Who has helped you along the way and what have you done to pay that help forward?
I’ve had a lot of help along the way. Pre-law school was my boss, Will Cooper at Allstate Insurance, who fully supported my law career and even paid for my LSAT. During law school, Chevazz Brown, a former alum, introduced me to a lot of influencing attorneys and helped prepare me for legal interviews. Will, Chevazz and I created a non-profit after law school. Our non-profit awards third-year law students at Thurgood Marshall Law School with bar scholarships twice a year. To further the efforts, I’ve joined the hiring committee at my firm to continue bringing in men of color for interviews.
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?)
One challenge is that I have to work harder just to be considered on the same level as some non men of color peers. When the work product speaks for itself. Another challenge is navigating through unconscious bias. Also, being left off client pitches or being used as a “golden child” but never actually working on the matter. I think it’s unique because clients in the legal profession are way more diverse than “big” law firms. Therefore, the demand for men of color or people of color is growing rapidly. With that said, I’m included more on the business side of things. It’s also taught me how to go out and grind and not sit back and wait for someone to give me something. Reputation is one of the biggest tools we have in the legal profession.
What advice do you have for other men of color in their first five years of practice?
Make sure to find a good sponsor. In my opinion, there’s a difference between a mentor and a sponsor. Mentor is a little more hands-off and formal, a sponsor is one that makes sure your meet the right people and that opportunities are being optimized. Another tip, which took me awhile to grasp ... your mentor/sponsor does not have to be a man of color. Don’t miss out on a blessing just because the person that wants to invest in you, doesn’t look like you.
Tell us about some of your hobbies outside of practicing law.
I love traveling, playing/watching football, and competitive barbecuing. I’m also huge on seafood boils!
What are some personal experiences you’ve had along the way that have helped you in your career?
I could write a book on this, but I’ll keep it short. Challenge of being homeless and overcoming. Challenge of being over 400lbs and losing over 150lbs. Challenge of battling depression. Being a football captain in high school and college helped me deal with various personalities. But even more so, helped me deal with constructive criticism. Helping my mother through breast cancer. As I’ve said, the list goes on and on.