Burgundy Fox model Kasia Szczerbinski is an attorney at law based out of Chicago. She is a freshly licensed lawyer with her own side hustle, Joyeux Juridique, that focuses on finding the joy in legal services and drafting plain English agreements that her clients can actually understand. Kasia is no stranger to drafting – she’s had experience drafting legislation at the county and state levels, she served as a pediatric lawyer working in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts, and she’s an ALTA-certified French Legal Language translator. More recently, she’s been published in places such as the Children’s Legal Rights Journal and on The LawTog’s blog.
Leslie Wong: You’ve done a lot of things that would make me/people sick with nerves, like the LSAT, law school, and bar exams. Tell us where you find the self-confidence to get through it all and what that journey has been like for you?
KS: I have the most amazing support system. My friends and family are the absolute best. Things have not always been the easiest and I’ve had my fair share of setbacks. But I know I have these cheerleaders in my corner for me that will show up, rain or shine. When it’s hard to believe in myself, I can take comfort in knowing that my support system is filled with amazing people. I trust their judgment, so, if they’re able to believe in me, I know that I can get through.
This past fall, I had a big set back – I failed the bar exam. I had taken the Illinois bar and I missed the mark. It was truly devastating – that kind of stuff really messes with your mojo. It was hard to get back up to do it again, and I would not have been able to do it without so many amazing people raising me up when I needed it the most. It really does take a village and I love that my village always makes me feel right at home with myself, no matter where I am in the world.
LW: Have you encountered pushback as a woman in the legal profession? If so, how do you/have you overcome it?
Oh, definitely. Law is a boys’ club in a lot of ways still, despite all of the amazing women who have joined the profession. Depending on the day, it can range from being a slight annoyance to something that really gets me down. To overcome it, I just have to push myself to be better. I have to be able to do everything a male candidate can do, and I have to be able to do it better, wearing lipstick and heels.
I also try to consciously support the other women around me. Way too often, women are pitted against each other professionally as though there’s this unspoken rule that there can only be one. It’s this weird trap that forces women to go head to head with one another, and that’s no go. It’s a pretty surefire way to make sure you have an arch nemesis and it means that you’re wasting your time fighting one battle with one person while the rest of the war is going on without you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A rising tide lifts all boats – we all can get so much farther by supporting one another when we can and by focusing on standing out from the group as a whole based off of our accomplishments and capabilities.
LW: Tell us about the launch of Joyeaux Juridique. What made you want to start this business?
Right after I graduated law school, I had a summer looming ahead of me filled with studying for the bar exam. I just really needed something more. I was feeling really insecure about the exam and about my finances, and then a great friend of mine started talking to me about entrepreneurship. She told me about the work that she does, how she’s able to do the work remotely, and how rewarding it has been for her to help other people solve their problems, and I was sold. I already had so much experience in the field without ever realizing that it was even an option I could pursue.
It took a few months for me to really get in the swing of things, but I’m finally in a place where I’m taking my side hustle seriously and I absolutely love it. My focus has shifted since first opening my business – I’m less VA-orientated now and more legally inclined – but the drive to problem solve and find creative solutions is definitely still there.
LW: How do you take time to celebrate yourself?
I am a huge supporter of “Wine and Whine” nights. There are few things that I like more than putting my feet up with my pals, cracking open a bottle (or box) of wine, and chatting about what’s been going on. It’s a great way to relieve stress.
Plus, I’m of the opinion that venting is super important. If you do it the right way, it allows you to productively get things off your chest to a neutral partner. So, when you actually have to deal with whatever it is that is frustrating you, you’ve already worked through the anger and annoyance and can focus on addressing the actual issue itself.
LW: If you could share some wisdom with your younger self, what would it be?
Stop being so hard on yourself. There will always be people that don’t like you for whatever reason, but you shouldn’t let those people overshadow the others that love you without rhyme or reason.
LW: Tell us about something exciting you’re working on now.
I recently just started planning my first e-course! It’s going to focus on the deadly don’t for businesses from a legal perspective. Hopefully, I’ll be launching by the end of the summer/early fall.
LW: Name one woman you admire and why?
Oh, this one is easy. Anne Boleyn. I have been her biggest fan for so long. I remember, in middle school, we had a “Living Wax Museum” project where everyone was supposed to dress up as someone famous and be able to talk about that person’s life. My classmates were all celebrities and athletes and… I was Anne Boleyn. Anyways.
She was such a tragically misunderstood character in history because she was so ahead of her time. AB was absolutely brilliant – she was witty and ambitious, and she never stopped. That kind of powerhouse drive is so inspirational. During a time where women were supposed to fit in a very specific box, she found a way to affect true change. She took control of her own destiny, started fashion trends (her infamous French hood showed some of her hair – how scandalous!), and made a name for herself.
Basically, she would have been a Fearless Fox.
Check out www.joyeuxjuridique.com and follow Kasia on Instagram @polskakas
Leslie Wong is the Founder of Burgundy Fox, a subscription lingerie brand on a mission to celebrate all bodies and empower women to love themselves. Burgundy Fox strives to create a more inclusive fashion experience and a kinder message about beauty for women now and in the future.