After experiencing corporate name-calling and working ultra-long hours building someone else’s business, Keli Knight, Yondi Morris-Andrews, and Jessica Reddick decided to create the change they sought. The trio, three female African American lawyers who’d responded to each other’s tweets about creating a law firm, founded Knight Morris Reddick Law Group (KMR) in 2012.
To date, their boutique Chicago-based firm has built out a rolodex of high-profile clientele, including a famous chef, recording artists, and a professional athlete. They cover real estate, corporate, and entertainment law and have also built a secondary business (KMR Legal Staffing) out of helping other firms and corporations staff legal support. Set on changing several key practices they didn’t appreciate at their old firms, they have invested in building a business that welcomes and empowers its employees and clients.
Here are three philosophies they have incorporated into KMR’s culture to differentiate from the firms they left behind.
1. Physical presence isn’t mandatory.
“We eliminated the whole ‘being there just to be there’ expectation,” says Morris-Andrews, adding that sitting in meetings and chatting with coworkers isn’t necessarily the most optimal environment for every employee. KMR aims to prioritize productivity and flexibility. While our staff can come into KMR’s downtown Chicago office as much as they’d like, the partners don’t penalize anyone for working from home. They also encourage off-site meetings in places that are convenient for clients.
2. The days of hardcopy rolodexes and fax machines are over.
“If my client needs to be able to reach me on my cell? I can do that. If they want to limit our correspondence to email? That works too,” says Morris-Andrews. She and her partners embrace that as technology has evolved, a lot of the formalities between lawyers and clients have changed. While they still abide by certain etiquette and best practices (e.g. no Snapchatting contracts or discussing confidential matters via Bluetooth!), the KMR partners emphasize the importance of communicating in whatever secure way their clients prefer.
3. Make your tweets count.
“We were surprised at how many connections we’ve made and how much new business we’ve brought in through social media,” says KMR lawyer Jessica Youngblood. Particularly in cases where people might not think they need or can afford an attorney – things like contract negotiations or estate settlements – KMR has taken to blogging and tweeting about basic legal situations to inform (and attract) potential clients.