Drawing upon more than 25 years of professional expertise, Lila Molaison Samuel, Esq. has practiced almost exclusively in the area of family law. She has represented clients in all areas of divorce and incidental matters thereto, including but not limited to, child custody and visitation, spousal support, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act jurisdictional issues, adoptions and community property partitions.
Before embarking on her legal journey, Ms. Samuel earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from Louisiana State University in 1969. Immediately after graduation, Ms. Samuel took a first job which was with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services then called the Department of Public Welfare. Within three months, she was the intake supervisor dealing with eligibility of potential applicants for the financial support and resources of the department.
She recalls, on her third day in the office, a 14 year old pregnant teenager came in to apply for the services of the department which would include a stipend, food and medical services. With her was a 1-year-old child, who appeared to have significant medical issues. During the initial interview which required a parent to be the applicant for anyone under the age of 18, it was determined that the young woman’s father was the father of the 1-year-old child and the expected child. Unfortunately, this was not a unique experience and Ms. Samuel soon learned the reality of life and the limitations and challenges faced by many.
Ms. Samuel began her legal career later in life. Shortly after graduating from LSU, she married and had three children. While raising a family, Ms. Samuel devoted herself to various civic organizations to include being a member of the Saint Martin’s Episcopal School board of trustees. In previous years, she has chaired numerous benefits to include those for the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony, the Young Audiences and Children’s Concerts, several school fundraisers and other philanthropic endeavors in the community. Ms. Samuel has also worked with the local chapter of the United Way and been active in her three children’s schools.
At age 36, she decided to go back to law school and received a Juris Doctorate. At that time, she found her niche because of her life experiences and appreciation of the needs of children. She graduated from Loyola University’s School of Law in 1991 and immediately began practicing all areas of family law. She became board certified to practice family law through the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization in 1999. She has continued her board certification since that time.
Ms. Samuel remains aware of ongoing changes in the field of law through her affiliations with the Jefferson Parish Bar Association, the Louisiana State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, Family Law Division and the attendance of yearly seminars offered by these groups and maintains her board certification. In recognition of her professional excellence, she has consistently accrued AV Ratings from Martindale-Hubbell for the past 25 years and honors through Super Lawyers. In the coming years, she intends to expand upon her expertise and continued success in her private practice.
For the young people coming into this field of the law practice, she believes that you are most effective if you can relate to the problems and issues involved in this area of law. If you choose to practice family law, then you really have to believe in it. You are a counselor, an advocate, a mediator and the voice of each individual client that you represent. It is not always about your financial gain. Obviously, you should be compensated for your services; however, you should always realize that these clients are paying for your services themselves. There is no insurance company or corporation financing the endeavor. Most important, this area is about the most personal things in anyone’s lives: specifically, their children; their home; their resources; and their finances.
If you are going to do child custody, then get all the resources available such as Our Family Wizard, mental health professionals, school counselors and the resources available through your community. In Louisiana, legal professionals are fortunate to have a supportive professional community of social workers, psychologists and fellow lawyers who are able and willing to lend time and resources to support the community. For instance, LSU Health Science Center has income based costs for therapy sessions and invaluable resources. Additionally, the Loyola and Tulane Law Clinics have provided invaluable assistance to low income and indigent clients.