Spirit of Marquette Award
KIMBERLEY CY MOTLEY, LAW '03
Kimberley Motley is many things — attorney, advocate, wife, mother, former Miss Wisconsin. One thing she isn’t is afraid.
An international attorney who works on human rights, Kimberley took her practice to Afghanistan in 2008, where she continues to advocate on behalf of the voiceless — many of them women.
It isn’t exactly what she planned to do with her life. In law school, she tried steering away from criminal work because it overwhelmed her.
“But it kept calling me,” she says. “It is what I am supposed to be doing.”
After graduating from Marquette Law School in 2003, Kimberley worked as an assistant public defender for six years in Racine and Milwaukee. Then, in 2009, she was selected for a one-year position as a defense justice adviser in the Justice Sector Support Program in Kabul, Afghanistan. Conducting field research on juvenile justice throughout Afghanistan, she witnessed firsthand the reality of children being locked up and held without proper representation.
One year later, working for UNICEF in Afghanistan, she again conducted research, this time to draft internationally distributed publications about juvenile justice. It was this research that took her into the field, where she learned some important lessons that became the basis for her own law practice.
“I’ve witnessed so many human rights violations in Afghanistan,” she says. “I felt obligated to step in. It affected me as a human being that no one was helping some of these people. I feel it is my duty to do this.”
Kimberley has answered that duty. She co-founded Motley Legal Services and Motley Consulting International and is the first American to litigate cases in Afghanistan’s criminal courts, where she has a strong litigious practice that focuses on criminal, commercial, contract, civil and employment law matters.
“I do think that I’m making more of a significant contribution here than I would be at home,” she says.
Additionally, Kimberley’s legal and research work has been covered by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The London Times, CNN, the BBC and The Today Show. She’s writing a book about her experiences in Afghanistan, which is due out this year.