Los Angeles-based Criminal and Immigrations attorney, Kristen Hart, is very sought after in her field in the city of angels. Hart started her own law firm with her current partner Michael Cabrera, but now runs the whole firm herself. She is also known for her
non-profit, Dare to Dream LA, which she founded in 2004 to provide aid in education for inner city children. PopWrapped got up close and personal with Kristen Hart to learn more about her unique career.
PopWrapped: How did you become a lawyer?
Kristen Hart: The law wasn't my first love, I'll admit it. I remember at age 5 being seriously devoted to all things Barbie and figured that's what I would be when I grew up, pink corvette and all. Until that cold and stormy day that my mom lowered the boom. Barbie wasn't real. There were some feelings of devastation and disillusionment, most definitely. But luckily for me, I was able to pick myself back up again and form a new dream. I attribute my career choice to Law & Order, John Grisham and the TV show Matlock. I liked the idea of playing devil's advocate, so being a defense attorney was a clear calling.
PW: Where do you get the inspiration for your career?
KH: Truthfully, when you dream of becoming an attorney, you don't imagine past the suit and the title. I didn't have a moment in life from which I draw my inspiration. My inspiration for my career is innate. I would be this passionate about anything that I attempted to do. It's just how I'm built. I think the inspiration I have to work in criminal defense and immigration comes from a deep sense of fairness. I am fascinated with the psychology and motives that cause people to commit crimes, especially the ones where it's pretty obvious from the start, the "plan" needs work! But I also love being the voice of the underdog and finding the cracks in the prosecution's case.
PW: How did the partnership with your current firm come about?
KH: I met Michael Cabrera, my current partner, weeks after learning I had passed the bar exam when I was a brand new baby attorney. We clicked instantly, and I truly accredit that to the fact that I resemble his wife, and my birthday is the day after hers! We both have that strong Taurus personality, so it was an easy fit! Michael has multiple successful businesses, so his travel schedule forced me to embrace my independent nature and take the bull by the horns. However, since that time, I have bought him out, so it is just me running the show these days!
PW: Is law something you’ve always had an interest in?
KH: It truly is. After the Matlock obsession came Murder, She Wrote, Law & Order and every John Grisham book I could find by 5th grade. I'm lucky. My brain just gets the law. There are times that I don't agree with certain sentences or the way the law is drafted, but I can set that aside and apply the law. I can find the loopholes, the places it wasn't followed to a T, and fight for my client's rights.
PW: What does your career mean to you?
KH: That's a tough one. I think everyone is slightly defined by their career. I cannot imagine what my next step would be if I couldn't practice law at all. Criminal Defense and Immigration law, at least the way I practice it, encompasses logic, understanding, some math, a little charm and a lot of theatrics! As such, it's nothing close to boring. However, I have other dreams. I owned a restaurant in Tempe, AZ called Jorge's Chicken & Waffles. It's was an awesome Latin and Jazz fusion restaurant, and it was a huge challenge to get it off the ground because I was living in Los Angeles. Since the sale, I have become the CEO of Los Angeles International Regional Center, and run that project with a business partner, CFO Israel Gonzalez. We obtain EB5 Investors for large Hotel, Restaurant and Lifestyle Centers, and we're in the process of obtaining government approval, so the adventure has just begun. Otherwise, I am expanding my law practice to include a new office in New Orleans, opening January 2017. But for me, I always remind myself that if everything was taken away, I could rebuild. Whatever I do, the most important thing for me is to do something I'm passionate about and to ensure that I can one day add a husband and kids to the mix.
PW: Do you have hobbies outside of your schedule due to the time demand with your career?
KH: Absolutely. As much as the law is complex and interesting, parts of it can bore you to tears or just suck the life out of you. Honestly! I work out or do something active at least six days a week. Whether it's hitting Equinox for cardio and weights, Pilates, Spin, or a hike at Runyon Canyon, I'm most happy when I'm being physical. Aside from that, I feel at peace when I'm reading, cooking, or when I'm painting or re-purposing home decor. My mother does interior design, and I always grew up in homes that were picture-perfect. As I've matured, I've learned to appreciate the sense of accomplishment you feel when you have sanded, painted, and transformed something you'll use in your home. It definitely provides me a creative outlet, since Lord knows I cannot sing! The rest of my time is spent networking for the non-profit that I founded in 2014 called Dare to Dream LA. It's a charity that focuses on benefiting the children of Los Angeles, encouraging and inspiring their education and ensuring that they're healthy enough to be successful. It's a cause that is extremely close to my heart.
PW: What is your most memorable moment in court?
KH: Hmmm. Probably when I had a seizure in the courthouse. That was pretty damn memorable. But in all seriousness, we had a pretty nasty case and our client was arrested when the complaining witness lied to the police. The day we obtained proof of the lie, that was a good day.
PW: Do you mind me asking if you are married? If so, what was your wedding like?
KH: I definitely do not mind. I am not married. I've found that the bigger my dreams get, the harder it is to find someone who I would want to settle down with. I'm pretty traditional in the way I view relationships, so I enjoy the cooking, cleaning and looking-sexy-for-your-man stuff. But I don't want to give up on my entrepreneurial pursuits either. Finding someone who shares my ambition but wants the white picket fence isn't as easy as it would seem. I'm taking applications though!
PW: What can we look out for in the future?
KH: The future has endless possibilities, most assuredly another law office or two, and as the regional center project develops, I know that it will take on a life of its own. I would love to branch out into something more creative, or even fashion or beauty. I love to read and write. I could picture myself writing a book or doing a column, too. As I grow as an entrepreneur, I think more opportunities will come across my desk. I'm looking forward to seeing what they are.
Kristen Hart Takeaways:
A woman should always be: Brave. These barriers aren't going to break themselves down.
She should always allow time for: Self-reflection. You need to know where you've been, and why, to decide where you want to go.
The most important thing she should own is: Lip Gloss. It's a game changer, even without makeup. Trust me.