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Description

LaMonica has always been a high achiever, from making valedictorian of her primary school to her work as corporate attorney and consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Her success has been hard-earned.

LaMonica and her many siblings were raised by her grandmother in one of the poorest areas of Houston, Texas. Her mother began a long struggle with drug addiction early in LaMonica’s childhood, and her father was often absent. 

Despite those circumstances, even as a child LaMonica describes an inner drive to be the best, to check all the boxes. She often directs that energy outward to her community, devoting hundreds of hours of pro bono work drafting wills and estate documents for senior citizens and low-income individuals.

In this episode, we’re going to hear about LaMonica’s love for Peloton, the controversy surrounding critical race theory, and why the prospect of a new adventure gets her out of bed every morning.

Transcription

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LaMonica Love:

It was almost like I was the one that did not go without, and I feel like that is something that is common that I’m learning amongst people like me, the outliers. The people who were able to make it out of these terrible situations. It’s like people in your family and your community, they identify that you have something and they want to do whatever it is to protect you or give to you.

Luke W Russell:

Welcome to Lawful Good, a show about lawyers and the trials they face inside and outside the courtroom. I’m your host, Luke W Russell. I’m not a journalist. I’m not an attorney. I’m trained as a coach. I love human connection, and that’s what you’re about to hear. My guest today is LaMonica Love. LaMonica has always been a high achiever. From making valedictorian of her primary school, to her work as corporate attorney and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, her success has been hard earned.

Luke W Russell:

LaMonica and her many siblings were raised by her grandmother in one of the poorest areas of Houston, Texas. Her mother began a long struggle with drug addiction early in LaMonica’s childhood, and her father was often absent. Despite those circumstances, even as a child LaMonica describes an inner drive to be the best, to check all the boxes. Today she often directs that energy outward to her community, devoting hundreds of hours of pro bono work drafting wills and estate documents for senior citizens and low-income individuals.

Luke W Russell:

In this interview, LaMonica and I discuss her love for Peloton, the controversies surrounding critical race theory, and why the prospect of a new adventure gets her out of bed every morning.

Luke W Russell:

Take us back to the neighborhood you grew up, including the beautiful parts and the challenging parts.

LaMonica Love:

I grew up in, in Houston, what is definitely considered a lower income community. It was primarily a African American black neighborhood. Lots of elderly people. I was raised by my grandmother, and so most of my neighbors were her friends or people that she went fishing or hung out with. To me, it was I thought a nice neighborhood. Everyone lived in houses. We knew everyone in our neighborhood. There were lots of kids, so lots of kick ball all the time. We had Olympics on our street, and so it was just really what I think is trouble free. You just had no worries as a kid.

LaMonica Love:

For me, it was not until I got to middle school and I realized that I was poor, that I realized that my neighborhood was really lacking in things. I went to my neighborhood elementary school, and then went to a magnet elementary school where I was bused across town, and realized the difference of our schools, of the neighborhoods. Driving across town and seeing community centers and libraries, all things that my neighborhood definitely did not have.

Luke W Russell:

Do you remember was it a moment, or just like a slow realization of realizing, “Wait a second. My neighborhood’s not like these others”?

LaMonica Love:

It was instant for me. Once I got over to middle school, I can say that it was definitely instant for me. I just felt like the confidence level of the kids was very different.

Luke W Russell:

How so?

LaMonica Love:

I felt like I was very confident, because I was really smart. I read so much when I was a kid. That was really just my getaway. I would say that I knew about a lot of places and knew about things because I was just such a avid reader. My grandmother read the newspaper every single day and taught me through that that I should read.

LaMonica Love:

I don’t feel like kids in my school who were not really smart, they did not feel confident speaking up, or being in control. Once I got to my middle school, I just felt like these kids just felt like they could do anything. I didn’t necessarily feel like they were qualified to do that, but they did. That was something that was very different for me, that kids could be really confident in spite of what they knew. They just showed up and felt that they could do things. I had not really seen that before.

Luke W Russell:

You grew up in a home as one of nine children. Do I have that right?

LaMonica Love:

Yes. Nine, and mix and match. My mother had children and my father had children. In the home that I grew up in, there was five of us. My mom and my siblings, we lived with my grandmother maybe until around first grade. Then we moved with my mom, and shortly thereafter, and my mom suffered from substance abuse. She used drugs up until I was in college. In one of her attempts to really get clean, she got an apartment. My siblings all moved. That was a really difficult year for us. That was my second grade year.

LaMonica Love:

I just remember the teachers from … You fill out the little card and it has all the emergency contact information. I knew my grandmother’s number by heart. I loved going to school. There would be times where I would get to school at 6:30 in the morning, because I didn’t want to oversleep. I would get there with the custodians. That’s how early I was there. One day I think somebody was like, “This is not right that this seven year old is getting to school at 6:30.”

LaMonica Love:

They called my grandmother, and she came and got us. From there we just lived with her from that entire time period.

Luke W Russell:

With your mother in and out of rehab at times, your sister had shared with us that there were times where you were left at the house for days without an adult.

LaMonica Love:

Yes. There definitely were days when we were left. It fell on my older sister to really grow up very, very quickly. She’s six years older than me, and it was really hard. I’m a very religious or spiritual person, however people choose to put it, and I know that for me I think that it was God really looking over us and placing neighbors around us in these apartment complexes, who knew that my mom had these small kids, and who protected us.

LaMonica Love:

I don’t think that I really understood the magnitude of what could have happened to us until I went to college, and I started meeting friends who went through similar situations that I went through who were not as protected, and who did not have these guardian angels to watch over them.

Luke W Russell:

What burdens did you have to learn to carry at a young age?

LaMonica Love:

I would definitely say coping mechanisms, or overcompensation is definitely one that I learned and that I’m working through in therapy now, that I feel that I’ve always really had to carry. I didn’t want people judging me. I didn’t want people looking into my background. I didn’t want people knowing about my mom and teasing me about it or doing those types of things. I always felt like I had to be the best in the room, the smartest, to work the hardest, so that people wanted to have me lead them. That was something that I know that I developed as early as nine years old maybe.

Luke W Russell:

Do low-income people have opportunities to develop personal character that well-to-do folks might not ever even think about?

LaMonica Love:

Hell to the yes. I absolutely think so. Sometimes when it’s like people ask me, “If you could go back in your life and change anything, would you?” Now, looking back on my life I feel like I have so much character, grit, compassion, and things that I have just as a result of living life that you can’t teach. That’s why my kids have to be so incredible, because they just don’t have the life lessons. There’s no way that I can teach them those things.

LaMonica Love:

I also have felt that I’ve wanted them to be compassionate and be hard workers. What I’ve had to realize is that they’re not going to learn things the same way that I learned things. My only hope is that I can maybe push them on the other side of the spectrum in developing some of those skills that I was not able to develop at a young age.

Luke W Russell:

With your older sister really having to grow up early, too, did you ever feel like a bit of that role also fell on your shoulders to be a bit of the mother in the house, as well, even though you were maybe seven, eight years old before your grandmother took you in?

LaMonica Love:

I’ll say no. I feel like this is something that a lot of people don’t understand about kids that grow up in poverty, or kids that grow up. Because especially I hear a lot of people talking about things like, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” Even when I’m talking to my friends and they’ll say things like, “Well, you turned out fine, LaMonica. You worked really hard.” I think the difference is that my family, my community identified that I was really smart, and so it was almost like everybody that had anything poured whatever it was they could into me. It shielded me from a lot of those things.

