Stephanie Clark, a Southern University Law Center graduate, shares her experience transitioning from law school to practicing law in Florida. She talks about her decision to move to Florida for better job opportunities and the importance of free childcare provided by her parents. Stephanie reflects on her journey of taking the bar exam multiple times and working as a paralegal at a criminal defense firm. Tune in to hear Stephanie's story and insights about the legal profession.
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Stephanie Clark values creativity. She understands that you can do ANYTHING with your law degree. Stephanie has worked with the Small Business Administration, with Veteran's Affairs issues, and in multiple states. Since the pandemic, Stephanie has enjoyed the flexibility of remote work, which has allowed her to be at home with their dogs and children and run errands during the day. Listen to Episode 106 to get inspired to think outside of the courtroom while using your law degree.
"I left Louisiana because I could not get a decent paying job," explains Stephanie Clark on You Are A Lawyer.
The podcast episode also explores the diverse career opportunities that a law degree offers. The host mentions that law students and new lawyers can pursue various paths, including working in HR, becoming a law librarian, and engaging in research. They emphasize that a law degree can change one's viewpoint and perspective, which proves advantageous in different career paths.
Stephanie explains that she moved to Florida from Louisiana because she couldn't find a decent-paying job in her field. She mentions that the availability of free childcare, as her parents lived in Florida, played a role in her decision to move. She started working at a criminal defense firm as a paralegal, where she stayed for five years while attempting to pass the Florida bar exam multiple times without success.
After leaving the firm, Stephanie joined another criminal defense firm focused solely on criminal defense cases. This change allowed her to specialize in this area of law, unlike her previous firm, where she handled various types of cases. Stephanie also mentions that during her time at the second firm, she sat for the Alabama bar exam and successfully passed it. She praises the UBE (Uniform Bar Examination) for its real-world scenarios and practical application.
"I'm not going to let this thing beat me," shares Stephanie Clark in Episode 106 of You Are A Lawyer.
Stephanie's passion for helping others is evident in her dedication to fighting for justice. She shares how she flew herself out to California to assist a veteran who had been taken advantage of by his caregiver. Stephanie and another attorney on the case were determined to rectify the situation and ensure the veteran received the support he deserved. This commitment to her clients is a driving force behind Stephanie's work.
"I flew myself out to California because I do not abide by people harming or causing harm to elderly or children or pets really," shares Stephanie Clark in Episode 106 of the You Are A Lawyer podcast.
As a veterans' affairs attorney, Stephanie explains that she advocates for veterans and ensures they receive their entitled benefits. She emphasizes that her firm's approach is to go to hearings and present their cases directly to the judges. This personal touch allows the judges to see the attorneys and their passion for their clients' cases. Stephanie believes this approach leads to better outcomes for veterans instead of simply submitting paperwork, which is often denied.
"If you went to law school to become a lawyer and say, I'm going to make all this money, I am sorry about your luck," explains Stephanie Clark on You Are A Lawyer.
Stephanie's work extends across the United States, as her firm covers veterans' cases from Maine to California. With offices in various states and expanding their team of attorneys and case managers, Stephanie is proud of the growth her office has experienced. Providing assistance to veterans nationwide makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning and walk to her home office. And because veterans' law cases may be held in federal courts, Stephanie can use her law degree to represent veterans nationwide.
Law school is challenging, and adding the responsibility of caring for small children can make it even more difficult. From 2012-2015, Stephanie was a full-time law student and primary caregiver for her two kids. Stephanie had the organizational skills and support that allowed her to be present in her kids' lives as a stressed-out law student, a feat that is definitely easier said than done.
In episode 106, Stephanie Clark reflects on the first semester of law school and its challenges. In fact, Stephanie was placed on academic probation after the first semester and was determined to graduate from law school. a successful lawyer. However, she emphasizes that this does not appear in her records and that she openly discusses it during character and fitness evaluations. This demonstrates her commitment to transparency and integrity in her legal career.
Stephanie Clark acknowledges the difficulties of juggling motherhood and law school with after-school programs while she attended property law and completed criminal law reading assignments. She even had to bring her kids to campus during a few evening classes, where Stephanie’s kids would complete their homework and wait for her. These examples highlight Stephanie’s resilience and adaptability. I don’t believe in defining women as ‘superwomen,’ but I know that Stephanie is an expert at prioritizing.
Despite every challenge of living in Louisiana and raising small children, Stephanie is proud of her accomplishments. In Episode 106, Stephanie admits to occasionally doubting herself and questioning whether she would truly pass law school, but she did it and was really popular at Southern University Law Center. Everyone supported her and cheered for her, and we were all so happy to see her kiddos on campus.
Since the pandemic, moving to Florida, and her children becoming more self-sufficient, Stephanie can work from her virtual office. Virtual work allows Stephanie to work remotely and avoid the need for physical presence in a traditional office setting, even though Stephenie misses the in-person interactions with coworkers.
"I wanted the autonomy. I wanted the freedom," explains Stephanie Clark on You Are A Lawyer.
Despite the challenges, the guest speaker acknowledges the benefits of her virtual work setup. She mentions having a desk phone with a Maine phone number, which allows Stephanie to maintain a professional presence for her law firm based in Maine but live where she prefers (and without snow).
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Stephanie Clark is licensed to practice law in Alabama.
Kyla Denanyoh hosts the You Are A Lawyer podcast.
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