lelia adams

Fabulous People: Lelia Adams

Lelia Adams, attorney at law, is part of a Phoenix-based law firm that specializes in family-based, employment-based and business immigration. This spring, Adams became the first Black woman to be pictured on a Valley Metro bus. Learn about Lelia Adams…

Hometown: I grew up in Connecticut but prior to that I lived in a small village in Africa where I spent many years without electricity or running tap water.

First job: My first job was as a cashier at a grocery store where I earned $6.05 per hour on weekdays and $7.05 per hour on Sundays.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in AZ: I love to run.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: When I was a teenager, my mother was deported. Bringing my mother back to America was the biggest accomplishment of my life because there were some lawyers that told me that it could not be done. On the day of her interview, the officer denied my petition. I had to present so many pages of legal argument to an upper-level officer who agreed that the law was in her favor. He then gave her a visa to come back to me. My mother is my permanent reminder to never give up because hard work pays off.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Going to law school and graduating from law school was the biggest obstacle I have overcome in my life. I slept on the floor for one year because I had no money for a bed. When I left for law school, my father gave me a pillow and a blanket. I laid it on the floor and slept there for a year until my friend Claudine discovered that I was sleeping on the floor and told me that I could buy an air mattress at Walmart for $49.99. All the money I had was used to buy my expensive law schoolbooks and a little food to survive. Law school felt like an expensive necessity that I could not afford, but I was determined to become a lawyer despite the difficulty. I prayed to God for help and embraced the difficult journey. I stayed focused until I graduated from law school.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: For anyone interested in becoming a lawyer I would say, stay focused. Understand that it is difficult with lots of sleepless nights, but you will succeed if you are determined.

Favorite quote: There is a saying in my village – “Some bad outcomes are not always bad outcomes, because sometimes great things emerge from it.” If my mom had not gone through such difficulty, I probably would never have become a lawyer.

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I have a certification as a group fitness instructor for weightlifting.

What makes someone fabulous: A warm smile and determination.

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