Going Solo Upon Passing the Bar – Guest Lecture with Katie Kizer and Amanda Graham

kizergrahamWhen I first read and listened to Katie and Amanda’s interview in Crain’s 20 in their 20s I was intrigued.  So, I contacted them and asked them to share their story with Solo Practice University.

Here are two exceptional new lawyers committed to representing those charged with or convicted of crimes.  They are also passionate perfectionists when it comes to representing those who need legal services.  So much so, they realized that the only way they could do the work they wanted to do in the way they wanted to do it was to open their own practice immediately upon passing the bar. I know many experienced criminal lawyers who may question the wisdom to do this.  But I dare you to listen to this interview and see if you maintain the same opinion afterward. These ladies are the real deal.  And they did it right.  All new lawyers who want to go solo… listen and learn.

The audio is about 46 minutes. Listen directly below.

Download (.MP3)


Katie J. Kizer is a founding partner of the Law Office of Kizer & Graham.  She graduated summa cum laude from DePaul University College of Law, with a certificate in criminal law.  Katie has researched and written about numerous areas in criminal law, including law and media, prosecutorial misconduct, jury voir dire, and ethical issues in criminal defense.  She has published work on the continued criminalization of gang membership in the DePaul Journal for Social Justice, and she co-authored the Illinois Post-Conviction Manual, published by the Illinois State Bar Association.  Katie has spoken at seminars about Illinois Post-Conviction practice, unjust sentencing laws for federal drug crimes, and the criminalization of gang membership.

Katie’s range of criminal defense experience includes federal and state trials, death penalty cases, appeals and post-conviction petitions, federal habeas corpus petitions, presidential commutation petitions, and U.S. Supreme Court petitions for certiorari.  Katie volunteers with First Defense Legal Aid as an on-call attorney for people arrested without a lawyer, as well as the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project, where she assists homeless individuals with expungement and sealing of their criminal records.  She is dedicated to criminal defense work and considers herself a fighter against the unjust mass incarceration in the U.S.


Amanda N. Graham is a founding partner of the Law Office of Kizer & Graham. She graduated summa cum laude from DePaul University College of Law, with a certificate in criminal law. Her defense work experience includes state and federal trials, death penalty cases, direct appeals, and post-conviction and habeas corpus petitions.

In 2011, Chicago’s Federal Defender Program awarded her the Judge William J. Campbell Award for her “demonstrated devotion and dedication” to criminal defense.Amanda researches and writes about various areas in criminal law, including the death penalty, the importance of investigation, effective juror voir dire, and the effect of media coverage in criminal cases. She co-authored the ISBA’s Illinois Post-Conviction Manual. She lectures at CLE programs on post-conviction work, and regularly speaks on panels about starting a public interest law practice in Chicago.

Amanda is a Chicago board member of the National Lawyers Guild. She volunteers with First Defense Legal Aid as an on-call attorney for people arrested and without a lawyer, and with the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project as an attorney assisting homeless clients with expungement and sealing of criminal records. It is Amanda’s hope that her career and personal achievements reflect a dedication to the zealous defense of her clients and to the end of the unjust mass incarceration in the U.S.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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5 comments on “Going Solo Upon Passing the Bar – Guest Lecture with Katie Kizer and Amanda Graham

    • They really are inspiring and when we hear more and more about the committed grads who are doing it and doing it well, hopefully we can put to rest the idea that it can’t be done and instead have the law schools providing even more tools to help.

  • Great interview! I wish I had the courage to start my own practice right out of school – for me, two layoffs in 6 months forced my hand into self-employment. I applaud other attorneys who have the fortitude to 1. figure out what they are passionate about (professionally) before graduating law school; and 2. take control of their own professional destiny from the very beginning. In a profession where so many lawyers joylessly slog through their work every day, Amanda & Katie have found something they love to do, and as a result, will no doubt have bright careers ahead of them.

  • I really enjoyed this interview, thank you for sharing it. These are some inspiring young attorneys who clearly have a lot going for them.
    One comment: I was a little disappointed when they dodged the student loan question. For most young attorneys (considering starting a practice or not), the student debt issue really is the lead balloon. I would have loved to hear how they addressed it in their practice.

    • I understand where you are coming from. However, some people are private and I wasn’t going to probe further nor do I want to make conjecture about their circumstances. I guess we’ll have to just enjoy their story as you obviously did.

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