Where are you from?
I’m originally from Livonia, Michigan. I now live in Detroit, Michigan.
Who/what were key influences in your life related to the work you’re doing now – why did you become an attorney?
I first became interested in becoming a lawyer when I was a junior in high school, when I attended the National Youth Leadership Forum for Government and Public Policy in the fall and studied AP Government with an incredible teacher, Ellen Betel, the following semester. Those experiences together sparked a strong interest in the law and the judicial branch. In college, I considered other career paths, but I ultimately decided that I wanted to go to law school after taking a Constitutional Law class with Dr. Constance Hunt, one of my all-time favorite professors at James Madison College.
What honors/awards have you received? And which meant the most to you?
I received several academic awards and scholarships in college and law school. However, the honors that have meant the most to me are receiving the Ira J. Spoon Endowed Award, which was awarded for the best paper on the subject of urban development at Wayne Law, and graduating from law school as a member of the Order of the Coif.
Being an attorney:
What are you most passionate about professionally?
I am most passionate about legal research and writing, especially investigating complicated legal issues and developing novel applications of the law. I’m also passionate about life-long learning and teaching. I’ve found legal writing similar to teaching in some ways, as I’m often writing to inform a reviewing court or colleague about a particular legal matter and how it should be applied in a given case.
What most excites you about your work and the contribution you can make?
As one of the attorneys at the firm who specializes in legal writing, I’m always excited by the opportunity to dive deeply into a particular case or legal problem and take the time to carefully research and analyze the issue at hand.
What has surprised you about the legal profession?
I’ve been surprised by its diversity. Before going to law school, I thought that the everyday life of a lawyer was similar to what you see on TV (whether in a criminal context, like on Law and Order, or in a transaction context, like on Suits). Since then, I’ve realized that there are many types of law, many types of lawyers, and many types of careers that require a legal education.
What still puzzles you about the legal profession?
I’m sometimes puzzled by the allocation of time and resources, in the private sector as well as the public sector. In some situations, I wish that more time, money, and resources were dedicated to research and overall accuracy, especially at the trial court level.
What is most rewarding about your job/what makes it worthwhile?
Two things come to mind with regard to this question. First, I truly value and enjoy having the opportunity to work with and learn from so many different people at the firm. I also find the opportunity to focus on legal writing and complex legal matters very rewarding and worthwhile.
What are the most critical problems faced by people in your field in Michigan today?
One of the most critical problems that comes to mind is the prevalence of alcoholism and other addictions among lawyers, largely due to the stress of the profession. From what I’ve seen, a surprising number of attorneys and legal professionals struggle with balancing the stresses of work and their personal lives.
How should these problems be handled?
The State Bar of Michigan’s Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program seems to play an important role in addressing this problem. However, I think that it’s also important for attorneys to be intentional about maintaining balance and perspective in their own lives and maintaining open and honest relationships with friends and family members. One of my greatest sources of professional and personal support is a close-knit group of friends from law school. We all understand the stress that comes with being an attorney and are quick to encourage and strengthen each other when times are rough. I think that encouraging law students to create and maintain these types of relationships may help to prevent addictions or other unhealthy means of stress management as they advance in their careers.
Do you have advice to offer people who are aspiring to be as successful as you?
Never give up—persistence is just as important as raw knowledge or skill. More importantly, never underestimate the importance of asking questions and making connections. There are so many attorneys and professionals who are willing to share their experiences and expertise.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I was born with turned-in feet and femur bones. When I was a child, an orthopedic surgeon told my parents that there were two options under the circumstances: the doctor could break my femur bones and reset them, or I could take ballet lessons until I graduated from high school, which would gradually resolve the problem. Thankfully, my parents chose the ballet option, and I discovered one of my greatest joys in the process!
What volunteer activities do you engage in?
I serve as an appointed member of the State Bar of Michigan’s District I Character and Fitness Committee and serve as an administrative volunteer and volunteer attorney with MACC Legal, a sliding-scale legal aid clinic on the east side of Detroit. I also work as a children’s ministries volunteer at my church and volunteer with students at Wayne Law events, such as the Professionalism in Action Program.
What do you wish others knew about volunteering?
I believe that many people realize this already, but I hope that more people discover how important and fulfilling it is to serve everyone in the community, especially individuals who don’t look like you or whose lives are vastly different from your own. Incredible relationships can be built by focusing attention outside of one’s self.
What do you find most challenging about your volunteer work?
The most challenging aspects for me are remaining dedicated to a volunteer program when I do not see the results that I expect and staying committed even when other aspects of my life become especially busy or overwhelming. However, even in those seasons, I’ve found that volunteering and serving others helps me to maintain a balanced perspective about my own life and what is truly important.
What would be impossible for you to give up?
It would be impossible for me to give up coffee, tea, and my cat!
What is your favorite movie, song, book and band?
Favorite movie: The Help
Favorite song: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
Favorite Book: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kid or The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Favorite Band: This is a hard choice! Probably Michael Bublé or Kirk Franklin.