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Soo Yeon Lee, Partner

Soo Yeon Lee concentrates her practice in the areas of tax, business, real estate, trust and estate law. She has sought out expertise in a wide range of practice areas in order to focus on the areas of law that are of recurring importance to her clients: business owners, modern families, and nonprofit clients. She takes pride in representing creative, entrepreneurial and mission-driven clients and assisting them to navigate the complex and ever-changing marketplace successfully and comfortably. 

A Trusted Advisor and a Zealous Advocate for her clients, with integrity and skillfulness, is what she strives to be. 


Within many of Soo Yeon Lee's practice areas there is an aspect involving tax. This layer is present in every transaction: whether it be a major business transaction or an individual's everyday real estate transaction or estate plan. She has acquired the requisite knowledge across different tax areas as well as different substantive areas of law (real estate and trust and estate law). This makes her truly unique and rare counsel. She regularly counsels on the tax aspect of real estate, tax planning for business transactions, estate and gift tax, non-profit tax counsel (real estate tax and sales tax exemption), private foundation, and charitable giving. This is the culmination of her practice, which is the product of her many years of vast experience and wide expertise, reserved for clients who understand and appreciate the unique value she provides.   


Soo Yeon Lee began her legal career as a litigator. She analyzes disputes accurately and assesses the risks involved, which is so critical in the early stages of any dispute. Given that she has handled hundreds of cases encompassing a wide range of issues and facts, she thoroughly understands the complex anatomy of a case in dispute. This ability of risk assessment and deep knowledge as to how a dispute would play out makes her a well-informed and thoughtful litigator, finding the unexpected support necessary to craft a strong legal position. 


Real Estate

In any business, real estate--whether owned or leased--is one of the most important and most valuable assets. She is especially passionate about real estate because real estate is critical to the success of a business or any non-profit and their ability to deliver on its mission. From choosing the right ownership and title vesting, to various management issues, tax strategies, and ultimate disposition, she provides comprehensive representation for the interests of her clients and skilled counsel in negotiating and conducting transactions in regard to many matters involving real estate.


Outside General Counsel for Business

The more Soo Yeon worked with business owners, the broader range of business and legal issues she resolved. The issues range from selecting the right type of entity, to buying a business, to various operations, to employment practice, to intellectual property rights, and to ultimate sale or disposition of the business. As a consequence, she began acting as outside general counsel for many businesses. Clients stay with Soo Yeon for years because they value the dependable, consistent, and solid business counsel through business ups and downs, recessions, and various crises. She gets to know her clients and thinks proactively for them. 

Trust and Estate

All of Soo Yeon's clients have one thing in common: the non-negotiable need to provide for their families and preserve their legacy of hard work. Thus, what started as the real estate component of estate planning for her clients became a fully integrated trust and estate practice. Soo Yeon Lee has a specialized knowledge in tax law that is relevant to her clientele. In this manner, she serves as the "family office" for her clients as she believes the concept of a "family office" is not reserved to high net worth individuals or families, but can be adapted to benefit average but successful and growing families. Furthermore, her ability to seamlessly communicate in both English and Korean makes her a top choice for multi-generational and multi-cultural families with ties to Korea. 

Korean-American Legal Hybrid

With her skills as a native speaker and first-hand experience of the Korean culture, Soo Yeon Lee is highly sought after as an advisor and advocate in the Chicago Korean business community. She provides legal services to many Korean businesses concerning everything from their day-to-day operation to litigation. She also bridges the US-Korean gap for her multi-cultural clients. The countries have very different legal systems which require seamless calibrations to simultaneously navigate. She wants to serve people like her; people with family in South Korea and the U.S. who encounter the same complexities that she has. Given her background and experiences in both countries, she can easily see the challenges and opportunities that others may not.

Bar Activities

Soo Yeon Lee is a very active member of Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (RPTE) of American Bar Association (ABA). This ABA Section is one of the largest professional real estate, and trust and estate lawyers' organizations. She is a Section Council Member (2019-2022) and Associate Departmental Editor of the Probate and Property Magazine, after wearing a variety of leadership hats since 2012. 

Beyond her usual areas of practice, Soo Yeon Lee is committed to public service through extensive community involvement. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Age Options, a not-for-profit organization that advocates, plans, coordinates, and funds services in all suburban Cook County, Illinois. She is also committed to pro bono work in, among others, the areas of consumer credit and insolvency issues, foreclosure, landlord/tenant law, guardianship and small claims. From 2009-2015, she served as a member of the Board of Directors for Korean American Community Services (now Hana Center), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to offering educational, legal, health and social services for the local community in Chicago. She also served as the Director of Pro Bono Legal Clinic of the Korean American Bar Association of Chicago (KABA) from 2008 to 2012 and was an arbitration panelist in the Circuit Court of Cook County for several years.


Currently she is a legal advisor to the Consulate General of South Korea in Chicago. 

