“I didn’t grow up wanting to be an attorney like Keli and Yondi did,” said Jessica Reddick, a partner at KMR Law Group. “Both of my parents are entrepreneurs and out of undergrad I was working in finance at Morgan Stanley. Following applying to law school, I reconnected with Yondi.” It was during this time that Yondi Morris was unhappy with her position at the firm she was working at and tweeted how she wanted to start her own firm.
“It was really perfect timing for each of us. Jessica and Yondi had been in touch, and Yondi said she had a plan to start her own firm so we all got in touch to discuss the opportunity,” said Keli Knight. It started with 140 characters on Twitter and continued with multiple discussions over the course of the next year about how the women wanted KMR to come to life.
Today, the Chicago-based firm specializes in real estate transactions, estate planning, entertainment and corporate law, as well as legal staffing. “From the day we sat down together in 2011 to work through the business plan, we decided to be very thoughtful about starting this business. We wanted to build a brand that reflected who we were and the types of clients we wanted,” stated Jessica.
Jessica, Yondi and Keli understood that they were young for being founders and faced other challenges, such as being the minority in the industry filled with white, older men. “Those are the factors that we strived to counteract in our business. We wanted to be a place that could compete with those types of firms and be taken seriously,” said Yondi. The women consulted with many lawyers, advisors and accountants to ensure their plan created the most value. “We wanted to grow roots in the right places to move us forward,” Yondi continued.
The women of KMR began to receive a lot of media attention because of the difference they were making in the industry. A group of young, African American women created a storm of confidence by competing with the industry ‘norm’ and winning. While interviewing Jessica, Yondi and Keli a theme came to light for the firm’s success - integrity.
“It is really important to walk in integrity and be consistent with who you are and what you are trying to build. We built the firm we wanted without debt and without compromising our morals or our vision,” Keli stated. “We also wanted to be fearless in thinking about how we wanted to get to a certain place. Fear debilitates you and stops you from moving forward,” Jessica added.
It is because of this mindset that KMR has reached the level of success that it has today. With numerous clients, a variety of offerings and even more room for opportunity, KMR is focused on expanding their legal staffing to LA and DC. Jessica, Yondi and Keli are also very passionate about having the firm give back to the community.
“We are very excited about launching the KMR Foundation in the next year. We want to be able to offer money to law students to help with tuition, books and internship opportunities,” Yondi said. It is with this foundation that the women of KMR can contribute to an ultimate goal of theirs, helping other strong business owners create strong businesses in the minority position. “It is so rewarding to work with someone who just has an idea and help them build that into a lucrative, tangible business,” Jessica added.
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