Posted by: laurenreececnu | April 9, 2020

The Female Leadership Behind Kim Kardashian’s Journey to becoming a Lawyer

Regardless of what your opinion of Kim Kardashian is, or her true reasons as to why she chose to study law (good press, etc), it is easy to agree that the work she is doing is pretty amazing. So far, Kim has helped to release 17 people from prison, some wrongfully convicted, others sentenced to extreme and outrageous sentences. Originally, I wanted to focus my blog post around her journey from being one of the most famous business women/entrepreneurs, to becoming a lawyer. However, after searching “Kim Kardashian Lawyer” into Google, I found something more engaging. The first hit of this search told the story of the woman behind Kim’s new career. I felt that it was important to highlight her and focus on a female leader who may not get as much attention. 

Jessica Jackson Sloan is the legal “superwoman” who is teaching Kim Kardashian the ropes. This all began when Kim spent over a year campaigning for criminal justice reform, after outrage sparked over Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a first-time, non violent crime. Johnson was pardoned a month after Kim met with president Trump, thus sparking her passion for justice. She decided to sign up for a four-year apprenticeship under Jackson Sloan’s guidance. 

Sloan is an avid campaigner for criminal justice reform, and has worked closely with the Trump administration towards prison reform and clemency. She even founded a bipartisan initiative towards fixing the mass incarceration problem in the United States. Since pairing with Kim, they have worked on over a dozen more cases. 

Sloan has an unconventional background. Before working in law, she was a high school dropout with a baby and a drug addict husband. At 22, she watched as he was sentenced to six years in prison, ultimately gauging her interest in law. After seven years in college and law school, while working multiple jobs and bringing her daughter to class. Once she was qualified, she immediately followed her passion and went to work with death row inmates in San Francisco. Her main goal was to tell the “story” of these inmates’ lives, in the hopes that they would receive freedom and justice. She also wanted to bring to attention the unfair mass incarceration rates of African Americans in the United States. Sloan wanted to show that these inmates were human, and deserved a second chance at life, that they should not be disposed of and ignored by society. 

Although Kim Kardashian is a big part of Jessica Jackson Sloan’s work with her criminal justice reform, it is important to give Sloan equal, if not higher, recognition. If Sloan had not powered through her troubled past and achieved her dreams, there would be many still serving a life sentence behind bars. 

Article: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/meet-legal-superwoman-teaching-kim-kardashian-lawyer/#comment

If you are interested in watching Kim’s speech at the White House: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz-oGxLVJpY

Questions to consider:

  1. Had you heard of Jessica before? Why do you think that she has not received as much attention regarding these cases as Kim Kardashian? 
  2. Why do you think that people are so negative about Kim becoming a lawyer? Do you think that it is due to her celebrity status or because she is a woman?
  3. How did Sloan’s story of trying to better her life (going to school for 7 years, working many jobs, and taking care of her child) relate to some of the things we have read for class?
  4. How could society better praise and give recognition to female lawyers who are lost in the depths of negative comments?

Responses

  1. 1. I honestly have never heard of Jessica Jackson Sloan before. I also was fairly unaware of Kim Kardashian’s career in law. I think Jessica has not received as much attention as Kim Kardashian because Kim is already so well known and in the spotlight. Based on Jessica’s background she is already more likely to not be taken so seriously and gain as much popularity. She should receive just as much if not more attention than Kim in my opinion because of her background and how she was able to get through those struggles to become successful.

    2. I think that some of the population do not take Kim seriously based on her and her family’s reputation. Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s is a drama filled reality TV show that doesn’t always portray her and her family as the smartest or most responsible which may play into why people are less inclined to take her seriously. If Kim has gone through the same process as everyone who has studied law then she should be taken just as serious regardless of her reputation or background.

    4. Society needs to realize that female lawyers went through all the same schooling and work (if not more work) than men. I would say that being a lawyer requires more masculine qualities and so when women act in a more masculine demeanor they are likely to receive backlash. Fixing the stereotypes that people have for women needs to change so that women don’t constantly face the double bind.

