Walking down the hall toward their law firm, attorneys Kimberly Wallace and Raysheea Turner are making a difference with each step.
“We always say we want to be an active part of the change in which we seek,” Turner said.
For Turner, the journey to being admitted to the bar took her from Brooklyn to Schenectady, earning degrees from Russell Sage College and Western New England Law School along the way.
For Wallace, it started in Jamaica before moving to Albany. She studied at Sage College and Florida State University Law School.
“I use to be that talkative child that would have outbursts, that would ask all the questions, so they always said ‘you’re going to be a lawyer,’” Wallace said.
The pair spent the early part of their careers working in public defender offices and other firms. It wasn’t until October 2019 that the attorneys met at an event at the Capital Center.
Wallace and Turner realized they got along well and had a lot in common. But they also noticed something odd about their profession.
“We looked around the Capital Region and we’re like, 'there’s no firm that really has anybody that looks like us,'” Turner said.
According to a 2020 American Bar Association survey, 5% of all lawyers are African American, which is the same percentage as 10 years ago.
Wallace and Turner are working to change that.
In February 2020, they opened their own law firm: Wallace Turner Law.
“It’s a different type of motivation when you have your own responsibilities and knowing you have to get your own clients, make your own money, pay your staff for you to survive,” Wallace said.
The firm started off remotely, which helped a lot when the pandemic hit a few weeks later. Two years later, they now have an office located in Schenectady and are planning to move to an Albany location soon.
The law partners focus on real estate and business law.
“We are helping young entrepreneurs develop their businesses, open up there businesses and actually make money because that’s what it is about for a lot of people," Turner said. "And we’re helping first time home buyers.”
The lawyers take a lot of pride in being able to start something from scratch. But they say this just the start. Wallace and Turner are hoping to see their practice continue to grow, leave a legacy and inspire younger generations.
“Lawyers are Black. Lawyers are women. Lawyers are immigrants," Wallace said. "Lawyers come in all different shapes and sizes, and we’re going to dominate the space and command that respect.”