There’s an allure to peeking into the lives of those who exude luxury, specifically those who work hard to get what they want. It’s impossible to scroll on TikTok and not see flashy cars, designer handbags, trips to tropical destinations, and creators living the life you likely have pinned to your 2023 vision board.
In a niche corner of TikTok wealth is Black girl luxury. This includes a community of lawyers who will have you wishing for a Legally Blonde remake starring a Black Elle Woods. The women behind the hashtags chronicling their big city lives are absolute powerhouses, strutting into law offices and taking their viewers with them as they embark on girls’ trips and spend freely.
Creators such as @lexnoell, @legallypriscilla, and @tiara_thelawyer are just a few of the women opening up about what it takes to be a lawyer and offering insight into what success looks like for them. They spoke with Passionfruit about what it’s like for Black creators to balance their work and passions, acquire brand deals, and create content that’s authentic to themselves.
Alexis Whitaker (@lexnoell) is a corporate lawyer working in Houston whose content immediately pulls you in as she takes you from her long study hours in law school to her first year as an attorney. Coming from a background in broadcast journalism, Whitaker knew since she was a little girl that she wanted to work in entertainment law and now works at a firm representing one of the biggest media corporations, Paramount.
The inspiration for her content started with taking note of what other creators shared about their lives. Between studying for the bar exam and juggling a course load, TikTok was the only social media break she took.
“I would see different women, or men even, that will post living in cool places or their decor for their home or, you know, traveling or shopping or buying something,” Whitaker told Passionfruit. “And I was like man, I’m working hard now to live like this.”
Whitaker attended Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, which has a predominately Black student body. The school allowed her to work at her goals in an environment that offered the resources to prove to herself that she has what it takes to make it in law. Now, she hopes her content inspires others in that position to keep on pushing forward.
Creating content while being Black does come with challenges, though, and Whitaker said consistency is key despite juggling busy hours at her “day job.” She found that Black creators often struggle with getting brand deals.
“It may be hard for brands to find how we fit into their niche but it’s important for black creators to stay true to our brand while still being open to niche markets of various brands,” Whitaker added via email.
Despite the opportunity of visibility TikTok as a platform offers, the representation of Black women in law continues to lack. According to 2021 findings from the American Bar Association Journal, the percentage of Black associates is 5% and Black female associates make up around 3%. Law is a time-consuming and expensive field to get into, and Whitaker recalls what it was like taking the leap to pursue her passion.
“There’s so many people I know that definitely were like, ‘No, I don’t want to study for the LSAT or I can’t afford to study for the LSAT,’” Whitaker said via phone call. “I remember planning when I was going to apply to law school that I would use about $500 to apply to law school because I wanted to apply to as many schools as possible. … Thurgood Marshall, you know, is a great school because it provides other African American and minority students the opportunity to become attorneys.”
New York City attorney Priscilla Hamilton (@legallypriscilla) doubles as a TikTok content creator with over 100,000 followers. She knows firsthand what it’s like navigating a field dominated mostly by white males. Between posting content of her exciting spending trips, her luxurious dinners, and her travel vlogs abroad, Hamilton takes the time amid her busy workdays to make sure she not only advocates for herself, but for others in law who look like her and are trying to make a name for themselves.
“I think people need to understand that as a minority coming into this environment, you’re not in the high percentage of people here right as far as who’s in the office,” Hamilton told Passionfruit. “It’s very heavily dominated by white men. So I make it a point to take out anyone who represents themselves as a minority, and I take them out and I talk to them about this. I talk to them about confidence. I talk to them about standing up for yourself.”
Confidence is key when it comes to Hamilton’s mindset, and her TikTok is full of lived experiences both in her personal and professional life. She’s never been a stranger to luxury or working hard, she just wants other people of color to know they can have the same and hopes the field continues changing for the better.
“I really feel like big law needs more people of color, and not only just people of color, people of color who are relaxed. People are so uptight because they have this idea of who you’re supposed to be in big law while you’re supposed to be conservative, you’re supposed to be this. Meanwhile, I’m posting myself in a thong bikini, right, and have the same kind of impact.”
