Lani Brandon Wants to Specialize in Environmental Law

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Lani Brandon Wants to Specialize in Environmental Law
Professional Overview

Lani Brandon graduated from Pace Law School in January 2014. Although she has several areas of interest, she plans on practicing environmental law in Western New York.

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Lani was born and raised in Western New York. She grew up with her mother, father, and younger brother. Lani claimed, "I wouldn't be where I am today without the support and encouragement of my parents. They told me I can accomplish anything in life as long as I work hard."

She graduated with a dual major in Music Business/Management and Songwriting from Berklee College of Music in 2001. Berklee is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. While studying as an undergrad, Lani served as a resident assistant and was a member of the Dean's Club (1999-2000). From 2000 until 2001, she served as a student coordinator for an annual Nashville trip for students to meet with music industry professionals. During this time, Lani was also a member of the President's Club.

After graduating from Berklee, she worked at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) for several years before enrolling in law school. BMI is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1939 by forward thinkers who wanted to represent songwriters in developing genres, like blues, jazz, and country. They represent nearly nine million musical works created and owned by more than six hundred thousand musical publishers, composers and songwriters. BMI is currently the largest musical organization in the nation.

While studying at Pace Law School, Lani worked full time as an Associate Manager at Home Box Office Inc. (HBO), which is an American premium cable and satellite television network. In November 2013, she competed in the Buffalo Niagara Trial Team Competition. When asked about her Moot Court Experience, Lani said, "There were 49 teams competing. Although we didn't advance, our coach was proud of us for competing at the biggest trial competition in the U.S."

What are her hobbies and personal interests? "I am currently reading Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. I enjoy volunteering (I recently became a volunteer firefighter in my town), singing, playing piano, songwriting, downhill skiing, 4-wheeling, and skeet shooting." Lani continued to say that her brother motivated her to serve as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in her community. Her brother has served as a firefighter for the past eight years and he is now the Assistant Chief.

Lani's Academic Law Career and Future Aspirations

Why did Lani go into the law? "I was working in the entertainment business and had been thinking about law school since my last year of undergrad, when I had taken a class called 'Legal Aspects of the Music Business.' After 10 years of wanting to go to law school 'someday,' I realized law was where my passion was, and I decided it was time for a career change."

What areas of the law does she hope to practice? "Initially, I'm open to any area of law because all areas of law are interesting to me. Eventually, I would like to work my way into environmental law."

Lani shared her aims and aspirations. "I have been dreaming of a career in law for years. Now that I have graduated from law school, I am excited to get my first job as an attorney in the Western New York area."

What are her key accomplishments? "Graduating from law school while working full time, leading an annual Habitat for Humanity trip since 2009, and being supportive of my family and friends."

Lani discussed her key strengths and skills that she would like to use to advance her
career goals. "I am good at multi-tasking and time management. I am also a motivated, driven self-starter. I set my mind on something and go after it until I achieve it."

When asked about her weakness, she replied, "We all have weaknesses, and I certainly have mine. I think the key is to recognize them, face them, and then work regularly to change them from weaknesses into strengths."

Since law school can be hectic at times, Lani pointed out how she relieves stress. "When I am stressed, I exercise or play the piano. I have been playing the piano since I was four."

Many readers are probably wondering how she handles new assignments. Lani shared her process: "I learn as much as I can about the assignment and what the expectations are before diving in."

Where does she derive her confidence? "I derive my confidence from everything I learned from my parents and other role models throughout my life, and through my experiences."

Three Wishes to Live By, Coping with Fear, Personal Tragedy and Volunteer Experience

If Lani had three wishes, what would she wish for? "To be a prominent lawyer in Western NY, spend more time volunteering, and to travel to 100 countries in my lifetime."

How does she deal with fear? "I face my fears until I conquer them."
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Has Lani faced any obstacles in her life? She acknowledged:
"I've faced many obstacles in my life, but they have all been very personal. The first obstacle, and the only one I feel comfortable sharing, was the death of my cousin when she was 11 and I was 17. She was an only child and the sister I never had - she had a very high IQ and was mature beyond her years, so we got along well despite the age difference. She received a heart and lungs transplant at age 3 - the youngest in the world at the time. I really didn't understand the seriousness of everything until she had passed away, and even then it didn't sink in for awhile. I got through by leaning on my family and friends. I have always had a close-knit family, and we all helped each other through it."
Does she volunteer? "I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Hospice, Hillary Clinton's Senatorial & Presidential campaigns, and various other organizations over the years."

How did Lani get involved with Hospice care? She noted that Hospice took great care of her grandmother before she passed away in 2006. From September 2009 until April 2011, Lani served the organization by visiting patients at their homes and in hospitals. She comforted patients by taking care of and reading to them.

Legal Role Models, Personal Philosophy, People You Want to Surround Yourself With and Most Influential Traveling Experience

Does Lani have any legal role models? "Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor." Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and has served since August 2009. Sotomayor is the Court's first Hispanic and third female justice. Lani had the opportunity to listen to Sotomayor when she visited Pace Law School.

What is her personal philosophy? "Strive to be the best you can be. When the going gets tough, try harder. And never, ever give up."

Lani talked about what she believes holds more truth in light of her personal philosophy. Was it fate or choice? "Choice. We are each dealt a hand in life, and are each dealt many things beyond our control, but what we do with the things we face is up to each of us; that part is our choice."

What kind of situations and people is she attracted to? What kind of situations and people does Lani avoid? "I am attracted to positive situations, challenging situations. Optimistic, friendly people, and people who go out of their way to help others." As for situations and people to avoid, Lani stated, "I avoid negative, toxic people and situations."

She discussed her most influential traveling experience. Lani explained:
"I've visited or lived in 44 of the 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Internationally, I've traveled to Mexico, the Caribbean, England, France, Switzerland, Canada, and Fiji. The most influential experience was Fiji, because it was my first international Habitat for Humanity build. I was fortunate to be able to discover 'real Fiji,' not the Fiji that tourists typically see. I was welcomed into the homes of native Fijians and spent a lot of time with the locals.

One evening, after a long day of building in the hot sun, I was walking through the village and a local boy asked me where I was from. I told him, and he asked how I like Fiji. I said 'I love it- the people here are so welcoming and friendly, and it's beautiful!' I then asked him if he had ever been outside of Fiji. He had not, and said he planned to live in Fiji his whole life. He was smiling the whole time. I said 'You love it here?' He said, 'I do! It's Fiji - what's not to love?' That single conversation made my whole trip. Here was a teenage boy with very few material possessions, simply loving life because he appreciates the beautiful place he lives in. If we all had that outlook, focused less on material things and more on the little simple pleasures, we would all be much happier."
Favorite Quote and Final Thoughts

Lani has two favorite quotes. Lao-tzu once said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." She added, "This quote resonates with me because it applies with any situation in life." Lani also admired Gandhi's quote: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." She emphasized that people shouldn't complain about issues, they should do something about it. "People should practice what they preach."

Are there any particular achievements or activities that you have been involved in and which you would like to share with our readers? "I volunteer annually for Habitat for Humanity builds. Habitat for Humanity is a wonderful, worldwide organization that is dedicated to bringing affordable housing to those who could not otherwise own their own homes."
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