Three Women Started Chicago’s Only African American, Women-Owned Law Firm…With a Tweet
It all started with a tweet.
About two years ago, Yondi K. Morris was a contract attorney, going into law firms to help with whatever they needed for some period of time. After being insulted by a law firm partner and fed up with being a worker bee, she tweeted: “I need to start my own firm.” Elle.com reports.
Keli L. Knight quickly responded to that tweet: “Let’s meet to discuss.” They invited Jessica Reddick, a long-time friend of Morris.
“We got together one day in Starbucks and that was the first meeting,” Morris said to Elle.com. “We just all clicked — our personalities, our dreams, our ambitions. In that moment, it all made sense.”
Reddick began to sketch their logo on a napkin.
“We really wanted to work together to create our image and we wanted to take our time building our brand before we came out,” Reddick said in a Minority Report interview.
From that meeting, Knight, Morris & Reddick Law Group was born. KMR Law Group is the only African-American, women-owned law firm in Chicago. Unfortunately, its founders are in the minority as the number of black lawyers nationwide is surprisingly low.
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation. Eighty-eight percent of lawyers are white.
The Washington Post reports that although African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and Native Americans now constitute about a third of the population and a fifth of law school graduates, they make up fewer than 7 percent of law firm partners and 9 percent of general counsels of large corporations. In major law firms, only 3 percent of associates and less than 2 percent of partners are African-Americans.
Morris tells Minority Report that they have been intentional in seeking clients.
“We’ve tried to be very purposeful because we understand that we’re young and minority and women. We looked for clients that we think enjoy that aspect of that,” she said.
The founders of KMR Law Group run a nontraditional company by not requiring people to be in the office. Morris told Elle.com that they take meetings with clients in their spaces so they can get a sense of the culture of the place.
“It helps us do our work better. We didn’t want to be chained to our office,” she said.
When the founding partners meet, they meet in their respective homes or over brunch. They even volunteer in schools, showing kids what an attorney can look like.
New and exciting things are on the horizon for KMR Law Group. In addition to starting a thriving law firm, the founders have established a legal staffing agency, one year after opening their law firm. The staffing agency places attorneys at law firms that need temporary help and that take on minorities and women.
“We will be expanding to the East Coast and West Coast this year,” Reddick told Minority Report. “We are excited about growing and getting our name and brand outside of Chicago.”
They have since hired an associate located in Los Angeles.
Knight said one of the biggest mistakes minority-owned businesses make — and one that has not held them back — is that they focus on their own demographic.
[It’s] “the whole ‘let’s do business together because we’re both black women’ and not realizing that there’s obviously so much more money to be made in the world,” she told Minority Report.