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She Is...A Mentor: Kim Boyle Pays It Forward to Her Profession, Community and Family

February 23, 2024
Amanda McElfresh, The Advocate
Amanda McElfresh, The Advocate

On Lundi Gras, Kim Boyle spent time having lunch in New Orleans with a longtime friend and enjoying festivities along the Mississippi River. Along the way, she ran into several people she knew – other friends, professional acquaintances, colleagues. The conversations that ensued, tinged with a love of life and a celebratory atmosphere, represented a culture that Boyle feels is unmatched anywhere else in the world.


“There is no city that has what New Orleans has,” Boyle said. “There is nowhere else that has people who are as friendly, who bond so quickly with one another, and who support one another. People take joy in being around each other and partaking in the culture and music and food. There is no better place to live than New Orleans. This is truly a great city.”

Boyle has spent time in other parts of the country, particularly while obtaining a degree in politics and a teaching certificate at Princeton University and then completing law school at the University of Virginia School of Law. But, New Orleans has always been the place that feels like home. Growing up in the city with her mother, a teacher, and her father, a postal clerk, showed her how positive thinking and support can carry people through, even during hard times.

“My parents supported us in every single thing we did. They told my brother and I day in and day out that if there was something we wanted to accomplish, we could do it. They did not allow us to believe in barriers,” Boyle said. “My parents were by far the biggest influence on me, but I was also grateful to have an entire village of relatives, neighbors, teachers and people from our church. I’m thankful to still have that today. When you have people who are always behind you, it gives you faith that you can achieve your goals.”

That support has buoyed Boyle through a successful legal career. She has worked as an attorney for more than 30 years and is now in her 23rd year with Phelps Dunbar, where she is a partner who practices in the areas of labor and employment, civil rights, constitutional law, commercial, tort and general litigation. Known for her persuasive oral argument skills and ability to take matters from inception to verdict, Boyle has successfully represented numerous clients, including Fortune 500 companies, in both state and federal courts. Her professional achievements have garnered her numerous accolades and made her a sought-after speaker on employment-related topics, ethics and professionalism issues.

It’s a career inspired in large part by civil rights trailblazers like Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley and others.

“The things that they did to change the entire trajectory of our country really made me want to be an attorney,” Boyle said. “As I became more established in my own career, it also became important to me to pay that forward. People talk about being trailblazers and pioneers, which is great. But, even if you are the first to do something, you have an obligation to make sure you are not the last. I’m a real believer in that, so I’ve tried to carry that with me in everything that I do.”

Toward that end, Boyle is a staunch advocate of mentorship. She still embraces opportunities to be a mentee and learn from others. In addition, young professionals, college students and others regularly seek her out for advice and counsel.

“’Standing on the shoulders of giants.’ This is the quote that Kim uses often to talk about those who paved the way for her, but many of us could say the same about her,” said Cory Vidal, Hancock Whitney Corporate Compliance Attorney and one of Boyle’s mentees. “There are lots of judges, lawyers and others that stand on Kim’s strong shoulders to advance in their careers. Her legacy of opening doors and mentoring young lawyers is second to none in the New Orleans legal community.”

Boyle said she is grateful to have the opportunity to educate and inspire those who are following in her footsteps.

“It’s important for those of us who have achieved some measure of success to pass our knowledge on to the next generation,” she said. “I always tell people to persevere and not let others dissuade them from going after their dreams.”

In addition to her professional career, Boyle remains actively involved in civic and community outreach. That work includes serving on the boards of organizations such as Tulane University, Dillard University, the Amistad Research Center, Touro Infirmary, the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Boyle was an active leader on both the city and state levels during the recovery process, with a strong commitment to helping restore infrastructure and services to her hometown.

“My parents raised my brother and I to know that to whom much is given, much is expected,” she said. “I truly believe it is important to find ways to positively impact the community and help make life better overall. I’ve always felt that way, but it really hit home for me after Katrina. The city’s recovery was of overriding importance to me personally. A lot of people were saying New Orleans couldn’t come back, but I was determined that we weren’t going to lose New Orleans. We’re always going to come back.”

The “She Is” campaign is a partnership between Hancock Whitney and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, The Advocate and The Acadiana Advocate to curate and share stories about women who are thriving – what motivates them, how they motivate others, and how women can continue to drive impact. Visit www.hancockwhitney.com/she-is for more details on Hancock Whitney’s ongoing work with female leaders and to share your own favorite “She Is” story.


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