You may recognize Katie Phang from TV, but this Miami legal star’s off-air life is equally impressive

Katie Phang is a litigator and TV legal analyst who holds court over everything she does. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

Katie Phang, 43, was born in Miami to Jean, a retired nurse, and Michael, a former dean of the University of Miami’s College of Engineering. Her father, now battling Alzheimer’s disease, arrived in the United States at age 19 from Seoul, South Korea, with $2.43 in his pocket. He went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as his Ph.D., in engineering. “He’s the American dream,” his daughter said. After she graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, Phang earned a political science degree from Yale and a law degree from the University of Miami, then became a prosecutor in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. “It was the least-paying job I’ve ever had, but as a lawyer, the most rewarding. Day One, I was in the courtroom picking a jury.” These days, she’s not only a partner in Berger Singerman’s Miami office but a frequent legal contributor for NBC/MSNBC. She lives in Miami Shores with her husband (lawyer Jonathan Feldman), their daughter (Charlie, 4) and two miniature schnauzers. She sat down with INDULGE for an exclusive Q&A: 

Katie Phang
Katie Phang spends most of her days in a courtroom, in her law office or on television analyzing the news through a legal lens. Photograph by Nick Garcia.INDULGE

Katie Phang’s Motto

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.”

On Motherhood

“I negotiate with a terrorist every day! She’s a handful and wildly off-the-charts smart and mouthy. It’s cool to be a mom and have her in my life, but it’s tough.”

Balancing Act

“You have so many competing demands [as a working mom]. She should be the priority, and some days she’s not. Work-life balance is a unicorn. It just doesn’t exist. I’m the only female litigation partner in the Miami office. It’s not because the firm is not encouraging it, but I’m aware of it.”

Best Day on the Job

“Just getting through the day and accomplishing as much as I can: being in a hearing and achieving a good result for my client; surviving five minutes on live national television without being somebody’s GIF or ending up on YouTube bloopers; making sure my kid is happy and healthy.”

Becoming a Television Personality

“When I was a prosecutor, I worked for the local CBS affiliate, giving commentary during Michael Jackson’s second trial, then on Robert Blake and Terry Schiavo. I kept in touch with people who moved on to cable news.”

A good day: ‘Surviving five minutes on live TV without being somebody’s GIF or ending up on YouTube bloopers!’ 

Switching Networks

“I was at Fox when NBC/MSNBC offered me a position as a legal contributor. It was a step up for me, but it was a weird transition. I obviously alienated some fans and got new ones.”

Philanthropic Endeavors

“I’m active in the Florida Bar, and we do a lot of pro bono work. I was the Vice President for Dress for Success, I’m VP of the University of Miami executive board, and I chair the Miami-Dade Florida Association for Women Lawyers Foundation, which is a new nonprofit that raises funds for deserving female law students.”

Pitch Perfect

“I love to sing. I sing in the car, at work, anywhere I can without getting kicked out. I was in an all-female a cappella group at Yale: Whim ’n Rhythm. We went on a world tour after graduation. That was amazing.”

Preparing for the Holidays

“We just started a kitchen renovation, and I don’t know how we’re going to survive. I ordered McDonald’s on Uber Eats last night and ate a bowl of cereal after work the night before that. I’m excited to have a wine fridge in my new kitchen!”

Celebrating Everything

“My husband is Jewish, and my daughter goes to a Jewish school, but I’m not Jewish so we celebrate a little of everything. If you can eat a lot and have a cocktail, I’ll celebrate it!”

More: Rolando Aedo loves Miami, and that’s what makes him perfect for his job

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