Kim Kardashian, 41, revealed on December 13 that she finally passed California’s “baby bar” exam, leading her one step closer to becoming a practicing attorney. And even though the soon-to-be ex-wife of Kanye West, 44, failed the exam three times before finally passing it on her fourth attempt, Morghan L. Richardson — a top attorney with Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP in New York City — told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that it may have not set Kim back from her original goal, which was to take the full bar exam in the upcoming year — 2022 — making her an attorney.
In April 2019, Vogue magazine revealed that Kim began a four-year apprenticeship with a San Francisco based law firm one year prior, in the summer of 2018. The former reality star said that she had been working with attorney Jessica Jackson, who founded a national bipartisan advocacy group on criminal-justice reform called #cut50. During Kim’s first year working as an apprentice in 2018, she infamously helped to free a prisoner named Alice Marie Johnson, who is a 67-year-old woman that was jailed for 19 years over a non-violent drug charge. In 2019, CNN reported that Kim helped to free 17 inmates in 90 days. Since then, she has continued to work diligently, fighting for the cause in prisons around the country.
Now, almost four years after Kim gained national attention by freeing Johnson, attorney Richardson EXCLUSIVELY revealed to HollywoodLife the remaining steps that Kim must take to achieve her goal of becoming a practicing attorney who, eventually, wants to start her own law firm like her late father, Robert Kardashian.
HL: Can Kim Kardashian take the full bar exam in 2022 even though she failed the baby bar exam three times?
Morghan L. Richardson: “To be permitted to take the full bar, Kim needs to complete four years of study under the lawyer’s supervision. Her failed attempts at the baby bar exam would only set her back if she stopped working in the field while this was going on. However, judging by her many high-profiled cases that she has worked on, it does not appear that she took a break from her apprenticeship at all.”
HL: What is the passage rate for the Baby Bar exam? Is it abnormal for someone to have to take it four times?
Morghan L. Richardson: “The passage rate on the “baby bar” for California is a reported 21% — which is far less than those who took the regular bar exam. Kim is tenacious, shrewd, and persistent. She’s absolutely shown the world that she is not dumb and should not be underestimated. Normally, students only have 3 attempts for the exam, but due to Covid-19, students got a fourth chance, and Kim made it work.”
HL: Can you explain what Kim has left to do in order to get her law degree and become a practicing attorney?
Morghan L. Richardson: “Kim took the First-Year Law Students’ examination, a requirement for the program for her to continue studying to become a lawyer. Now she needs to continue her legal studies under the lawyers who are supervising her and eventually she’ll qualify to take the regular/full bar exam. To be permitted to take the full bar, she’ll need to complete four years of study under the lawyer’s supervision. If she started in 2018 and has not taken any breaks, she can become a lawyer after passing the full bar.”
HL: What is left to do after she passes the full bar exam?
Morghan L. Richardson: “Once lawyers pass the bar exam and the character and fitness review, we get admitted into the bar, and start the real work of being an attorney. Kim seems focused on criminal justice reform and wrongful convictions, and that is such an important area of the law that is frequently overlooked. Lawyers who work at organizations like the Innocence Project (fighting wrongful convictions) and Public Defenders offices are generally underpaid and struggling with large caseloads. Having Kim’s celebrity and maybe additional funding that comes with that could really be a huge benefit to making a more just system.”
HL: Over the years, people have knocked Kim for not taking the traditional route, which is going to law school. However, the path that Kim chose does not seem any easier. What is the difference in the two paths?
Morghan L. Richardson: “Long before the days of the internet, people could become lawyers by working for other lawyers (apprenticeship) or by attending law school. These days law schools are a clear path to that goal, but the value of working for other lawyers is still strong, and in fact may be more of a challenge than just attending classes. Many law schools these days also offer clinical work so that students can get hands on training because the law is not just academic. Only a few states still offer this apprenticeship path to becoming a lawyer, and frankly, anyone who works hard enough to join my profession gets my respect – there is simply no easy way to become a lawyer!”
HL: Being a mother yourself, how much harder is it to be a mom while, at the same time, studying to become a lawyer?
Morghan L. Richardson: “Being a mom is hard work and very underpaid (laughs)! Lawyer moms are a special breed of women (myself included) and I will happily welcome her into our club. I teach law classes at Pace Law in NY and my students know that I am always on their team in this endeavor! There will always be people critical of Kim or anyone who takes a path less traveled and gets the same place as someone who went to Yale. But at the end of the day, what we all do with our law degrees is what matters the most (and not how we got there). I am rooting for her and anyone who takes this on.”