When did you join the firm?
In which office are you located?
I am located in Jackson, Mississippi, but my position serves the entire firm.
Tell us a little about your position.
I am the Pro Bono Counsel at Bradley. I am responsible for providing strategic development and day-to-day management of the firm’s national pro bono program. I work to increase and enhance the firm’s long-standing commitment to providing meaningful legal assistance to help address the unmet legal needs of indigent individuals and charitable institutions throughout our footprint.
This position was newly created at our firm. What are the advantages of having a position such as Pro Bono Counsel in a law firm setting?
There are many advantages to having a Pro Bono Counsel position at a law firm, but I think one of the most important ones is that it can help to mobilize law firm attorneys to provide often critically needed services to people who cannot afford legal representation. There are over 11 million people living in poverty in the states in which Bradley has offices. As Pro Bono Counsel, I can help identify the legal needs of those individuals and work to match them with attorneys who stand ready to help them.
Why did you want to become an attorney?
I know everyone says this, but I wanted to become an attorney because I wanted to help people. I spent each of my summers in law school working for public interest organizations that focused on helping vulnerable children and families. In my first summer, I worked at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville. I worked at the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts in my second summer in law school. I was able to advocate for children who required special accommodations in school, as well as children who needed representation in school disciplinary proceedings. The children and families I assisted did not have the means to pay for attorneys to help them. Those experiences solidified my interest in becoming a public interest attorney to help assure everyone receives meaningful and equal access to legal representation regardless of their income.
When did you decide to focus on pro bono?
I always knew I would focus on pro bono work and access to justice matters. I actually received my law school’s Pro Bono Award because of the large number of pro bono hours I completed before graduating.
What efforts are currently being made through Bradley’s pro bono initiative?
Bradley has always had a strong commitment to pro bono and community service, which has made my work as Pro Bono Counsel a smooth transition. Against that history of service, we are working to diversify our pro bono offerings, connect with new nonprofit institutions that need legal representation, develop corporate pro bono partnerships, and participate in more pro bono and legal aid programs.
What advice would you give attorneys for why they should practice pro bono legal work?
I believe every attorney has a professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal services to the underserved. There are far too many people who cannot afford attorneys for the legal community not to find ways to help. There are also more ways than ever to provide pro bono services to people in need. For young attorneys, pro bono work can offer outstanding professional development opportunities that they can use in their other work, too. My biggest advice is to do it. The need is great, and we have the ability to help and make a difference in the lives of people whose legal needs are just as important as the clients who can pay for legal services.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far in your career?
It is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
I have gotten the greatest professional satisfaction from (1) receiving the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Legal Fellowship from the University of Virginia School of Law; (2) receiving the Distinguished Alumnae Award from my alma mater, Hollins University; and (3) receiving the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award from the Young Lawyers Division of The Mississippi Bar.
What do you feel passionate about?
I am passionate about making sure everyone is treated fairly and respectfully. As Bradley’s Pro Bono Counsel, I am able to work with attorneys and nonprofit institutions that focus on making sure everyone receives high-quality legal assistance regardless of their ability to pay. I feel a personal responsibility to make sure that our justice system is open to everyone and that everyone has an opportunity to be heard.
What community activities or outside organizations are you involved in?
I am a member of the Board of Trustees of Hollins University, the Board of Visitors of Millsaps College, the Advisory Board of The MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women.
What is one of your best memories from childhood?
My mother has 10 siblings, so I grew up with many aunts, uncles and cousins. My best memories are family gatherings when we were all together, sharing meals at my grandparents’ house in my hometown of Winchester, Virginia.