No One Screams for Ice Cream like DJ
Discovery with Derrelle Janey
Published in 2020 New York Metro Super Lawyers magazine
on October 28, 2020
Updated on October 30, 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?”