LaMonica Love:

If I had an uncle, maybe he didn’t work a lot or was underemployed, but he would say, “Oh, well, this is what you need. You need tablets. You need these types of things.” It was almost like I was the one that did not go without. I feel like that is something that is common that I’m learning amongst people like me, the outliers, the people who were able to make it out of these terrible situations. It’s like people in your family and your community they identified that you have something, and they want to do whatever it is to protect you or give to you.

LaMonica Love:

I don’t feel like I had a lot of that burden. I did feel like I had to be a role model for my siblings, so a lot of helping with homework, and doing those things. I definitely helped all my siblings with their homework every single night. At the time, I did not view it as a burden. I guess now talking through this, yeah, absolutely. I did my middle school magnet application at 11 years old. My son is going to a magnet school, and the process is so difficult.

LaMonica Love:

We had to get the matrix. I had to have him do a project. Looking back on this, I could see how if someone got an application and got all my stuff, and clearly could see that it was prepared by an 11 year old, that they would probably be impressed in comparison to me doing my son’s application. I definitely in that aspect grew up very, very quickly, took on a lot of responsibility for setting the trajectory for my life.

Luke W Russell:

Did your siblings think you were the favorite child?

LaMonica Love:

Is this from my sister, [Corbi 00:12:19]?

Luke W Russell:

She did say something about you being a favorite.

LaMonica Love:

Oh my gosh, she’s so competitive. I would say, yes, my family probably thought that I was the favorite child. I also was and am a rule follower, so that would probably be why they thought that I was the favorite. I am definitely growing out of it a little bit more, but really a people pleaser. Definitely color between the lines, really respectful. That is part of the reason why I probably feel like I never got in trouble, and that they think that I’m the favorite. They should have done their work when they were younger and do the things that they were supposed to do.

Luke W Russell:

Did your siblings ever envy you for being the favorite child?

LaMonica Love:

Oh yeah. Well, definitely Corbi, yes, I would say. I think so. What I feel like it goes back to is what we talked about earlier, is I always got really good grades. I always was at the forefront of all the award ceremonies, valedictorian of my elementary school. Got the award at my middle school. I do think that that was probably as a young child who is already struggling with the issues that you have of abandonment and everything else, and then you have this older sister who is everybody’s favorite, getting the awards, it would appear that everything would come easy to them. I think that it was very difficult for my siblings.

LaMonica Love:

When you have a mother, I think that mother’s know how to love their children all differently and to encourage them in ways that maybe would have prevented that if we would have our mother around. At that time, my grandmother was 55, 60 years old. She was just trying to make sure that we were taken care of. I don’t think that she really was thinking about nourishing our inner person. I definitely think that my sisters needed that extra love, and needed attention in that type of way to help them develop.

Luke W Russell:

How would you describe your relationship with your grandmother?

LaMonica Love:

I think it was a good relationship. I think it was a little bit complicated, because I was a child who wanted a relationship with my parents, and very assertive about that, and assertive about what was out in life. Even at that time, my grandmother did not have a driver’s license. My grandfather passed away when I was in sixth grade, and at that point in time I felt like that really changed our life for us. Because here we are living with a grandmother, and my grandfather was the one that drove everyone around. My grandmother did not have a driver’s license, so I just did not understand how tiring that must have been for her.

LaMonica Love:

We ate a home cooked meal every single day, and at the time I did not appreciate it. My mom did not give my grandmother custody of us, so she couldn’t get food stamps or any type of government assistance for us. Everything that we had was my grandmother knowing where the sales were, and going grocery shopping, and sometimes standing in food pantry lines to get non-perishables and stuff for us.

LaMonica Love:

Now when I think about the way that the boxes of cereal and fruit looked on our table, I absolutely know that she got those things from a food pantry. At the time, I did not know that. She never said anything to us about that.

Luke W Russell:

What did you learn from your grandmother that you want to pass onto your children?

LaMonica Love:

Sacrificing, being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself, living within your means, starting something and sticking with it until you’re done with it. I think my grandmother was probably one of the most disciplined people that I knew.

Luke W Russell:

When you think about all the things you’ve done with your life, what do you think she would be proud of?

LaMonica Love:

That I didn’t stop. I think that’s what she would be the most proud of, that I didn’t stop. I think that my heart is still the same. My life growing up in Houston and my life now in Houston is two different worlds. I think that no matter where I go, my heart and my character remains the same. I feel that is something that is consistent, and that’s something that I don’t ever want to change. I think that my grandmother would be very proud of that.

Luke W Russell:

Your sister, she shared how difficult it was to hear over the years that your mother would check herself into a rehab facility, knowing that she’d probably be checking herself out before long. Did you protect your siblings from any of the pain?

LaMonica Love:

I don’t know. I don’t think that I did. I felt like we were just all in survival mode when it came to those types of things. That was something that was very, very difficult. My mom went into rehab so many times that I feel like it all really runs together. The times that I think it would be most difficult would definitely be around Mother’s Day. I feel like especially in the black community and in the church, Mother’s Day is just this huge big deal.

LaMonica Love:

Because in black families I do think that it’s like if you don’t have anything else, you have a mother that is really good to you. To be poor and all these other things and then not have your mother as this person, I think that it was just even more difficult for all of us. I don’t think that we really talked about it as much.

Luke W Russell:

Do you have any fond childhood memories of your mother?

LaMonica Love:

I do have fond memories of my mom. There would be times when my grandmother would … My fifth grade graduation or awards day, they would go and try to find her and clean her up so that she would come to things. Sometimes that would be good, because she’d show up and she’d be perfectly normal. She would look beautiful. Then sometimes she would show up and it would just be such an embarrassment, because it looks like they literally went and got her off the street and brought her to.

LaMonica Love:

I feel like they thought that it would be good, but it literally was so cringey to me at a young age. Now I am glad that they did that. I’m glad that I have some memories of her being at something, because I have lots of memories of her not being at lots of things.

Luke W Russell:

Now, your mother has been sober for years now. What’s your relationship with her like today?

LaMonica Love:

Complicated. I think that it still is very complicated. It is 1000% better. Having my kids have a relationship with their grandmother and knowing that she is around for them is better, but it’s very complicated. There’s a lot of years that are missed.

Luke W Russell:

Because we have a lot of stigma around drug addiction in our culture. Do you feel like your experience growing up with your mother, has that given you a different perspective and perhaps grace for people who are dealing with substance abuse?

LaMonica Love:

Yeah. Absolutely. I am very sensitive, especially in conversations. When people very casually call people coke heads or crack heads, I am very sensitive to that, because I think that these people were all people, and they were kids beforehand. Ultimately sometimes a lot of people that are using or doing these things, they’re escaping things, or trying to face things that they maybe did not have the strength or the energy to overcome or deal with at a very young age. I know that that’s the case with my mom.

LaMonica Love:

To me, she is my mom, but with her struggle she’s still a young woman who never dealt with a lot of the things that hurt her and harmed her at a very young age. Then having a daughter at 18 years old and being in a tumultuous sort of relationship with my dad, who was also very young and selfish at the time, I think it just destroyed her. I feel like some of it she has been able to come get over, and some of it I don’t think she’ll ever get over.

