OPINION: Kim Kardashian Working the System On Her Journey to Become a Lawyer Shows the Power of Privilege
Kellee Knighten Hough
April 16, 2019

Alert the media: a Kardashian has decided to do something besides whore for the media! (Just kidding. This venture has and will be whored out via the media as well.) #YouThought

In her most recent interview and first ever solo cover of US Vogue (Reminder: Beyonce hit it first), Kimberly Kardashian West divulges that since last summer, she has been studying to become a lawyer. WORD?!? This is kinda amazing! Everyone knows she is rebranding, but this is totally unexpected! Is she going to USC and getting a Political Science degree? Maybe after graduation, she’ll go to Stanford Law, or follow in her dad’s footsteps at the University of San Diego School of Law…oh…wait. Hold up. She’s not going to undergrad? She’s not going to law school? Then how TF…?!

Turns out, ladies and gents, there are four states in the continental US whose archaic laws still allow for non-degreed persons to apprentice versus attend school in order to sit for their State Bar and become a lawyer: CA, VA, VT, and WA. (It should be noted that this was practice before the advent of Law Schools in America.) So Kimberly’s pursuit—while not commonly practiced or successful—is not unheard of. Interestingly enough, it’s actually been gaining attention and popularity over the past few years for college grads who desire to become a lawyer, yet don’t have the money for law school. The rising cost of education in this country is making Legal Apprenticeship options some law aspirants’ only hope.

But, let’s get this straight: someone who is insanely popular, that actually has the money to pay for undergrad and professional school, decides to become a lawyer…yet is not going to attend undergrad or professional school to do so. Instead, this person is using the trifecta of wealth, popularity, and privilege to take a shortcut, therefore bypassing the standards set for everyone else. Is Lori Loughlin a Kardashian family friend? Asking for reasons…*side eye*

You may be of the opinion that ANY effort toward getting a Kardashian off of Insta is worthwhile and should not be criticized. A fine argument, if not for the blatant slap in the face this is to every person that struggled through undergrad and law school (and are still struggling to pay for it). Understand this: people who are able to, yet choose to avoid the full blood, sweat and tears process of attaining a law degree probably shouldn’t practice law or be called a lawyer. Preparation for the kind of intense, grueling work a law career brings comes through the PROCESS. Throughout the process, there are standards which measure how well you study, comprehend, retain and regurgitate material necessary for proficiency in the field.

This is why schools are accredited as a measure of their competency, and why you need a degree from an accredited institution in order to attain entry into professional school. Your graduation from a professional school means (rather, is supposed to mean) that you have proven your competency to enter the field. Not only does she lack undergraduate level training, Kimberly may not have the staying power on a professional level either. She stated in her interview: “First year of law school, you have to cover three subjects: criminal law, torts, and contracts. To me, torts is the most confusing, contracts the most boring, and criminal law I can do in my sleep. Took my first test, I got a 100. Super easy for me. The reading is what really gets me. It’s so time-consuming. The concepts I grasp in two seconds.” Well, gee. If an ability to grasp concepts was all you needed, a law professor could do a TEDTalk on Facebook, and we’d all be lawyers. Additionally, reading is like, 80% of being a lawyer. So…come again?

It should be no surprise that one of Kimberly’s major supporters is America’s favorite wishy-washy political pontificator—ol’ milk-dud-headed-ass Van Jones. They worked together on the widely known Alice Johnson case, brought last year before the current occupant of the White House for commutation. The case gained awareness due to Kardashian’s involvement and the media storm surrounding it is what piqued her interest in learning more about the law. It is through Jones’ #cut50 initiative that her apprenticeship is being carried out.

For those worried about how she plans to juggle her Calabasas based business with her required apprenticeship attendance 6 hours away in the San Francisco area, have no fear. Wealth, popularity, and privilege play a part here as well. According to the interview: “…Kim’s two mentor lawyers, Jessica Jackson (with a half-asleep baby draped over her shoulder) and Erin Haney, show up. The three of them are scheduled to study for four hours this afternoon, in an office conference room not far from here—so that Kim does not have to travel every week to San Francisco, as she has been doing since July, to log her required eighteen hours of weekly supervised study.” I’d be willing to bet cash money that any other legal apprentice would not be afforded such flexibility or concession, especially from a mentor lawyer who JUST had a baby.

The fact that she has been afforded this opportunity is yet another example of how white mediocrity stays winning in this country. Monied white people have been paying to play in every professional arena there is, jumping the line while unqualified and amassing wealth, connections, and prestige galore. They keep the circles tight and impenetrable, scrutinizing the resumes and pedigrees of those who have worked hard to clear the hurdles they set while walking their rich, socialite, celebrity friends around them.

When you only have to compete against folks who are as mediocre as you, of course the winning feels valid. It’s why, when minorities slip through and prove to work harder, better, faster, stronger, talks of eliminating affirmative action arise. (But that’s another topic for another day.) Sure, this is the way everything in the world works; no matter the situation or profession, it’s all about who you know. This is absolute truth. That doesn’t mean it’s right, though.

Lowering the bar for the unqualified and unwilling to work rich and famous only hurts our society as a whole. It demonstrates that standards are flexible for those connected to the gatekeepers, and that being rewarded on merit is an impossibility (so, why try?). The people who “work the system” are the ones jacking everything up; they have no clue what they’re doing because they’ve bypassed every standard set up to demonstrate their competency. This means everyone surrounding them has to work harder to ensure they don’t pull the whole thing under with their ineptitude.

We should be TIRED of cleaning up the messes made by those who skated in on their name, celebrity, money, and connections. That’s how we ended up with a reality tv show celebrity as leader of the free world, who only understands what’s right or wrong if another reality tv show celebrity explains it to him. Maybe she told him his ratings would improve if he commuted Ms. Johnson’s sentence. I’m not mad at the outcome, because thank GOD that woman is free from that ridiculously egregious sentence. If being intellectually dishonest to sway someone into getting what you want is Kimberly Kardashian West’s superpower…hell, maybe she’ll be a good lawyer after all. If not, there’s always politics. And she already has a MAGA hat in her bedroom.


Kellee Knighten Hough is a contributing writer for Citizen Education. She blogs at The Belle Kurve and you can find her on Twitter @KHough09.

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