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Columbia Business Monthly

Nelson Mullins’ John Kuppens Reflects On DRI, Presidency

Oct 19, 2018 12:59PM ● By Kathleen Maris

Twenty-five years ago, John Kuppens joined DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar and its newly created Young Lawyers Committee, eventually becoming chair of the group. The organization was committed to fostering younger lawyers’ professional development, and Kuppens, while climbing the ranks of the group’s leadership, has embraced that commitment, in particular during this past year as he served a term as president of the 22,000-member organization. 

“DRI empowered us to develop the Young Lawyers Committee in a way that met our needs and supported us along the way,” said Kuppens. “That was 25 years ago, and the commitment that DRI showed to me then is the reason that I am here now. I benefited from this vision in many ways, as did a number of my peers who are also still meaningfully involved in DRI. I think it is fair to say that many of us would not have gotten involved – and stayed involved – but for DRI’s commitment to young lawyers.”

As president, Kuppens oversaw additions to the organization aimed at helping young lawyers grow, including a networking app that allows DRI members to connect to each other by establishing personal networking circles. Members can message each other, set up meetings, and easily refer business to each other. 

DRI also continued its commitment to being the leader in training young lawyers during his tenure. The organization has published written training materials and provided gold-standard seminars while expanding on-demand and online CLE offerings to meet the needs of younger lawyers to learn in place.

He launched a series entitled The Re-Envisioned Lawyer to address reshaping the profession to serve Americans in a new era, understanding and engaging young lawyers, and ensuring that tomorrow’s lawyers know how to try cases. 

“The practice of law is different. The needs of younger lawyers have evolved. And, make no mistake about it, these lawyers are a discerning group. They are selective about how they spend their time and to whom they pledge their loyalty,” Kuppens said.  

Kuppens is also a past chair of DRI's Product Liability Committee and served on the Board of Directors from 2011-14. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel. He served on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys Association from 2009-2014. He graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree and received his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

“DRI has been an important influence in my life,” said Kuppens. “It has helped me build my law practice, it has taught me how to be a better leader, and it has given me lifelong friendships. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as president. I am most grateful.”

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