When LSU Law alumna and international law attorney Mana Yegani arrives at her Houston firm each morning, her eyes meet with a recent addition to her office décor—a small tiger figurine formerly owned by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—that reinforces her dedication to fighting for justice on behalf of her clients.
“Seeing it brightens my day. It gives me motivational power, reminding me who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was and her connection to LSU Law,” said Yegani, a 2010 LSU Law grad who earned her undergraduate degree at North Carolina State University in 2006.
The journey of the tiger figurine from Ginsburg’s office to Yegani’s began in 1996, when Ginsburg served as the LSU Law Judge Alvin B. Rubin Visiting Professor and visited the Paul M. Hebert Law Center to deliver the 24th John H. Tucker Jr. Lecture in Civil Law. Ginsburg was very gracious with her time during her visit, meeting with faculty, students, and staff, and participating in the annual Hats ‘n Canes celebration. As a small token of its appreciation, LSU Law gifted Gingsburg the tiger figurine, which has a small brass plaque on it that reads, “1996 Rubin visiting Professor, LSU Law Center.”
Yegani has long been inspired by Gingsburg’s hard work, resilience, and legacy as a pioneer in the legal field. After Ginsburg passed away in 2020, Yegani and her four-year-old daughter, Ella, honored the incredible life and legacy of the late justice with a small sidewalk chalk memorial.
“I wanted my daughter to remember RBG’s name,” Yegani said.
In April, Yegani came upon a story by LSU Law that highlighted an auction of Gingsburg’s personal collection of modern art and memorabilia, which included the tiger figurine.
“I was really drawn to the fact that it was a tiger,” she said. “It’s the perfect combination of my love for RBG and my passion for being a Tiger…it was the best of both worlds.”
Determined to own the unique piece history, Yegani implemented a strategy to win the auction. Rather than bidding early on, she waited until the last five minutes of the auction to place her bid. After getting outbid three times and with her window of opportunity rapidly closing, Yegani submitted a final bid one minute before the auction closed. Her timing was perfect and the tiger was hers, with the proceeds of the auction benefitting the Washington National Opera, a foundation close to Ginsburg’s heart.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was in shock,” Yegani said after learning she won the bid. “I wondered how many conversations the tiger heard in Ruth Bader’s chambers.”
After the auction closed on April 28, Yegani spent five days organizing safe travels for her prized possession from the auction house in Virginia to her residence i Houston. She arranged for a family member living in Virginia to pick up the figurine and ship it to her, and she finally was able to hold it in her hands a few days later. But before Yegani even received the figurine, she received multiple emails from the auction house and others who were interested in buying it from her.
“I didn’t even have to think about it twice,” Yegani said. “Every time I hold it, I think about Ruth Bader Ginsburg holding it, and it connects me to her in a direct way.”
As a law student, Yegani helped make some history that Ginsburg would undoubtedly be proud of. She was among a group of students who created the International Law Society at LSU Law, which promotes human rights law and activism. She also served as president of the organization, along with being an active member of the Public Interest Law Society. The daughter of Iranian immigrants, Yegani had witnessed the many challenges that can accompany immigration journeys firsthand, and she credits her experience in the Immigration Law Clinic at LSU Law for piquing her interest in international law.
The passion for international law that Yegani developed at LSU Law led her to launch her own firm, The Law Office of Mana Yegani, in Houston a year after earning her law degree. The firm focuses on immigration cases for individuals and families, assisting clients with a wide variety of issues, from deportation proceedings and asylum cases to work visas and citizenship proceedings.
“Being a part of this legal community is fulfilling because is truly takes effect in people’s lives,” said Yegani, who enjoys photography and spending time with her husband, daughter, three dogs, and three cats in her free time.