Kate Kimpel grew up in a few different states in the Midwest, but claims Wisconsin as the true “back home.” Her proclivity to wear green and gold throughout football season (go Pack!); her inability to pronounce certain words “correctly” according to her east coast friends; and her one-time love affair with Jack & Ginger as her go-to beverage of choice verifies her WI roots. Coming from a factory town, she is a big fan of unions (most of the time), and she is vaguely obsessive about driving only American-made cars.
Kate’s “home home” is in DC, with her awesome husband Kimani (whose laugh is almost as booming as Kate’s), their dog Ulysses (whose namesake is the former President), and their cat Fiona (whose namesake is Fiona Apple because her music is so amazing that Kate finds it necessary to frequently serenade Kimani with her renditions of said discography).
Kate went to Vassar for undergrad, where she proudly joined the geek-squad known as the Vassar Debate Society. Kate is obsessed with Vassar. Just ask Kimani, who now owns Vassar clothing and carries a Vassar water bottle and who has slept in the unairconditioned dorms in the middle of summer for reunion (this last fact was added at his request). When Kate got to Yale for law school, she took particular pleasure in designing “Feminist.” t-shirts as the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism’s Managing Editor. Sadly, there was no yearbook photo in which she could rock said t-shirt.
Kate spends more time thinking about ways to combat and prevent racism, sexism, and all the other -isms on a regular basis than is probably healthy, but figures that somebody has to do it. As the proud daughter of a totally amazing single mother, Kate grew up learning first-hand just how important workplace and other socio-legal protections are in the lives of real people. Kate also spent time working with the police on a community policing initiative, in a juvenile housing facility, in the D.C. public schools, and for the public defender service in DC – all before she went to law school to get bigger guns for the fight for civil rights.
Since becoming a full-fledged lawyer, Kate has dedicated her career to helping individuals realize the justice that our laws promise.
During her time at Yale Law School, Kate served as the Chair of the Student Board for the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and as the Student Director of a group of law students providing civil legal services to the Latino and immigrant community in Fair Haven. Their work there addressed the housing discrimination, employment discrimination, and discrimination from government agencies that Latino and immigrant communities so often confront. Kate also stayed in the classrooms in New Haven: creating original curriculum on criminal law, constitutional law, and ethics; training up to a dozen student teachers each semester; and then helping those student teachers deliver weekly lessons to middle-school and high-school civics students. At the same time, Kate founded a law school clinic that sued the State of Connecticut for failing to provide sufficient funding to both urban and rural schools; the suit she helped start was recently successful.
After graduation, Kate served as Special Counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Rights, working for Senator Russell Feingold. In that capacity, Kate took the lead on criminal justice matters, with a special focus on improving police relationships with communities, identifying juvenile justice initiatives that work, and ensuring appropriate oversight of law enforcement. Kate also helped staff the Commission on Safety and Abuse for America’s Prisons, a bipartisan committee that conducted hearings around the country and then issued a lengthy report on what improvements can and should be made to state and federal systems for the betterment of both inmates and staff.
Kate then went on to work for a public interest law firm that she helped grow into one of the preeminent employment discrimination law firms in the country, eventually becoming a Named Partner. While there, Kate was Lead Counsel in a range of nationwide gender discrimination class actions. Her victories included winning the largest gender discrimination class action ever tried, where Kate and her team obtained an over $250 Million verdict for the more than 5,000 women she represented; and securing class treatment in a $400 Million class action on behalf of thousands of women who are discriminated against by KPMG. Kate also successfully represented employees in race discrimination and overtime class actions.
Kate devotes extensive time on cases designed to shatter the glass ceilings still in place across industries through this blog, her company KK Advising, and her general activisty pursuits. Kate authors amicus briefs, including the amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Dukes v. Wal-Mart and the amicus brief on behalf of health care practitioners in Young v. U.P.S. In addition to working on more traditional race and sex discrimination matters, Kate also represents the victims of sexual assault and rape and negotiates exit packages and transitional plans on behalf of women and people of color at the highest levels in their fields, including CEOs, COOs, General Counsel Senior HR executives, and attorneys. Kate also serves on the Board of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Kate is often asked to write for national news outlets, legal publications, and for women’s organizations; she often speaks on class litigation, gender discrimination, wage and hour laws, and antidiscrimination efforts. Kate has presented to the District Directors and Regional Attorneys at a National Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Training; the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the American Bar Association, the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Searle Center at Northwestern Law School, the Pennsylvania Bar Employment Law Institute, and on various panels organized and hosted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, women’s bar associations, and other women’s groups. Kate regularly focuses on what employees can do to protect themselves from discrimination and on what employers can do to structure legal and equitable workplaces, drawing from her experience negotiating systemic reform packages for major national and international corporations. Kate has served as an expert on gender and pregnancy discrimination for national news and radio. She provides training and coaching to corporations and non-profits seeking to proactively create and maintain diverse, collaborative and equitable work environments; and she also teaches a course on Antidiscrimination Law at Yale Law School.
Because of her successes, Kate has garnered significant recognition from the legal community. The National Law Journal named her office as Washington DC’s Employment Litigation Department of the year in 2013 and named Kate one of the 75 most accomplished female attorneys working in the legal professions today and one of DC’s 40 under 40. She was selected for DC’s Super Lawyers list; and was identified as a “female powerbroker” and one of five employment lawyers who are Rising Stars in the field by Law360. Ms. JD awarded Kate its “Woman of Inspiration” recognition, and Mashable named Kate one of the “eleven incredible women in law promoting social justice for all.”
Amongst all the successes and recognitions, Kate identifies serving as one of the three lawyers who successfully represented “the Angola 3” in their civil suit challenging the constitutionality of the Louisiana Department of Correction’s use of indefinite solitary confinement from 1972-2016 as a highlight of her career thus far. The plight of the Angola 3 has been highlighted by national and international press and is a subject of an Amnesty International Report and multiple documentaries. Albert Woodfox, the final member of the Angola 3 to be held in solitary confinement, was finally freed in February 2016. In September 2016, Albert escorted Kate down the aisle at her wedding.