From Legal Project Manager to Divorce Coach
After completing her joint MBA/JD, Kim West worked in the telecommunications industry, focusing on the business side of things. When she left that industry, she was able to utilize her JD by working as a legal project manager for Boulder Brands. She later relocated to San Fransisco to work at Fitbit. Prior to this, Kim went through a divorce that challenged her emotionally and intellectually, which made her realize how little support there was out there for people in the process of a divorce. For years she sat on the idea of drawing on her experience to start a business offering divorce support to others navigating the process. However, that changed this past May, when she officially put her legal job on the back burner and launched When It’s Knot Forever.
The Road to Law School
Kim West knew early on that she would start her own business. She pursued a joint MBA and JD program at the University of Colorado because she knew that the law degree would have a lot of utility in the business world. She found that the degrees complemented each other very nicely and it gave her an understanding of law from a business owner perspective.
“I’ve always been attracted to the idea of being my own boss in theory, I just didn’t have any big bold idea that I wanted to risk everything to drop and pursue.”
After law school, she worked for a telecommunications company that provided MBA students the opportunity to move around and try different roles in management.
During this time, she had to deal with getting divorced while also trying to establish her career. She found this experience to be incredibly isolating.
“Whenever you get married, you never expect to be going through a divorce so it’s always a shock.”
Kim recognized that even with a law degree, she had very little knowledge about the process.
“I realized in going through the divorce process I had no idea what I was getting myself into, what the process entailed, and even what marriage really signed me up for.”
One thing that shocked her was the idea of marital debt, and the possibility of being liable for your spouse’s incurred debt, even if you were not aware it existed. Upon learning this, she got the idea to help others going through the process by providing support and guidance, especially in how to avoid these types of situations.
Although she had this great idea, Kim was not quite ready to put a plan in place. She continued working and kept this in the back of her mind.
Kim found that she wasn’t passionate about the telecommunications industry and soon left to join Boulder Brands, a natural foods company. This is where she started working in a legal role. She did legal product management and worked with a very small legal team of only four other people.
After a year and a half at Boulder Brands, Kim moved to San Francisco to join the legal team at Fitbit. Here she worked with corporate legal teams and she specifically enjoyed working with the Brand Protection Team, making sure that counterfeit and grey market goods were being tracked down and prosecuted.
Although she still does occasional brand protection consulting for Fitbit, Kim finally decided to focus on starting When Its Knot Forever.
Taking on a New Role
Kim is launching her business in stages. She currently has a blog where she posts twice a week, providing free content to others. She also offers coaching services which are usually over the phone or through video conferences.
Kim offers advising at all stages surrounding marriage, including pre-marital advising. She wants to encourage people to go into marriage “eyes-wide-open” so they set themselves up for success.
Everyone is different so she tailors to each client’s unique situation. In general, for those that are in “the trenches of the divorce process,” she provides resources to keep them informed and helps them strategize in their decisions. Kim does not give any legal advice but if needed can refer them to a divorce attorney in her network. Additionally, Kim makes sure that they are staying organized and taking care of themselves because divorce can be an overwhelming and emotional process.
For her post-divorce clients, Kim works to figure out what challenges they are struggling with and how to overcome them. She re-frames their situation into a positive opportunity for personal growth and helps them set measurable goals to get to a healthy place.
“I find that people tend to tie up their identity in the relationship, and they don’t have a good solid sense of who they are without that person. That’s something we can work on.”
Kim has a lot more coming up. Right now she is working on an eBook and an online course. She wants to reach as many people as she can, no matter what their price points are.
Kim did not think the transition out of law was difficult because she was so passionate about helping others in their divorces. In fact, she finds that because she has so many things she wants to create, it is difficult to establish an order and know what to do first.
She knows her law degree has been an asset in helping her grow her business. The way she approaches problems in her coaching is very strategic, and because she has been trained to spot issues, she excels at helping others foresee potential risks and potential opportunities.
When asked if there is anything Kim would have done differently, she says that she would have started this business sooner.
“I think we are used to the perceived safety and security of our jobs and there’s a fear of taking a risk and being vulnerable, which keeps us from sharing our creative work.”
Kim says this entire experience has given meaning to her divorce and because she is so passionate about her work, she only wants to continue sharing her voice and providing guidance.
Kim’s biggest piece of advice, aside from don’t be scared of risk, is to surround yourself with people you aspire to be like. People tend to underestimate how powerful this is. If you make connections with others who are doing what you want to do, and make an effort to be in their environment, you will inevitably learn from them. Of course it’s a two-way street and you can share resources and benefit from each other. Don’t think that you have to do it alone with no help or support.
“You’d be surprised how far you can push yourself when you’re willing to learn from others.”