Kanomé Jones
Class of 2024 graduate Kanomé Jones, J.D.

After working nearly 10 years in Chicago as an actor, casting director and producer, Kanomé Jones decided to move on to a new stage: the courtroom.

“I loved the art, not the profession,” she says. “In my final job as an associate producer, I was getting involved with contracts and legal concerns, and that’s when I considered becoming a lawyer.”

Jones took the leap, applied and was accepted into the UC Irvine School of Law.

“As somebody interested in change and shifting the status quo, I wanted to go to a school that is actually doing that,” she says. “And in that respect, UC Irvine stuck out.”

While Jones says her law school experience “has been a roller coaster, with ups and downs,” she is thriving in her final year. She’s the first Black woman to be editor-in-chief of the UC Irvine Law Review, and on April 11, Jones argued a pro bono case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as part of UCI Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic.

After graduating in May and taking the bar exam in July, the first-generation college graduate from Little Rock, Arkansas, will move to New York City to work in the litigation practice group at Fenwick & West. At the firm, Jones will work in intellectual property and patent law while continuing her pro bono advocacy, championing diversity in the legal profession and mentoring young law students.

“I’m looking forward to maximizing change and impact in serving my organization and doing good in the world,” she says. “I’m looking forward to doing that now as a lawyer.”

What was your favorite class at UC Irvine?

Lawyering skills was my favorite class because it emphasized the role of storytelling in the law. It’s much easier to understand and connect with someone’s legal argument about how they were wronged when it’s presented through the lens of a compelling story. The class made me realize that I enjoy writing legal briefs and puzzling information together to create a legal story. It was through my lawyering skills class that I knew I wanted to be a litigator. Finally, I loved the class so much that in my second year, I was selected to be a research fellow so that I could help first-year law students in their journey to become excellent legal writers.

What advice would you give to a student starting their academic journey at UC Irvine? Or what advice would you give to your first-year self?

The advice I would give to my first-year self and any student starting their academic journey is to set aside consistent time each week to either treat yourself to something nice or just practice self-kindness. It does not matter how long or what is being done. Law school was a tough journey. I found it easy to become consumed by the work and feel as if there was “never enough time” to take a moment and breathe. That is not true. I’ve learned that the harder the work or the challenge, the more intentional you have to be about self-care. I would tell my first-year self and others to stay vigilant about self-care so that they can have the energy they need to enjoy the entire experience.

“From the moment I met Kanomé in her very first week at UCI, she impressed me, and she has not stopped impressing almost three years later. Kanomé has a brilliant mind, more energy than anyone I’ve ever met and an insatiable curiosity about the world around her. What impresses me most about Kanomé is how much she cares for others in big and small ways. She has used her talents to strengthen and enrich the UCI community in countless ways. I cannot wait to see what she does next to change the world.”

– Alison Mikkor, professor of lawyering skills

Read more #IamUCI – Class of 2024 stories