  2. I had heard about Jessica before but only because of Kim. Although it is unfortunate, I think the only reason Jessica is not as talked about as Kim is because she does not have the glamorous, famous lifestyle that Kim did. Because Jessica had a harsher, less glamorous lifestyle Kim is the one in the limelight.

    I think that most people are negative about Kim becoming a lawyer because it breaks the stereotype society (and herself) have created for her. How she behaved at the beginning of her reality TV show made her this glamorous, ditsy, shallow reality star who didn’t really do much to make a career. Now that she is hardworking and smart in the law field, people are pushing against it because it goes again the norm people think of when they think of Kim K.

    Jessica’s story is the labyrinth we talked about in class. She was a single mom who dropped out of high school. She faced many barriers along the way but she managed to overcome all of them. The odds in society were stacked against her. It was very hard for her to have it all, yet she managed to achieve some sort of balance. Her story reminded me of both the concepts of the labyrinth and having it all that we talked about in class.

    I think it will take a societal overhaul. I think society needs to get over the stigma that men are better than women. Men tend to get praised for their accomplishments more than women do. If we get rid of this false idea then more women lawyers, and more women in other professions as well, will get more recognition and praise.

  3. I had heard of Jessica before reading this article because of her work with Kim Kardashian. I do not think she receives as much attention as Kim because Kim is a celebrity not just on her own in the reality television world but because of the legal work her father did for O.J. Simpson. I think that people are so negative about Kim becoming a lawyer not because she is a woman but because she is coming from such an unconventional background that can feel unfair to some. Also, I personally am not Kim’s biggest fan because she has been the perpetrator of women on women hate on more than one occasion. For example, with Taylor Swift and the phone call debacle. I think that Jessica relates to the struggle we have talked about in class about women having it all. Trying to juggle having a career, going to school, and being a single mom definitely was not effortless. I think that society could give better recognition and praise to women lawyers by portraying them better in the media, rather than the ‘bitch’ or the ‘ditz’ but for the educated women that they are.

  4. I had never heard of Jessica before this blog post. I haven’t really heard of many lawyers, even those in heavily media covered cases. Most people never focus on the lawyers, just on the plaintiff and defendant. The media revolves around the drama that brought them to the court case, not the people trying to solve the problem. Kim Kardashian has definitely received more attention because of her already established fame. She has millions of followers and her entire family’s life is seen through the media. When people constantly know what you are doing, you’re going to be recognized for it. I think celebrities are also more inclined to receive extra attention when doing something positive. Many people have done some pretty amazing things but will never be fully recognized because they are just ordinary people. I think people are negative about Kim becoming a lawyer because she is associated with their show. On the show they are constantly fighting or doing stupid things. I also think a lot of people resent it because they are basically famous for being rich. Another reason could be why she is becoming a lawyer. Although this is not my view, many people may believe that those she is trying to get out of jail deserve to be there. I think that Sloan’s story is absolutely incredible. I think it speaks to the “having it all” topic we have been discussing recently. She was a single parent but still managed to raise her daughter and successfully navigate 7 years of schooling to become a lawyer. That could definitely not have been easy. From the outside it could seem like she had it all, however, her personal needs were probably ignored during this time in order for her to graduate and raise her daughter. I think it also shows that women can make it to the top, but they have a harder time getting there.

  5. To be honest, I had completely forgotten about Kim Kardashian’s career in law until reading this post jogged my memory. I don’t know too much about her law career thus far. I had also never heard of Jessica Jackson Sloan before. I would say that the reason she has received less attention than Kim regarding the cases they have been involved in is because of Kim’s celebrity status. People are so invested in her, whether they are watching for her to succeed or to fail, and will spend more effort in following her career.

