Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? I took a law class in high school and got hooked immediately. As a lazy kid who hated homework, willingly doing hours of extra work made me think this may be a good career for me. My mother may have suggested it to me as a teenager since I liked to argue with – I mean debate – her.
Someone who inspires me: My mother is the smartest and strongest person I know. As a single mom, she worked incredibly hard to give me and my brother the best in life and make sure we valued education, kindness and equality. Turning into her as I get older will be my greatest accomplishment.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? I was a political science major. The coursework exposed me to different systems of government and the U.S. political and legal systems. That helped me learn how to look at issues from many different viewpoints.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? I interned with the family law unit at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid while in law school. That led to a job offer, a passion for helping families in crisis and lifelong friendships with wonderful people.
What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar? Over the years there has been a migration toward equal parenting and timesharing and an end to automatically assuming kids should be with mom.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? Our circuit has done a great job quickly moving to virtual hearings given the COVID-19 pandemic. I think we’ll start to see more telephonic and video hearings for uncontested matters even after life has returned to normal.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would: Make pro bono hours mandatory and increase funding for legal aid. There is a huge need that cannot be met without everyone, including those outside of the legal community, recognizing and supporting civil legal services.
What community service have you pursued and why that? My family has been blessed and I’m always looking for ways to give back to the community. I’ve volunteered with St. George Orthodox Church, the Ramallah Club of Jacksonville, Duval County Teen Court, the Ribault Future Lawyers and Leaders program and the joint Bar Legal CommUNITY Days.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Find a mentor. Law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer, not how to actually practice. You need someone for those questions you’re embarrassed to ask. If interested, all of the voluntary Bar associations and Inns of Court have mentoring programs. Or call me and I’ll help you find someone.