No One Screams for Ice Cream like DJ

Discovery with Derrelle Janey

Published in 2020 New York Metro Super Lawyers magazine

By Derrelle Janey on October 28, 2020


My nickname is … DJ. That’s what I’ve been called since I was 17 years old—by everyone except my mother.

I can’t go a day without … eating ice cream. It’s shameful but gets me through tough client calls.

If you were in my office, you’d … think I couldn’t find anything because papers are in stacks everywhere. But I know exactly where everything is.

When I was a newbie lawyer, I … worked seven days per week, including holidays, slept five hours each night and worked through every weekend.

The quality I most like in a lawyer is … the ability to be quiet and speak softly while calmly unpacking complex legal issues.

My pretrial routine is … to move into a hotel so that I have complete focus and concentration while minimizing distractions. I have no idea how I will replicate this in a COVID scenario.

When I started, I wish I knew … that I did not need to have all of the answers and that your clients will never truly trust you even when you win repeatedly for them.

If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be … an interior decorator. I love antique furniture.

When I win a case, I celebrate by … sleeping.

My courtroom walkup music would be … anything by Rick Ross.

On weekends I … spend as much time with my 5-year-old son as possible and then work while he sleeps. Thank God he’s in bed by 8:30 p.m.

The talent I wish I had is … reading minds. Then I could truly discern when my clients are telling me the truth.

My favorite meal is … ice cream.

I get angry when … I have moved mountains for a client and they’re still dissatisfied.

My motto is … “Be nonemotional about making your clients pay their bill.”

The craziest thing I witnessed in a courtroom is … a federal judge plainly misstating the hearsay rule. Or was it night court in New York State Supreme when a defendant tore off his clothes?

My earliest memory is … my father patiently waiting for me to finish my bowl of Jell-O so we could finally leave the babysitter, at 7 p.m., after he’d spent a long day working. I was 5 years old.

If I had a morning show, my co-host would be … Rachel Maddow. Smart. Very, very, very smart.

My favorite song lyric is … “f-ck tha police.”

The last TV show I binge-watched was … Chicago P.D. I love cop shows; they’re so unrealistic.

Nothing cheers me up like … ice cream.

My guilty pleasure is … ice cream. It’s a theme.

My favorite news source is … MSNBC. But after Morning Joe I read The New York Times.

Living or dead, I would most like to have a drink with … Barack Obama.

The question I’m tired of answering is … “How do you feel being one of relatively few black law partners in America?”

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