Luke W Russell:

Do you have any memories of your father, or perhaps information you have obtained from others about him?

LaMonica Love:

I have lots of memories of my dad, mainly because of my grandparents. One of the main reasons that I really struggle with my relationship with my parents is I feel like they had the very best parents. Both of my grandparents are just absolutely God sent, and always made sure that my siblings and I, that we had every single thing that we needed. Now growing up I didn’t realize that my paternal grandfather had gotten several apartments for my mom when we were young in an effort to try to help her in her journey to sobriety, and buying her cars to help her take care of us. I actually have a really good relationship with my father now. I feel my dad would pay money, would pick us up, would attend events, but for the most part, it was like women did the child-rearing at that time. So there’s no way that a man could have taken these girls and raise them on his own or done these types of things in his mind. I don’t think that… Of course, I don’t think that. I think there are men that did that years and years and times ago, but I don’t think that he necessarily has that mindset.

LaMonica Love:

So I also feel like there are things about my mom’s drug addiction that he probably has to deal with as well. Right? I mean, my dad does not use drugs, has never used drugs. Works, has been there for us, retire from the fire department. I just think that nobody in our family ever said, “These are your children, you need to raise them.” And I think that they, you know, is like, “Okay, go to your grandparents, they’re going to raise you. They’re going to do these types of things.” And my dad just was able to just live his life and get remarried and do those types of things, which I would not have liked for him to take that path in life. I very much so wished that he would have just said, “My children deserve more sacrifice than it takes them for me to enjoy and have a normal life.”

Luke W Russell:

When did you realize you wanted to be a lawyer?

LaMonica Love:

When I watched The Cosby Show. I feel like every little Black child, when you watch The Cosby Show, you want to be like someone on The Cosby Show. So for me, this was a family where they had lots of kids, we had lots of kids in our family, and they had both parents there, and I felt Clair Huxtable was a good mom and she was smart and she was witty and she was a lawyer. So that was what I wanted to be. So I felt for everything that I want for my family or who I want to be, that is why I’m going to be Clair Huxtable. And then when I got into middle school and got on the debate team and everyone just told me that I should be a lawyer, it was just solidified, even though they should have told me that I should have taken more writing classes, but that’s another issue.

Luke W Russell:

Did you have other things maybe through high school that you thought you wanted to be or was that a clear through line high school, undergrad that followed you?

LaMonica Love:

It’s always followed me. I don’t think I had a lot of exposure to other careers. One thing that I think when you talk about growing up in a neighborhood or growing up and you don’t have a lot of mentors, you don’t have a lot of exposure to professional people, the only people that I knew that wore suits were people that were at my church, and they wore charge suits because they were deacons. And maybe they had professional jobs, but I didn’t know that because we didn’t really talk about those types of things at church. So I just, I didn’t know anyone. I knew my teachers but I didn’t know a lot of professional people. So there really wasn’t an opportunity for me to see other career paths to even think about what that would look like for me.

Luke W Russell:

When you went to law school, what were you looking to get out of it besides a JD?

LaMonica Love:

Being a lawyer, it solidifies maybe your place in the professional world or the way that people view you. So I definitely felt like being a doctor or a lawyer to me was the checkbox to let people know that I had made it, I’d achieved the highest academic rank or as high as what I think in society as far as achievement that you could and I wanted. So that was my sole purpose of going to law school, is that I knew I wasn’t going to go to med school because that just didn’t seem like a viable path for me. But going to law school is absolutely about checking the box of this pathway of my life that I had for myself from seven years old.

Luke W Russell:

Did you complete your undergraduate in the four to five year timeframe?

LaMonica Love:

I did it in four years.

Luke W Russell:

So you finished your undergraduate. Did you go straight from undergraduate to law school or was there maybe a little bit of a transition period?

LaMonica Love:

I did. No, I went straight through. And I mean, if you couldn’t tell, I’m definitely a check the box person, definitely. Looking back on it, I wished that I would have taken some time and worked and done something, but I was afraid that if I did not complete it then that I probably would not have gone on to law school, that I probably would have signed a lease and started working and gotten used to making money. For me, I was like, “I’m broke, I’ve always been broke, let’s just keep it moving.”

Luke W Russell:

Sure. Sure. So you go straight into law school, you’ve done your undergraduate, now you’re here at law school, do you remember your first day?

LaMonica Love:

I actually ended up meeting all the people that I ended up being super close with, primarily, the individuals in my section. I had a super tight-knit group from my section that turned out to be roommates throughout the years and people whose wedding I’ve attended, people that are my really good friends. So definitely ended up meeting friends and finding really good friends during that time.

Luke W Russell:

When you think back to maybe 10, 12-year-old LaMonica and if you could tell her, be like, “Hey you’re going to become a lawyer, you’re going to have your own firm and be working with clients, helping them structure deals,” what do you think she would’ve thought about that?

LaMonica Love:

You know, I think that she would have been like, “Yeah, you got it.”

Luke W Russell:

I love that, yeah.

LaMonica Love:

She would have been like, “Yeah, you got this, you can do it.”

Luke W Russell:

Did you have somebody that you feel like played a role and held you to a high standard of expectation for your life and where you were going?

LaMonica Love:

I will say, there are people that I point to that I think in points that are super-duper pivotal. I had a teacher, her name was Ms. Archie Alexander, in second grade, classically trained pianist and opera singer, Black woman, which at the time I didn’t understand how much of a unicorn that really was, but she would just say, “The only person standing in your way is you. You can do anything that you want to do, the only person standing in your way is you.” And so when I wasn’t being the best version of myself or giving into like peer pressure, I just remember her tapping me on my shoulder and saying, “The only person standing in your way is you. You can do…” She would just give me all of these books.

LaMonica Love:

So being in second grade and reading To Kill a Mockingbird and understanding about lawyers, at that time, she just knew that I read so much. And then when I went off to middle school, she got me a set of pearls in fifth grade because I was valedictorian of my elementary class. I mean, that definitely impacted my life. I don’t think that anyone outside of my family single-handedly had that much of it, had… And when it comes to how education can change your life and understanding that there were not as many opportunities for women, for Black women, I think that she definitely explained that to my eight-year-old mind as well as she could.

Luke W Russell:

Thinking forward to law school, did you have any professors that stood out in your mind? Or maybe undergraduate as well?

LaMonica Love:

I did. In law school I had two professors, Professor McCormick and Professor Wendy Greene. I would say they both came in after my first year. And I remember the law school making an announcement about these two amazing women that were coming in and they were going to be teaching seminars, which for me, having seminars in law school was really where I felt like that’s really why I’m here. I’m not really here for I mean… I clearly I learned a lot from it, but being able to take, which is this huge thing we’re hearing now, critical race theory right now and law and literature was something that was huge for me, that was very important to me to combine my love of English and legal work together beforehand. I just felt like I wasn’t a good legal writer and I just didn’t feel there was any way to combine that.

LaMonica Love:

So having them both come in and having small classes where you’re able to talk about the way that the law makes you feel and the impact that you want to use it, it definitely helped to push me through law school or give me that final oomph.

Luke W Russell:

When we come back, LaMonica will talk to us about her perspective on institutional racism and balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. Stay with us. I’m Luke W Russell and you’re listening to Lawful Good.

