What attracted you to the legal profession? How long have you been in practice?
I was a science major in undergrad and grew bored with it. I then changed to philosophy because I liked the fact that there was no right or wrong answer to a question—it only requires well-thought out reasoning and response. I then figured that I needed to find a way to translate this into a profession. Talking and putting together arguments was always a natural talent for me so it was an easy transition into law. I have been practicing 12 ½ years.
What is your legal passion and philosophy?
My favorite thing to do is to try cases. I love the complexity and art of being a trial lawyer. It’s so different from many professions that are more routine. There are so many ways to do this well. The trial itself is what excites me in this work. I usually turn depositions into mini-trials to gather the building blocks needed for trial. Discovery is the foundation of the trial. These are the opportunities to get what’s needed to have a successful trial.
How were you recruited to serve with GJP? What was it about GJP that got your attention?
Mickey Mixson, a senior partner in our law firm introduced me—Mickey has spent much of his time and resources with GJP. After coming aboard and meeting the people associated with the organization and learning their level of commitment to this work I was blown away. I then learned about the organization itself and how they work with the clients and their families. I think the support the organization provides to the families of its clients is tremendously impressive.
What message would you like to share with your colleagues in the pro-bono community?
With success in the private sector comes a corresponding obligation to commit our money, resources and expertise to the pro bono community. It’s a holistic approach. There is an obligation as an attorney to be as Charles Hamilton Houston once said a “social engineer.” There has to be some balance in one’s career. Lawyers in particular are uniquely suited to assist in this arena.
How has serving as a member of GJPs board changed your views and perspectives on the challenges low-wealth communities are faced with in the legal sector?
My service on GJP’s board has only confirmed what I already knew. I come from a middle class family. My mother worked as an educator to provide for us. We were well clothed, fed and educated. However, we still struggled financially. That being said, I’m from Alabama and I’ve seen first-hand what GJP clients face and have family who’ve gone through it. It’s not a foreign issue for me. It’s great to know there are resources here in the Atlanta area addressing this and that this organization exists.
What are some of the best ways the legal community can help to bring about equitable and lasting change?
The legal community in the Atlanta area has gone above and beyond to help. It’s been very responsive. One of the best ways the legal community can support is to translate “why it’s important to support this effort” for the larger professional community. People need to understand that this work and its implications are much more in-depth than what appears on the surface. GJP must expand its support base beyond the legal community. The messaging needs to be addressed to the society as a whole. The “why it’s important to support this type of bro bono work” is the challenge for GJP.
Any other topics you’d like to share…
I’ve come across many organizations in my time. I want the community to know there is phenomenal leadership at this organization—across the board from its staff to its long-time board members. It’s rare to see this level of commitment and professionalism. The people associated with this organization are ju