ACBA Member Spotlight: Eleanor Lumsden

This article is part of a series designed to learn more about our members.

When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?

During the summer after my junior year at Princeton, I interned at The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. I worked with a passionate team of lawyers who represented clients who had been the victims of racial discrimination. I completed intake interviews in which I listened to extraordinary stories of racism by banks, realtors and restaurants. I received a crash course on the significance of civil rights laws, and the experience changed my life. I remember thinking to myself, “If this is what lawyers do, then sign me up!”

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?

I would be a writer.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?

I wish I knew that bumps in the road are a natural part of the growing process, and that you just have to be patient, persevere, and ride them out. Life is a journey, not a sprint.

What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today?

Finding balance! I want to do so much but when I count up the hours allotted, there are never enough.  

What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?

I love being a law professor. My students are wonderful and keep me engaged and on my toes.  They are very diligent and seeing them work so hard makes the sleepless nights worth it. I find that I am constantly learning new things and the challenge of research and staying abreast of current developments is very rewarding.

What is your dream vacation?

I dream of taking a year to travel around the world with no set itinerary, but just the freedom to hop on and off planes, trains and everything in between. I’m not a huge fan of lying around on beaches so it would be a pretty active vacation—climbing mountains and pyramids, sailing on tall ships, experiencing other cultures through festivals, food, art and music. I sit facing a huge map in my office and am constantly plotting...

What are you reading now?

“The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?” by Jared Diamond.

What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I was born in Jamaica.

What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?

Jane Austen.

Why do you choose to be a member of the ACBA? What is the greatest benefit you have enjoyed as a member?

A colleague recommended the ACBA to me and I thought it might be a good way to connect with other lawyers in both professional and social settings. I practiced and lived in San Francisco for years, but as a fairly recent East Bay transplant, I have enjoyed meeting lawyers in the East Bay. 

Eleanor Lumsden is an Associate Professor of Law at Golden Gate University Law.