent clients in wage-and-hour trials in state court, landlord-tenant mediations and arbitrations before the San Fransisco Rent Board, and Social Security disability hearings before the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. From 2011 to 2018, she also supervised students in all aspects of the clinic’s “clean slate” program, which represents clients with criminal records seeking dismissals of past convictions, early termination of their probation, reductions of felonies to misdemeanors, and findings of factual innocence, among other things. Judge Lee created and taught the “clean slate” curriculum. She also served as amicus coordinator for the clinic, helping to draft and edit amicus briefs.
From 2011 to 2018, Judge Lee also taught at the Criminal Practice Clinic, where students interned at Bay Area district attorney or public defender offices, learned California criminal procedure, and took skills training modules. During her time at the College of Law she also taught courses covering topics from legal ethics and professional responsibility to terrorism to legal research and writing.
While a full-time faculty member at the College of Law, Judge Lee also consulted as a contract attorney at Gonzalez & Leigh, focusing her practice on trade secrets misappropriation and intellectual property cases. In 2017, she served as an appellate consultant to the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization addressing racial discrimination in voting rights, criminal justice, and education.
In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Judge Lee to serve on California’s Alameda County Superior Court. In 2020, she was elected without opposition to a successive six-year term.
From 2018 to 2020, as part of the Criminal Division, Judge Lee managed a range of assignments, including the misdemeanor pretrial calendar, restitution cases, clean slate cases, misdemeanor trials, preliminary hearings, and felony arraignments. Since 2021, she has been assigned to the Civil Division. There, she initially presided over small claims cases, civil harassment and workplace violence petitions, collections cases and administrative and small claims appeals before beginning to hear more complex civil cases. In January 2023, she was also designated by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to serve on the Appellate Division of the Alameda County Superior Court, which presides over misdemeanor, traffic, and civil appeals cases.
Professional Activities and Accolades
Judge Lee has been recognized by her local legal community for her exemplary career. For example, in 2019 she received the Legal Professional of the Year Award from the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. The Minority Bar Coalition of the San Fransisco Bay Area honored her with the Unity Award in 2016 and the Rising Star Award in 2009. In 2011, Judge Lee was named one of the Best Lawyers Under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She also served as president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area in 2015.