Luke W Russell:

Hey, everyone, Luke here. If you’re thinking, “Hey, these interviews are unique and really highlight the humanity of the guests,” that’s because this is what we do all day, every day. I own an agency and we work with law firms who are marketing and advertising for mass torts and personal injury claims. We drive results by using the power of human stories. Our unique and thoughtful methods for crafting messages allow us to help lawyers get clients by connecting with the hearts and minds of potential claimants. If you’re looking to serve more individuals in need of legal help and you want to get away from generic marketing, shoot me an email at luke@russellmedia.us, that’s L-U-K-E @ R-U-S-S-E-L-L-M-E-D-I-A .us, and we can set up a time to chat.

Luke W Russell:

Or if you just want to give me a ring, ping me on my cell. It’s 317-855-8597. And if you’re thinking, “Wait, is that normal to leave a phone number in a podcast?” Maybe not, but hey, look, I’ve been in this industry for a long time and I know a lot of great people in it. So you can reach out to me at 317-855-8597.

Luke W Russell:

When we left off, LaMonica was telling us about some of the educators that influenced her life. LaMonica, you mentioned that two law school professors that stood out in your mind covered critical race theory. This is suddenly become a really hot topic. And I hadn’t heard of it until it started… when I researched it, it really came from academia and doesn’t at all seem to have any relationship to the way some people are saying. It means, for example, I’ve heard some people who are criticizing and say like it means everybody’s a racist, when yet my understanding of researching it, it’s really actually about institutional, not about individuals. Do you have any thoughts as you’re watching this conversation play out in the media that’s not the conversation that’s been had for the last few decades in academia?

LaMonica Love:

I really hate it and hate that it’s playing out this way because in my mind, I absolutely believe that critical race theory is something that should be taught in college on a law school level because it involves a lot of systems, like you said when you’re talking about institutions, and really forcing you to think about how as a leader and how as someone who’s going into spaces in… And maybe that’s why it’s taught in law school, is because it’s assuming that these are people that are going to go into spaces, become leaders, impact the way that policy and the way that laws are implemented in spaces.

LaMonica Love:

And for me, I thought it was a safe space to really just talk freely. I mean, I went to Cumberland Law School. When I was there, I think it was voted widest law school in the country at that point in time. So absolutely, in Con Law, being one of two Black students in my section, I definitely did not feel comfortable all the times speaking up about cases, but critical race theory, really, I had an opportunity to have real conversations about thinking and thought processes and people’s backgrounds and where they came from.

LaMonica Love:

I remember a very good friend of mine, and we have definitely gone through lots of weird spaces right now because he’s very conservative and I’m not. And one of the things that we would talk about is he came from a very rural background in Kentucky and worked his butt off to get to where he is today. His family is poor. He worked his way off, and he really had a very hard time understanding about affirmative action and why Black people got scholarships and why he should not also get scholarships, which he absolutely should. He is a hard worker, he’s smart, and understanding why giving scholarships to Black people or to minorities is not taking space away from him or diminishing the hard work that he’s done and the impact that him becoming a lawyer is going to have on his family as well and his entire community coming from… I think there was a lot of things that maybe we didn’t agree on.

LaMonica Love:

But one of the things that I think we did come to a space on in our entire class is that when he did go to a law firm or get that offer at his big firm, were there’re going to be spaces where not coming from generational wealth where he came into some of these spaces he was going to feel uncomfortable or not fit in? Absolutely. But would his clients automatically assume that he did not come from money or he didn’t do these things? And the answer is no. He was still going to be able to at a certain point of his career achieve and be proud of his work, but his clients were also going to be able to see him as a white male and not automatically assume all of those things.

LaMonica Love:

Whereas I have some Black friends who did not grow up in poverty. Maybe their grandparents went to college and their parents went to college. But when they get in the spaces, people automatically assume that they’re a first generation college student, or maybe they haven’t… So I think that there’s a lot of assumptions that come along with operating in certain spaces that we just have to talk about, and opportunities and innovations.

LaMonica Love:

I mean, I think that critical race theory provides opportunities for us to say, “What is some language that we can be using to promote everyone as opposed to necessarily promoting things that have been used for years that might diminish one race over the other?” So that’s the space where I feel like critical race theory should live. And I hope that law schools continue to create safe spaces where people can have conversations. I feel those spaces are becoming few and far between.

Luke W Russell:

Would you provide your definition of the phrase systemic racism?

LaMonica Love:

Yes. So I can. I think that systemic racism is sort of like laws, social mores, common practices, things that have been in place that have been used to oppress. Systemic racism is growing up in my neighborhood and going to my elementary school that was not funded as well as other neighborhoods. So public schools through property taxes is a form of systemic racism and discrimination, in my opinion. Some of the textbooks and the way that things are written is systemic racism. So that’s my idea, a way of doing things, laws, customs practices that are used to continuously keep a set group of people down financially, socially, or economically.

Luke W Russell:

There’s always this political discussion on a topic. We recently had a couple of comments, one Senator Lindsey Graham recently said, quote, “Our systems are not racist,” end quote. And he went on to say America is a work in progress. And then we had Kentucky’s first Black attorney general, Daniel Cameron recently said, quote, “I don’t believe this country is systemically racist,” end quote. Do they have a point? Or maybe, are there different ways for us to be having these discussions?

LaMonica Love:

I think that we tend to have these discussions like these in our country, right? Where it’s like, “Black people, X, White people, X, cops, X, our country, X.” Do I think that our country is racist? No, absolutely not. I mean, Luke, you’re on this. We’re a part of this country, we’re all here. I have friends that are of other races and we’re all Americans. So no, to say a blanket statement like that, I get that point. What I do think is that we need to give ourselves a little bit more credit and make statements that really mean exactly what we say and are not used to speak to our bases or certain things. Do I think that our country is racist? Absolutely not. Do I think that we still have things in place that cause systemic racism and are going to keep perpetuating that until we actually really decide to go ahead and give these things?

LaMonica Love:

I mean, come on, Black people are tired of talking about this. We want to have real discussions and move on as well, but it’s very difficult to move on when you feel like people don’t see you. Right? So people don’t see you so they don’t understand your struggle. And I am very cautious of even sometimes when people see me and they say things like, “You’re very successful, if Black people wanted to do it, they could do it. LaMonica, you’ve worked hard, you’ve worked hard your whole life.” And I think I’m really a miracle. I think that I am absolutely a miracle. And I think that some of it is nurture, but some of it I think is really nature. There are things inside of my DNA that has caused me to just be born this way.

LaMonica Love:

And Usain Bolt, if he didn’t train the way that he does, he probably would still be a very fast track runner. Michael Phelps, If he didn’t train the way that he is, he may not be a U.S. Olympian, but he would still be a wonderful swimmer. I don’t want to dismiss the work that I’ve done because I have worked, but I also know lots of people who are way smarter than me and probably deserve to be where I am just as much who were not dealt the same card in life. And most of the issues that they face are based on poverty and the color of their skin.

Luke W Russell:

So I’m guessing you’re probably not a fan of the phrase “self-made”?

LaMonica Love:

No, I’m not at all.

Luke W Russell:

Can you imagine a future without institutional racism?

