Have you ever felt like you need to conform to a stereotype to fit in?
I remember the first time I felt this way. I had just I landed my first gig in management managing people that were alot older (and whiter) than myself. In the beginning of my days in management, I felt like people were not taking me seriously because of my age, gender, and skin color so I began to switch up my outer and inner appearance with the hopes of looking and sounder “older”. Because of the things that I went through, I felt like if I looked and sounded older, people would take me more serious.
The sad part about this story is that it’s not just my story – I know too many people that have experienced this as well. In the age of social media, advertising, and pop culture telling us how we should be, and how we should act, it becomes tempting to conform to stereotypes so that we can fit in and be taken seriously.
For this reason and more is why Jessica Tehilirian created Lawyer Bae.
Lawyer Bae is a platform that highlights stylish, young law students and attorneys worldwide. Lawyer Bae provides volunteer service, and networking and mentoring opportunities for those entering or aspiring to enter the legal profession.
According to their website, “Attorney Jessica Tehlirian who conceived the idea with her viral personal #LawyerBae brand on Instagram developed the idea with entertainment attorney and television producer Jehan “J.” Carter. They both shared the similar sentiment and experience that as young, attractive, black female attorneys they were not always taken as seriously by their more traditional legal counterparts. Both attorneys wanted to create a platform where aspiring attorneys could be both celebrated and empowered with the tools they needed to enter law school and have sustaining legal careers especially those from underrepresented communities such as minorities, immigrants, single mothers and LGBTQ.”
Recently we were able to catch up with Tehlirian and learned more about Lawyer Bae and also snagged some tips for Mogul Millennials looking to become an attorney.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Michigan and was the second oldest of six (my older brother was murdered around 5 years ago). I went to University of Michigan for undergrad, Florida State College of Law for law school, and now FSU College of Business for my MBA. I graduated from law school in 2014 and I will be graduating with my MBA in May of 2019.
What have you learned about yourself throughout your years of practicing law and starting your brand Lawyer Bae?
When I was younger, I was so focused on becoming a lawyer I never really thought about what I actually wanted to do once I graduated. When I graduated, I realized I was basically back at square one and had to actually set goals for my career.
I think I am not alone in this as I have spoken to many people who have shared the same experience. I think the biggest thing I learned is that I have to continue setting new heights for both myself and my brand.
What keeps you motivated?
I have a large number of young women that reach out to me for mentorship and advice. I see it as an obligation of mine to help these women move forward with their careers. Aside from that I have younger siblings that look up to me and I think it is my responsibility to be a role model to them.
From lawyer to entrepreneur. Why did you decide to launch your business?
For years I feel like I have been getting treated negatively for the way I look and at times not being seen as a professional because of it. I wanted to start Lawyer Bae in order to show young lawyers around the globe that being beautiful and professional are not mutually exclusive. I also wanted to use the platform to connect people that previously would not have been connected.
This year I am going to use the platform to highlight underrepresented and marginalized groups. To begin I featured a variety of lawyers and law students in the LGBT community and currently I am featuring black lawyers for Black History Month.
What are 3 tips for Black millennials on preparing to take the LSAT?
Study, study, study.
If you can afford to take a professional course it is really worth the investment. Whether you get in your dream school and/or get
a scholarship can be based largely in part by your score. A friend of mine barely got in anywhere with her first score and was not offered any money. She retook the test and ended up getting a full ride to a second tier school.
What are 3 tips for Black millennials on being successful in law school (once they’ve passed the LSAT)?
In law school I think the most important thing is to network as early as possible and continue to network the whole time. Your first job as an attorney will likely come from someone you know instead of by sending off a resume.
Additionally, it is key that students get some sort of practical experience while in law school. If you want to do transactional work being on law review or another paper can really stand out with employers. If you want to do litigation doing mock trial or an externship with the State Attorney’s Office or Public Defender’s Office it can be very useful.
Lastly, if you can be in the top third of your class with regard to grades
that is another thing that is often required by employers.
What is your personal motto that keeps you grounded and motivated?
Every single time I am overwhelmed or want to quit I replay a Muhammad Ali quote in my head. I don’t care whether I have to study extra, stay up late to prepare for court or run to catch my flight this quote helps me with anything: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
I have been saying that to myself for a few years now and it actually helps me.