Featured Alumni: Amarra Autumn Lee
What is your fondest memory of your time at Farella?
White Collar team meetings are by far my fondest memory of the firm. The meetings were intense. We were usually strategizing client solutions with short deadlines and high consequences. Despite the weight of the work we handled in those meetings, brainstorming with legal titans like Doug Young and Bill Keane was a tremendous experience for a young attorney like me. Hearing how they approached issues, prioritized action steps, and addressed client needs and expectations was enlightening. It was also empowering to have a voice in these meetings. My contributions and perspectives were valued. The meetings were also fun. We often laughed, celebrated victories, and shared family updates after the business portion of the meetings were done. Some of my closest friends and mentors came out of these team meetings. I grew so much as a person and attorney by being in the room with such compassionate people focused on solving challenging legal questions.
How did Farella help you get to where you are today?
While at Farella for almost six years, I developed as a legal writer. I drafted civil pleadings and discovery. I handled cases from complaint to appeal. I learned extensive research skills. I also learned the code of civil procedure and evidence. I was mentored by some of the most profound legal minds. I did client presentations, conducted and defended depositions, and I drafted discovery plans. Farella gave me insight and understanding of civil law and motion. I believe this knowledge has served me well in my post-Farella legal career.
What do you like most about what you do in your current job?
Being a judge allows for fair and impartial application of law. I have served as a defense attorney and prosecutor. In both capacities, my job was to interpret, apply, and argue the law in a light most favorable to my client’s position. As an advocate, I sought to persuade through analogy. As a Judge, I am afforded the opportunity to objectively study and apply the law, no longer seeking any other purpose than justice.
What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
Starting in 2007, FBM’s Pipeline Program changed San Francisco’s approach to diversifying the legal profession. There was no longer a question of the value of diversity, clients were seeking out the firm’s services based upon the Pipeline Program being a creative and innovative means to invest in the local community and long term change in the profession. By taking a risk and investing in each intern, a mid-size firm was now setting the standard. The interns were like me—looking for perspective and resources that surpassed our family’s financial hardships. The amount of research and time it took to create the program’s curriculum was tremendous. Facilitating the program each summer and mentoring the interns was so very gratifying. The Pipeline Program is my proudest accomplishment to date because it lives beyond my tenure at the firm.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned while at Farella? How has this lesson impacted you post-Farella?
The first five years of my career were spent at FBM. I learned to value my perspective and creativity. I also learned to trust my instincts. The skillset I developed at the firm has served as the foundation for my career thereafter.
What piece of advice would you give to [attorneys] starting their legal career?
Try new things! I never expected to love white collar criminal defense work and it ended up being one of my favorite areas of practice.
What is your favorite hobby and how did you get into it?
I fell in love with SoulCycle. It is a 45-minute cycling experience with great music. You burn so many calories without focusing on the fact that your exercising. Two years ago a friend invited me to go with her after work and I have been hooked ever since.
Do you serve on any non-profit boards, and if so which ones and why?
I serve as a board member for Graduates Organized to Assure Learning and Success (“GOALS”), a non-profit organization committed to addressing disparities in higher education access. Mentoring Pipeline students inspired my interest in higher education access. Students and their families felt empowered by the Financial Aid night hosted by the firm and the knowledge they learned about how to maneuver college admissions. After leaving Farella, I wanted to continue my work to shore up the education pipeline and the GOALS board was a great fit.