Life and Law
According to LaSean
By: Dorothy Douglas
Who said operating in simplicity was dead? As a matter of fact, that is how this queen of quality and ambition gets the job done. As a seasoned attorney in Atlanta, Ga, this southern belle knows how to multi-task. Hailing from Vanderbilt Catholic High School in Houma, La, LaSean Zilton Brant exemplifies an authentic character with life’s experiences as a teacher, and laughter to hold it all together. As a daughter, wife, mother, and friend, LaSean rides the waves of life with God as an anchor and organization as a shield. This 1989 graduate of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations decided to attend law school at the University of California in 1992, from which she graduated. An employment law class at Cornell turned on a light inside her spirit to pursue law, and it continues to shine. So much so, that her light made it back to the crawfish-eating, friendly, and jazz infused state of Louisiana. Zilton Brant took the Louisiana Bar Exam in July 2015 and was admitted to the State Bar of Louisiana in October of that same year. As Mrs. Brant embarks on practicing in her home state, I had a conversation with her to see what’s in her pot of gumbo.
Dorothy: Tell me about yourself.
LaSean: I’m an attorney here in Atlanta, Ga, and a mother of three sons, but I’m from Houma, La, where I attended Vanderbilt Catholic High School. Back then, I always wanted to be a doctor. I still manage to get some exposure to medicine through medical malpractice and products cases.
Dorothy: The best of both worlds, right?
LaSean: Yes (laughs) I get to see both sides, so it’s fulfilling.
Dorothy: What peaked your interest in law?
LaSean: My sophomore year at Cornell, I took an employment discrimination class. “I said to myself,” I may want to do this.” So I spoke with the professor and began to pursue law after that.
Dorothy: How do you tackle things in your daily life?
LaSean: There’s always so much going on, I take one day at a time. You have to decide what your priorities are, and when I decided to have this kind of life, I had to make sacrifices.
Dorothy: I understand that! How do your boys function in this?
LaSean: They function well. I do all the things necessary for my boys. I take them to school, games and activities. I would rather tend to my children than rely solely on a nanny and have the boys say I wasn’t there when they needed me. When I see how they interact with each other, how intelligent and independent they are, it makes me feel good!
Dorothy: That’s awesome. Being a mother is a full-time job. So how do you respond to stress?
LaSean: I go to God. People always say God’s in control and we are like yea, yea. But it’s true! When you really take hold of that, it really does reduce your stress. I make a list of the things I need to do, and if I get three of those things done, I consider it a successful day. We can’t look at what we should have done. We have to keep moving forward. Surround yourself with positive people and guard your heart.
Dorothy: God is a big part in keeping you grounded, so how do you find balance?
LaSean: I know it sounds redundant, but again, praying., I also cherish time alone. The kids know that a happy mom means a happy family. Women’s plates are always full, so I make sure to take that time out for myself. We all need to. I pray alone every morning and read inspirational books. You’ve also got to know your inner circle. Being around people who love you to the moon and back is important. My mom keeps me balanced. I talk to my mom almost 20 times a day. I trust her because she’s wise. We laugh and talk about so many things!
Dorothy: Having great relationships is vital! Your mom motivates you, I see!
LaSean: Yes she does!
Dorothy: So tell me about a circumstance that pushed you to become a better person.
LaSean: Probably more than anything, becoming a mother. It made me want to be better because I wanted to give the best of me and everything to my kids. Kids emulate your character, so you shape their character because they watch what you do. You can’t just talk the talk! You have to walk the walk! I can say that has been the most inspirational thing, period.
Dorothy: Speaking of family, how does being married to an attorney influence your outlook on law?
LaSean: Because I got married in my 30s, a lot of my opinions and perceptions of law were already set. But by being in the house with my husband, I did learn a lot about criminal law. On the civil side, you don’t get to see as many raw and obvious injustices, so I think I developed a pretty well-rounded perspective of law. I was a litigator and my argumentative skills were certainly enhanced by having two lawyers in the house. We can really debate! (Chuckles) The boy’s debate, too! Watching the boys debate is fun! There’s never a dull moment!
Dorothy: That’s great to have an impromptu practice at home! So you developed other great skills by watching your husband practice criminal law?
LaSean: Yes! It allowed me to look at things from a different angle. So many defendants are treated unfairly!
Dorothy: I totally agree! With the recent influx of televised injustices black Americans have faced, how do you feel about that?
LaSean: You know, I’m glad it’s finally at the forefront of conversation. The issues people of color have always faced are being discussed. It can no longer be ignored. Real issues around race are being discussed as well. These things are unacceptable! Human beings should be treated as such. Human!
Dorothy: They are completely unacceptable! I know you have had to deal with discussing these things with your boys. How does being a mother of black boys affect you?
LaSean: I remember when the verdict came back on Trayvon Martin. My youngest son was so mad! He was like “Mom, why?” And I had to have the conversation with them. I’d rather them know than not. We get caught up in that “Oh Lord; it’s not fair” mentality. One of my favorite sayings is that the Fair is where you go to ride the rides and eat cotton candy! No one ever said life was fair. If we get caught up in everything being fair, we won’t get anywhere. Our job is to keep it moving forward. Deal with your reality, and you’ll be and do much better.
Dorothy: I hear that, LaSean! Awesome way to look at things! So how do you think the judicial system can bring more justice to America?
LaSean: The golden rule! Treat people how you want to be treated. If you have a 16-year-old in front of a white judge who gives this child 20 years in prison for possession of a small amount of marijuana, think, would you do that to your child? No! I think President Obama has done a great job of changing some of the laws. People are so angry, and we have to figure out a way to work through that. Our society as a whole can do a lot more to support people’s upward mobility.
Dorothy: Speaking of being real, what is the most useful criticism you have received?
LaSean: Ah! When I first started practicing law, my mentor’s comment to me was to learn to get out of your own way and out of your own shoes. Slow down enough to consider all perspectives. I learned that as a young lawyer. It’s human nature as a young professional to get caught up in your pride, ego and to think you know everything. I had to let that go.
Dorothy: Wow, that’s excellent advice not only for law, but life period.
LaSean: Really it is. It’s a lesson I think about often.
Dorothy: With great criticism like that to carry, what qualities do you believe will continue your success as a lawyer?
LaSean: I set short-term goals and long-term goals. I stay in the present, and my ability to focus on the things I can control will continue to push me forward.
Dorothy: Excellent! Forward movement is key along with goals. So what goals have you set for yourself?
LaSean: Hmmm, I think as I’ve gotten older, I realize more than ever that my only competition is me. I want to be a better me every day. My goal is to do better than I did yesterday. Keep it moving and stop complaining. That’s a waste of energy! You are your biggest competition. That’s why I like the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.”
Dorothy: That’s very inspiring! So simple, yet profound.
LaSean: Yes, its like, just get it done and do your best. Don’t stop because life is going to happen.
Dorothy: With your positive attitude, what quote would describe your life’s journey?
LaSean: God is in control! Sit back and let Him drive! And the Nike phrase, “Just Do It.”
Dorothy: Well LaSean, you’re a breath of fresh air. I love to see black women such as yourself moving and staying positive! You’re a great inspiration!
LaSean: Oh, thank you!
Standing firm in your beliefs is the key to progression. We must know that life is beautiful and what’s made of it is all in our hands. LaSean Zilton Brant has a simple, yet firm way in how she approaches things, which yield success. She also incorporates balance, which is a necessary to be able to function in today’s society. LaSean’s gumbo pot is full of surprises, and it was a pleasure to sit down with one of Houma, La’s finest and have a hot bowl of it!