B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes

B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes

B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes--hosted by Merle Vaughn, National Law Firm Diversity Practice Leader and a partner recruiter for Major, Lindsey & Africa--explores the unique, inspiring and often unbelievable personal and professional stories and experiences of highly successful lawyers and legal professionals. Whether it’s someone with an unusual side gig or a passion for something out of the ordinary, Merle encourages them to share their authenticity with the world.


February 19, 2024 57 mins
Paul Watford recently made the unusual decision to step down from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals bench to return to private practice as a partner with Wilson Sonsini. In this episode of BS: Beyond Stereotypes, Paul shares what motivated him to make that decision and many others he has made throughout his inspirational professional journey.
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Sonya Passi’s fierce advocacy to raise awareness of gender-based violence began when she was a teenager in the UK. Thinking she wanted to become a human rights lawyer, she went to Berkeley Law where she started her first nonprofit. In this episode of BS: beyond Stereotypes, Sonya discusses her activist work and its evolution to today. She also shares her personal journey as a lesbian woman choosing love over the traditional cultura...
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November 20, 2023 53 mins
Moving to the States from the Caribbean to go to college was an eye-opening experience for Michelle Silverthorn—she went from being a member of the majority to being “the only.” In this episode of BS: Beyond Stereotypes, Michelle talks with Merle Vaughn about stereotypes, belonging, and inclusion and why she is committed to the work of change. They also explore how Michelle transitioned from practicing law to delivering a TEDx, mak...
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October 16, 2023 55 mins
People make assumptions about blonde-haired, blue-eyed Michael Rhodes, partner with Cooley LLP, and his perceived white privilege. But Mike has a long history with learning from experiences that push him out of his comfort zone and immerse him in different cultures. In this episode of B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes, Mike uses storytelling to demonstrate to Merle Vaughn why he believes diverse legal teams are imperative in Big Law.
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September 18, 2023 56 mins
Reinventing your legal career is possible—especially when you set your mind and intention toward your goals. Eric Burton had done everything right, but he had not followed his dream of becoming an entertainment lawyer. He found the courage to set audacious goals, which set him on a path to celebrating incremental victories. In this episode of BS: Beyond Stereotypes, Eric, who is openly gay, chats with Merle Vaughn about taking cont...
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July 17, 2023 49 mins
Going through life masking to fit in can be exhausting and lead to burn out. Learning to believe the way you are is the right way to be can unlock your power and potential. Courtney Munnings, Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule and Knowledge Sharing Specialist, successfully navigated law school and big law firm life prior to confirming she is autistic and dyslexic and has OCD. In this episode of BS: Beyond Stereotypes, Courtney shares h...
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June 19, 2023 49 mins
Inspired by her grandmother’s civil rights fame and the exposure her father gave her to cultural and economic differences growing up, Josie Duffy Rice solidified her desire to change the criminal justice system prior to attending Harvard Law School. She shares with Merle Vaughn why she decided not to practice law and to instead become a journalist. Her love for writing has led her to create content in all forms and to share margina...
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May 15, 2023 46 mins
Born in the UK, Claudius Sokenu was sent to boarding school in Nigeria, which shaped him in innumerable ways and prepared him to venture to the US alone to practice law. In this episode of B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes, Claudius and Merle Vaughn discuss why he chose to leave his big firm equity partnership to go in-house.
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April 18, 2023 51 mins
Darrell Miller, LA Office Managing Partner for Fox Rothschild, is a singer, dancer, musician and lawyer who credits faith and work ethic for his success. As the first in his family to attend college, he found support from his school counselor, family and community. The reasoning behind his decision to become a lawyer and the path he took to get there is inspirational. In this episode of BS: Beyond Stereotypes, Darrell shares with...
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March 20, 2023 48 mins
To the outside world, Jennifer Brewer, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer for Activision Blizzard, appears to have led a life of privilege but, in reality, the road to fighting for equity and justice has been paved with obstacles that have required grit and resilience to overcome. In this episode of B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes, Jennifer shares with Merle Vaughn how she has handled adversity and why her current role allows her to be una...
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February 21, 2023 54 mins
Melique Jones, Chief People Officer for the Lincoln Center, grew up with her mother and grandmother in Harlem. From an early age, her family set the expectation that she would make a difference in the world. Despite falling in love with the arts and journalism during college, Melique chose to attend law school and has ultimately done more than she could have imagined with her JD. In this episode, Melique shares with Merle Vaughn he...
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January 16, 2023 63 mins
When Bob Major founded Major, Lindsey & Africa in 1982, he could not have envisioned what the organization would become and the impact it would have on the legal profession. In this episode of B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes, Bob shares his extraordinary 40-year journey as one of the predominate influencers in the legal recruiting industry and how he did it as a proud openly gay man.
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November 14, 2022 62 mins
For Mark Zemelman, Kaiser Foundation’s recently retired GC, joining the legal department was a full circle experience—his father was one of the first physicians in the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, which is the KP medical group in Southern California. Mark shares with Merle Vaughn his self-directed career journey and how his cultural background has informed his unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.
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October 17, 2022 52 mins
In this episode of BS: Beyond Stereotypes, Dipti Singh, GC of Planned Parenthood Pasadena & San Gabriel Valley, shares with Merle Vaughn how she developed a passion for human rights work while in law school. Dipti walks us down her unique career path, which began in big law and has culminated in her position as a public interest lawyer fighting for equality and reproductive rights.
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September 15, 2022 47 mins
In this episode of BS: Beyond Stereotypes, George Fatheree, real estate partner at Sidley in Los Angeles, speaks with Merle Vaughn about leading the Bruce’s Beach case, the first land reparations granted to a Black American family and describes how it felt to have everything he had worked for in his life come together. George chats with Merle Vaughn about his humble beginnings in Chino, California, and the importance of intentional...
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August 15, 2022 45 mins
Eli Albrecht, M&A attorney at Gibson Dunn, has been embraced on LinkedIn globally after sharing his epiphany to be authentic about his Orthodox Jewish culture in a professional setting. In this episode, Eli and Merle Vaughn discuss how he balances his love for practicing law with his commitment to his beloved wife, kids and family farm.
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June 20, 2022 45 mins
John Haney is an associate at Holland & Knight in their renowned Indian Law practice. As a member of the Seminole Indian tribe, John Haney has remained connected with Native American communities throughout his educational and professional journeys. In this episode of B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes, he shares with Merle Vaughn stories of his rich heritage, discusses the inner workings of tribal structures and shares his advice on speciali...
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May 16, 2022 52 mins
Dan Johnson, IP attorney and vintner, learned early in his career the importance and necessity of being comfortable in his own skin and embracing his authentic self to succeed. In this episode of B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes, Dan talks to Merle Vaughn about attending Yale Law School (with the Clintons and Clarence Thomas), being the first Black partner at Cooley and owning Okapi Fine Wines in Napa Valley, CA.
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April 15, 2022 49 mins
For Aiko Bethea, a leadership development coach, being a leader and a DEI professional are one in the same. In this episode of B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes, Aiko shares how being raised by a Japanese mother in a Black community gave her a unique perspective on the world and the influence racial identity has on power differentials. She shares her story, her passion and her perspective on relating to others with Merle Vaughn.
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March 14, 2022 43 mins
You may know Laurie Levenson as a legal commentator for several high-profile, televised criminal cases. While she uses her knowledge and passion for criminal law to educate the general public, Laurie can more often be found in the classroom at Loyola Law School educating future lawyers and running the Loyola Project for the Innocent. Growing up white in Inglewood, paired with other pivotal personal experiences, informs her empathy ...
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