    I think that while Kim being woman certainly does play some role in the negative attention that she has received for her law career, and just in general, I do think that her celebrity status is what ultimately causes people to have such an outwardly negative reaction. The Kardashian family is widely seen as being dumb and untalented, which I think causes people to see Kim as incompetent and unqualified to be a lawyer. I have seen a lot of hate for the Kardashians online over the years, and I do think to an extent, some people root for them to fail. However, one could also argue that the dumb reputation that she has been assigned stems from the fact that she is a glamorous woman. So I do think that her celebrity status and being a woman contribute to the negative press she received for pursuing a career in law.

    Jessica’s story of being a high school dropout and becoming a mom very early and then going on to go to school, work multiple jobs, and take care of her child was pretty amazing to read about. I think this is a good representation of “having it all” like we’ve talked a lot about in class. Sloan was able to obtain a career while caring for a child, but she also had to work really hard to make it happen and faced a lot of obstacles throughout her journey.

    We have talked a lot about women not being taken seriously, especially in male-dominated careers like law. Society overall just places more trust and confidence in male professionals. I think having more positive media coverage of female lawyers and celebrating their accomplishments in the field would be one way to attract more attention to female lawyers and show that they are just as educated and competent as their male counter-parts

  6. I hadn’t heard of Jessica Jackson Sloan until this post. I remember hearing rumors of Kim wanting to become a lawyer, but I had never heard of ‘the woman behind the curtain’.
    It sounds like Sloan has been doing this for years (I couldn’t read your full article on her because you need a subscription to The Telegraph). It’s less of an anomaly for Sloan to be fighting for this, because in the public eye, this is her job. It’s much more “crazy” when a reality TV star/entrepreneur gets involved. Kim is the last person some people would name to be an active advocate/participant of criminal justice reform. It’s unexpected – that’s why Kim still has more spotlight in this.
    I think if Kim received a full law degree this will either diminish or enhance the prestige of being a lawyer. I think some people will say she only could do that because she has a lot of money and she really didn’t have to work for it. Or people could think it’s so “cool” that someone like KKW would take the time, get serious about a serious issue and work hard to make a difference in the world. I think those are the two main perspectives we will see from this moving forward. But, I think Sloan’s story is even more amazing – she really came from nothing. She was also inspired by someone she knew in the prison system. She made the work/homelife balance work and was able to get a law degree with millions or a big supportive family (not to diminish Kim’s accomplishments). But there is something to be said for the “American Dream” here with Sloan and she’s helping make that a reality for others in the prison system now.

  7. Had you heard of Jessica before? Why do you think that she has not received as much attention regarding these cases as Kim Kardashian?

    I had not previously heard of Jessica, and I think that is due to being behind such a large name such as Kim Kardashian — her name is essentially her brand. I do not personally follow the Kardashians or her career, but I thought I heard somewhere that she was taking courses online. I am glad to know that someone so accomplished and passionate about reform is educating her and providing guidance. Due to the nature of the Kardashian brand and Kim’s reputation, there is a lot of speculation as to whether she can perform up to the standard of a lawyer, especially as she is seen as dumb and not capable of more than presenting her body and business by many. I don’t think there is necessarily negative feedback about becoming a lawyer because she’s a woman, but being a woman plays into the comments regarding her image/status and the stereotypes associated with that. Others still may see it as a publicity stunt, and since her name is behind the initiative, I am not surprised that Jessica has not received as much recognition.

    The struggle of trying to have it all — balancing a home life and career — is definitely evident here. Jessica had to struggle through working multiple jobs and putting herself through school, all while trying to take care of her child and pursue a career. However, it is also clear here through both of these women that the doubts regarding women’s ambitions are false — they both have or are pursuing their goals and careers, despite any doubts about their abilities that might stand as obstacles. Additionally, pursuing reform justice is not the most popular or widely-accepted career path; there are obstacles within the career itself that can make it difficult, particular as a female lawyer. I spoke with my mom, who is barred as a lawyer in Maryland, although she doesn’t practice now as we live in Virginia. She said that like most women, female attorneys face discrimination and stereotypes as well, and even though they are able to defend people in court, it doesn’t mean that they are immune to comments and criticisms of their personal work. More recognition needs to be given to women like this, and with the support of celebrities and people in the public eye, perhaps more justice can be served as well.


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