One year ago, our attorneys interviewed and hired an intelligent, eager third-year Alabama Law School student, Shelby Savage. In May 2022, Shelby graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law. She spent the summer swamped in studying for the Florida Bar Exam, and in September, 2022 Shelby learned she passed the Florida Bar and was granted admission to the Florida State Bar.
In the year that has passed at TWWH, Shelby has assisted numerous clients—from intake to settlement and resolution of their claim—and has learned many lessons along the way. Shelby has argued before our local judges, written persuasive briefs and motions, presented opening statements at mediation, and taken numerous critical depositions. It has been a privilege and an honor to watch Shelby grow and see her confidence and trust in her own impressive skills and intuition increase. In honor of the incredible year Shelby has put in at the firm, we asked her to answer a few revealing questions about her first year in practice.
What was the most surprising or unexpected thing you discovered about the practice once you began?
Not every question has a concrete answer. A lot of law school is spent looking for a particular case that says exactly what you need so that you can memorize the right rule and ace the exam. The practice of law isn't like that. The law is constantly changing, so a lot of my job is staying on top of every new decision or law that changes the game again. It's challenging, but it's also part of the fun.
What have you found, in your first year, to be the most challenging part of practicing law?
I struggle the most with forcing myself to step away from work and give my mind some rest. I don't just mean taking a vacation, but also with going home at the end of the day and letting my brain do anything other than think about work. There's always more to be done, and I know my clients spend a lot of their time thinking about their case, so I often feel guilty when I'm not working. But I've learned that I'm a better attorney and person when I give myself time to rest and recharge.
What is the thing you have discovered you want to work and improve on the most?
I've always been a details kind of person, so I can have difficulty seeing the forest for the trees. But I've learned that good lawyers can often see the whole forest before they even file the Complaint, so that is something I want to get better at.
What was your most rewarding experience?
The first two clients that I took from consultation to settlement were both incredible clients, and their cases taught me a lot, not just about practicing law, but about the kind of person I want to be. I think that's probably the best part of this job—we see people at some of their worst times, but they still have kindness and resilience in their hearts. That's a lesson and a skill that can be relearned and improved upon every day, and I'm lucky I get that opportunity.
What was your most embarrassing experience?
The first hearing I got to argue was in person, which was amazing. But there are a lot of differences between in person hearings and Zoom hearings (which is what I'd been doing). One of those differences is that if you don't bring a pen with you…you can't just grab one off your desk. I'm not admitting to having gone to court without a pen ... but I will say that I never leave the office without one now.
If there was one thing you could tell your one-year-ago self about her future, what would it be?
Every second of the hard work was absolutely worth it. I grew up in a trailer with no running water, not enough food, and very little reason to believe I would ever make it to this point. There was a lot of doubt and strife and struggle. But now I get to wake up and live out my dream every day. It was all more than worth it to be here.
How many cups of coffee did you drink year one?
I did the math and it's definitely at least 700 cups. (But that's a pretty conservative estimate!)
We are exceptionally proud of the competent, compassionate attorney Shelby is becoming. She has been a valuable addition to the TWWH team. Her creativity, discipline, and quirky sense of humor have helped to round out our diverse team of dedicated attorneys. Please help us congratulate Shelby on her first productive, impressive year of practice. Here's to many more to come, Shelby!