Jessica B. Reddick (from left), Keli L. Knight and Yondi K. Morris of KMR Law Group.
Jessica B. Reddick (from left), Keli L. Knight and Yondi K. Morris of KMR Law Group. — Stradford Stone II

Every law firm has an origin story. It’s fitting that for KMR Law Group — a firm whose founders present it as young, hip and entrepreneurial — the story begins on Twitter.

It was late 2011, and Yondi K. Morris was grinding out her first year of practice, doing contracted document review.

The Beverly native first dreamed of a legal career when she was 5 years old. Her knowledge of litigation came from a close friend of her father. Her desire to pursue it came from the courtroom heroes mythologized on TV and in movies.

Now, after earning her J.D. at Northwestern University School of Law, Morris was learning what many new lawyers learn: The law ain’t what it seems on screen.

“I, one day, was at wits end,” Morris said. “I tweeted, ‘I just need to start my own law firm.’”

Her friend Keli L. Knight was listening.

“Let’s talk about that,” Knight tweeted back.

Like Morris, Knight wanted to be a litigator starting around age 5 and also embraced transactional work once she saw through litigation’s televised sheen.

After growing up in Hyde Park and graduating from DePaul University College of Law in 2006, Knight did property tax law for the Cook County Board of Review, followed by a stint at Sharon A. Zogas & Associates Ltd. She was anxious to set off on her own.

Morris’s friend Jessica B. Reddick was, too.

A native of Washington, D.C., Reddick’s interest in the law began after working in finance and then as a realtor. She joined D.C. firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP as a paralegal in the aviation department and realized she had a legal mind.

She decided to pursue a law degree in a city in which she would enjoy launching a career, landing at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Reddick’s conversations with Morris were the same as Morris’ with Knight.

The trio was complete. The vision was next.

“We wanted to build our brand before we introduced ourselves to the world,” Reddick said, “and not just people in the legal field.”

That’s because Knight, Morris and Reddick view themselves as entrepreneurs as well as lawyers.

Therefore, “building their brand” meant spending a year interviewing people in multiple fields about their experiences building a business.

“We know that most people in our field are older or male or have a mix of both of those resources,” Reddick said. “Being three young women, we wanted to be sure that we were very strategic and smart about how we presented ourselves.”

They hired a consulting firm to help shape their business identity. Their branding plans included discussions about their name, website, logo, business cards and color schemes.

Their colors — raspberry, teal and burnt orange — were shades that represented their respective personalities while remaining gender neutral.

All told, they spoke with about 40 people in marketing, branding, information technology, public relations, graphic design and Web design, along with the law.

Instead of seeking out untapped, up-and-coming areas of law around which to mold their firm — they considered and then rejected learning social media law, for example — Knight, Morris and Reddick asked themselves, “What do we all know how to do?”

“We’ve kind of figured out what we enjoy and what we’re really good at and what works, what’s lucrative and then what fits into those categories,” Knight said.

Practice areas came naturally — property tax law led by Knight, real estate led by Knight and Reddick, marketing led by Morris, along with entertainment law, corporate law and estate planning.

More important than any particular practice area, though, was their vision of taking “lifestyle clients.”

“It’s a higher network client that is trendy, is starting a business (and) needs us in multiple areas,” Knight said. “Someone who can use us in several different ways, and who we will enjoy working with at the same time.”

When the firm launched in September 2012, they needed clients. They sent an e-blast to friends, family and colleagues, announcing their founding. They joined Networking Business International, a group that links professionals from different fields to create a business referral network.

Their first two clients — Pamela Blackman, a businesswoman in entertainment and event management, and her daughter, fashion designer Mieka Blackman-Reese — came from a networking event hosted by Knight’s parents.

They had needs for their individual businesses — such as Blackman’s Joy Management Inc. and Blackman-Reese’s Rich Girl Candy LLC — and a joint nonprofit called the Blackman-Reese Rose Foundation, which they founded with Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose to fund college scholarships for high school students in the Englewood and Chatham communities.

“What really stood out for me was their spirit,” Blackman said. “If they are already working on something for you and it causes them to make another call, they weren’t going to bill you for another (hour).

“That immediately made me say ‘Wow.’ They are already giving back, doing their part to help their fellow man and they haven’t made a dime. That struck me.”

Blackman and Blackman-Reese are examples of the lifestyle client the firm pursues. KMR has helped them form about six companies between them.

To date, Knight has five lifestyle clients, Morris has six and Reddick has seven.

While they pursue those clients, their real estate practice representing buyers and sellers of commercial and residential properties has boomed due to making monthly presentations to real estate firms. The trio has presented to about a dozen firms, resulting in about 200 clients.

Their experience starting a business helps them connect with entrepreneurs from both a startup and legal perspective.

“We’re able to think outside of the box and be creative and approach our clients through the same lens that we approached our law firm,” Morris said.

After helping high school friend Leslie Compton of LDC Tax and Accounting Services reduce her property tax bill, Knight started referring clients to Compton for tax and accounting work while Compton sent clients to Knight.

“A lot of my clients are startups,” Compton said. “They totally trust her, totally trust the company. I have only heard positive reviews.”

Morris’ experience in document review is also paying dividends. The firm now runs KMR Legal Staffing, an e-discovery service in which they link larger firms with contracted attorneys, a service they plan to expand to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Put it all together and you get three lawyers practicing on their own terms.

“Yes, we are educated, we are business savvy, we can represent you well,” Knight said. “But we are young, we are women, we are somewhat trendy, so that’s our brand — where you can have frank business conversations and get candid counsel, and you leave the meeting understanding the words we have said to you.

“We want to be very much ourselves. That’s our brand.”