Jan. 29, 2024 – Former dancer and University of Houston Law Center alumna Mia Lorick (J.D. ‘14) transitioned from the performing stage to the courtroom as she completed a law education at UHLC.
Following her academic success, Lorick was honored as the 2023 Rising Star by the Association of Women Attorneys and secured a partner position at Locke Lord LLP in the firm’s litigation department.
What led you to pursue a legal education at UHLC?
I was living in New York when I was applying to law school. I was performing as a dancer and doing musical theater. So, when I was thinking about my legal career and looking at the Houston market, I looked at a lot of the top firms and attorney bios and I noticed that a lot of the lawyers went to UHLC. It was this information, combined with the law school's ranking and just everything I had seen and heard about the school that made me want to attend UHLC. It was my dream school; I was over the moon when I got in.
How do you transition from dancing and performing to law?
It was definitely challenging because I didn't have the typical political science, history, or English background. I think what made the transition easier were the advocacy programs at UHLC. When I was on campus for orientation, I remember there was a presentation about the mock trial team and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I've gotta audition for that. Where is that?” Joining the team helped me transition and further helped my understanding of the law. Being a performer, the theatrics of the courtroom really appealed to me as well. I credit the mock trial program and the coaches for helping me get my bearings in the legal world.
What were some of your favorite professors and memories here?
Jackie Houlette and Julie Gray were the mock trial coaches when I was there. They were amazing and I have so many dear memories of them teaching us. For example, Jackie would not only explain a rule of evidence but should would also demonstrate how you use it in real life. Professor Sapna Kumar was another teacher who I loved. I loved her class. I loved how she challenged our thought process. I remember telling her I wasn’t writing as much as other students after an exam and she said, “Mia, brevity is a skill, you can find your own place in the practice of law. You don't have to be like everybody else.” I cherished that. Professor Meredith Duncan is another professor I enjoyed, I did not get to take any 1L classes with her so I was jealous of the 1Ls that had torts with her. However, I did take her for Professional Responsibility class and she still checks in on me today, I just love her. She's a professor who goes above and beyond to get to know the students.
What does being honored as a 2023 Rising Star by the Association of Women Attorneys mean to you?
It's unreal because Houston is huge and there are a lot of phenomenal women, I think I was just more shocked that I was chosen. I think that anytime you're picked and you're given a platform to speak or to be recognized, it's how you use it that matters. So I could sit here and be like, “Oh my God, I won. I'm so awesome,” but that's doing everybody else a disservice. So for me, it means that I can show other women of color who may doubt themselves in the legal community that they can achieve their wildest dreams. You can work in a law firm, you can make partner, you can do things like mentor and give back to the community, and then maybe you'll win an award and you get to stand up on a stage and give a speech about it, which is so cool. I see it as another platform to inspire those that are coming up behind me.
What has your experience been like being a partner at Locke Lord LLP?
It's been awesome. I think it's very important that you find a firm where you can truly be yourself, and where you can work on matters and with clients that are meaningful to you. I'm so thankful that I'm at a firm that allows me to do that. In case you can't tell, I have a big personality, I'm loud and I'm vibrant, and the firm doesn't say, “No you have to be reserved, shh.” I think it's important that you find a place where you can thrive as yourself. Ultimately, you're only going to thrive if you're being true to who you are. So it's been amazing being in meetings, having a voice, being heard, and being asked my opinion on policies and different events that the firm is hosting. It's phenomenal. It's crazy to have a seat at that table because typically when you think of a lawyer, you don't think of someone that looks like me.
What is one valuable lesson you learned at UHLC?
I think it would have to be that regardless of how talented you are, you have to work hard and prepare. You have to put the work in, prepare and go the extra mile on the front end to succeed. I'm glad that I learned that lesson early in law school. I was in trial advocacy and we had to prepare a direct exam for the class. I thought, “Oh, I got that. I'm on the mock trial team, that's easy. I need to read for this other class. I'm gonna just go in there and wing it 'cause I got this.” So I winged it and bombed it. It was not good. Luckily the professors were so nice and they said, “Maybe next week, go in a different direction. Have an outline and come in with some notes.” This was my 2L year, so at that moment I realized that I may be smart, but I can't just wing it. I've never done that since. Whether I go to court, in a client meeting, even if it's a quick client phone call, I'm going to jot down some notes on what we need to talk about or things I need to remember so I’m super prepared. I'm glad I learned this lesson in law school and not in front of a judge or a jury.
What advice would you give to law students who are unsure of their next steps?
Keep an open mind and try to figure out what you don't like. I think there are a lot of opinions on what you should do in law school, people tend to target certain firms and certain practice areas. It's important to stay true to who you are. So if everyone's saying to go into M&A law and it interests you, try it out. Take a class or talk to some M&A lawyers to see what they do and if it’s something you like or not. Once you can eliminate stuff that you don't like, it leaves a good indicator of what you do like. I would advise you to either take classes, do clinics, or ask career services to connect you with alumni in certain areas. You can do a Zoom meeting or a coffee chat and ask the lawyer, “Hey, what's a day in the life like for you?”
Try to also get more experience. You may start in one practice area and change to something else two or three years later. Wherever you start is not necessarily where you finish. I think people have to remember that our careers as lawyers are marathons. There may be moments where you say, “You know what? I have loved doing this for five years, now I want to try something else.” It's really about keeping an open mind and making sure that you're not forcing yourself into a certain area based on somebody else's idea of what success looks like.
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