#selfieswithsonya - Featuring Latanya Langley

Sonya: When did you first realize that you wanted to become an attorney? What first drew you to a career as an attorney? What do you enjoy most about your career now?

LaTanya : As I child, I always new I would be a lawyer. I was obsessed with court shows and I often had trials with my dolls. Women’s rights was always an agenda for me even at a young age. I was the prosecutor and defense attorney (as young as 4 years old) and my dolls, were the judge and jury. Barbie sent Ken to jail often for various violations.

Sonya: Have there been specific people (real or fictional) or pivotal situations/events that have inspired you, helped shape your career?

LaTanya : My parents have always inspired me. They both were service workers and they sacrificed their lives and dreams to ensure that their kids had the best education, values and life experiences. They taught me to be fearless, ambitious, and independent.

Sonya: Are there particular traits that you believe successful attorneys share? Traits that you believe you have yourself and which you look for in hiring outside and in-house counsel? How about common traits you’ve observed in other successful GCs?

LaTanya : I think in addition to working hard and being smart. It is important to be well rounded, a good person at the core and authentic. Success is not only measured by what you achieve but, also how you achieve it. Inspirational leadership, collaboration and teamwork is critical to driving results.

Sonya: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? What would you like your legacy to be in your company/law department? In the legal profession? 

LaTanya : I am most proud of the many of the mentees that I have ushered through college, law school, becoming attorneys and then navigating associate and in-house careers. I would like my legacy to be that I care about and will invest in the development and success of any professional that I encounter. In the legal profession I would like my legacy to be the same and in addition being an effective global leader that utilizes multiple intelligences, authentic leadership and disciplined disruption.

Sonya: Have you had mentors/sponsors? Have you acted as a mentor/sponsor to others? Is mentorship/sponsorship important? How? Why?

LaTanya : I have had many mentors and sponsors throughout my career. Many were odd matches but organic and long lasting relationships. Most were in the legal field, on the commercial side of the businesses that I have worked and others are individuals from college and high school who are still in my life, e.g. coaches, headmaster, and teachers.

Sonya: Think about the legal profession over the course of the next 10 years. What do you see as the big changes that are coming which you believe will most significantly impact the profession and the role of the GC/in-house legal department?

LaTanya : Issues ranging from corruption in developing nations to corporate reputation, labor issues, technology and regulation landscapes are top of mind for me. But, the most significant to me today, is the rapid rate at which technology is advancing. GC’s need to keep a firm grip on governance, compliance and evolving technologies, risks and opportunities.

Sonya: Describe a significant challenge you have faced in your life or career. How did you overcome it? What did you learn from it?

LaTanya : While I prefer not to describe this as a significant challenge, a significant opportunity was the many times I was the only woman and/or woman of color in the room throughout my career. It wasn’t until I “owned” my difference and embraced my authentic self and the skills, talents and gifts I brought to the table that I realized that my difference was not for exclusion but in fact allowed me to reach my full potential and provide my organizations my unique perspective, different way of thinking to contribute to a common mission. It also allowed me the privilege to create a path for more women to come into the room and join the conversation.

Sonya: What does Diversity & Inclusion mean to you? How important is D&I to you personally? As a GC? To your company/legal department? What advice do you have for GCs and others seeking to make a positive impact on the progress of D&I in their organizations and in the legal profession?

LaTanya : Diversity and inclusion efforts are enablers for business strategy and competitive advantage. Diverse and Inclusive teams are proven to be more innovative and produce better results. Diversity to me is both a moral and business imperative. I am personally active in organizations and initiatives that are focused on advancing the hiring, retention and promotion of diverse lawyers in law departments and law firms by providing research, best practices, professional development and training, and through pipeline initiatives. GCs can set standards, metrics and accountability programs for diverse teams internally as well as with outside counsel.

Sonya: If you were not General Counsel of your company (or of any company or even a lawyer at all), what career do you think you would most like to pursue?

LaTanya : I would be a performer. I like to choreograph, bring people together to accomplish a task that feels good and I like to solve the mystery, prevent the tragedy, save a life or find the romance in life’s challenges.

Sonya: Knowing what you know now about being a lawyer and a GC, if you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? At what point in your past would you give yourself that advice?

LaTanya : Be Bold and fearless. I was born this way, but the moment I became a lawyer, I would have reminded myself of this during my junior years.

Sonya: Tell me something fun about yourself. A personal skill or hobby that, while not directly related to your day job, you feel makes you more well-rounded, helps you be better at your day job and/or helps relax and focus you to do your job as a GC better.

LaTanya : I am a classical pianist and singer. I am rusty at both and this interview reminds me to go home and play “Sonatina in C major, op. 36 no. 1”

Sonya: Hashtag/Brand yourself in 5 words or fewer (For example, mine is #SelfiesWithSonya )

LaTanya : #BeUnapologeticallyYou

Read this article on High Performance Counsel

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Sonya SomSonya Olds Som is a Partner in Major, Lindsey & Africa's Chicago/Midwest office and is primarily responsible for strategizing and leading networking, business development and marketing initiatives for our In-House Practice Group team throughout the Midwest. Sonya focuses on sourcing in-house counsel search opportunities for attorneys at all levels – from junior counsel to general counsel -- in corporate legal departments in a wide range of industries by developing and maintaining relationships with general counsel, human resource leaders and other C-Suite executives. Sonya also provides career advice to attorneys and is a recognized Thought Leader regarding diversity in the legal profession nationwide.

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