Asked and Answered: Lived and Learned

Accomplished lawyers share life lessons in new 'Lived and Learned' podcast series

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Lived and Learned guests

Clockwise from top left: Michele Coleman Mayes, Andrés Gallegos, Roberta “Bobbi” Liebenberg (photo by Jason Nicholais), Mia Yamamoto (photo by Gary Miyatake), Cruz Reynoso (photo courtesy of courtesy of UC Davis School of Law), Lucian Pera.

In more than 20 years of talking to well-known attorneys who love their work, I’ve learned that some have great advice on matters both in and outside of the law, and are happy to share what they’ve learned when they think it might help others.

The advice frequently comes out informally—over meals, while making small talk at bar association events and during interviews, when the discussion wraps up and I ask if they have anything else to add. We wanted to share some of that advice with ABA Journal Asked and Answered listeners, so we’ve created a special series focused solely on life advice from lawyers, on a variety of issues. We’re calling it Lived and Learned.

Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing you to the six lawyers who are sharing their wisdom in this first series of Asked and Answered: Lived and Learned episodes, but you can learn more about them in this ABA Journal article, and listen to any and all of the interviews below.

Michele Coleman Mayes, Vice president and general counsel for the New York Public Library
Life lesson: Difficult conversations can save relationships. “You need to go in, again, with this mindset of ‘This is something that I’m doing because I want to improve a situation.’ And likewise, be open-minded. Don’t go in assuming you know the answer or what the person is going to say to you.”

Andrés Gallegos, Partner with Robbins, Salomon & Patt in Chicago
Life lesson: Set your own expectations, rather than letting others decide for you. “When I became a double-hyphened attorney—that is, a Hispanic, disabled attorney—I knew I had to work even more harder. Again, to show individuals—and myself—that I could do what I’ve always dreamed of doing, and that was becoming a lawyer.”

Roberta “Bobbi” Liebenberg, Senior partner with Fine, Kaplan and Black in Philadelphia
Life lesson: Laughter belongs in your work life. “I am really passionate about the use of humor in the workplace—not only because it’s fun, but it’s also an important business asset and can defuse situations.”

Lucian Pera, Partner with Adams and Reese in Memphis
Life lesson: If you think you may have a professional conduct problem, ask for help. “None of us—and this is not just lawyers—are really objective about our own matters.”

Cruz Reynoso, Former California Supreme Court justice and law professor emeritus at the University of California at Davis
Life lesson: Fulfill your obligations, and ask those in power to fulfill theirs as well. “Realize that sometimes, those in authority haven’t done the right thing simply because the issue has not been brought to them. And when brought to them properly, very often the public officials will actually respond affirmatively.”

Mia Yamamoto, Criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles
Life lesson: Present as your true self. “I said [to myself], ‘I don’t care if somebody shoots me the day after I transition. I’m going to transition. I will die as a woman.’ ”

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