Jim Korman is one of Northern Virginia’s most respected divorce lawyers, having built a solid reputation as both a litigator and mediator. What’s more, the D.C. native has over the last four decades helped build Bean, Kinney & Korman into one of the premier real-estate, commercial litigation and family-law practices based in suburban Washington. To a large extent the 37-lawyer firm – recently relocated to the Navy League Building in Arlington – is a reflection of Korman himself: hard-working, unpretentious and hands-on. For years he has played a key role in hiring the firm’s partners and associates, helping define the firm’s character. (“Today we’ve got the most talented lawyers we’ve ever had.”) Korman continues to practice law directly, with a diverse stable of clients.
The eldest of three, Korman grew up in Northwest Washington and attended Woodrow Wilson High School; his father was a respected D.C. Court judge, his mother an artist. In the mid 60s, while in law school at George Washington, he clerked for a major firm in downtown Washington, but “my un-air-conditioned VW struggled to get into town every day” from his apartment in South Arlington. Though he entertained offers from several downtown firms, he ultimately interviewed with David Kinney, whose 5-lawyer practice in Arlington was growing with the region.
Korman began as a generalist, with an emphasis on litigation (“You could do everything in those days”) but steadily evolved to domestic relations work. “The emotions are higher than in any other field of the law, which keeps a lot of good lawyers away from it,” says the even-tempered Korman. “But I found that I enjoyed helping people at such a critical moment in their lives.” The firm’s work with banks and financial institutions, Korman says, gave his family law practice a “leg up” in the marketplace, and the firm’s practice grew steadily.
Today the firm’s domestic relations practice has four lawyers, including Carol Shrier-Polak, who was named to Ten Leaders in 2005. Korman reflects often on his good fortune: “Chance brought me here, and I’ve always loved the challenge of going up against great lawyers. After more than 30 years I can say I still love my work.” Korman and his wife Babs have one daughter and two grandchildren. He enjoys travel and has an impressive collection of political campaign buttons. He’s a longtime (and long suffering) Redskins season ticket holder.