Practice Areas


  • Tax aspect of real estate (purchase, sale, exchange, inheritance, gift)
  • Tax aspect of business transactions
  • Estate and Gift Tax
  • Tax-exempt organizations
  • 501(c)(3) real estate and sales tax exemption
  • Private Foundations
  • Charitable giving
  • International estate planning
  • Commercial Transactions
  • Real Estate litigation (Commercial Leasing, Partition, Specific Performance, Option to Purchase, etc.)
  • Estate (Fiduciary Claims and Defenses, Will Contest, etc.)
  • Construction related issues, Mechanic's lien
  • Shareholder Disputes and Other Business Issues
Real Estate
  • Corporate Real Estate
  • Right Disposition Options
  • 1031 Exchange
  • Estate Planning Involving Real Estate
  • Gift vs. Inheritance
  • Right Ownership Vehicle and title vesting
  • Due Diligence
  • Guidance on Management
  • Commercial Leasing
  • Income Tax Strategies
  • International Buyer & Seller
Trust & Estate
  • Best planning involving Real Estate
  • Will-Based Planning
  • Trust-Based Planning
  • Protection for Minor Children
  • Planning for Mobile and Global Family
  • Tax aspect of Estate Planning
  • Business Succession
  • Family Limited Partnership
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Essential Family Documents
  • Power of Attorney
General Counsel for Business
  • Entity Selection Based on Tax and Non-Tax Considerations
  • Buying Business and Due Diligence
  • Tax Aspect of Business Planning
  • Creating Corporations, LLCS, Partnerships
  • Shareholder, Partnership, and LLC Operating Agreements
  • Real Estate Owned or Leased
  • Negotiating, Preparing, and Reviewing Contracts
  • Employment Practice
  • Licensing Agreements
  • Handling Litigation
  • Sale or Other Disposition of Business
South Korea - U.S.
  • Litigation Involving Korean Companies or Korean-Speaking Litigants
  • Family Office (General Counsel to a US-Korean Family)
  • U.S. Gift and Estate Tax Planning
  • Pre-Immigration Planning
  • Significant Transactions Between U.S.-Korea
  • Foreign Account Reporting Compliance
  • Asset Management Considerations
  • Real Estate Investment in the U.S.
  • International Students in the U.S.

Awards & Honors

  • Named as a 2015-2018 Emerging Lawyer by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company's Leading Lawyers division.
    • The recognition, held by less than two percent of Illinois attorneys, is limited to lawyers age 40 or younger unless they have practiced for a decade or less. Recommended in Commercial Litigation and Commercial Real Estate.
  • Nominated to become a fellow with the American Bar Foundation, 2014.
    • Limited to less than one percent of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction.
  • Selected as one of the six attorneys in the nation for the Section of Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law of the American Bar Association Fellows Class of 2012-2014.

Professional Activities & Memberships

  • Legal Advisor to Consulate General of the Republic of Korea (Chicago)
  • Elected to the Section Council in the ABA Section of Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law in 2019. (ABA Section of Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law is a leading national forum for real estate and estate planning lawyers and currently has more than 22,000 members)
    • American Bar Association, Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
      • Section Council Member (2019 - 2022)
      • Associate Departmental Editor of the Probate and Property Magazine (2020 - Present)
      • Law Practice Management Group, Group Co-Chair (2018 - Present)
      • Community Outreach Committee, Group Co-Chair (2017 - 2019)
      • Ground Leasing Committee, Chair (2014 - 2016)
      • Leasing Group, Nuts and Bolts of Leases Teleconference Series (2014 - 2016)
  • Korean American Bar Association of Chicago (KABA)
    • Advisory Board (2014 - Present)
    • Board Member (2008 - 2014)
    • Pro Bono Legal Clinic Director (2008 - 2012)
  • Age Options, Board Member (2019 - Present)
  • Korean American Community Services (now Hana Center), Board Member (2009 - 2015)
  • Christian Legal Society

Selected Legal Lectures

  • Funding Living Trusts with Real Property: Special Considerations and Forms, ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (May 2018)
  • Where Death and Dirt Meet: Practice Pointers from the Other Side, ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (May 2017)Lease Restructuring, Practicing Law Institute (March 2016, 2018)
  • Lease Review, Practicing Law Institute (April 2016, 2017)
  • Building and Managing a Successful Real Estate/Estate Planning Practice, ABA Section of Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law (May 2016)
  • How to Review and Negotiate Purchase and Sale Agreement and Commercial Lease, 3rd Minority Bar Conference (June 2015)
  • How to Review and Negotiate a Commercial Lease, ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (April 2015)
  • Build to Suit Leases, ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (May 2014)
  • Signage Issues in Commercial Leasing, Nuts and Bolts of Leases, ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (June 2013)


LL.M. in Taxation, with honors, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Chicago, IL Tax Certificate, Wealth Transfer and Legacy Planning, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law J.D., University of Illinois Chicago School of Law M.S. in Information Technology and Privacy Law, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law


  • Illinois, 2005
  • U.S. District Court


English Korean

Written Works

Soo Yeon Lee Blog Legal Documents to Protect Your Family 5 Steps to Successfully Selling Your Home A Primer on Lease Agreements for Small Businesses You've Been Served, Now What?

GP Mentor: What I Wish I Had Known about Leadership (September 2016) (Published in GP Solo Magazine, ABA Division Magazine)