Did you always want to be an attorney?
For a brief moment in middle school, I wanted to be a marine biologist, but then I discovered science was not my strongest subject, so that didn’t work out. Growing up, I was always very determined. I wouldn’t say “argumentative,” but my parents might beg to differ. My mom and grandmom used to say that I would argue the sky isn’t blue because I stuck to my guns no matter what – they always said I’d be a lawyer.
In seventh grade, I went to Elizabeth Dole’s senatorial inauguration in D.C., which was exciting. Until college, I thought I wanted to be a politician. I later realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it’s what put me on the path to law school. After an internship at Kilpatrick Stockton in Winston-Salem during college, my passion for pursuing a career in law was affirmed.
What is your favorite area of the law?
My favorite cases are the fiduciary litigation cases because each situation is unique, and there’s always something new to research. Sometimes the cases can be difficult emotionally. For example, those that involve an individual taking advantage of an elderly person, a sibling rivalry, or other inter-family dispute. But it gives me an opportunity to forge a close bond with my clients. They are often sharing intimate details about their personal life. Usually, we are trying to correct some wrongdoing and, for me, whether it’s recovering assets that have been lost or recovering personal property, it feels like an opportunity to accomplish something positive. When you’re fighting for someone who has been taken advantage of, there’s a sense of purpose, and it’s rewarding to know that someone is going to get the care that they need.
What do you like about practicing law?
I like the relationships I am able to form with my clients. I’ve always been – for lack of a better term – a “people person.” I like meeting people and getting to know them. It is especially rewarding when a case ends favorably for a client with whom you have formed a close bond.
Practicing law also allows me to continue learning. It’s intellectually stimulating and there’s always something new to research. Especially now, since I’m relatively new to practicing, every case has different challenges. Even as I get more experienced though, the law is ever changing and there continue to be opportunities to learn.
What do you enjoy about litigation In particular?
Most people that don’t go to law school and have only watched legal proceedings on television assume the legal field is entirely litigation. They don’t realize that most attorneys are transactional. I was drawn to the litigation side though. I like being in court because, it not only breaks up the average work day, but it is a great opportunity to practice my oral advocacy skills and present arguments. It can be nerve wracking at first, and I think it terrifies a lot of people. But for me, it’s invigorating because you never know what a judge is going to say next when they’re pressing you with questions, so it keeps me on my toes.
Additionally, every case is different. There’s nothing routine about it. We may have cases dealing with similar issues or things I’ve researched before, but each case is unique. Being a litigator means there are always opportunities to develop various strategies and opportunities to be creative in our approach to helping clients.
How do you view relationships with clients?
The most important thing is to maintain good relationships with our clients. One of the best ways we can achieve that is through patience and understanding. Often our clients are experiencing the legal system for the first time. That can be both scary and confusing. For us, as learned professionals who have studied the law, we need to take the time to explain issues that, while they may be routine for us, are likely brand new to our clients. We need to assure our clients that we are listening. When we explain the law and how it applies to their situation, it’s important for us to not just speak “legalese.” We want our clients to know that we are empathetic to their situation and someone is listening to them.
Along those lines, it is important to be cognizant of our clients’ goals. Sometimes, a client has different goals than we expect, so it’s important to get to the heart of that from the onset of representation and strive for the outcome they want to achieve. I’ve seen some lawyers say, “I need the answers to these three questions,” rather than give the client the opportunity to be heard. I always remind myself that it is our clients’ time, and they are likely going through something very important in their life, so they need to know that we are invested in their representation.
Finally, I think it’s also incredibly important to treat opposing counsel with respect. It’s important to have a good reputation in the community among the attorneys on the other side of our cases – that includes being respectful and willing to work together.
What do you like most about working at a small firm?
I feel like I have a say in the firm ethos and how we grow and develop. I am able to contribute my ideas, which is important to me. Also, I’ve been given a lot of responsibility early on in my career. Since day one, I was drafting complaints and other pleadings. I enjoy the opportunity to have hands-on work with clients and leeway in steering cases when it comes to litigation strategy. From discussions with my classmates, I don’t think a lot of my colleagues at bigger firms have the same opportunities to influence the direction of their firms.
What do you like to do outside the office?
I’ve always played tennis, so I enjoy doing that, but I also enjoy anything with the water, whether it’s swimming or just being on a boat. People tend to be surprised by this, but I like target shooting and was on the riflery team at camp growing up.
I’m also involved in several charitable organizations. When I first moved to Charlotte, organizational involvement was a way for me to meet people and do something outside the office, but I’ve found that they are a great way to impact the community. I am a member of the Junior League of Charlotte and am currently placed with the Promising Pages organization, which provides books to children in the community and strives to instill a love for reading in those kids. I’m also on the board for the Young Affiliates at the Mint, which is a young professional organization that supports the Mint Museum through cultural, social, leadership, and fundraising events. I’ve learned a lot about the Charlotte community through both of those roles.
After a little over a year in Charlotte, what do you like most about it?
There are lots of activities here for young professionals. It’s a great Southern city that has that “big city” feel to it, but at the same time, you can drive fifteen minutes and be at a farm or the lake. I love that because, especially in the spring and summer, I love being outdoors. One of the best things about Charlotte is all the different pockets of neighborhoods that have their own individual feel. I love spending a day in NoDa and then going to SouthEnd and having a completely different experience. It’s been fun to explore and meet new people.