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A Holistic Education in Land Use
USC Gould School of Law

Monday, March 14, 2022

Turning a passion into a career and making connections along the way, Noel Hyun Minor has worked in every field of real estate
 
By Christina Schweighofer
 

Noel Hyun Minor (JD 2012, BA 2007) 
Noel Hyun Minor (JD 2012, BA 2007) was studying sociology at USC when she became interested in real estate in the mid-2000s: The building in Downtown Los Angeles where she lived had been restored under the adaptive reuse ordinance — and it wasn’t the only one.
 
“The urban revival that was going on piqued my interest in real estate,” she says.
 
Over the years, her passion for urban development only grew. She worked in every real-estate-related field, from land-use consulting and city government to lobbying and attorney representation, and eventually co-founded a real estate investment firm with her late brother, Philip Hyun (JD 2013).
 
Along the way, she made connections that brought new opportunities — and showed a remarkable capacity to pivot. 
 
“I followed my passion and always wanted to work for someone that I had a personal relationship with, who was invested in my success and would be a champion at my side,” she says, pointing to a long list of developers, consultants, politicians, lobbyists and attorneys who took an interest in her career.
 
Hyun’s introduction to real estate work was an internship at a land-use consultancy firm, Elizabeth Peterson Group. From there, she got connected to then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti’s team. He hired her as a planning deputy, a position so enticing — and with people she liked — that she deferred her acceptance to USC Gould. After spending her 2L summer at a law firm that does city attorney work, she returned to Garcetti’s office as a 3L, this time as a campaign staff member during his run for mayor.
 
“Garcetti was selling a vision of the city, and my task was getting people to see the possibilities for Los Angeles and vote for him,” she says. “This excited me.”
 
Convinced that her place was in interactions with the community and stakeholders, and not behind a desk at a law firm, Hyun spent most of her 20s on the political side of real estate. After the campaign job with Garcetti, she joined Councilmember Mike Bonin’s team — only to be recruited away from government to Central City Association of Los Angeles (CCA).
 
“My job at CCA was to be a champion for downtown L.A.,” she says, adding that the lobbying position brought her back to where she initially discovered her passion for real estate six years earlier.
 
Hyun’s revolving-door story could have ended right there, but those watching her career thought differently.
 
In 2015, a long-time mentor and land-use attorney at what was then Liner LLP (now DLA Piper) stepped in, Jerry Neuman. 
 
“It's time for you to come to a law firm,” he said. It was the right idea at the right time.
 
Hyun says that her “holistic education” in the field of land use made her highly effective as an attorney. While she initially lacked the technical training that she would have received as a freshly graduated lawyer, she understood the inner workings of deals and the role different personalities can play in a project.
 
“I wasn’t so green,” she says, “and was quickly entrusted with responsibility.”
 
Despite being partner track, Hyun left DLA in 2018 to start The Brooklyn Companies with her brother, a triple Trojan and former real estate attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
 
Since Philip’s death in an accident shortly afterward, she has kept her focus on family and the community. The mother of a 2-year-old son and pregnant with a second child, she serves on various boards, including CCA and the Getty House Foundation, and as a member of the City of Los Angeles Zoning Advisory Committee. She also administers a USC Gould memorial scholarship that she and her mother started after Philip’s death to support law students with second careers or other unusual paths to law school. The Philip Hyun Memorial Scholarship was awarded to its first recipient in the 2021-22 academic year. The 1L recipient is a first-generation law student who is involved in a number of campus organizations and looks forward to pursuing pro bono work through USC Gould’s Small Business Clinic.

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