PLDIC Volunteer of the Year: 2023
Rebeca Himena Miller
Associate | Leech Tishman
Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, where did you go to college?
I grew up in Georgetown Estates, a small neighborhood located in Washington County. I am a proud graduate of Canon-McMillan school district. After high school, I went to Washington and Jefferson College (“W&J”) to study Chemistry and Spanish. W&J is known for its pre-medicine program, so I attended with a dream of becoming a physician. I chose to double-major in Spanish because even though I am a native speaker, I did not study Spanish reading or writing after arriving in the United States.
Why did you decide to go to law school? What motivated you to be a lawyer?
During my senior year of college, I decided not to become a physician. Seeking an alternative path, I went to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon. I knew I wanted to continue learning about medicine and policy instead of practicing medicine. There, I interned at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (“PLSG”) during my final year. The experience proved to be transformative. My mentor was a Ph.D. biochemist turned lawyer who legally counseled medical/scientific startup companies of all sizes. Immediately, I was intrigued. I never knew there was a field where medicine, law, and science converged. The idea of being an expert in law and science was so exciting. So, I was headed to law school.
Why do you love Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is my home. It’s where my immigrant family founded its origin story. I’ve seen this city evolve and experience tremendous growth and change. Amongst its many accolades, Pittsburgh is a healthcare titan. Pittsburgh houses some of the nation’s renowned medical programs. Pittsburgh cares about education. There are numerous universities and colleges leading the charge on preparing our youth and encouraging innovation. And with population growth has come an increase in diversity. Often, I see new restaurants and fun activities/venues popping up. Our surrounding neighborhoods are growing and updating. Younger generations want to stay. In short, the future of Pittsburgh looks bright. I am certain it will continue to offer me immense opportunity.
Why do you volunteer with the PLDIC?
There are many organizations that make it their mission to improve diversity efforts. Organizations constantly try to create friendlier environments for minority and/or diverse professionals. Yet, little momentum generates. The PLDIC is headed by strong leadership that tirelessly makes it their mission to empower minority and/or diverse individuals from as early as high school. The PLDIC’s reach is not only vast but it’s penetrating every facet of the legal field in Pittsburgh. The PLDIC’s voice is loud. I appreciate that. It can’t go unheard or easily ignored. PLDIC is always thinking of creative, trendy, and new ways to reach its members. I’ve made meaningful connections at every PLDIC event. An organization capable of such adaptability and novelty is impressive. That’s why I volunteer.
What can the legal community do better to support the growth and advancement of lawyers from historically underrepresented backgrounds?
The answer is simple. Take organizations like the PLDIC seriously. Information about the organization is all over the internet (i.e., everywhere). Anyone can reserve up to an hour during the week to attend a PLDIC event (whether virtual or in-person). The point is involving yourself in real time conversations about the issues facing our community.
Who are your legal heroes?
Innumerable to name. I meet legal heroes every day. I constantly interact with judges, lawyers, superiors, and colleagues that remind me why I love this field so much. The amount of work and care exhibited by them, and others, is inspiring. The message I take away from these interactions is the same. People want to create communities that are just, unified, and representative of who they are.
Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?
I can’t name many fictional lawyers, let alone any diverse fictional lawyers. Evidence that we need more diverse lawyers depicted on our streaming services. If I had to choose, I’d choose SHE HULK – Attorney at Law. She is cool. The idea that a woman attorney can be omnipotent yet benevolent is awesome.
Do you have anything else you want the Pittsburgh legal community to know about you?
People are multi-dimensional, but often we strive for security and representation. We don’t always have to engage in tough conversations. I love to cook, golf, read, garden, play violin, conduct science experiments, walk my pup, etc. I am sure many of us have the same and many more amazing and varied interests and hobbies. I’d love to learn what those are. This is not my story, but ours.