They are not old, not white, and not men. Keli Knight, Yondi Morris, and Jessica Reddick are three female lawyers doing things their way.
“I need to start my own firm.” This is a tweet by founding partner Yondi Morris. That’s how it all began.
KMR Law Group is a Chicago based boutique law firm focused on the “importance of building and maintaining strong bonds” began with total strangers on Twitter.
An uncomfortable moment at a contract position, a partner referred to Morris as a slave. More specifically, “Okay, slave, get back to work.”
Realizing this was her cue to step out on her own, her tweet caught the attention of Keli Knight. The two had a meeting at Starbucks with friend Jessica Reddick.
They sketched out a logo on scrap paper and drafted an informal business plan. One year later, the doors to KMR Law Group opened.
“We just all clicked – our personalities, our dreams, our ambitions. In that moment, it all made sense.”
And yet, while the move may have seemed obvious to them, it is not the route that most young, black women take. A full 88 percent of lawyers are white. Only 33 percent of equity partners are women.
Two years ago – just months after Knight, Morris, and Reddick founded KMR – black women lawyers made up just 2.44 percent of law firm associates in Chicago. The three lawyer women worked on the firm for a year before opening. They consulted marketing professionals and accountants, as well as lawyers.
They wanted to put their best foot forward and be taken seriously, because they knew they didn’t look like a lot of other law firms out there. As millennials, the three lawyers use their laptops for everything. So, they never wanted to require staff to be in the office just to be in the office.
To get a better sense of the culture, they take a lot of meetings all over the city to meet with clients. They also didn’t want to hide behind letterhead or email. They wanted to get to know communities of lawyers and other small-business owners.
Having a “big bark” is crucial, because of the preconceived notions not only women and African-Americans, but also young people.
These ladies have not only dreamed big, but are living their dreams.