Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21

FEATURE
THE STRUGGLE TO FIT IN
Getting to where she is today was not easy, says Maiga, who immigrated
to the United States from Mali after high school in 2001 as a French
speaker who spoke no English. Her initial interest in the law developed
early in her working life. " That idea of going to law school was lurking in
my mind for many years, " Maiga says. " But I did not think that an immigrant
like me with English as her second language could be a lawyer in
America ... When I looked at all the lawyers I encountered at various
firms, I saw how articulate they were. That just seemed like something
that was unattainable to me at the time. " Maiga was almost ready to give
up her dream of going to law school if not for a mentor at Ropes & Gray
LLP who told her to ask herself if she'd regret her decision later in life.
" When you sit in the room and you have an accent, some people automatically
think you do not fit in, " Maiga adds. The attorney mentor, an
immigrant himself, understood Maiga's challenges of being a Black person
with a foreign, non-European accent. He advised her to say something
that would catch people's attention in the first 30 seconds of a
conversation, making them focus not on her accent but on the relevance
of what she has to contribute, she says.
But Maiga admits that's not always easy to do. " I want to believe that the
lawyers I worked with over the years trusted me and that I brought a lot
of value to the cases that I worked on, " Maiga says. " However, I have seen
opportunities get moved to others for no apparent reason at times. Perhaps
it was because they met a certain profile that fit a representation
I did not seem to fit. There is no other way to put it; being passed over
because you don't fit a specific profile is simply shattering. "
These hurdles are also familiar to Francis Lubega, a first-year law student
at Boston College. Like Maiga, Lubega is an African immigrant.
While pursuing his bachelor's degree in sociology and political science at
the College of the Holy Cross, Lubega had a two-month paralegal internship
at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Boston. That is where
he first learned about intellectual property, particularly copyright law.
ABIGAIL IDOKOGI, Patent Trial and Appeal Board
Lubega says he saw very few Black attorneys at WilmerHale, and none in
the firm's IP practice. " At WilmerHale, I remember walking into all of these
workshops and being the only Black person; it was shocking, " he recalls.
" I kept feeling like I should not be there. I kept questioning myself because
there was no one else who looked like me. It didn't help that there
weren't any Black IP attorneys to talk about how that felt. "
MEANT TO BE HERE
As a first-generation immigrant from South Africa and Uganda, Lubega
says he's always questioning himself. " The first 12 years of my life [were
spent] herding goats and milking cows. So, anytime I'm entering these
[legal] spaces, that's where my mind reverts to. Then I think, 'Wow,
you've come a long way,' " Lubega says.
The Finnegan IP Summit provided Lubega an opportunity to meet other
law students who have walked in his shoes. He arrived in Washington,
D.C., with Collins Yawe, a fellow Boston College Law School student. Sitting
together in Finnegan's lounge area and scanning the room filled
with other summit attendees, Lubega recalls Yawe turning to him and
saying, " Yo, did we just walk into an HBCU? What's going on? "
" They were coming from different parts of the country and had so many
stories. We were all so inspired, " Lubega says.
LAQUAN BATES, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Third-year Case Western Reserve University School of Law student Akua
Oppong also grappled with imposter syndrome while exploring IP law.
Finnegan's IP Summit helped build her confidence, says Oppong, a legal
business intelligence fellow with the software company Evisort.
" I find myself now not being afraid to say, 'Hey, here is my name. Do you
have anything?' " Oppong says. " [The summit] just made me more confident
in my job prospects in asking, 'I want to get to where you are. Can
you please help me, or can we talk about these things?' And it gave me a
greater sense of what my purpose is, because I think a lot of times you
MARCH/APRIL 2024 * WASHINGTON LAWYER 21
Finnegan
John Murph

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Notice to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Get to Know The Appellate Project
Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Taking the Stand
Worth Reading
Member Spotlight
On Further Review
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 4
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Notice to Members
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Get to Know The Appellate Project
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 36
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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