Click HERE to read my interview with Minted Magazine: For the Modern Career Girl. Thanks to Megan Minutillo for the great Q & A on Your Legal Lady & for naming me one of your magazine’s Minted Girls! You can also read the text of the interview below:
Mari Fagel is, without a doubt, a legal mastermind. She’s a reporter, host, legal analyst, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Yahoo! News, all the while managing her own site Your Legal Lady. Mari is the epitome of a Minted Girl—she’s a go-getter, an intellect, and if more people had her work ethic the world would be a better place. Mari was able to speak with us at Minted for a bit, and we think her advice was inspiring for all women, and all of our Minted readers.
Minted: What is the concept of your website, Your Legal Lady?
Mari: The concept is to offer a young and fresh perspective on today’s legal and crime issues. I felt the discussions I heard on TV and read in newspapers about headline cases such as Jerry Sandusky and George Zimmerman were lacking the perspective from the millennial generation and I wanted to provide a voice for us in the conversation. For example, the trial of Dharun Ravi, who was convicted of bias intimidation against his Rutgers roommate Tyler Clementi, centered around the issue of cyber-bullying. He recorded his roommate hooking up with another man and tweeted about it. Cyber-bullying is a problem that young people confront all the time. I aimed to write about the trial in a way that would engage my peers, get them interesting in these issues and help them to understand what impact the case would have on them. With every case I cover, my goal is to fill the gap missing in mainstream coverage by offering a new perspective.
Minted: You hold a B.A. and an M.A. in journalism from Northwestern University. What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
Mari: My best piece of advice is to learn the skills necessary to be a multimedia journalist instead of trying to fit into just one category, such as print or broadcast. People can get their news from so many different sources now; you need to be able to know not only how to write the traditional print story but also how to shoot and edit an accompanying video story, radio piece, photo slideshow and more. Learn the skills to do it all so you can choose the best medium to tell your story. Some stories are best told visually through photos, others through a graphic like a timeline. If you think outside the box and choose an innovative way to tell a story, you’ll likely be able to better communicate it to your audience.
Minted: You will be attending UCLA Law School this coming semester. How do you expect this additional degree to enhance your already impressive career?
Mari: Right now, I view each case I write about as a reporter. I follow a trial closely and think about the questions I have and set out to find the answers for my audience. By studying and eventually practicing law, I’ll tackle these stories not just as a reporter, but also as an attorney. With dual degrees and experience in both journalism and law, I’ll be able to better serve my audience as a go-to source on anything related to legal news.
Minted: Can you explain to our readers what it’s like to have an online news show?
Mari: The internet has changed the way we engage with news. Audiences don’t want to just be told what’s going on, they want to participate in the conversation. I think it’s important to be able to communicate with my audience across several different platforms, from my Twitter and Facebook to my Huffington Post and Yahoo! blogs. Another important way is through a technology called Spreecast, which allows me to co-host an online news show and for viewers to join the conversation through web camera, Twitter or Facebook. Each week, Jon Leiberman—a former America’s Most Wanted correspondent and HLN contributor—and I host The CrimeLine. It’s a 30-minute web-show where we discuss and analyze headlining crime and legal news, including guest interviews with crime victims and advocates. All I need is my web-camera to connect, and the platform allows me to answer questions from my audience more directly and to hear their opinions on these cases. Interactive online shows are a great way for reporters to directly communicate with their audience and it’s exciting to be a part of this emerging new trend.
Minted: Law school, a thriving website, a contributor of Yahoo! News and The Huffington Post. How do you balance it all and still find time for relationships and the simple pleasures in life?
Mari: I have to admit that sometimes I view all of the technology I’ve become accustomed to as a necessary evil. Staying constantly connected allows me to follow and report on news wherever and whenever. I can tweet out links to interesting articles from my iPad, write up a quick blog post and publish it from my smartphone, host a web-show through my laptop and more. All of these technological advances have allowed me to better serve my audience. However, it’s also important to learn how to disconnect and, dare I say, shut off your phone for the night. When I first started my website, I found there was always something I could write about, something I could research and read about and I was working around the clock. Yet, I learned that it’s important to prioritize, especially in this digital age. If I’m having lunch with my friends, I make sure to put my phone on silent. It’s more important to have a good time and stay engaged in conversation than to send that quick email or text. Likewise, if my boyfriend and I have some free time together at home, I shut my laptop off so that we can hang out without any distractions and instead cook together or watch a movie.
Minted: Do you ever get “down time”? If so, what does it consist of?
Mari: When I lived in New York City, my boyfriend and I made it a priority to get through our Big Apple bucket list whenever we had a free afternoon or night. We went to museums, Broadway shows, took cooking classes, cheered on the Knicks and the Yankees and more. Here in Los Angeles, I’m now living in the same city as my sister and parents so I try to see them as often as possible, while also experiencing what the city has to offer. My sister and I will try a Korean barbeque restaurant or my mom and I will go shopping. In my downtime, I like to explore everything a city has to offer with my boyfriend, family and friends.
Minted: What made you want to report on hard news?
Mari: Being a reporter not only gives you a front-row pass to witness history, but also to help shape it by shining a spotlight on the stories that need to be exposed. Just like every young journalist, I was inspired by reporters like Woodward and Bernstein and Edward R. Murrow, whose stories on Watergate and Senator Joseph McCarthy, respectively, helped change the course of history. As a reporter at NY1 News, my stories helped to shine a spotlight on problems including the loss of funding for the Empire State Games for the physically challenged and the mismanagement at a Queens public housing complex. After my stories aired, a local charity vowed to help raise money for the games and the New York City Housing Authority vowed to fix the problems I reported on. I wanted to report on hard news to help provide a voice to the voiceless, and I hope to continue to do that wherever my career may take me.
Minted: Minted is for the modern woman, so what is your definition of “the modern career girl?”
Mari: My definition of the modern career girl is my mother, a woman who both worked and raised three children. She not only manages a law firm she started with my dad, handling everything from hiring to marketing to case strategies and clients, but also always found the time to pick us up from school and have family dinner every night. She’s able to balance it all and as I forge my own career path, I emulate hers, that of the modern woman who can have it all and do it all.