Merle Vaughn is Major, Lindsey & Africa’s National Law Firm Diversity Practice Leader and a partner recruiter based in Los Angeles.
Since becoming a recruiter in 2003, Merle has been involved in several high-profile law firm partner and in-house placements in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. She has also been retained by corporations and law firms specifically for her expertise in diversity recruiting.
Before becoming a lateral partner recruiter, Merle was a successful business owner, practiced corporate law at Cooley LLP and was General Counsel for WOC Products, Inc. She was the top salesperson in the country for Texas Instruments was awarded “Minority Entrepreneur of the Year” by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordon, was a Chair of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Minority Business Opportunity Committee and was on the Los Angeles Mayor’s Contracts Subcommittee.
Merle was recently inducted as the first Diversity and Racial Justice Member on the Executive Committee of (WLALA). She is the past founder and co-chair of the Southern California branch of Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF).
I met Merle when we were both on a panel together about law firm recruiting earlier this year. Merle’s insights instantly drew me to her, and I started following her on LinkedIn (of course!), where my admiration of her only grew.
Merle has a podcast you should subscribe to called B.S.: Beyond Stereotypes.
Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile.
Why did you choose your profession?
I started recruiting by accident. I was looking for something to do part-time after I sold my business. I decided to call a couple of recruiters to find legal work. The first recruiter I spoke with was disrespectful and rude. The second recruiter suggested that I consider becoming a recruiter with her. The rest is history.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I can do well by doing good. I have a marketing degree, I’m a former deal attorney and I was a top performing salesperson prior to going to law school. Legal recruiting requires that I use all those skills. It also allows me to have the autonomy to work in a way that is authentic to me.
Do you have a mentor?
No, but I’m open if there’s anyone out there interested!
How has social media helped you build your business/brand?
Social media has helped me build my brand as a thought leader in diversity recruiting. I am not a fan of Twitter because it feels too angry and mean for me. I appreciate LinkedIn for business and Facebook/Instagram for social connectedness. I pace myself on social media because I think it can be overdone. I ask myself; would I be sick of me if I post that? If the answer is yes, I don’t post it!
Any advice to women about succeeding in the workplace?
Don’t shrink to make others feel bigger. Do you!
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Don’t buy so much stuff! Things are not important. Experiences are.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I find it hard to disconnect because I believe in being responsive. But the beauty of what I do is I can do it from anywhere, in any time zone. All I need is my smartphone.
Which woman most inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by women who have the courage to follow their dreams and turn their talents and passions into a career irrespective of money.
How has the pandemic changed you?
The pandemic has taught me to like my own company and that it is OK to spend time alone.
What is a surprising/fun fact about you?
I drive a manual transmission sports car. Anything else is not driving!