Laurie Hauber has worked on community and economic development issues across the country, helping start-up businesses face address the legal issues that can be the difference between success and failure. Now she’s brought that talent to St. Louis, where she’s set up a program through Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.
What are some of your proudest career accomplishments? Before moving to St. Louis I was a clinical professor at Vanderbilt Law School where I taught the Community & Economic Development Clinic. I found it incredibly rewarding to serve as an educator and mentor to so many students. I have heard from many of them and am proud that they have continued their involvement in social justice, either as a full-time career or through pro bono involvement as an attorney at a law firm.
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with our executive director, director of our Volunteer Lawyers Program and others at Legal Services to create the CED Program. As an outsider to St. Louis I am proud that we were able to build a network of financial and community support to launch the CED Program and provide a valuable service in the St. Louis region.
After law school I lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for six months and managed the juvenile unit at Cambodia’s one and only legal aid organization. Working with the unit’s staff attorneys I was able to design and implement a countrywide educational campaign for advocates and others who worked with children to educate them on existing laws and UN conventions created to protect children.
What inspired you to get involved in the justice system? From a young age I knew I wanted to help people less fortunate than I was. I am not sure the basis for this life-long interest but I remember as young as fourth grade I revered Abraham Lincoln and wanted to be a politician so I could help people just like the books described what he had done. Fast forward many years: In the job I held before law school I did a great deal of work with victims of domestic violence, including helping women obtain orders of protection. As I reflected on this work one day, I realized I wanted to be able to use the law as a tool to advocate for clients and bring about social change. That “a ha” moment is what led me to apply to law school.
What has been your favorite part of the job? The clients! Despite the tremendous obstacles all of our clients face in their personal lives, their persistence, dedication and perseverance to start and grow businesses is truly inspiring. All of them are motivated, not solely with the desire to provide for their families, but also to give back to the communities in which they live.
What is something that would surprise people about you? I lived in Taiwan during college and learned Mandarin Chinese.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given or received? I have received so much valuable advice over the years, what stands out is being told to give yourself space and time when you experience difficulties in your life.
When you were growing up what did you want to be? I wanted to be a diplomat stationed in a developing country.