Name: Yodit Tewolde
Title: Criminal defense attorney, legal analyst
Company: The Law Office of Yodit Tewolde PLLC
Yodit Tewolde is an attorney and founder at Yodit Tewolde PLLC. After graduating from law school, Tewolde began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Trudy M. White in the 19th Judicial District Court. She soon discovered her true passion was empowering people through the justice system. Tewolde then began working as an assistant district attorney for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, gaining extensive criminal experience. Having learned the intricacies of criminal prosecution, Tewolde moved on to become a criminal defense attorney. She very much enjoys working within the criminal justice system, particularly for at-risk youth in the juvenile system.
In addition to her criminal law practice, Tewolde provides legal commentary and analysis, with recent appearances on cable news networks including Fox News’ “Happening Now with Jon Scott,” “Fox and Friends,” “Shepard Smith Reporting,” and “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” Tewolde has been seen on HLN’s The Daily Share and The Dr. Drew Show, to discuss high-profile cases and hot-button issues. Additionally, she has provided notable legal expertise on cases involving Freddie Gray and Bill Cosby on “News One Now with Roland Martin.” Appearances also include radio shows within the Fox News Radio network and “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.”
Rolling out recently caught up with Tewolde, who was honored by our publication as one of the Top 25 Women of Dallas.
What are the three most important factors of being a successful woman?
1) Failure; 2) Commitment; 3) Perseverance
How has technology changed the way you approach your work?
Technology has drastically changed the way that my firm interacts, communicates and works. Smartphones and tablets make it easier to practice from a mobile office, allowing me to access case-related information at any time and from anywhere.
What is your take on the missing Black girls in the D.C. area?
I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that in order for us to be heard, we have to hashtag and retweet our concerns until our issues make its way onto a national platform. The lack of coverage by the mainstream media only confirms a longstanding practice by the media to over-represent African Americans as perpetrators of violent crimes and under-represent us as victims despite the stats. It confirms a longstanding belief that women of color aren’t recognized as victims worthy of media coverage like the missing or murdered white girl. I mean, we’re STILL talking about the disappearance of JonBenet Ramsey 20 years later. There is a disproportionate degree of coverage the media gives to upper-middle class white women and girls compared to cases of missing women and girls of other ethnicities. This clearly needs to change. In the meantime, its up to us to be the eyes, ears and voices for our girls.
You have an interesting background, you are a lawyer by trade but you’re also a legal analyst. Can you share what led you down that particular path?
Prosecuting cases taught me a great deal about trial work and the intricacies of the criminal justice system. Once I took that leap over to criminal defense, I was able to share my knowledge of the justice system and educate people on the legal process through town hall meetings and free legal sessions at local churches. Knowing that people were being empowered and liberated through knowledge and information gave me a greater purpose. It made me want to engage, educate and connect with people on an even bigger scale. That’s when the incomparable Roland Martin gave me the opportunity to do just that when I appeared on his show “News One Now” on TV One.
In front of the camera, you are always extremely fashionable. Who are your favorite designers, and what is your style inspiration?
Thank you! It’s easy when all you have to worry about is what you look like from the waist up (when I’m not on set)! Some of my favorite brands are Theory, ALC, Alice + Olivia, just to name a few. I like designers that make pieces that are dual purpose; pieces I can wear in court, on TV, but can also rock to grab a drink with the girls. In terms of my style, it’s definitely my childhood. I was a certified tomboy growing up! I was more concerned with playing football and basketball with the boys and less about dresses, florals/prints, jewelry, etc. So, my style is definitely a masculine and feminine blend I like to refer as tomboy chic. I like to keep things clean, simple, effortless and in neutrals. I’m not really into adopting the latest trend as I am about knowing what actually works for me. Knowing who I am has helped me cultivate my style, which gives me confidence on and off camera. My style speaks volumes without me having to say a word.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be? Why?
Giving people who are marginalized a fighting chance to realize their full potential through racial and economic justice.
Favorite quote or words of wisdom?
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” –Dr. Maya Angelou
The Texas A&M University alum with a juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center speaks to students about her experiences with the juvenile system in an effort to steer them away from criminalization. She created a series called “The Conversation,” geared toward educating youth on the rules of engagement with law enforcement.