LaMonica Love:

No, sadly I can’t. I mean, sorry. I mean, I think we’d like to say yes but I can’t imagine it. Do I think that things will get better? Absolutely. We’ve seen it. I was listening to The Great Dissenter about Justice Harlan, and just making me think about how powerful it is to have individuals who create spaces and stand up and leave legacies where it impacts people. And I think that that’s exactly what he did, really becoming one of the first people on the Supreme Court to realize the power of dissent and to write these powerful dissents. In one space, they talk about how a lot of his dissents were read at funerals of black people all over the country, because they provided hope and space for people to imagine a world where institutionalized racism does not exist. So I’m definitely going to go back and pull some of his dissents and create a space of motivation for myself. Because I think that we absolutely need a lot more of that.

Luke W Russell:

I recently read Ben Crump’s book, Open Season, and in it, one of the things I appreciated about just his framing was that he was like, “We have the greatest justice system we have in the world. And it doesn’t mean we don’t do work on it just because it’s the greatest.” And I appreciate that perspective. Because I feel like sometimes people hear when we say like, “Hey, there’s institutional racism or this or that, or these systems are doing this.” People feel like now we’re just attacking everything. When I don’t think that’s really the conversation that… Maybe some people. I’m sure there’s some people who are, but I think a lot of people aren’t really trying to attack everything.

LaMonica Love:

I agree. This is something that I just thought about going back to law school with critical race theory. One of the things that we actually talked about was other countries. So when you talk about a country like Brazil, right? Brazil never really thought about race as a construct, you are Brazilian. But there was so much discrimination going on based on skin color. So then they had to come up with a system of, “Well, how do we identify people as black? We don’t really know how to identify people as black, even though when it comes to the slave trade, Bahia in Brazil is one of the very first stops.

LaMonica Love:

So they absolutely benefited from slavery, exact same. They took basically everything that we are doing here in our legal system and used it to help, to construct, to build the things that they are doing around racial injustice, around those types of things. So we really are a leader in this space and the things that we do absolutely matters to the rest of the world. And when we talk about creating a space where the rest of the world can stand alone and be successful and create wonderful places for their citizens as well, everything that we do here matters.

Luke W Russell:

How can law firms elevate the voices of minorities and what are they missing out on when they don’t?

LaMonica Love:

The amount of people that enter into a law firm, and then once you make it up that funnel and become a partner, that number is so small. I think at the very beginning you’re looking at skill sets like, “Are you able to do the work? Are you here all the time? Are you able to hang out, do people like you? Do you understand the rules of the law firm?” So if you make it past that to the second level, then the people that just are able to do that, but aren’t able to be rainmakers, they don’t make it past that sort of phase. So if you start off with this group of people at the very bottom and you only have two black people, they’re probably not going to have, statistically, they’re not going to sort of make up that funnel.

LaMonica Love:

So I just feel like we, statistically, are trying to do things that are really kind of statistically impossible to just say, “You’re our one black person in our class. And we expect you to basically be like the magical Negro and make it all the way up to the funnel. Whereas your friends who are women, just like you, who decide to have children, just like you, who decide they want to do other things, who maybe have to go out on FMLA or have issues in their life and decide to move on, or just want to do something else. But you, magical Negro, you should be able to overcome all of that and make it to partner. And that’s why we brought you here, because you’re going to overcome all of that.

Luke W Russell:

That’s a lot of pressure too on an individual.

LaMonica Love:

Yeah. I mean, welcome to the life of being an overachieving black person, right? It is extremely stressful and it’s a lot of pressure. So you’re getting that pressure from your law firm, you’re getting that pressure from your family, especially if you’re a first-generation college student, and then you’re getting that pressure because you got to mentor all these kids who want to be lawyers who live in your neighborhood or their parents know you from church and they’re calling you. And then everyone wants you to donate to all of their organizations. So, it is a lot of pressure. And I just think that if we solved everything at the bottom, like this inherent systematic racism. Or, I mean, I don’t know how some of your users might feel about this, if we just gave us our reparations and called it a day then we could just be done with it, right? People could just decide to do what they wanted to do with their 40 acres and a mule. And that would be done.

Luke W Russell:

So thinking back to college as you were nearing graduation, did you have your job lined up already? Did you graduate and then realize I needed a plan?

LaMonica Love:

When I graduated from law school, I did not have a job, right.? So I did not have a job and in Texas and we get our Bar results much later than everyone else. We don’t get our Bar results until the end of November. So it’s much later than everyone else. So I was just sort of like, “I’m a smart person. I’m going to get a job as soon as I get my law degree. Once I get my law degree, I’m going to get a job.” And so I was just kind of being home, sort of depressed, sleeping in. I mean, here I am. Law degree, not really doing anything, it’s 2008, whatever.

LaMonica Love:

And then after I got my law degree, I did not get a job. So my husband was like, “You need to get a job. You’re too smart. You’re laying around. You’re being depressed. This is just terrible.” So he was like, “I’m going to do a job application for you.” So he did a job application for me at Ann Taylor Loft and then the US Census Bureau. And I was like, “I am not going to be a Census worker.” Right? I was like, “Census worker…” He was just like, “You need to do something, you’re getting depressed, blah, blah, blah.” So then I found out I was pregnant. So I was like, “Well, I guess I just got to go and be a Census worker because I have to do something, I’m pregnant.”

LaMonica Love:

So I go to my interview or whatever to be a Census worker. And they’re like, “Do you have a law degree?” So I was like, “Yeah, I have a law degree.” So they’re like, “Well, we have all these other jobs in management that you can apply for. Apply for this job.” So I did. And then I ended up sort of being over the hiring and firing and sort of management of 2000 Census worker group here in the city of Houston. But what I really learned about during that time is that I re-introduced myself to Houston as a professional. So when you think about what it takes to manage a census, you have to have everybody on board. So you have to have private sector, public sector, churches, community centers. I mean, you need everyone to kind of get that count. To have spaces where you can have trainings for centers. You have to have offices where census workers are coming in. You have to have safe spaces.

LaMonica Love:

You have all these people who are managers and who are project leads, who are leaders in the city. And so I just met all of those people by happenstance. And here I am, I’m pregnant, a young lawyer, and it was perfect because I worked 40 hours and no more than that because the US government will not pay you for overtime. And it was great because I didn’t know at the time that I was going to have my own law firm at some point in time. And so once I left Hess and I started my own law firm, I had this whole kind of infrastructure of people who were leaders in the city who forwarded my information out and who referred clients to me and who brought me on to work on projects.

LaMonica Love:

And had I not had that job at the Census, I would have never formed that network. And that is something that I think is totally different, is that your network as an attorney is very different when you are becoming an entrepreneur. And so I learned, I had to stop going to where all the lawyers are and I had to start going to where my ideal clients were. And so that meant that I had to start going to the women’s chamber, into the black chamber, and to business expos, and all of these things that were totally different than what I was used to when you are sort of in corporate America or working at a law firm. And going to those spaces and seeing so many familiar faces and so many people that knew me when I worked at the Census, paid off for me.

Luke W Russell:

Now, what drew you to real estate law?

LaMonica Love:

So I started off… Most of my work is really in business transactional work. And so representing businesses, doing that type of work. And my mentor who I office with, she does real estate law. She’s one of the few black attorneys, I would say, in Houston that does a lot of real estate law. And so she went on a cruise one week and said that she wanted me to just sort of manage her workload. It’s going to be easy, not going to be a lot going on, don’t worry about it, everyone knew that she was going to be on a cruise. And of course, things just went berserk. The title company was calling for all of the fee documents that she was doing, things just went nuts.

