Why Are Lawyers Mad at Kim Kardashian?
Recently, the news broke that Kimberly Kardashian-West, famed social media influencer, reality star, celebrity wife, and mommy mogul, has decided to pursue a career in law.
The internet was abuzz with debates about the merits of her pursuit, but basically Kim Kardashian suddenly made becoming a lawyer seem trendy.
In the last week or so, Kim Kardashian has received more praise for deciding to study law than I’ve ever seen any lawyer receive.
Most of the time, we are hit with lawyer jokes accusing us of lying, having poor character, locking people up, or generally making life hard for everyone. To be fair, some of the criticism of lawyers is valid, but it still stings.
My initial reaction to the news about Kim’s legal study was one of pure aggravation. I, like many other attorneys in America had endured four long years of college, the entire law school admissions process, three years of law school, bar study, and, of course, passing the state bar exam.
In other words, I worked my tail off, and I was the first lawyer in my family.
Kim Kardashian, on the other hand, has grown up in a world where she had many advantages. She grew up in a family with a lawyer dad, Robert Kardashian, who achieve international fame for his role on his friend O.J. Simpson’s legal team during the trial of the century.
Her mother, Kris Jenner was a stay at home, who became her manager (or “momager”) and helped her develop a highly successful (and lucrative) career. Kim has leveraged her connections, her beauty, and her business acumen to become one of the most well known women in the world.
However, her rise to fame has not been without hardships. Her parents divorced, and later her father passed away suddenly from cancer. Kim was propelled into fame based on an infamous sex tape that was leaked to the public. She has been through two failed marriages, and she has endured relentless criticism.
But still, she’s had a pretty good life.
Why, then, would she want to disrupt her entertainment career by becoming a lawyer? Kim credits her desire to pursue a career in law on her pursuit of justice. She played a crucial role in securing clemency for Alice Marie Johnson back in 2018, and Kim says she wants to help change the system.
I would venture to say that a vast majority of former law students entered law school with the hope of “changing the system,” but ended up struggling to save themselves.
The system is not that easy to tackle, and the life of a lawyer is not as exciting photoshoots for Vogue, or even an episode of Better Call Saul. The occasional high profile trial, or a look back at Legally Blonde can make it seem that way, but it’s really not.
The traditional path to a legal career usually starts with law school, which means countless days and nights spent studying in cold, quiet libraries sipping on Red Bull or popping No Doze while reading dry textbooks and briefing cases.
After enduring three years of full-time classes, long hours of study, internships, competition between classmates, curved exams, and the Socratic method, law graduates then face the bar exam, one of the toughest professional tests, in order to become licensed attorneys.
During these years of legal study, on up to the bar, we sacrifice our time, money, special moments with our families, and countless other opportunities that we could have pursued.
Further, most legal jobs are stressful and difficult. Lawyers spend a lot of time researching and writing. We problem solve constantly, which can be a draining and thankless job. We win, but we also lose. Not all of us litigate, but all of us spend hours working hard — often alone.
I quit my teaching career to go to law school, and quite honestly, I struggled through it financially as a single mom. During my second and third years of law school I had to go to school, work to pay the bills (on top of student loans), and find time to gain legal “experience” so I could hope to find a job.
My law school career was a long and winding journey that deserves its own post. But, let’s just say it was tough.
The thing is, none of that is Kim Kardashian’s fault.
Still, lawyers are mad at Kim K for essentially skirting the system. She found a way to become a lawyer while avoiding going to law school or even having to complete an undergraduate degree.
It’s not some secret method, but it’s not often utilized.
It has long been known that certain states, most notably California where Kim resides, offer alternatives to the traditional law school path. But few people have the means to take advantage of these methods, and of those that do, even fewer actually pass the bar exam.
Kim has the advantage of finding attorneys to train her, and she has already been offered a job by one of her dad’s past associates, Robert Shapiro.
As annoyed as I was initially, I realized that my aggravation was misplaced. It wasn’t Kim that caused me to endure the drudgery and debt I underwent to obtain my legal credentials.
It was the American law school system that was to blame.
For many years, it has been well documented that law students fell prey to a system that advertised lucrative “starting salaries,” to court potential law students, knowing that those opportunities were limited to a few top grads.
It’s a system that lured us in with scholarship offers, only to snatch them away or raise tuition once we were already trapped.
Law schools cooked the books with inflated graduation employment rates, and assured students that much of our debt could be “forgiven,” with special government programs and ten years of indentured servitude disguised as “public service.”
Yet, we buckled down and endured it all, lest we disappoint our family and friends by failing.
My generation of law school graduates was the generation of hope and change. During my first year of law school, President Barack Obama was sworn into office. But by the time we graduated in 2011, the country was in a recession and career opportunities were slim to none.
I was one of the lucky ones.
I passed the bar exam on my first try, fueled by the fact that I was too broke to take it again. I was granted a bar scholarship by my law school to pay for the $3,000 bar prep class, and I crashed with my sister during bar study because I could not afford an apartment.
During bar study, I ate the free lunches offered by my law school, and when I didn’t have gas money to go to the bar prep classes, I watched online. It worked. I passed, and I found a job, albeit a nontraditional one, and I tried to put my entire law school experience behind me.
Thankfully, I was able to cover my bills, start repaying my oppressive student loans, and pay for healthcare coverage.
During my legal career, I paid towards a student loan forgiveness program for several years (PSLF), but now I work in the private sector, so I don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness. Foiled again.
Seven years later, after grinding to establish my legal career, after a failed attempt at a solo practice, and after finally landing my dream legal job, I am taking the time to reflect on how I and many others were duped.
I’m sure some might say that it’s my own fault for choosing to go to law school, and to take on school loans, and perhaps that’s so.
What’s certain is that I can’t be mad at Kim K.
If anything, when I really think about it, I’m rooting for her. Few people think about what it really takes to become a lawyer, and Kim is bringing attention to it on a massive scale, even though she is not following a traditional path.
Perhaps she will inspire young men and women to pursue a legal career the smart way — without taking on massive debt.
As for me, everything that I’ve endured to become an attorney has made me a stronger person and it’s also taught me a lot about the kind of person I am.
I make commitments and I stick with them. I believe in helping people. I don’t believe in tearing other people down for pursuing their goals.
I can only send positive energy Kim’s way because no matter how many advantages she has had, passing the California bar exam won’t be an easy feat. If she manages to do so, I will welcome her into the legal profession with open arms.