Kim Vu-Dinh, assistant professor of clinical education and the director of the Business Innovations Legal Clinic at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, has been recognized for the work she and her students do with Arkansas small businesses and non-profit organizations. On Sept. 20, Vu-Dinh was awarded Little Rock Regional Minority Mentor of the Year by the Little Rock Regional Chamber.
Vu-Dinh was also a 2020 finalist for the award.
“I moved to Little Rock with no previous connections or family ties, so an award like this is incredibly flattering to me. It makes me feel like that clinic I created and the relationships I’ve made have had a positive impact on Arkansans trying to do something new. I really couldn’t believe I got the award, and I am truly appreciative of the recognition.”
The Business Innovations Legal Clinic provides high-quality, free transactional legal counsel to small businesses and non-profits working in economic development, many of which would not be able to obtain legal assistance otherwise.
Law students under Vu-Dinh’s supervision work closely with start-up businesses and nonprofits throughout Arkansas, either one-on-one or through community legal workshops. Their clients are based in Arkansas and are from the following sectors: food and farm, affordable housing, health, music and arts, and more. The majority of the clinic’s clients are minority-owned businesses.
In 2019, Vu-Dinh was appointed as a Fulbright Specialist to the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj, Kosovo, where she provided consulting services to create an academic social enterprise that incubates local business while simultaneously giving students hands-on learning opportunities, and generating income for the newly-created academic institution.
This semester she is bringing her Fulbright experience to Bowen students as a co-professor in the course International Law: Self-Determination, Nation-Building, and Economic Development and the Case Study of Kosovo. Part of that course will be a virtual presentation from her Kosovar colleagues, as well as guest lecturers from justices of the Supreme Court of Kosovo, and also Arkansas native General Wesley Clark. Before arriving at Bowen, Vu-Dinh was a Eugene Ludwig/Robert M. Cover Fellow in Law in the Community and Economic Development Clinic at Yale Law School.
Vu-Dinh has studied in Budapest, Hungary and Hanoi, Vietnam, through her alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, where she focused on economic development in nations transitioning from Soviet economics to free market capitalism.
Before teaching full-time, Vu-Dinh worked extensively in post-Katrina New Orleans with nonprofits and small, local businesses developing affordable housing and community-based commercial projects, first as non-profit staff, and later as a consultant through her firm Community Capacity Consulting. In addition to her work on Bowen’s faculty, she is adjunct faculty at the Clinton School of Public Service where she teaches a course on social enterpreneurship.
The award was given during the Minority Business Awards Luncheon, which honors the diversity of the Little Rock regional business community and recognizes minority business leaders that excel in their field. The luncheon was part of the Chamber’s celebration of Minority Enterprise Development Week.