Olivia, a new associate attorney here at the firm, is a big fan of her native Atlanta. “If you’re a native Atlantan, you’re obnoxiously pro-Atlanta,” she says. “It’s a unique place, arguably the leader of the New South, and it’s a cool place for transplants. I love its up-and-coming restaurants and cultural and arts scene.” Although born and raised in Atlanta, Olivia has a strong family connection to New York City. Her mom, herself an immigration attorney in Atlanta, was born in Queens, and her mother’s father’s parents—her great-grandparents—immigrated to the US through Ellis Island.
Olivia moved to New York City to attend New York University—since she didn’t want to go to college in a city smaller than Atlanta—where she majored in history and minored in Irish studies and creative writing. In her classes in history and Irish studies, she was fascinated by 20th century immigration and immigrant life. “It was a foundation for my interest in this area of law,” she says.
Wanting to learn more about the modern immigration system and explore career opportunities, after graduation, she began working in the immigration law group of a New York firm, followed by law school at the University of Georgia School of Law, where both her parents attended. As to becoming an attorney, she says: “I thought it suited my skillset. I wanted to read a lot, be analytical, learn about people’s lives, be helpful in some capacity. If you ask my family, I’m pretty argumentative. I don’t think of myself as argumentative, but they might disagree.”
Her advice on what to do if you visit Atlanta: “Definitely go to the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. There’s the MLK center and you can go to the house that he grew up in.” Additionally, she recommends the Goat Farm, old warehouses in industrial Atlanta that have been converted into artist studios, where, true to its name, there are goats. “Might be alpacas there too but don’t quote me on that,” she says.
I’m buying a ticket right now.
What is your favorite word?
“Y’all.” It’s inclusive, efficient, and homey.
What is your least favorite word?
Probably “veggies.” It particularly irks me when blogs or magazines suggest that one “munch on some veggies.”
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
Crackling bacon on the stove.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Nail files make my skin crawl. And loud chewing/eating makes me irrationally angry.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A friend of mine and I have dreams of one day traveling the country and finding and fixing up old houses. We’d be like Rosemary & Thyme from the classic British series (perhaps without the murders).
What is your idea of happiness?
Relaxing on a porch somewhere warm with my irreverent friends and family.
What is your idea of misery?
Phone calls with airline customer service.
If not yourself, who would you be?
An editor at Architectural Digest or a historian at Turner Classic Movies.
Where would you like to live?
I could see myself living somewhere on the canals of Amsterdam.
What is your favorite film?
Oh, it’s too tough to pick just one. My first thoughts are The Sound of Music, The Departed, and Airplane! but there are definitely more.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents and grandparents. Their work ethic and commitment have always inspired me.
What would your last meal be?
A big plate from Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta. Can’t forget the pot likker with cracklin’ bread.
What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
A gift for languages.
What are you thinking of right now?
The Patriots losing the Super Bowl. (I’m still smarting from the infamous Falcons implosion of 2017.)
What makes you laugh?
Andre Braugher in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
What makes you cry?
A lot. I’m watching the Super Bowl right now. It’s halftime, and I’ve already teared up three times: at an insurance commercial, looking at the emotional faces of the players during the national anthem, and the Prince tribute at the halftime show. I’m a softie!
Where do you feel most at home?
On the couch watching Jeopardy with my family. My nephew is a great cheerleader—he always gives you a thumbs up if you answer correctly—and he’s not half bad himself for a seven-year-old! (Let’s be honest, he’s a genius.)
What do you most like about the age we live in?
It’s remarkable that we can communicate so quickly and easily. Phone calls, group texts, FaceTime, and social media are amazing. It makes the world feel smaller, in a good way.