The second I heard Kim Kardashian West is training to be a lawyer, I was here for it. I’m for all women—yes, even a mega-rich celebrity like KKW—doing whatever the hell they want with their profession. But as a woman of color who has fought hard to become (and then stay) a lawyer herself, I’m especially impressed that someone with an already wildly successful career and a fourth child on the way has decided to pursue the law. Because trust me when I say this: No matter how wealthy and famous someone is, no matter how many employees or other helpers they have on speed dial…no one signs up for a four-year law apprenticeship at a firm, multiple tests, and the California bar just for kicks. No one.
So when Kardashian West says she’s put a lot of thought into her decision, I believe her. I know firsthand just how difficult it can be for women to tough it out in this field, and I salute her for taking it on—as I would for any woman. Not everyone’s on board, though:
I first set out to become a lawyer in my early twenties. I lived in Canada, where I went to law school for three years. Then I did a brief stint in BigLaw (a nickname for the largest, most prominent law firms) but quickly burned out and took a massive paycheck hit to transition to my true calling: immigration and refugee law. Soon after settling into my career, though, I got married and moved to America. There, my Canadian law degree was about as useful to me as this goldfish walker. I had no choice but to go back to law school for a L.L.M. (basically a year-long crash course in American law). That meant incurring even more student debt and losing more of my sanity (and hair) to graduate and take the bar…again.
Now I’m 30 and my legal career is starting to feel incompatible with the rest of my life. I’ve been delaying the decision to have kids because I’ve seen how maternity leave or leaving the office early too often to be with your family can make a difference when it comes to climbing the ranks at a firm. I know I’m not alone in this feeling: According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, law is one of the least inclusive professions in the U.S., and minority and female attrition is high.
That is why I’m excited by the prospect of Kardashian West putting a spotlight on the profession. Law is in need of a rebranding, in my opinion—so who better to make that happen than a hard-working, high-profile reality star? Of course Kardashian West doesn’t need me—or anyone else, for that matter—legitimizing her decision to become a lawyer, but I’m tired of seeing people act like her career swerve is just the latest musings of a bored, vapid celebrity. To me, she seems to clearly be cognizant of our country’s serious social inequities and actually wants to do something about it.
“Last year I registered with the California State Bar to study law,” Kardashian West wrote on Instagram recently alongside a photo of herself studying. “For the next 4 years, a minimum of 18 hours a week is required, I will take written and multiple choice tests monthly. As my first year is almost coming to an end I am preparing for the baby bar, a mini version of the bar, which is required when studying law this way. I’ve seen some comments from people who are saying it’s my privilege or my money that got me here, but that’s not the case. One person actually said I should ‘stay in my lane.’ I want people to understand that there is nothing that should limit your pursuit of your dreams, and the accomplishment of new goals. You can create your own lanes, just as I am.”
Kardashian West comes from a place of extreme privilege, but she can still use her platform for good. Look at Amal Clooney’s current caseload, for example. She’s married to George Clooney and rocks $2,000 coats, sure, but she continues to represent the world’s most vulnerable while also teaching the next crop of lawyers.