Attorney Kathleen Martinez has long blonde hair and she loves pink dresses — anything pink, really, the brighter the better. But even though she's whip smart, she hasn't always been respected by male colleagues — just like Elle Woods, the character famously played by Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde.
Now, Martinez is going viral on TikTok. One video, in which she shows off what a day in the life of "Elle Woods in real life" is like, has gotten over 4.5 million views. In the clip, she takes her followers through a day at the office (which, fittingly, is pink) and as a married mom of two young boys.
Other wildly popular videos include rebuffs of former bosses as well as colleagues who have a problem with her fabulous wardrobe.
"I overheard the D.A. make fun of my 'barbie' outfit last week in court," reads the text alongside one viral clip. "So I made sure to wear the brightest suit possible when I beat him today."
Martinez found an immediate soulmate in Elle Woods when the movie debuted in 2001. "I was maybe 10, 12 years old," Martinez, now 31, tells PEOPLE. "I love that movie, and I always loved pink, I always loved fashion."
"I knew since I was a little kid that I wanted to be extraordinary," says the Dallas lawyer, who started dressing in pink in reaction to male attorneys who told her to dress "conservatively."
"I wanted to do something that had an impact on this world and my community," adds Martinez, who now has 30 pink suits. "I loved that she could embrace both, that I didn't have to grow up to fit in some kind of stereotype."
Kathleen Martinez and some staffers
Martinez's TikTok videos are witty, outspoken, and downright funny.
One, about her first job as a lawyer, details how her boss fired her after she refused to make him coffee. But after she started her own law firm, she said he reached out for a job.
"I told him we need some help making the girls coffee," she says in the TikTok, which has been viewed over 2 million times.
Martinez, who founded her own immigration law firm in 2020, says her journey began in her home state of Oregon. Her mom, a healthcare executive, was always a role model. During college at Mount St. Mary's in Los Angeles, Martinez was unsure of her direction in life. Then, her college counselor, who just so happened to be the school's mock trial coach, suggested she give the activity a try.
"I fell in love with the competitive aspect, it made studying a little bit more fun," she tells PEOPLE. "And it was definitely something I was good at."
The law, she realized, was for her. Following law school at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Martinez's first job was for an oil company in San Antonio.
"I specifically worked for a manager who had taken the bar exam five times, and when I passed, he couldn't believe it," she says, referencing a former boss she called out on TikTok. "He literally told me, he was like, 'I'm in disbelief that you passed.'"
Kathleen Martinez with her husband and sons
About seven years ago Martinez, whose maiden name is O'Halloren, met her husband, Alejandro, a mechanical engineer for Toyota who came to the U.S. at 10 from Mexico. It is his personal journey that first inspired Kathleen to take an interest in immigration law.
After marrying five years ago, the couple moved to Portland, Oregon, where they had the first of their two sons, Julian, now three. Their youngest, Adrian, is now one.
When the couple moved to Dallas in 2020, she started her own firm, which is all virtual, and primarily comprised of women who are immigrants with families of their own.
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Martinez found that embracing her love of fashion and pink everything — even the company website is predominantly pink — was empowering not only for herself, but also the women drawn to work for her.
"Ever since I started posting content of my firm and us wearing pink, I did not expect the massive viral reaction from other legal professionals as well a female professionals in general," says Martinez.
Kathleen Martinez with her husband and some staffers
"We've had upwards of 2,000 to 3,000 women ask to work for us because they feel like they don't fit in. They feel degraded like they're not smart enough," she says. "And that's how I felt working for male attorneys who made me feel like I wasn't good enough or wasn't smart enough, or I needed to be pretty or smart, feminine or smart, like you couldn't be both. It's just crazy. I can't believe that we're still having these conversations in almost 2023."
Alejandro helps out in the office in IT and does translation for Spanish-speaking clients. "And people have gotten to know him on TikTok," Martinez says, "they absolutely love him."
Of course, fans also love Martinez.
"I only want my lawyer in pink - keep slaying and conquer on !" one commenter wrote in response to a sassy fashion post.
"This energy speaks to my soul!!," wrote another. "Inspired to wear my colors in board meetings instead of my back suit!!"
Kathleen Martinez and her son
For Martinez, embracing her individuality has been empowering. "I wasn't confident all my life, but then once I became a lawyer and started my own practice, I started having more fun with practicing law," she says. "I think you could tell with my TikTok, is that I just have fun with it.
She recently threw an over-the-top Legally Blond-themed party for her staffers, complete with an event planner, a florist and naturally, all-pink custom Barbie-themed menus.
"I think they love that it's not boring and that we have so much fun with our company," Martinez says. "I'm going to treat them well, the way that I wasn't treated, so I want them to enjoy working with me."
And, as she declares in a TikTok video of the party: "Why the f--- not?"