Attorney Jerry Kaufman graduated from the University of Southern California Gould School of law in 1981 in the top quarter of his class. Mr. Kaufman passed the California Bar on his first try in summer 1981. While in law school, Mr. Kaufman clerked for a personal injury attorney during his second year of law school and an immigration attorney during his third year of law school
Starting in 1981, Mr. Kaufman worked for a law firm that handled immigration cases for many celebrities.
In 1982, he met Joanne Injung Im standing in line at the Immigration office in downtown Los Angeles. In early 1984, Mr. Kaufman learned of a job opening at Korea’s first international law firm, which at that time was called Kim, Chang & Lee. Because Mr. Kaufman planned to marry a Korean woman, he applied for the job. The competition was severe. The law firm’s managing partner in Korea came to the United States and interviewed attorneys in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Seattle. He hired only Jerry Kaufman. Mr. Kaufman committed to working in Korea for two years.
Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman stayed in a 17 pyeong (평) apartment in Shinbanpo in Seoul from April 1984 to April 1986. Working at the law firm and living in Korea, Mr. Kaufman made many friends and learned a great deal about life in Korea. The clients he represented were America’s largest corporations, including Coca-Cola, Bank of America, IBM, Ford, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dunkin Donuts, and many others. The experience was invaluable, both professionally and personally.
After two years, Mr. Kaufman had to decide whether he would renew his working contract or return to America. It was a difficult choice because he loved working and living in Korea, but he also wanted to return to Los Angeles, where he planned to open his own law office. In May 1986, Mr. Kaufman returned to Los Angeles and opened the Law Offices of Jerry Kaufman.
At first, Mr. Kaufman did both immigration law and personal injury. Soon the practice grew. Successful attorneys usually hired other attorneys to do the work, and they concentrated on signing up new clients. Mr. Kaufman wanted to make sure the quality of the work didn’t suffer. Rather than hire a team of young attorneys, Mr. Kaufman decided to limit the number of new clients he would take.
Mr. Kaufman had great success in both personal injury and immigration law. He handled a couple of thousand immigration cases over the years. He was able to get approvals on cases other attorneys refused to take because they were too complicated. He regularly went on the radio in Koreatown to answer legal questions live.
He also had great success handling personal injury cases. He was a mentor to some of the attorneys now practicing law in Koreatown. Over the years, many attorneys in Koreatown would call Mr. Kaufman and ask his advice when they had a difficult case.
Mr. Kaufman had some dramatic victories in the personal injury field. In one case, the police report stated Mr. Kaufman’s client was at fault. The police officer testified that Mr. Kaufman’s client was at fault. On cross-examination, Mr. Kaufman taught the police officer how to properly apply the law. The police officer then realized his mistake and reversed his testimony saying Mr. Kaufman’s client was not at fault. Mr. Kaufman won the case.
In another case, the defendant testified that Mr. Kaufman’s client was fault for the accident. On cross-examination, Mr. Kaufman confronted the witness with inconsistencies. The witness then admitted he didn’t know how the accident happened. Mr. Kaufman won the case.
In an immigration case, a Korean client and his attorney went to the U.S. consulate in Mexico and applied for an E-2 visa. The Immigration officer denied The E-2 visa. The client’s attorney was one of the famous attorneys in Koreatown. A church member recommended he change attorneys to Mr. Kaufman. The client and Mr. Kaufman then went to Mexico with the same case that had been denied. Mr. explained to the Immigration officer why the case should have been approved. The officer who had rejected the case, then approved the same case with the exact same documents but a different presentation.
In one personal injury case, the judge remarked when the case was over that Mr. Kaufman’s presentation was the best he had ever seen. In that case, Mr. Kaufman’s client, a Korean woman, sustained a broken foot. She was fully healed with no limp. She had thirty-two thousand dollars in medical bills. The recovery was half a million dollars—more than fifteen times the medical bill.
Many attorneys advertise large verdicts of a million dollars or two million dollars or more, but they don’t tell you how big the medical bills were or the extent of the injury. With six million dollars of medical bills, a five million dollar verdict is not a good result. Yet, the attorney can advertise, he recovered five million dollars for his client.
Because Mr. Kaufman had too many cases, in 2013, he decided to limit his practice to personal injury and not take immigration cases. Another attorney in the same office who is a certified specialist in immigration law handles the immigration cases so Mr. Kaufman can specialize in personal injury. Today, because of his experience, Mr. Kaufman is able to settle cases other attorneys can’t settle.
Mr. Kaufman and Mrs. Kaufman have two daughters, Sarah and Amanda. Mrs. Kaufman converted to Judaism, and together they celebrate both the Jewish and Korean holidays and cultures. Mr. Kaufman and Mrs. Kaufman regularly take trips to Korea to visit their friends. Mr. Kaufman is still in close contact with some of the attorneys he used to work with in Korea in the 1980s.