Trendsetter to Know: Lelia Adams, Lawyer at Essien Law Firm

Name: Lelia Adams

TikTok: Leliathelawyer


Title: Lawyer

Married/Single: Married

Kids: One 

City you live in: Phoenix

A typical day in my life includes… waking up at 4 a.m., scanning quickly through emails, getting my toddler ready for day care, making breakfast for my family, checking on my elderly parents and then heading to the office. Once in the office, I consult with clients, other lawyers, government officials, write briefs and memos and then I leave the office.

I get home, I play with my toddler, and I make dinner for my family. I unwind, go to bed then get up and do it all over again. 

I was born . . . in a small village in Nigeria. Every day I walked more than three miles a day to collect clean drinking water. My dad hated idleness so even when going to fetch water, I was expected to be studying. He would buy a newspaper and tell me to summarize it. It was very annoying then, but that skill serves me well in my professional life now as a lawyer. 

My favorite thing about Arizona… The weather!

I’m listening to … Happy tunes

My family . . . is my greatest blessings from God and my motivation to be my best self. 

If I could have dinner with anyone . . . it would be my loved ones (my family and my good friends.)

One thing I cannot live without is. . .  God.

When I was younger. . . I wanted to be a nun.

I’m inspired by people . . . who overcome obstacles. 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 before I bought an air mattress. 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.

The people who motivate me are. . .  my family. 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 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.

Photo: Last month, Lelia Adams, Esq., a Valley attorney who grew up in Nigeria and specializes in immigration law, became the first Black woman to be pictured on a Valley Metro bus, thanks to a collaboration with Lamar Transit of Arizona. Adams is pictured, left, with her proud parents.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be. . . to ensure no one goes to bed hungry, ever

The perfect day . . . has already happened multiple times. Being able to help people and find unique rules that I can use to change a person’s life regarding their immigration situation is the best part of my job. 

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

My favorite escape is. . . watching and reading historical dramas. 

My life is . . . full of blessings.

I’m currently working on . . . trying to get more than four hours of sleep per night!

Always . . . believe that you are more capable than you realize you are.

Never . . .  let anyone tell you, it cannot be done.

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 would never have become a lawyer.

Biggest Dream is . . . buying a house for my parents and surprising my husband with his dream car.

My Pet Peeve(s)… a negative mindset

More about Lelia: Lelia Adams is an immigration lawyer and immigrant who has been through the United States immigration system. She understands the struggles and concerns of other immigrants. Adams is a member of the State Bar of Missouri. She is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) with an exclusive focus on immigration law. Essien Law Group has two offices in Phoenix, 3101 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85012 and 20 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85012.

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