Best Lawyers

/ "Women in the Law" Spring Business Edition 2017

When did you first become interested in law?

I became interested in the legal profession after working nearly 10 years in non-profit organizations championing educational research, reform, and services for low-income children. My parents were public school music teachers and ministers of music at our church, so my brother and I are also classically trained musicians. We sing and play several instruments. I noticed increasingly that so much of our lives was regimented by laws about which we knew little, and lawyers seemed to be perceived (for the most part) by our community members as intimidating rather than helpful. I was selected to be a community representative on the Legal Services Board of North Carolina while I was quite young and reveled in the intellectual discussion at our board meetings while worrying that many of us did not actually understand what the lawyers were staying. After five years as a “gadfly” on the board, I was encouraged by many of the lawyers to go to law school myself. And so I did. I have never regretted that decision, although I was 33 before I launched my career as an attorney.

What brought you to your specific practice area?

While clerking in the Eastern District of Michigan in the chambers of the Hon. Anna Diggs Taylor, I enjoyed my experience so much that I thought I would love being a litigator and came to New York to pursue that dream. I since found out that I am a much better problem-solver than warrior; although I can certainly stand and do battle when I need to do so. After a stint as a litigation associate at a really great law firm, I was recruited by the Federal Trade Commission to a position as litigator that soon morphed into a role as a senior manager, litigation supervisor, community advocate, and intra-organizational educator. I loved having the opportunity to help people both within and without the organization and believe that all of the myriad jobs I have held helped to prepare me for the moment when I advanced from being a member of the staff to supervising the staff. While at the FTC, I learned about consumer marketing, data privacy, and security (an emerging practice area) and much, much more. I could never have imagined that I would become a social media marketing law maven. It is challenging, scary, and fun!

What is one of your proudest moments, inside or outside your career?

One of my proudest moments is graduating from Yale Law School in 1983, while my maternal grandmother, Mrs. Eva Belle Coleman Coles, was still alive. She had a sixth grade education, yet raised five children successfully to adulthood, all of whom obtained degrees ranging from bachelor’s degrees to doctoral degrees while raising families and contributing to their communities. My grandmother was 4’ 11’’ and, in order to make sure she could see me receive my law school diploma, stood from the time they began reading names until I walked across the stage. She was 87 years old. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her standing there, waiting patiently until my name was called. I shall never forget her.