When she was applying for law school and attended at age 26, Hamilton wasn’t aware of a lot of resources available to Black students, and that even dated back to her high school days when she didn’t know about opportunities for people like her.
“For me to find those opportunities that I found in law school, whether it was like a scholarship for Black female lawyers on the come up, I had to surround myself with a group of people that would put me in touch with those people,” Hamilton said. “So that’s also just insanely important.”
As for her content, Hamilton loves seeing Black women win, and she’s just having fun being part of the movement.
“Generally, I think people need to see people like me in these places that maybe weren’t created for people that look like me; give them an insider view of that,” Hamilton said. “So I kind of just started posting about that. And then in turn, like just about my lifestyle and stuff like that, and it kind of just took off from there.”
Hamilton also said TikTok allows lawyers to provide a different perspective from TV and movies on what the job is actually like. Aside from sharing client information, of course, Hamilton said there’s an opportunity to show others the general work that lawyers do, and it’s up to them to decide how much to share.
Similar to Whitaker, Hamilton echoed the struggle for Black creators to fit into a “box” to acquire brand deals.
“Then, there is the whole Eurocentric features thing, which includes skin color, hair texture, facial features, etc… brands are very picky when it comes to these things—though they won’t say it,” Hamilton said via email. “I think they forget that Black people are not a monolith. All of that to say, it’s hard for Black creators to secure these deals if they don’t fit into a particular box. And then once you do get a deal, you are often lowballed and realize that your White peers are making 5x the amount than you for doing the same thing. There are studies that show that there is a huge pay disparity in content creation between Black creators and their White peers. It’s very disappointing, to say the least.”
Houston criminal defense attorney Tiara Perkins (@tiara_thelawyer) defines luxury as the ability to separate work from her personal life.
“I realized luxury for me is rest and I realize sometimes black women don’t realize that, so I do not take work home with me,” Perkins told Passionfruit. “I often learn to separate it. I am not living to work, I’m working to provide the life that I want. And part of that is turning it off. And thankfully in criminal law, I have that ability. I turn it off and that’s a luxury that I appreciate.”
Perkins’ path to law school didn’t initially come easy, but her activist spirit pushed her to want to make an impact in criminal justice and reform. When her calling led her to apply to law school, which she attended at Florida A&M University, there was a noticeable lack of resources available to aid in her process.
She didn’t have a network to reach out to with questions, or a contact in the industry who went through a similar experience as her. Looking back, Perkins said utilizing social media to make connections is the route to go.
“I think because, especially Black women, we will help each other,” Perkins said. “Get the email, reach out to them. It’s kind of like putting yourself out there – it’s very uncomfortable, but definitely social media is a good tool to even get that guidance because it is more personal.”
On her own social media, Perkins wants her content to reflect the balance between her personal and professional life and added via email, “I personally share the light-sided, personal aspects about my life and career, never my job or anything work-related content, because I never want what I post to be misconstrued as me speaking for or representing my firm.”
As a Black creator, she wants to break the stereotype about what a lawyer is supposed to look like and that Black women shouldn’t have to compromise for the sake of “professionalism.”
“The challenges I think Black creators face are always having to carefully curate what we put out,” Perkins said. “Black people, especially Black women, even more, Black professional women, are judged more crucially and harshly. We have to appear prim, polished, professional in order to even be deemed as competent and oftentimes that translates into what we put out on social media.”
The percentage may be low when it comes to the number of Black women practicing law, but their experiences speak volumes. This TikTok community is filled with educated Black women living the lives they dreamed of for themselves, and they hope their content offers resources and the confidence for others to do the same. What does it mean to live a luxurious life while practicing your dream career? For these women, it’s however they choose to define it.
“Prosperity is bigger than just the nice shoes and the cute purse,” Whitaker said. “You know, it’s internal.”
This article was updated to correct the spelling of Tiara Perkin’s name.