At an early age, Kyla Lee knew she wanted to be a lawyer one day.
Lee remembers stressing about her grades while in elementary school and how that could impact her future law career.
Lee’s mom would tell her that she came out of the womb a lawyer.
“I was always arguing and debating when I was a kid. I was always really interested in justice and social activism and people’s rights and violations of rights and so as long as I can remember I wanted to be a lawyer and I lived my life working towards that goal,” says Lee on the latest episode of Face to Face.
Initially, Lee thought she would go into Indigenous law, working on land claims and treaty rights. However, she realized you can spend an entire career working on one or two cases.
While in law school, she fell in love with criminal law which would allow her to work on cases about protecting the rights of individuals while “challenging state and police actions.”
Lee believes having Indigenous lawyers working in different facets of law helps to break down barriers.
“I think seeing Indigenous people who are real estate lawyers, and who are civil litigation lawyers and do wills and estates and all sorts of areas of law tells young Indigenous people who are looking for role models, look you can be anything you want to be and then within that profession you can do anything you want to do and there’s no barriers facing you just because you’re Indigenous,” says Lee.
“There’s no required pathway you have to follow, do what makes you happy. The world should be and is your oyster.”
Much of Lee’s work focuses on drinking and driving offences.
In addition to practicing law for Acumen Law Corporation in Vancouver, B.C., Lee also hosts a web series and a podcast.
She has a significant online presence with over 100,000 followers across various social media platforms.
“I feel a responsibility because I have all this power as a lawyer to try and make the law more accessible for people and I think there’s a major failing of the legal profession is that lawyers tend to hold themselves out as above everything else, above the fray, we often say. And the problem with that is we don’t seem accessible to members of the general public, to people who are looking for a lawyer,” says Lee.
“You don’t think your lawyer is going to be some fun approachable person who understands you on a human level and who is human and I wanted to break down that stigma.”
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Lee says she has to be careful what she says because of the professional consequences. Becoming a lawyer is not the only childhood dream that Lee has seen come to fruition.
Earlier this year, a children’s book she had written was published.
Sit Still Jackson was inspired by Lee’s niece.
Lee has been trying to get published since she was roughly 8 years old but acknowledges submitting pitches that are written in pencil aren’t typically taken seriously.
Now that she has one book under her belt, she does intend to write more and hopes to complete a novel.