What’s your current position and primary practice field(s)?
I am an associate attorney with King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul, LLC in Bethlehem, PA. King Spry is a full-service firm that represents individual, business and municipal clients in all practice areas. My practice focuses on representation of school districts in general matters and special education litigation. In addition, I represent clients in adoption matters. Another of my “niche” areas of special knowledge is the state Right to Know Law.
How did you get here – what led you to this field and practice setting?
I did not get here directly, that’s for sure! After graduating from UMass, I started out as a masters-level therapist in a residential school. I then returned to school at Villanova with an intention to conduct research regarding child welfare issues. After law school I clerked for a year with a judge who was in charge of dependency (child welfare) cases and stayed in that county with a general law practice for about 7 years. I relocated to King Spry after I got married, to be closer to my new home. My work at King Spry draws on all of my previous experiences. School districts have to address almost every type of legal question that individuals do. In addition, with regard to special education matters, my background in the mental health field is often helpful.
Describe a typical day/week – what are the kinds of tasks you engage in on a regular basis?
There is no typical day or week, which is part of the charm of what I do. Some weeks I am in the office, drafting agreements and correspondence, and/or speaking with clients by phone. Other times I am on the road to meet with potential witnesses for litigation cases, presenting inservices to schools, or representing clients in court.
How many hours/week do you work? How’s that work/life balance thing working out for you?
I am in the office at least 40 hours per week, and do work at home as needed. Work with school districts does require attendance at meetings and hearings that are held in the evening. It is sometimes difficult to juggle home life and work schedules, but my husband and I work it out. My office does have a billable hour requirement, and that has become more stressful now that I have children. It definitely takes effort to make time for everything.
What do you like most about what you do?
I enjoy developing relationships with clients. In my work with school districts, I am fortunate to collaborate with very knowledgeable and interesting people who are dedicated to providing good services to students with special needs. In my adoption practice, I meet wonderful individuals and am able to help them build their families.
What do you wish you could change?
I wish I could change the public perception of school districts. Everybody seems to think they don’t want to provide services, when in fact the teachers and administrators that I know are very dedicated to their work and do amazing things with ever-decreasing resources.
Where did you go to law school? What’s your favorite memory from law school?
I enrolled in the law/psychology program at Villanova Law School, and attended classes at Villanova and Hahnemann University in pursuit of degrees in law and psychology [Ed. note: Hahnemann became the Drexel University College of Medicine in 2002]. I really enjoyed law school and found it very interesting. My favorite thing while there was participating in a student-run theater group, the Court Jesters, which produced several Gilbert and Sullivan shows as well as a few plays.
What did you major in at UMass? How has it been helpful to you your law career?
I attended graduate school in the School of Education, earning a masters degree in counseling psychology. I do not directly use this education in my current work, but the background knowledge is helpful.
What’s your favorite UMass memory?
Taking walks and watching the swans.
If you feel comfortable sharing, tell us something about your finances: How much debt did you take on for law school? How much (rough estimates are fine) do your currently make? How long do you expect to be paying off your debt? How has your debt impacted your career and life choices?
I still owe a ton of money for law school/graduate school. If I can keep up my current payment schedule I will have paid it all off within 20 years. The debt significantly impacts my ability to have/use discretionary income. If I had it to do over again, I don’t think I could reject the opportunity to pursue the knowledge and experiences I have had. But, I would look harder into grants and other funding options besides student loans.
How do you respond when someone asks your advice about whether to go to law school?
I would recommend that they think carefully about the time and financial commitment involved. In addition, they should keep an open mind about the area of law that they want to practice.