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Kimber Russell Vanguard Advocates LLP

Kimber Russell

Kimber is a criminal defense attorney who prioritizes protecting her client's rights at the firm she co-founded, Vanguard Advocates. Kimber is an active member of the Chicago legal community, taking on many leadership roles within the Chicago Bar Association and the Women's Bar Association of Illinois. Kimber's focus is on diversifying the legal profession, especially by supporting women and people of color in accessing, navigating and succeeding in law school, the bar exam, and the legal profession at large. She is one of the hosts of LST's I Am The Law podcast.

Kimber has a JD from DePaul University College of Law, masters from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and BS from Northwestern University.

Podcast episodes

Immigration Battles: Human Trafficking Beyond Borders

Episode #56
August 21, 2023

Angela Alvarado, a career-changer and recent graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, discusses her role as an immigration lawyer with a legal aid organization in south Texas. She sheds light on the complexities and challenges faced by victims of human trafficking, the importance of empathy, and how she helps clients navigate the immigration system. Angela discusses the intake process and goes into detail about T visas.

Mediation and Arbitration as Alternatives to Litigation

Episode #53
May 22, 2023

After a long career in litigation, Diane Sorenson, a graduate of the University of Kansas, is transitioning to arbitration and mediation, also known as alternative dispute resolution or ADR. She discusses the differences and similarities between litigation, arbitration, and mediation. For ADR, experience is paramount not only for getting cases to resolve but also figuring out how to actually resolve them.

Litigating Brain Injuries Against Huge Insurance Companies

Episode #52
August 24, 2020

Ilya Lerma, a graduate of the University of Arizona, runs a small solo practice where she takes on insurance companies in complicated brain injury cases. She discusses the difficulty of running a contingency-fee practice, litigating as a woman of color, and how she manages the stress of being a lawyer.

Times Are Changing in Real Estate Practice

Episode #51
August 17, 2020

Dan Drake, a graduate of Stetson College of Law, served in law enforcement for a decade before going to law school and becoming a prosecutor. He discusses how student debt is a real issue and is what prompted him to get into real estate transactions and litigation at a small firm in Florida.

In-House Counsel at the City of Detroit

Episode #46
May 13, 2019

Choi Portis, a graduate of Thomas Cooley Law School, is a lawyer for the water and sewerage department in Detroit. She handles litigation for the department, develops policies and procedures, and reviews contracts—so one day is rarely the same as the next.

State Public Defender: The Complexities of Criminal Defense

Episode #43
April 22, 2019

Alisha Backus, a graduate of Barry University School of Law, has an inspiring passion for her work representing people accused of crimes. When she was younger, she experienced the ugly side of our justice system as a victim of domestic violence. While this understandably causes others to choose a different path, it helps her suss out reliable information from not only victims, but her clients as well.

Criminal Defense: The Business Side of Being a Lawyer

Episode #36
March 20, 2016

Matt Swain, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law, started his own criminal defense practice in a college town 20 miles outside of Oklahoma City immediately after graduation. In this episode, Matt describes the importance of understanding your business inside and out and the techniques he uses that ultimately make him more efficient and more likely to notice opportunities that help his clients move forward with their lives.

Business Litigation and Transactions for Commercial Lenders

Episode #31
December 14, 2015

Andy Park, a graduate of the Temple University Beasley School of Law, discusses his work as a junior associate for a mid-size business law firm in Philadelphia. He tells us about his involvement in negotiating and originating loans, litigating and settling loan defaults, and selling commercial real estate acquired from a trial verdict or settlement. While he's still new to practice, he sees how observing issues in litigation can positively affect his work reviewing his clients' deals.

Staying Afloat to Pursue a Passion in Environmental Advocacy

Episode #27
October 19, 2015

Justin Bloom, a graduate of Tulane University School of Law, went to law school to right environmental wrongs via the law. In this episode, he talks about his range of experiences. While his first job was defending environmental takings cases, his career took a winding path from tort litigation to immigration. He even quit a job after a boss asked him to coach clients to lie. He also worked directly for a model environmental advocacy organization that utilized citizen action to help government agencies remedy legal violations of the Clean Water Act. Today, Justin runs a nonprofit that uses a variety of strategies to protect Southwest Florida coastal areas. While he and other volunteers work to make the organization financially stable, he's practicing law on the side to ensure that he is too.

Federal Pro Se Clerk: Helping Judges Dispose of Cases

Episode #25
October 5, 2015

Vail Gardner, a graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, served the Middle District of North Carolina for six years as a law clerk. In this episode, she describes the various types of federal law clerks, including each position's pros and cons. Vail was a pro se clerk, which means she worked directly for the district court as opposed to an individual judge. We'll hear about her role in drafting the court's opinions, as well as her current challenge: reentering law practice after taking time off for her family.

Leaving the Law: What Drove One Lawyer to a High School Classroom

Episode #22
July 27, 2015

Jaye Lindsay, a graduate of Southern Illinois University School of Law, decided after 3.5 years that he’d had enough. His first job out of law school wasn't glamorous, but the steady pay and hands-on litigation experience made up for a lack of health insurance and low hourly wages. But over time, he wanted a better standard of living and work-life balance. After going solo and finding it impossible to manage his average-size debt load, he decided to become a high school special education teacher and practice law on the side. This episode also offers a window into the economics of small law firms, the trade-offs that clients face when they cannot afford a lawyer, and how people juggle and evaluate life priorities.

Economic Development in St. Louis

Episode #18
June 29, 2015

Laura Hughes, a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law, is a project manager who is acutely aware of the fact that time is money. She immediately went to work for a public-private partnership after law school at the Gateway EB-5 Investment Center. EB-5 is a United States visa program that entitles foreigners to obtain a permanent visa in exchange for an investment in certain economic development projects. She operates out of the World Trade Center in St. Louis, playing matchmaker for foreign investors and local real estate developers. From due diligence to navigating regulations, she uses her pre-law and legal experience to help St. Louis prosper.

A Closer Look at Insurance Defense Litigation

Episode #17
June 21, 2015

Meghann Joyce, a graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law, is an insurance defense litigator. While she's hired and paid by insurance companies, her clients are the insured defending, among other claims, professional liability and employment suits. Despite being a litigator, she's almost never in the court room. Instead, her work can be categorized as largely pre-trial practice. Her job responsibilities and expectations have evolved since she started, but the unpredictability of her days continues. A lawyer's duty of loyalty is to the client, but Meghann exemplifies how business realities produce complex ethical dilemmas.