Elham Ellen Jamshidi

Elham Ellen Jamshidi

Unapologetically fabulous: Being authentic to herself allows Elham to support her clients to the best of her ability while embracing her true identity

Born in Iran during a dictatorship, Elham has been subject to judgment her entire life. 

When the monarchy was overthrown in Iran, anyone who had different political and religious views from the government was persecuted. This was especially true for families like Elham’s who are of Bahai faith. This led to the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of her father. Once released, Elham’s family fled their home country, leaving behind any financial and social support. 

When she landed in Canada, Elham knew she wanted to be a voice for the vulnerable. Although she knew that she could never stop anyone from judging her again, she hoped that these judgements would not stop her from expressing who she was. Growing up, her parents worked two to three jobs each while she learned english. By the time she got to highschool, she already knew her goal was to become a lawyer for social justice reasons. The movie Legally Blonde had just come out, and Elham felt empowered knowing that fighting for the rights of others did not mean giving up her own right to express herself through her personal style. 

While many advised her as a young woman to marry rich, she went on to prove her self worth and has become a real life Elle Woods, inspiring people from all walks of life to be authentically themselves.

Today you will find Elham in and out of the courtroom, working in criminal defence litigation. Elham’s favourite thing about her job is giving a voice to her clients. As their lawyer, she gets to see them for who they truly are, which is often a different version of themselves than the public sees and judges. Seeing herself as a shield that protects her clients from injustices, Elham gives her clients a voice in the criminal justice system. 

In addition to working with clients, she also loves the production of litigation. She loves true crime drama and documentaries and as she explains, Elham gets paid to watch real life drama unroll when she is examining (in six inch stilettos) police officers on the witness stand. In fact, if Elham wins the lottery tomorrow, you would still find her in the courtroom pursuing her passion. 

While Elham embraces that she does not look like what people may expect a lawyer to look like, her persona inside and outside of court are very different. Elham wants to be an example of non-traditional professionalism.  Unapologetically, she disregards old-fashion standards of legal professionals and is indifferent to those offended by her contemporary stylish appearance. 

Why can’t “professional dress” also be fun, unique, bright or pretty? 

As long as she is looking sharp and is supporting her client to the best of her ability, she will be wearing those cow print peekaboo stilettos. Elham’s mom taught her to be brave and focused, and not to care what anyone thinks. She raised her to be 100% authentic by being kind and focusing on her own goals. She carries this forward with her and refuses to let anyone's comments at work or online instigate her. 

In fact, Elham uses opposing counsel’s judgment to her advantage. Since litigation is about strategy, Elham will let others think her guard is down. Whether she listens to someone mansplain to her or uses crayola markers to appear less prepared, opposing counsel is often taken aback when Elham exceeds their expectations. If you are aware of the perceived weaknesses that others believe you have simply based on your appearance, or other characteristics unrelated to your talent and intelligence, there is power in letting their false perceptions be their downfall. The weakness is really theirs, not yours.

Having this mentality however requires Elham to often put in more effort than others around her who do not break the mold. While breaking out of the mold, she faces harsh scrutiny and tries to be the smartest person in the room. She does not want to give anyone the satisfaction of outmaneuvering her in court. As a result, Elham gets only 2-3 hours of sleep a night when she is in trial mode. While part of this dedication to her work comes from proving herself, she is also aware of the significance of trust her clients give her. She is not working to make money for her clients but to fight for their life and freedom. There is no margin of error. 

When she is not fighting for her clients, Elham helps others embrace their identity through social media. Elham uses  social media for a purpose other than  marketing her practice. Her message on social media is simple: be your authentic self. 

Whether wearing Louboutins or Doc Martens to court, Elham wants to inspire others to be comfortable in their own skin. 

While easier said than done, she knows that her persona and content is not for everyone, but isn't that the point? The traditional lawyer mold holds lawyers back from a fulfilling career. Once you embrace your identity and find confidence in a profession defined by many stereotypes, you get a level of freedom in your mentality that disregards judgment. 

Elham’s not saying that mini skirts are for everyone, but embracing the unconventional and being authentic to herself has enabled her to be a happy and successful lawyer.