Keli Knight, KMR Law Group

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation. Born and raised in Chicago, Keli Knight ’03 has taken great strides to break down barriers for African American women in the legal industry.

Now a founding partner of Knight | Morris | Reddick Law Group (KMR) in Chicago, Keli and her partners have embraced their uniqueness in their field of law and used it to fuel a solid and successful brand.

A young entrepreneur practicing law on her own for about six months, Keli was scrolling through her Twitter feed when she came across a tweet from a friend of hers, Yondi Morris, explaining that she wanted to open her own firm. After responding to that tweet, Keli learned that Yondi had been discussing this business idea with a classmate, Jessica Reddick. The three women decided to set up a meeting and KMR Law Group was born.

“Working with Yondi and Jessica is great, as I knew it would be,” says Keli. “We have very similar family backgrounds and morals, but we also have very complementary personalities as well. What one lacks, one of the others will be able to supplement.”

“It’s also nice to always have someone else who shares the same goal (the benefit of the firm). We encourage, motivate and trust each other,” she adds.

The new founding partners spent a year planning and meeting with accountants, marketing professionals and other partners at firms, so that they could be confident in knowing they were on the right track, had a solid brand and would be taken seriously.

The main goal of their firm is to transition to a place where they are able to provide services and funds to those in need. “We strive to provide great legal services,” says Keli. “So many people do not have access to an attorney or choose not to hire one because of the assumption that the cost is prohibitive or the experience will be intimidating. We love to prove that stereotype wrong.”

The fact that KMR Law Group is owned and operated by three young African American women is unique. However, that is not the only reason this firm stands out among others in Chicago.

“What really sets us apart is our brand,” says Keli with a smile. “We wanted to be able to truly connect with our target clients. We wanted to be transparent, approachable and understandable.”

Keli and her partners ensure that their clients are educated and comfortable throughout the legal processes that they are paying for. “We often make ourselves available after business hours and give out our cell phone numbers. We like to communicate in more casual terms that our clients can understand and can feel comfortable with. Not to say that the traditional and formal way of doing business isn’t a good thing, but we like to be able to make doing business with us enjoyable and we never want to intimidate our clients,” Keli adds.

Prior to founding KMR, Keli worked at the Cook County Board of Review and then as an independent contractor at a small real estate firm until making the decision to go out on her own.

Keli earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Lewis and then graduated from DePaul University College of Law in 2006. She believes that her experiences at Lewis helped mold her into the self-assured woman she is today.

“I have always been a confident person, but maintaining my individuality and embracing my differences among everyone else on campus definitely enhanced my confidence,” says Keli.

Keli also found that Lewis prepared her for the real world and taught her to coexist with people who did not come from her same background. With a burning desire to see the world, Keli loves traveling in her spare time. She also enjoys spending time at the beach and trying new restaurants, especially those with rooftops.

Keli, a devoted leader, has demonstrated the heights you can reach with a bit of confidence and perseverance. She would offer the same piece of advice that she has followed throughout her career: “Identify what it is that you want and stop at nothing to achieve it!”

October 2016

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