Women pursuing a career in the legal sector often face challenges involving poor work-life balance and discrimination in the workplace, and that is one of the reasons why it is not a profession commonly chosen by women. But three young Black women from Chicago, IL braved the challenges, and became successful in launching their own law firm. And it all started with a tweet.
According to a study released by the National Association for Law Placement in 2015, only 7.52 percent of law firms had partners who were people of color and only 2.55 percent were women of color. Even though the statistics seem discouraging, it did not stop attorneys Yondi Morris-Andrews, Keli Knight, and Jessica Reddick in reaching their goal of having their own law firm.
After a particularly exhausting day at her job as a contract attorney, Yondi, one of the founding partners, brought her frustration out on Twitter saying, “I need to start my own firm.” The tweet caught the attention of two other young Black women, Keli and Jessica. They met at Starbucks to plan and after a year of careful preparation, the Knight Morris & Reddick Law Group (KMR) was born.
Since then, they have worked with high profile clients such as Derek Rose among others. They started a legal staffing firm that supports bigger law firms and supplies staff if ever needed. They also made practical use of social media in ways other attorneys won’t do.
Definitely they are running the law firm in a modern way. They kept their presence on blogs and social media, especially Twitter, as to how they started it.
“When it comes to Black people we don’t always have those resources that other people have. You’ll see a lot of white-owned law firms because they have their fathers or grandfathers that came before them that had their own practice. Jessica and I watched our parents be entrepreneurs as we grew up, and I learned that you can do whatever and you don’t have to be afraid,” Keli told NBC News.
Not surprisingly, KMR has caught the attention not just of many lawyers and law practitioners — not just the Black ones.
“We have a very diverse pool of attorneys that we pull from, but I will say that we have gotten quite a few minorities that are interested in working for our staffing agency or registering for our agency because they are interested in what we do,” Yondi said.
But of course, starting up a law firm is not an easy task, much more keeping it going. Aside from practicing law, the three women are also responsible on the business side of KMR. It comes as one of the challenges to them, but they managed it well.
“Leveling the playing field is a huge job,” Jessica said. “Just the fact that we exist, and other people know we exist allows for people of color and other women to see that something is possible. For men to see that this is something we can do? I think that will change the way they view women of color.”