Who has helped you along the way and what have you done to pay that help forward?
Educators, mentors, coaches, teammates, family, and friends have all played a part in shaping who I am becoming. I am so grateful for every individual with influence who was able to see past my circumstances to my potential and saw fit to encourage me to grow and pursue my dreams. I am because they are. And, because I am indebted to them for their investment, I have dedicated my life to giving back. I give back by partnering with local leaders to engage in the important work of community building and organizing, mentoring local youth, and even working with local politicians to inform policy positions. From the investment of friends and loved ones, I have gained so much--most saliently, I have learned that the greatest investment one can make is in people, not in materials.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in your legal career as a Man of color? (Why do you think these challenges are unique to men of color?)
I have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of men of color in the legal field, and we often share similar challenges. We are often the only or one of few individuals in our offices, our personalities are often misunderstood and/or misinterpreted, our perspectives are sometimes taken for granted, and our contributions undervalued or overlooked. These challenges are likely a result of lack of diversity in law firms and/or a lack of experience working with diverse attorneys by the individuals that manage these coveted professional spaces. With time, effort, and a bit of luck, we may see a day when all peoples are affirmed in these professional spaces, as we understand the benefits of diversity are axiomatic.
What advice do you have for other men of color in their first five years of practice?
Work hard, be nice, and dream big! Take time to hone your craft, and always try to put your best foot forward. Learn something new every day, and challenge yourself in new and interesting ways. Find meaning in your daily tasks, and look to a Higher Power for strength and guidance. Strive for excellence in all you do, and believe in your unique talents. Do not shy away from speaking up, but use your ears and mouth in proportion to one another. Allow your mistakes to sharpen you, and seek to never repeat the same mistake twice. Practice your craft with compassion and candor, and seek out win-wins where possible. Know you made it this far for a reason; know also this is just the beginning!
Tell us about some of your hobbies outside of practicing law.
I enjoy writing poetry and music, art, sports, coaching, reading, exploring with my kids, and engaging in community service.
What are some personal experiences you’ve had along the way that have helped you in your career?
I have had myriad experiences that have helped me along the way. For example, I was fortunate to be able to clerk for a judge, which taught me a great deal about the practical application of the law. I have also worked with large-scale bar associations and affinity bars, which have allowed me to network and have opened my eyes to the many paths our profession affords us. I have participated in fellowships and presented to organizations that have exposed me to new concepts and broadened my horizons. In addition to these things, I have been able balance leaving my comforts of a law firm office to lead marches with activists, draft legislation, meet with politicians, work in communities in need, and serve my home and surrounding communities.