Raleigh attorney Leah Hermiller is bright and engaging with an effervescent personality that fills a room. She grew up in the backyard of the Pentagon and attended the United States Military Academy, following in the footsteps of her father, Colonel Mark Jones. In her words, “A great leader empowers and motivates people. They understand that success comes from helping people succeed.”
She recently joined Graebe Hanna & Sullivan PLLC, a Raleigh-based litigation boutique.
On A Mission
Hermiller said she is “on a mission.” In less than two years since earning her Juris Doctor from Wake Forest Law School, she has taken on leadership roles with the North Carolina Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association and the Wake County Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys.
“Giving back makes me a better person. I benefit just as much as the people I’m serving.” Hermiller also volunteers for Legal Aid and performed “Ronnie” at WCBA Limine Awards last year. The event raised $66,400 for Legal Aid of North Carolina.
Currently, Hermiller is spearheading plans for a 5K race to raise funds, “to enrich the mental and physical health of young attorneys,” she said. “I sit pretty much all day. It scares me how that impacts my physical and mental health. I want to motivate myself and my peers to get up and get out.”
Hermiller plans to launch a pilot program for young, female attorneys in partnership with Camille Stell of Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company. “It’s tough out there for young attorneys. My goal is for this program to provide a support system for young, female attorneys. I hope that this program develops into a launch pad for North Carolina’s future leaders.”
Another ambition of hers is to start a nonprofit focused on educational and enrichment programs for adults with intellectual disabilities. “It has been increasingly difficult for me to see the lack of services that exist for adults with disabilities,” said Hermiller. “People with intellectual disabilities have so much to offer. We just need to give them the right tools. One of my best friends has Down syndrome and he has taught me that boundaries only exist if you let them exist. He is now a clerk at a courthouse in Washington, D.C.”
While many young attorneys find it difficult to network, just the opposite is true for Hermiller. “To me, networking is about getting to know people and finding common ground.” At a point in her career when most attorneys are still being mentored, Hermiller is already mentoring other attorneys on networking, volunteering and resume building. “I wouldn’t be where I am if people didn’t help me along the way. Mentoring other attorneys helps me keep that perspective.”
In her free time, Hermiller enjoys riding horses. Picking up riding at the age of 5, she has competed internationally and now trains retired race horses. Last year, Hermiller bought Liberty Belle, a 9-year-old off-the-track thoroughbred. “Most people avoid off-the-track thoroughbreds. They can come with baggage from their racing days, but I’ve never met a horse with more heart.” Hermiller continues to share her passion with others, volunteering with therapeutic riding programs.
Hermiller is also an avid runner and hiker, which she hopes to do more often with her husband, Brent, a captain with the famed 82nd Airborne Division. “He has jumped out of a lot of planes,” she joked.
The Family Business-Redux
“Several of my family members are small business owners, so I tend to gravitate toward clients who are entrepreneurs.” Hermiller is focusing on building a business litigation practice with companies in the Triangle, representing plaintiffs and defendants. “Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I’m here to advise my clients and help them make the best possible business decision.
“For me success is not only knowing my clients are pleased, but that we have formed a relationship based on mutual trust, respect and friendship.”