Finding a sense of purpose in family law

Alumna Guneet Kaur, Esq., balances legal savvy with emotional intelligence to build a successful law practice.

The Colleges of Law alumna Guneet Kaur, Esq., came to the U.S. in 1999 from India when she was just 10 years old. Although she was here legally—and later earned her U.S. citizenship–she still encountered prejudice and anti-immigrant bias growing up. 

“I paid for community college by working at a retail store,” Kaur says. “The store policy was to check identification from any customer who was spending more than $50 on a credit card. I’ll never forget one customer who refused to show me his ID. Not understanding that it was simply a store policy, I explained to him that it was the law. He responded with ‘What does an immigrant like you know about the law? I am the law because I’m an attorney. You don’t know anything.’ I was completely taken aback and a little bit afraid of how aggressive he got.”

While the comment hurt Kaur, it also fueled her to eventually go to law school so that she would know her rights, and would also be able to speak up for others who felt alone and ostracized.

“The legal system can be daunting,” she says. “If I can help somebody understand the legal process so they don’t have to live in fear, I want to do that. The law has become my vessel to help others.”

While Kaur was accepted to a law school in the Bay Area, she chose The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law for its location, flexible class schedule, affordable tuition, close-knit community, expert faculty, and mentorship opportunities.

“COL and the legal community in the surrounding area gives law students a tremendous amount of support,” she says. “I knew I wouldn’t be alone, and that was a huge attraction.”

While the obvious answer would’ve been for Kaur to become an immigration lawyer based on her own life experiences, an internship with a local law firm while studying at COL drew her to a different area of focus: family law. So much so that Kaur actually worked for this law firm for three years after graduating from COL.

Then on March 2, 2018, she opened her own family law practice, the Law Office of Guneet Kaur.

“Family law is so emotionally driven,” Kaur says. “You have to have a certain passion and desire to help each and every individual, especially when there are children involved.”

Kaur takes pride in being able to balance analysis and empathy in her practice. Knowing how the law can and should be applied to help her clients in any one individual case, but also how to show compassion and empathy throughout the process, acting as her client’s confidante as well.

“For example, I had a client whose history of drug use had made it difficult for them to keep custody of their children,” she says. “But they did an incredible amount of work to get their life together, and when they were ready, it became my job to advocate for them within the legal system.”

Because of that diligent work from the client, Kaur says, they were able to turn it around. They even texted Kaur almost two years later saying, “Because of you, I was able to spend the holidays with my daughter. Because of you, I was able to take my daughter to her first friend’s party. Thank you for everything you did for me.”

“There is nothing more gratifying to me than that,” Kaur says.