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Drinks With The Deal: Arlene Arin Hahn Discusses Tech Transactions, D&I

Published: August 18th, 2022
Arlene Arin Hahn, who heads the tech transactions group at White & Case, discusses her practice and her personal reasons for being so passionate about diversity and inclusion.

Arlene Arin Hahn enjoys the constant ferment in her practice at White & Case LLP, where she’s the global head of the technology transactions practice. There are “no precedents in areas that are completely disruptive or new,” she said on this week’s Drinks With The Deal podcast. “You have to come with novel approaches and provisions. Sometimes after you work on a new provision in a contract, you get to see that language become gradually adopted and become the market standard. I get a kick out of it when someone cites my own language back to me in a negotiation. I feel like it’s oddly satisfying.”

Hahn is also very involved in diversity issues at the law firm, where she previously chaired the firm’s global diversity committee and is a member of its global women’s initiative committee. The daughter of Korean immigrants — or, as she wryly noted, the “fourth failed attempt at a son” — she was unwilling to play that role earlier in her career.

“I was raised in a time and a place where I was constantly told to assimilate,” said Hahn, a native of Columbus, Ohio. “My first name in Arlene, which is an extremely difficult name for a lot of Koreans to pronounce, but that was an American name, and that was the name my parents gave me so I would fit in. With the Anglicized Hahn at the end, a lot of people expected to see a blond German person walk up, and I’ve had clients say that to me.”

“I spent a lot of my early years trying to fit in because it never occurred to me to view my gender or my race as a source of strength or that being a girl or a woman of color is a source of pride or a source of distinction.”

At the time she joined White & Case in 2015, she said, “I’d had a confluence of life events happen at the time. I’d had two kids in two years, and each time I was pregnant, one of my parents passed away. As a result of that stress and trauma, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I was hospitalized for a rare neurological disorder, and after I came through all of that, I joined White & Case, and I had this Jerry Maguire manifesto moment where I realized, ‘Life’s too short, and to enjoy it you have to be your authentic self and you have to contribute to the greater good,’ and I felt like I had this freedom to show up to work as my authentic self.”

Here’s the podcast with Arlene Hahn:

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