GPSolo Magazine - June 2004
Voices of Experience
What is your background, and what inspired you to become a lawyer?
Both of my grandfathers were in the Georgia legislature, and one was also a superior court judge. I recall walking down the block to the courthouse as a little girl. The jury sat in straight-backed wooden chairs, and the courthouse windows were opened wide for a breeze and occasional bees on lazy summer days.
What influenced your decision to pursue a general practice/solo/small firm career?
With two small children, I wanted the autonomy to choose my clients, my hours, and my priorities on a daily basis. I practiced as a solo for many years before forming a partnership with attorney-author Joy T. Melton. I enjoy the entrepreneurial and business aspects of law practice and the knowledge that I direct my efforts and energies with visible results.
On a scale of one to five (five equals nerd, one equals novice), how proficient would you rate yourself in the use and integration of technology into your practice?
About a three.
What changes has the use of technology brought to law practice in general, for better or worse?
The speed of practice continues to accelerate. Clients expect immediate access and response. Time for reflection must be intentional.
What technological advance or purchase has made the biggest positive change in your practice and why?
The Internet gives me the freedom to practice law from a vacation home, a hotel room, or my home office as well as my traditional office.
What was the best professional advice you ever received?
Your word is your bond.
Whom do you most admire?
My parents. They have been married for more than 50 years. They set the example and are leaving a wonderful legacy for their children and grandchildren.
Who or what got you started with ABA and/or GP Section involvement?
Earle Lasseter, who was a great mentor and advocate for the ABA.
What early lawyer experiences have helped you in your career?
I spent three terrific years in the Army JAG Corps. The training was incredible. I continued as an Army JAG Reservist after leaving active duty, serving one weekend a month and two weeks each summer. The resulting mentoring and friendships have had a continuing and immeasurable impact on my law practice and my satisfaction in the field.
Do you have any concerns about the proliferation and expansion of technology in the practice of law?
First, client privacy must be protected. Second, more non-lawyers are preparing “do-it-yourself” legal documents, often with disastrous results.
What can the ABA and/or GP Section do to be a good home to young lawyers in the electronic age?
Provide life advice and experience, as well as thought-provoking content. Provide a forum for the exchange of ideas.
What personality trait has served you best through the years?
A sense of humor; not taking myself too seriously.
What advice would you give young lawyers?
• Strive to exceed expectations.
• Bad news doesn’t get better with age.
• If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, do something else.
• Be persistent.
• Be open to new ideas.
• Anything you don’t develop is a garden left untended.
• Have fun and get it done!