LaMonica Love:

And so basically when she got to every port, I would have these long emails of things. And I was having to go through her email, and recreate deeds, and recreate those types of things. And so, really that kind of learning by fire helped me out a lot. But then I also started to realize that a lot of my clients who were forming business ventures were also getting into commercial leases or buying property, or if they’re buying a business, understanding exactly what they’re getting. “Are you buying the business? Are you buying the assets? What does that look like? What are the surveys saying?” So it just really happened kind of organically. And it’s been great, I guess.

Luke W Russell:

I love that. You’ve given away a lot of your time to draft wills for senior citizens and low-income individuals. What’s the most gratifying aspect of that?

LaMonica Love:

One thing that I can say in sort of doing real estates and a little bit of probate work is, that I feel like a lot of senior citizens specifically… Our generation, I feel like we have so much debt. And when I look at a lot of the senior citizens that I work with, they don’t have debt and they’ve paid off their home and they worked very, very hard to pay off their property. And what we’re seeing now here in Houston, and probably in all major cities, is that people are losing their property because they can not probate the will, they don’t have the means to understand how to transfer the property to their heirs. And so their children or their grandchildren just live in the property. They don’t transfer the deed, they don’t pay the taxes, and then they lose the property.

LaMonica Love:

And for me, that also happened with my grandmother’s property, the house that we grew up in. My grandmother had paid it off, she worked very hard to pay the home off that we’re raised in. And when it came time, my aunts, my uncles, nobody wanted to pay the taxes on it and to do everything. At that time, I was just graduating from law school. I didn’t have a lot of money. I didn’t understand the value of saying, “Okay, I’ll take it over. We’ll pay the taxes”, because I was brand new baby lawyer.

LaMonica Love:

But I think it as something that’s very important, I think it’s extremely important to establishing generational wealth for lower income families, the passing down of properties. The Texas Legislature actually just passed something now called a revocable transfer on death deed. And as much as I can talk to any senior citizen, going to churches, going to things to talk to people about getting a revocable transfer on death deed, and then you don’t have to probate a will. Probating a will, can be so expensive and so time consuming, and a lot of families don’t have that luxury or have that time.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?

LaMonica Love:

Oh, I am. Yeah.

Luke W Russell:

What is an entrepreneur and how does an entrepreneur differ from a business person?

LaMonica Love:

So, I definitely think that as an entrepreneur you are providing the good or service, and then you’re also sort of running the business. I think that entrepreneurship is actually something that most lawyers need to really think about themselves as. The very first half of my law career I felt like I was struggling and really trying to figure out my path because I was just comparing myself to other lawyers, right? So it’s sort of like, in this like 5% of people, just comparing my success, comparing things to just those 5% of people. And then once I started stepping outside of that and going back to all of the skill sets that I had and sort of living in the real world of everyone else, and the things that I have to offer, and really using my ability to sort of work harder than everyone else, to problem-solve, to be a critical thinker, that really pushed me over the top. So, for now have my law practice, but I’m actually forming lots of other business ventures and working on things that I want to do so that ultimately I don’t have to practice law.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. So your website says you are an attorney, a business consultant, and a branding professional. Can you really be all of those things?

LaMonica Love:

Oh, yeah, absolutely. You can be whatever you want to be, right? Luke, I think that we put ourselves into these boxes as attorneys and we’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to do that because I want people to think that I’m really a lawyer.” But what I’ve realized is that so many of my clients, they come to me and they have no idea how to run their business. They know how to provide a very good service, but when I start talking to them about their operating agreement, or I start talking to them about coming up with policies and protocols, they don’t have any idea of what that means. What they want to do is they want to make a lot of money, they want to sell their goods, and that’s exactly what they want to do.

LaMonica Love:

Well, if you had an employee who was stealing before, or you had an employee who was taking all this sick time off, you have to have policies in place so that when people come back in you’re able to control those things. So a lot of my business consulting and using my entrepreneur background comes into teaching them how to do that, questioning them on those types of things. And I’m actually in this leadership course right now with Egon Zehnder. And I hired a paralegal, I hired a younger attorney, and I was just hiring them to take things off my plate. Because I’m like, “I’m growing so fast. I’m getting so busy.” And it was very, very stressful for me. Because it’s just like, this is stressful. This is not the way that it works.

LaMonica Love:

And what I’ve realized through the leadership training is that it’s like, “No, you need to write a job description. You need to come up with exactly what it is that you want them to take off your plate.” I spent an entire weekend going through exactly what it is I wanted them to do. Writing up policies, writing up protocols, screenshotting everything so that they have these things, and really coming up with like, “You can do this without me.” So that is where I think sort of being an entrepreneur comes into play. Being a good lawyer is definitely being able to do everything, to file things, to draft motions.

LaMonica Love:

But if you want to have a well oiled machine, you want to get things in place. That’s where you have to sort of run your entrepreneur hat and really assess things. I talk to my staff all the time about sort of like, “This is where the firm is going. This is the things that I want to do. This is where I see you fitting in. Where do you see yourself fitting in? What do you want to do? How can I support you?” Especially with my very strong employees, because I can’t pay them what they deserve to be paid right now, so I need to be very much in tune with their goals so that I can support them in that, and I can be a part of their journey just like they’re a part of mine.

Luke W Russell:

When did you realize that you wanted to run your own firm and not work for others?

LaMonica Love:

Even once I started my own firm, I wasn’t really sure that that was long-term what I wanted to do. And, yeah, I’m not one of those people who are like, “I can never work for anyone else. Working for myself is where it’s at.” I think that it’s about opportunity and creating space to be successful. Working in a corporation, I think it’s just a lot of mental energy that also goes into sort of being a good fit for the legal department, being a good fit for the clients. And, for the salaries that were going around at that time, I just wasn’t really willing to do that. And so I looked over what I had been doing for the past couple of years and saw that I had been helping a lot of my friends who all have businesses. They just didn’t know anyone. They didn’t know a black attorney who was has a business, who could review agreements for them, who could help advise them on starting a business or buying a business or getting into a franchise.

LaMonica Love:

And so just decided to take a chance on myself and try to do that. So I literally wrote down every single person that I’d helped, called them, talked about their experiences, started researching firms, their pricing structures, and spent a lot of time just getting a website built that reflected what I wanted. And that’s how I started it, with the money from my salary that I was making that I saved up and start it from there. So, that’s what started my firm. And so I literally just started beating my feet, going to every chamber that I could, getting on the speaking circuit, finding out if people needed business attorneys to talk on their YouTube or on their past, and did that for two years.

LaMonica Love:

And that has really been how my practice has started booming. I will say that when you’re on your own, you become a little bit more scrappier and you don’t just depend on everyone else to make it happen for you. So you’re going to start finding other resources. You’re going to start really keeping… I keep a lot of hot sheets. So things that I have learned over the years when it comes to commercial real estate or negotiating a contract. That way I can go back and look over like, “Well, what happened in this contract? Or what did this indemnity clause say?” Or, really finding CLE… I joined Texas Bar college so I can pull any CLE up that’s ever been done before in history. Sometimes I’m printing out a CLE and going and sitting down and reading up on things and then going down all the rabbit holes on certain types of clauses to become a mini expert in those types of things. So you have everything inside of you that you need to sort of get this job done, and what you don’t have you can find either through collaboration or resources.

Luke W Russell:

For women who are listening and they’re thinking, they’re saying, “Hey, I want to stay in my career and I want to have children.” What would you say to them?

