We had the good fortune of connecting with Marina Banks McLaughlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Marina, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
My business helps entrepreneurs and business owners learn how to get legally protected. A lot of times when people think of lawyers they think of the people they would call if they were the party of a lawsuit or got into criminal trouble. With my law firm, I am able to help educate entrepreneurs and business owners on the importance of registering their businesses, filing trademarks to protect their brand, and copyrighting original creative pieces. Because of the widespread reach of social media, I am able to not only help those locally, but also nationally. Social media has also allowed me to break the stigma that attorneys are intimitdating or difficult to speak with, making it easier for minority business owners to reach out for legal advice and assistance. This is important because when we look at statistics, minority business owners having higher percentages for failing businesses, and one of the reasons is lack of understanding of legal and accounting requirements for a business. By reaching millennial entrepreneurs on a level they can understand, and using social media to increase my reach I have been able to positively impact businesses nationwide. I also use my platform to pray openly with clients and followers over their businesses, and business plans. This is a huge component because when you are truly called into a certain space you will flourish, and I want my clients and followers to walk in their G0d-ordained purpose and flourish.

What should our readers know about your business?
When I step into my role as an attorney and business owner, it’s almost like when Beyonce would step into her “Sasha Fierce” mode. I call my alter ego “TheLegalQueen”. TheLegalQueen is all about empowering entrepreneurs in a comical and down to earth method, while giving sass. TheLegalQueen is a huge part of what has grown my business. Through Instagram Reels and TikToks TheLegalQueen educates millennial entrepreneurs and business owners on steps to take to get legally protected, and good practices to follow in your business. The fun and light-hearted videos are what sets my business apart. By the time someone books a consultation with me they constantly tell me that they feel like they know me and feel comfortable sharing their confidential and unique business ideas to get the proper legal help they need. These videos are also a way to show minority viewers that lawyers can look like you too. As of 2022, 20% of all lawyers in the US recognized as Latino, Asian or Black, with only 5% of attorneys in the US recognizing as Black.

While my story may seem like a success now, it did not start out this way. I attended Thurgood Marshall School of Law (“TMSL”) at Texas Southern University. As part of the academic structure in law school, students are graded on a curve scale, meaning your grade is based on the lowest and highest grades made by your classmates, so if the highest score on a test is a 100% and the lowest score is an 80%, that 80% becomes equivalent to an F. At TMSL the curve is a C-, meaning the average score made on the test is equivalent to a C-, and the majority of students have a C- average. If you fall below a 2.0 average you “curved out” and have to sit out 1 year before being allowed to start over. In one of my classes my final percentage was 90% and this equated to a C+ because so many other students had also scored well in the class.

At the end of my first year of law school I finished with a 2.06 GPA, just barely making the academic requirement. Law school is filled with smart, top achieving students all piled into one fight tank for the highest grades. I was always used to performing well academically, so when I received the 2.06 GPA I fell into a deep depression and lost motivation to keep trying. As I started my second year of law school, this lack of. confidence and cloud of sadness prevented me from trying my best and my GPA fell to a 1.9. When I saw my transcript I knew that I had to make a choice because if I didn’t improve I would be kicked out. I prayed for strength continuously and God allowed me to raise my GPA. Later that year, I received a letter form the American Bar Association outlining my likelihood of passing the bar exam upon graduation. The letter said that if I took the February bar exam I had a 0% chance of passing, and if I took the July bar exam I had a 10% chance of passing.

When I studied for the bar exam I continually prayed that I would pass the bar exam that July on my first attempt. After I took the exam, and awaited results I thanked God in advance for allowing me to pass the bar exam. Two months later when results were released, I found out that I passed the bar exam on the first attempt. I share this story to encourage others not to give up because someone said you will fail, but move forward with perseverance towards your goal believing you have already received it. Mark 11:24 says whatever you ask for in prayer believe you have receive dit and it will be yours. Whatever you want in life, go for it, pray for it, and believe you have already received it, then it will be yours.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Houston because there is always something to do no matter what the vibe is. I am a very chill person who loves being outdoors (when it’s not summer). On Monday we would go to Hermann park and ride bikes and pedal boats, walk around the botanical garden, and finish with lunch at Barnaby’s. Tuesday would be taco Tuesday at Pistolero’s. Wednesday would be a self care day with nails done at Glossed Glam Factory, and facials at Elegantly Refined Esthetics. Thursday would be dinner at Kiss. Friday would be biking with 3rd Ward Tours. Saturday would be a street/vendor fair. Sunday would be church at Wheeler Ave and brunch at Juliet.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In every stage of my life God has placed individuals around me to help grow me and nurture me. In high school He provided me with a church, First A.M.E. Pasadena that helped me apply for colleges and scholarships, pushed me into public speaking roles that helped me break away from my shyness, and placed mentors around me to encourage me. In college God blessed me with the Burns Family. They cared for me as their own, ensuring that I had internship opportunities, introducing me to leaders in government and the community, and allowing me to learn first hand what it’s like to run business. When I got to law school God placed me at Texas Southern University where the faculty and alumni live by the motto “Protect It. Improve It. Pass It On”.

Website: www.TheLegalQueen.org

Instagram: TheRealLegalQueen

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marinanbanks/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLegalQueen/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClAD7QA_tLfL5mj64be3e5g

Image Credits
Camille Percy Branding J.Laray Media

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