Today we’d like to introduce you to Temi Siyanbade.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Hmmm. Let’s start with a list. Job #1: Personal assistant. Then, sales associate at Express. Desk assistant in Residential Hall. 8th Grade teacher. Research Assistant. Lawyer. Legal consultant. These are just some of the jobs I’ve had over the years. However, despite the different roles I’ve played, when I think about my story, I think of the word natural. I feel like I’ve set my internal compass north, and I continue to take steps in that direction.
For example, I obtained my Bachelors of Art in English from the University of Georgia a few years back (Go DAWGS!). At the time, I was interested in law school, but I knew that I wasn’t quite ready to make that leap. So, I found the perfect “extension of my education,” in Teach for America— a non-profit organization that sends teachers to low-income neighborhoods to close the achievement gap.
It was this work with Teach for America that brought me to Houston, Texas where I had the privilege of teaching amazing students as an 8th grade English teacher. There is nothing quite like realizing that you have the power to influence someone whose story has just begun. However, despite the awesomeness of the experience, I wasn’t fulfilled — I was exposed.
Teaching exposed me to myself and to the various systems at work in our community. I realized that I had a desire to impact communities on a broader level through the law. With a J.D., I would be empowered to address legal, economic, and social structures that produced systems of inequality, so naturally, I went to law school. Shortly after attending the University of Houston Law Center, I opened my own boutique firm, the Law Office of Temi Siyanbade where I handle business formations and criminal defense.
The selection of these two practice areas was a journey in and of itself. I started off doing everything but eventually narrowed it down to the areas where I was most passionate about bringing change.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think life or success comes in the flavor of smooth. This has been especially true for me on this journey of entrepreneurship as a lawyer. Law school does not prepare you for the realities of being a lawyer let alone a solo practitioner. Making this decision to go out on my own has stretched me in every way imaginable — emotional, physical, spiritual, financial — everything. But, those struggles have taught me more than I could ever imagine. I’ve grown and I’m able to provide more value to the people around me primarily because of the experiences I’ve had.
Now with regards to advice, here are some things:
1. Have Faith — When I say faith, it’s not only about a religious practice or the God I believe in. It’s about being committed and having a real conviction that there is a larger purpose in everything. I sincerely do not believe anything happens to us or by us that should be wasted. There is a purpose in pleasure and in pain. However, we only reap the benefit of seeing the purpose when we look for it. As a result, I choose to actively respond to the highs and lows of life from a perspective of Faith.
2. Own Your Identity — I don’t find my identity in what I do, and I think that is critical in finding the courage to be different. If our identities were based solely on our achievements, most of the people we currently admire would be trash because everyone has experienced failure in some way. I have had to recognize that whether I have success or failure, good or bad, I have value. Knowing this frees me up to take risks and be unconventional in my career path.
3. Find and Feed Community — I have a beautiful community from all walks of life and their support cannot be exaggerated. I encourage everyone to take stock of the people around them and be honest with yourself and ask are these people really helping me where it matters? If not, you don’t need to abandon them, but you may want to demote them in the business of your life. And to be honest, you probably don’t need 50 people in your inner circle. Find people who see you and love you and encourage you to be more of you than you were the day before. Then do the same for others. Celebrate people. Enjoy joy. Comfort people when they need you. Become and give others the freedom to do the same.
What should we know about The Law Office of Temi Siyanbade? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I alluded to my firm earlier, but it’s a Houston-based boutique law firm with two very distinct practice areas: business matters and criminal defense.
On one hand, I feel called to defend the voiceless. I struggle with the knowledge that everyone does not experience the luxury of the benefit of the doubt. There are individuals trapped in this cycle of systemic injustice that chooses to label one according to stereotypes and their worst known mistakes. As a criminal defense attorney, I get to defend these individuals and our constitutional rights which is an immense tasks. This is especially true with regards to poor and minority communities. In addition to my desire to see a change in our system, I actually enjoy the many aspects of going to court and being a trial lawyer.
Now, with regards to the business practice, I am a dreamer and I love love love working with entrepreneurs. I especially enjoy creatives in the fashion and beauty industries as they bring beauty into the world using their God given gifts and talents. I help them register trademarks, create corporations and LLCs and stay aware of different legal developments.
One of the ways I’ve done this is with my weekly live broadcast called Ask Temi Live! With this show, I help people understand their legal rights in the business world so that they can begin to make better business decisions. It’s my way of merging my background as an educator with my current career.
Across the board, my greatest achievements can be summed up in giving hope. This hope has taken many different forms. Sometimes it’s in telling a client that the charges against them will be dropped because there is no evidence. Sometimes, it’s telling a client who is being sued that we’ve reached an agreement and they are getting exactly what they wanted and needed. Sometimes it’s listening to someone tell the story and saying, “I understand.” Anyway, you dice it, nothing compares to making hope tangible.
List of specific legal services:
– Creation of an LLC
– Creation of a Corporation
– Registering a Trademark
– Registering a Copyright
– Agreements and contracts for business owners
– Privacy Policies
– Terms and Conditions
– Expunctions (Record Clearing)
– Orders of non-disclosure
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
The early years of my life were spent in Providence, Rhode Island, the city of my birth. Providence was, and probably still is a very unique place. I ended up spending most of my early education going to a small, private school called Bishop McVinney, but my school wasn’t like the fancy private schools most people think of when they think of private education. We weren’t rich or fancy. My school was a melting pot of first-generation American children whose parents hailed from countries like Nigeria, Liberia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. The truth is we barely had any Caucasian students which cuts directly against the stereotypical image of a private school in the United States.
Most of our parents stretched themselves financially, working multiple jobs and relying on family members to help them keep us in that school because they believed that the Catholic education would instill significantly better morals than the neighboring public schools. I can’t tell if that necessarily happened, but I can say that we were a diverse and tight community.
So, imagine my shock, when my parents moved our family hundreds of miles away to Gwinnett County, Georgia in 2001. Gwinnett stood in stark contrast to what had been my norm.
1. Everything was far away.
2. I had to go to public school with hundreds of students, and
3. For the first time, I realized that I was a minority.
My high school at that time, barely had any African Americans, let alone first generation Africans or Hispanics, so I didn’t have people who were “like me.” It was really hard at that time, but I believe God used this season to teach me how to focus and be independent, so that in the future, when I would be called to make decisions, I would not be scared of standing alone — I would have already had experience.
This is one reason why I believe that we need to allow ourselves to engage with failure by taking risks. One of the greatest tragedies I observed as a teacher was watching our society insulate our young people from consequences. This comes dangerously close to creating people who do not have the capacity to succeed after failure because they are never given the opportunity to experience practice it. Please hear my heart. This is not a call to become a heartless society by any means. I simply noticed that many students would shut down and ultimately see themselves like failures after a bad grade or experience because they never had to engage with their own limits. When however we give ourselves permission to fall–like toddler children learning to walk — life teaches us how to persevere. We don’t just give up; we find a way despite our challenges. We learn how to engage in the struggle… but I digress.
That move was instrumental for me. Like I shared, I learned how to stand alone. Additionally, I learned how to interact with people who were not like me. There is so much value in being around people who are different. Now, in my professional career, I have a number of mentors and mentees who do not share the same socio-economic or cultural story I have — and I love it! My family’s move also allowed me to simply see more. When you see something different, it opens up your mind to imagine something different for yourself.
- Address: 9950 Westpark Drive, Suite 625
Houston, TX 77063
- Website: www.toslegal.om
- Phone: 713-300-9204
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @toslegal
- Facebook: @toslegal
- Twitter: @toslegal
Muyiwa with muyiwa.com