LaMonica Love:

I would say, I think you can have it all, right? That does not necessarily mean you can have it all at one time. There are seasons for everything, right? I have this, and I just took it down because we’re getting ready to sell our house, but I have this poster board and it’s from 2020 to 2040. And it’s sort of like, places that I want to travel, things that I want to do, all of those things. When my kids were very young, a lot of that stuff was not on there. All of these goals that I really have for myself, I kind of pressed pause on them. And so what that means is that, your kids don’t know how to give themselves baths anymore. You’re not leaving your kids with lots of people because they can’t speak and talk for themselves. So there’s not lots of trips. They’re very clingy. Where I am in my career right now, my kids are 11 and seven years old, it’s much easier. I can give them a list of things to do. They can go take their bath, they pick out their clothes, they can fix themselves food if I need them to do things. So if I’m working, if I’m doing things, I don’t have the same problems. I’m able to be a lot more creative with them now then I was when they were younger. So I just say to moms, the hardest thing is ensuring that you are achieving your goals and making sure that your kids achieve their goals as well, and there is a balance to that.

Luke W Russell:

Can you simultaneously be a great mom, a great lawyer, and a great business leader?

LaMonica Love:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Are you giving 150% to everything at one time? No. But I definitely think that you can, and I just find it so fascinating that this is this new question that comes up of moms, but men have been raising families and doing alright, right? I don’t see why that would be such a huge hurdle for women to do as well.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. What’s the question you think we should be asking?

LaMonica Love:

I think the question should be, can you parent? Can you parent? Can you give your time to something that is larger than yourself, that you may not personally benefit from? So many times in our careers or in political roles, we’re doing things that we hope are going to push us forward or benefit us, and when you’re in the role of a parent or a caregiver, people that are even taking care of their parents and maybe not necessarily taking care of children. Those aren’t things that are going to propel you forward in your career or propel you forward in your goals, but I do think that it makes you a better person and you get satisfaction out of it.

Luke W Russell:

I love what you’re saying here, LaMonica. It makes me think lately I’ve been just probing this… I wouldn’t call it a gap, but this idea sometimes in our work, we’re looking at how we make a big impact in the world and this or that, but then when we come home to our families, not everything is big, but yet it’s all good and meaningful?

LaMonica Love:

Oh, I think it absolutely is. I have this saying that either you’re going to pay for it now, or you’re going to pay for it later with your children, so you put the time in now in ensuring that they’re good people and you are building a relationship with them so that when they need you, they have that line of open communication to come to you, and I think it’s the same way with mentees or anyone whose life you want to impact.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. How many new projects are rolling around in your head?

LaMonica Love:

So many. I’m actually starting even as new venture with three other women, probably the biggest one that I have going on, and none of them are lawyers, they’re all business women. So commercial risk insurance agent or broker, project management, HR professional, and we’re basically going to form a huge consulting company that is focused on promoting women in companies and promoting minorities to do work for corporations. I think that it’s my sweet spot. I’ve learned a lot from my legal background that I think is pushing us forward in my project management days. That is probably the thing that is taking up the most of my time right now. I’ve been training my staff to really do a lot of the work that I’m not able to do anymore because my hope is that this will retire me, or that I can scale it and sell it.

Luke W Russell:

How many people in your life tell you that your ideas are farfetched?

LaMonica Love:

Oh, lots of people, right? At first, it really used to bring me down. I have so many friends that I feel like we’ve gone on this journey where we want to be successful, check. We wanted to have kids, check. We wanted to travel, check. So, as long as I was thinking within the box, I felt like they were like all on board, everything was perfect.

LaMonica Love:

But then once I started talking about… Really, I mean, it goes back to what we talked about, finding mentors. I just started as a business attorney opening Pandora’s box on all of these careers and things that exist where people are freaking making so much money. It’s like as a lawyer here we are thinking that we have to live in this box and do certain things, and once I started getting into it, I of course started sharing it with my friends. I want to bring them along. I think they’re just as brilliant as these people who are making all this money, and I think that they’re just, you’re extra, you’re over the top, you’re overcompensating, that type of thing. I used to really care, but now I don’t. I don’t care. You know?

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

LaMonica Love:

My family is in such a good place. My kids are in such a good place. I just really feel like I have done the grunt work behind the scenes so much that I’m not afraid to be at the top or shine. I’m not afraid to let my light shine, if that’s how to say it.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. It sounds to me like you don’t have much of a desire to be normal.

LaMonica Love:

No. No, I don’t. I don’t, and I felt like it’s so that’s so funny that you put it that way, Luke, because my whole life, that was exactly what I wanted it to be, right? I want it to be normal, and I know that for most people, being a lawyer, having a professional husband, having kids, that is not normal. They’ll probably be like, “Wow, that’s so wonderful. That’s successful.” But to me, that was what I always wanted to do. I always said that was normal to me because that was just my normal goal, setting that way.

LaMonica Love:

Once I started realizing that there’s so much power in surrounding yourself with people that are going to elevate you and speak life into you and your goals, and that’s exactly what I want to do. I really only want to surround myself with people that are going to push me to be the best version of myself, and now I do feel like I want to live in a space where my dreams are so big that they really do scare me, and this is the first time that I feel like I absolutely am living in that space.

Luke W Russell:

I love that. People who are not entrepreneurs by nature have suggested to me that the pursuit of new or better or bigger projects is a state of discontentment in their eyes. Does anyone ever ask you when will enough be enough?

LaMonica Love:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. I definitely think so. I have friends who I think feel that way, and what I’ve decided to do is I now choose who I want to be vulnerable with. I can’t do it with everybody, because sometimes the amount of energy it takes for me to build myself up to take that risk, I’ve done a lot of work to do that. So, to only have people that are picking apart… And I don’t think that they’re picking it apart in a way to harm me. I think that it’s sometimes pulling on their insecurities or working through it the way that their mind works through things, and so I just don’t. I’ve really found a circle of people that I think think like me, and when I’m having a bad day or when I have a meeting with an SVP of a Fortune 100 company and I have no idea why I’m there and they say, “What do you have to lose? Just do it. Go in, talk about the work that you’ve done. You belong in that room.” I mean, that’s what I need in my life.

Luke W Russell:

In the legal community, there are high rates of depression, substance abuse, suicide, and more. Have you witnessed this among your professional community?

LaMonica Love:

Yeah, absolutely. When I first got out of law school, all of my friends had better jobs than I did. They all were at big firms, big companies. I was literally just along for the ride, getting invited to all of the galas and everything because they sponsored tables. I feel like the amount of stress and pressure that my friends were under was unbearable, and I’m really proud of this new generation. I know that a lot of partners and other people don’t like it. I have negotiated employment contracts for young doctors who will say, “You can take the $40,000. I don’t want to work on the weekends,” right? I think that people don’t know what to do with that, because they’re so used to having a generation of people who wanted to negotiate more money, and now you have this newer generation who’s saying, “No, I want my weekends. I want my vacation. I can take less money.” I hope that with COVID and this virtual work that we see, that we see a transformation in what is considered successful and what is considered a value to companies and law firms.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. How do you take care of yourself when you spend so much time taking care of other people?

