Black History Month Spotlight: Mia Kelly

Black History Month Spotlight: Mia Kelly


Tell us about your law practice at Tyson & Mendes.

I am Senior Counsel at Tyson & Mendes’ San Diego office.  My practice focuses on personal injury, professional liability, product liability, premises liability and general commercial liability matters.  I am also chair of our firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.


In what ways does your heritage influence your work?

I understand there were many Black attorneys who came before and paved the way for me.  I am grateful, and I never take that for granted.  I am also cognizant that I am paving a path for others.  It is important to bring a different point of view and perspective when handling cases.  I think creative resolution to cases is the result of having a diverse team that collaborates to come up with solutions.  When we think “outside of the box,” we use our life experiences to find solutions to problems.

To that end, I make sure to mentor new attorneys.  The young attorneys I mentor are not only minority attorneys.  I think my experience can provide a different perspective than what my colleagues offer.


What Black mentors have inspired or influenced you and in what ways?  

My mom and dad are my mentors.  My mom is now retired, and my father passed away 17 years ago.  Their work ethic, encouragement, and support have always been a constant inspiration and support throughout my career.

My parents grew up in Texas and both attended Texas Southern University, a Historically Black College.  My father grew up attending segregated schools and after graduation, he was hired by a large international corporation that was forced to hire Black employees.  He started at an entry level position and quickly rose through the ranks. Given his segregated background, launching a career in an all-white corporation was not an easy task. My father always made sure everyone was aware of his journey to his station in life, never shying away from telling people he grew up in the 5th Ward of Houston, Texas.  My dad knew he was where he was because of hard work, determination, and grace. My father always reminded me to embrace my life experience, good and bad, because that is what will shape me as a person.

My mother went back to college in the 1980’s for a degree in computer science. She was the only woman of color in her technology classes at Cal State Fullerton. She graduated and eventually became the IT manager for a large city in Orange County, California.  My mother was my mentor for navigating a male-dominated industry and being a woman of color in a management position.  She wanted to pursue a career in technology after being a stay-at-home mom.  She is never complacent and always looking to learn.  I look up to her in so many ways.  She hoped that I would take on her ability to cook, but I skipped over those life lessons.

Both of my parents were an inspiration because they were able to maintain their sense of self and used their unique attributes to be successful in their careers.  My parents always instilled in me that no one can limit my dreams except for me.  I grew up in a world that was different from that of my parents.  That was never lost on me.  My parents’ tireless work ethic and consistent gratitude has always served as an example for how I have led my legal career.

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