Laquan T. Lightfoot: Attorney, Advocate, and Inspiration
Growing up in Washington D.C., Laquan T. Lightfoot experienced, firsthand, the harmful effects that crime has on a community. Not one to sit idly by, she was moved to become an advocate to ensure that she and her peers felt safe and protected.
Whether it was innate or triggered by circumstance, Laquan’s willingness to lend a voice to the voiceless could not be denied. Still, never did she see herself as a lawyer, let alone a Partner in a nationally regarded AmLaw 200 law firm.
“I would have absolutely laughed in your face,” Laquan said of the very notion. “What? I would be a Partner at one of the top firms in the country and be a lawyer and break barriers? I would have laughed.”
No one’s laughing now.
In fact, today Laquan counsels and defends clients in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Based in Goldberg Segalla’s Philadelphia office, she draws on a background litigating product liability, premises liability, premises security, motor vehicle accidents, catastrophic injury, and employment law matters for a range of clients, including several of the nation’s largest Fortune 500 companies.
Though Laquan may have never imagined when she was young being where she is today, the foundation and values instilled by her mother, and instincts that make for a good lawyer were always present.
During high school, Laquan was an active member of the D.C. Youth Advisory Council and other organizations, emerging as an advocate for her peers and her community. Laquan’s commitment, leadership and academic achievements then led to her becoming a Posse Scholar, enabling her to attend Lafayette College on a full tuition leadership scholarship.
And it was there where she discovered her passion for the legal profession.
A chance encounter with a Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney at a mock trial competition changed the course of her life. The prosecutor told Laquan she would make an excellent attorney, and urged her to apply for a summer internship with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. At the time, she was only a junior at Lafayette College. Following two summer internships with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, she went to law school. She eventually then went on to start her legal career at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where serving as an Assistant District Attorney she was assigned to Major Trials of the Southwest Division, vigorously prosecuting numerous criminal cases from inception to disposition in both jury and bench trials. She also served as an Assistant City Solicitor for Philadelphia’s Law Department, working as in-house counsel for the Department of Human Services and handling dependency and delinquency cases involving child abuse, neglect, and human trafficking.
In 2018, Laquan transitioned to civil litigation and, within a few years, found herself working on a case with a familiar colleague — Goldberg Segalla partner Lisa Only. As the two caught up, Lisa suggested Laquan join Goldberg Segalla.
“From the interview process, to getting hired, to just starting, it was everything Lisa said it was and more. You have just an awesome place to work, to thrive as an attorney, and to truly be respected and regarded as a professional, and challenged as an attorney,” Laquan said.
The fact that Goldberg Segalla is continually recognized in the legal profession as a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion was not lost on Laquan, who throughout her career has been dedicated to combating racial discrimination in the legal field. She is a member of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia, which was established to fight racial discrimination against Black lawyers, particularly regarding bar admission.
The legal industry “still has a long ways to go,” when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, said Laquan, adding that it’s approach to addressing diversity is one that remains largely on a “superficial level.” It’s not merely enough, she said, that unfortunately some firms simply take the attitude: ‘OK, well, we’ll hire diverse candidates and leave it at that.’ What also must be considered in implementing an honest and effective DEI strategy, she said, are questions such as:
“What is the culture at the firm and how do they establish equity and support in every facet of their practice? What is the culture and makeup of the other colleagues within the workplace? How does the firm address unconscious bias? What is being done to promote awareness for diversity, equity, and inclusion?”
With her rise through the ranks of the legal profession and record of success, Laquan serves as a role model and inspiration to aspiring attorneys, particularly black women, whom she encourages to persevere in the face of challenges and pursue their aspirations with unwavering determination.
“There will be times where you will get discouraged, because you think of all the road blocks and obstacles you have to face as a black woman in this profession. But whatever fear, doubt, or hesitation you may have, block it out. Block it out immediately,” Laquan said. “Do not let it fester. Do not let it impede your thoughts, stop you, or distract you from your journey. You have to, at all times, remain encouraged, and encourage yourself. You know that this is what you were called to do —that you are excellence at its finest and extraordinary. So keep breaking barriers. And keep going.”