LaMonica Love:

Well, I got a Peloton, so I love that. The first day that I got my Peloton, I did a ride and I actually cried, because I was like, I am so stressed out. I did not realize how stressed out I was. But being in stressful situations is actually a stress reliever for me. I don’t know if that makes sense. Working under pressure I would say is really a stress reliever for me. So, that’s something that a lot of people don’t get. For me, I’ve been working hard my whole life for free, so to actually like work at the pace that I’m working and to be able to make money for the amount of time that I’m working is extremely gratifying for me.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Now, speaking of Peloton, do you work out most days? Is it a morning thing, an evening thing?

LaMonica Love:

It changes, because my schedule changes all the time, and I would love to say that I’m a person that gets up every day at 5:00 AM. I mean, I’m working towards that. I know we’ve all read The Millionaire Morning and all of those things, and I’d love to do that. That’s the goals of where I would like to get to where I have this set morning, but typically I’ll have a project and I’m staying up until midnight or 1:00 sometimes, so I don’t get to do that. I work out four times a week, and that’s pretty much how it is. My kids also run track. My son’s a Junior Olympian. So a lot of my time is if I take them to track practice, then I’m walking the track, I’m running the track while they’re there so that I can get my workout in at the same time, and then I get my Peloton in definitely on a Sunday, and then two to three times a week when I can.

Luke W Russell:

Do you mind sharing your username?

LaMonica Love:

No, I don’t. It’s a Lalalove713, I think. I think I just changed it. Let me check. Yeah. Lalalove713.

Luke W Russell:

What’s the 713? Is that a birthday?

LaMonica Love:

That’s Houston.

Luke W Russell:

Houston. I love looking at your Peloton profile, and I love that you can, for people who don’t know, there’s a little space you can use that appears next to your name for a location, and I love that we’ve got HTX, then attorney, then a DST for your, I guess, sorority, and then fit mom. Does that sum up LaMonica?

LaMonica Love:

Yeah, I think that it does. When I talk to people, I just feel like for me, every interaction that you have with someone is an opportunity to build a relationship and to deposit something into them. I’m very intentional about every interaction that I have with somebody, so that is why a lot of times my friends are like, “Oh, you put all this stuff on your name,” and I’m like yeah, because people might high-five me and then they might need an attorney in Houston. So, I’m very intentional about that, and I think that’s probably the entrepreneur in me.

Luke W Russell:

I love that. Are Robin’s rides better than Ally’s? Because, I mean, Allie’s last name is, after all, Love.

LaMonica Love:

When I first started riding, I was definitely all about Ally, right? They haven’t done Sundays with Love any more.

Luke W Russell:

I know. I loved it.

LaMonica Love:

But then I did the Hamilton ride with Robin and I fell in love with her because I love Hamilton and I love it. But now I’ve fallen in love with Kendall, because I feel like Kendall is my white girl spirit person. We’re the same person.

Luke W Russell:

I love that. Part of my pre-interview routine is I do a ride before every interview to get my body in a really great place so I’m just really present, and I just did my 250th ride, which was really fun, and I did it with Kendall, and I actually got a name shout out. It was live.

LaMonica Love:

Oh wow.

Luke W Russell:

I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is fun.” I love Kendall. She’s fiery.

LaMonica Love:

She is fiery. She’s fun. Reminds me of my twenties.

Luke W Russell:

I love that. Did you know Robin has her JD and she used to practice?

LaMonica Love:

No. Robin Arzon?

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

LaMonica Love:

No, I did not.

Luke W Russell:

I so want to interview her for this show someday, but she just had a kiddo. She’s a little busy.

LaMonica Love:

Man, that would be great. I’d love that.

Luke W Russell:

Okay. So, we’re going to do what we call our high-velocity round, and what I’m going to do is I’m going to ask a series of questions, and you cannot answer just yes or no.

LaMonica Love:

Okay.

Luke W Russell:

Is Beyonce the best artist in history?

LaMonica Love:

Absolutely. Best artist in history. Every single concert.

Luke W Russell:

Do you go out for bottomless mimosas every weekend?

LaMonica Love:

Pre-COVID? Yes. Yeah. I’m definitely an extreme extrovert pre-COVID.

Luke W Russell:

Do you ever scream?

LaMonica Love:

Not as much as I should.

Luke W Russell:

Are you an original member of the Beyhive?

LaMonica Love:

I am. Yeah. Beyonce is from Houston. Before she was super duper famous, she actually, one of her first songs was with this Houston rapper called Lil’ O, and me and my friends are the original people who supported Beyonce. We’d see her at the Galleria. So, absolutely. Yes.

Luke W Russell:

Do you still paint?

LaMonica Love:

I do not paint, and I should.

Luke W Russell:

Your friend Shara says that you show up for people on a full battery. Are you a rechargeable battery?

LaMonica Love:

I am. I am a rechargeable battery.

Luke W Russell:

Will you go skydiving with your sister later this year?

LaMonica Love:

No, I will not. I will not go skydiving with her. With Corby?

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

LaMonica Love:

No. She knows that.

Luke W Russell:

Are 47 pound dogs better than seven pound dogs?

LaMonica Love:

Yes, they are. I have a 47 pound dog. Her name is Roxy.

Luke W Russell:

What type of breed is she?

LaMonica Love:

She’s a golden doodle.

Luke W Russell:

Oh my gosh.

LaMonica Love:

She’s great. She got us through COVID. She is wonderful. She came to us in December, early December, and then COVID hit, and we’ve had her since.

Luke W Russell:

What drives you to get up each morning?

LaMonica Love:

New adventure. I want to push myself as far as I can go. That is one thing, and then the other thing is really my kids,. so much of me, I say this often, I used to really pray that God would give me a certain type of family when I was a kid, and I don’t think that he didn’t answer my prayers, I think he just delayed my prayers, and so I feel like the family that I have now is everything that I’ve prayed for as a little girl.

Luke W Russell:

Has your why shifted over time?

LaMonica Love:

Yeah, I would definitely say my why has shifted over time. I do feel like there’s so much pressure for me to be linear that I want to create a space for my kids to be extremely successful, but to be able to define success on their own terms and then give 150% to that. So, that is what I think is important to me. Not necessarily being successful by what the world sees, but finding what it is that you want to do and really giving your all to that. I think that creating a space where they can do that, no student loans, or being able to focus on their passion, if you want to go and just solve world hunger, and live where you can’t make a salary. I mean, if I could create a space where they could do that, that is really what I would want to do.

Luke W Russell:

That’s great. Okay, LaMonica, it’s your 80th birthday celebration. People from all throughout your life are present. A gentle clinking on glass can be heard, and a hush washes over the room. People raise their glasses to toast to you. What are three things you would hope that they say about you?

LaMonica Love:

I hope that people would say how proud they are of me, and that I am somebody who ensured that I was just not successful, but that I also brought people along. Then I would want them to say that while my job changed, my title changed, that my heart never changed, and that I had always had a heart for people, I always have helped people, and that’s something that has never changed.

Luke W Russell:

To learn more about LaMonica, visit lamonicalove.com. Thanks so much for listening to us this week. This podcast is produced by Kirsten Stock, developed in collaboration with Max T. Russell, edited by Kendall Perkinson, and mastered by Gilo Bertolini. A special thanks to the companies that make this project possible: X Social Media, Russell Media, and the SEO Police. You can learn more about these groups by visiting our website, lawfulgoodpodcast.com. I’m your host, Luke W. Russell, and you’ve been listening to Lawful Good.