Rocelin.J: Tell us about how and why you entered your career?
She always knew that she wanted to be a lawyer from a young age. At first, she wanted to be an entertainment lawyer but once she got into law school she realized it was not for her and decided to go into a different direction. And since then, she has been an attorney for the past 20 years, but she does not practice anymore even though she still holds her license. Currently, she is a Senior Administrative Law Judge at the DMV and what that means is that apart from being a judge she also oversees the other judges at her job.
Jaylene.M: What skills have you found vital to your job?
Some skills that are vital for her job of being a Senior Administrative Law Judge are being able to articulate yourself well. Being a well-rounded individual looking to change a perception of people coming into the courtroom, being compassionate and understanding to those around you. This leads to her goals of making sure that everyone that comes into her courtroom leaves with more knowledge then they came in with and feels more relaxed and taken care of.
Rocelin.J & Mariam.S: What is your favorite part about your career (current or past)?
Being able to make a difference, and knowing it. For instance, many people come into a courtroom with no experience and limited knowledge of the process. In her job, she can communicate with important information so that when they leave they feel heard and have had the chance to speak for themselves. They leave knowing more information than what they came in with. Many people come in with preconceived notions and come in mad, ready for a fight, and make many assumptions, so in the end when they think “ok that was not so bad” that gives her satisfaction. Ms.Valarie helps destroy the negative connotations that courtrooms have.
Mariam.S: Was there a career setback you faced which you later realized was an advantage?
When applying for Law schools she was rejected 4 times before she got in. She struggled to get into law school but, in the end, she continued to persevere and later got it. Those moments build character for her and helped show her determination of being in the law world.
Aniyah.W: What is some advice you would offer to someone interested in your work?
Some advice that Ms.Valarie offered is that you should demand respect from those around you, command the room, and always stay true to yourself. She has gotten this far by pushing through her struggles and challenges and it paid off.
What should they major in?
There isn’t a specific major that a lawyer can have but, an example is an English major, they need to be able to correctly communicate and articulate themselves to their peers.
What classes should they take?
As previously mentioned, When Ms. Valarie was in college, she majored in English and has said it made it easier to write once she became a lawyer. So a class on writing will pay off if one decides to become a lawyer. Apart from writing communication is also key so a class on communications will be worth the time.
Books they should read?
The book that she recommended was “Black Robes, White Justice: Why the justice system doesn’t work for blacks.” Which is written by Bruce M. Wright, a New York Supreme Court Justice. He is an African-American man detailing how the legal system is unfair towards African Americas and details some experiences he has as a lawyer and judge.