My biography was recently featured on “Lawyer Stories”, a social media community of lawyers and law students that profiles unique personal histories of those in the legal field. Here is my “story”:
I was raised in poverty by two counterculture activists. My dad was an artist, known for seditious, psychedelic cartoons that captured the chaos of the late 1960s. He illustrated Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book” and drew comics depicting anarchy, drugs, sex and violence. At the time of his death he was essentially living as a fugitive in Vermont, on the run from a number of bench warrants in Georgia.
My parents were smart, cultured and educated, but didn’t believe in capitalism or traditional jobs, so our poverty was seemingly by choice. As a child, growing up decades after the sixties had ended, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get a pair of new shoes or why we didn’t have working appliances. Though my childhood was rich in other ways – with art and music and literature – there wasn’t much stability and we had no financial safety net.
School became my safe haven and I devoted myself to academics. I graduated with high honors from Georgia Tech – an attempt to formally leave behind my bohemian roots – earning a Bachelor of Science. I then joined an alternative teacher preparation program to teach special education in Title One public schools. I taught students with emotional behavior disorders for five years. It honed my interest in fighting for the underdog.
Being a teacher and coming from a family with no money meant law school was a pipedream. I couldn’t take three years off of work, I couldn’t go six figures in debt, I couldn’t stop providing my family with what little stability I had. But even pipedreams are worth pursuing, even for kids like me. Ultimately, I was named a Woodruff Scholar at Emory Law and received a full tuition scholarship, which allowed me to pursue a juris doctorate degree. In law school, I took an internship with the Georgia Innocence Project and from then on, knew I wanted to devote my legal career to criminal defense.
After graduation, I became a public defender and then an assistant federal defender. Today, I own my own criminal defense law firm in Midtown Atlanta. I am also an adjunct professor at Emory Law and on the executive board of the Georgia Innocence Project. But in many ways, I am still the same little girl surrounded by art and chaos, aligned with the outcasts and the marginalized, forever fighting for the underdog. I just happen to have new shoes.
For more information on Lawyer Stories, including how to listen to their new podcast, check out their webpage.