1. What was the first job you had?
I was a waitress in a local ice cream restaurant, called Newport Creamery, from the time I was 15 until I graduated from high school. It involved long hours on my feet, learning the value of good customer service, and connecting with people. I can still scoop a perfect, 2.5 ounce ice cream sphere onto a sugar cone. Trivia fact: In Massachusetts (where I grew up), chocolate sprinkles are called “jimmies.”
2. What’s your proudest moment as a trial lawyer?
One of my earliest and proudest courtroom moments happened during my very first oral argument in federal court. I was representing Wen Ho Lee, a Chinese-American nuclear physicist who was wrongfully accused of being a spy and sued the federal government and various media outlets to clear his name. My mentor – an amazing and generous lawyer named Brian Sun – let me argue the motion against top defense partners representing the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post and the Associated Press. The judge looked at me standing alone at the podium, then she looked at opposing counsels’ table – filled with nearly a dozen of the most respected First Amendment lawyers in the country – and she said, “Well, gentlemen, it looks like Ms. Miller is out for bear today.” I won the motion.
3. I attribute my success to….
Dedication to honing my craft through countless hours of practice, a passion for finding elegant solutions to complex problems, a sincere interest in understanding the other side’s perspective, mentors who believed in me and gave me opportunities, a commitment to continue learning no matter how old I am, having mindfulness practices that keep me grounded and open to feedback, and never taking myself too seriously.
4. What is your most notable verdict or settlement?
From 2010 to 2017, I co-led the litigation and negotiations that resulted in settlements with S&P and Moody’s valued at more than $2.2 billion. I represented the states of Mississippi and New Jersey in their consumer fraud litigation against these companies for their role in creating the Financial Crisis of the late 2000s. I worked closely with the lead lawyers from the state of Connecticut and the U.S. Department of Justice to achieve a national resolution of these claims for 20 states and the federal government. These were the first cases to ever hold the nation’s largest and most trusted credit rating agencies accountable for their contribution to the Financial Crisis.
5. What is your fantasy job?
To be an occasional backup singer-dancer for an amazing performer, like Tina Turner or Gladys Knight. (I wouldn’t want to be on the road all the time.)
6. What is your guilty pleasure?
80s music and karaoke. I can belt out a mean Pat Benatar, Guns-n-Roses and MC Hammer.
7. What do you like to do in your time off?
In addition to spending time with my kindergartner, my husband, and our extremely handsome rescue dog, I like to be outside as much as possible. I ride my bicycle everywhere – to work, to run errands, and I even have a motorized tricycle that I use to take my son to school when the weather is nice. When I’m not spending time with my family, I am usually working on a speech, writing an article, or designing a workshop in service to my other passions – developing pathways for authentic leadership and helping women step into powerful roles with grounded confidence.
8. What’s your favorite hobby?
I’ve been an athlete all my life. Once I hung up my soccer cleats in my mid-thirties, I needed a new sport – so I became a certified fitness instructor. I teach HIIT, Barre, and post-partum fitness classes. Gym members are always surprised to learn about my “day job” as a litigator and leadership coach. I think the spandex throws them off.
9. What’s one word that describes you?
“BAM!” (It’s convenient when your initials also form an accurate onomatopoeia.). I would also describe myself as “open.”
10. What keeps you awake at night?
Taz, the irrational Shiba Inu who lives across the street and barks at everything. In general, I think so intensely during the day that my brain is ready to rest at night.
11. What newspaper do you generally read daily?
The Wall Street Journal – it’s one of the last, well-balanced sources of comprehensive news out there. I should also mention that I read Hello! Magazine online – there is a lot of fascinating news about British royalty these days.
12. What advice would you give a young attorney?
Technique matters – and it takes years of practice to develop. Build a strong foundation early in your career by seeking out jobs and mentors to teach you and elevate your skills. But technical skills will only help you advance to a point. You need emotional intelligence – authenticity, the ability to listen and incorporate feedback, compassion, and grounded confidence – to become a successful leader. Our profession places a lot of value on expertise and achievement, but don’t let that overshadow the importance of maintaining a learner’s mindset. The minute you stop being curious about what you can learn is the moment you limit what you can accomplish. Practice soliciting, incorporating, and giving feedback. Integrate every setback as an opportunity to build capacity, resilience, maturity and perspective. And here’s a secret – you will find more mentors willing to invest their valuable time and energy in your development if you express a clear and sincere interest in learning something specific from them.
13. How do you relax?
Whenever I am not traveling, I begin and end each day by breathing in eucalyptus steam. This exercise clears my mind. I even bring a small bottle of eucalyptus oil with me when I travel so that I can keep this ritual consistent – it’s an important cue to my brain that it is time to reset.
14. What’s your most embarrassing moment in life?
No chance I’m sharing that. There are plenty of options to choose from, but I used to work on the Senate Judiciary Committee – so I know that anything published on the Internet follows you around forever. It’s bad enough that I’ve disclosed my addiction to Hello! Magazine.