Alumni Profile: Jessica Walker ’13, Family Law Attorney
December 9, 2016
- What year did you graduate?
I graduated in 2013.
- Please describe your journey from law school to where you are now.
As soon as I graduated and sat for the CA bar exam, I made finding a job my full time job. I had substantial family law experience from my time interning during law school, but I was curious as to whether an Estate Planning position was something I would enjoy more. I researched every single estate planning attorney I could find in San Diego and I started emailing and making calls. I would introduce myself and provide potential employers with my cover letter, resume, writing samples, and letters of recommendation. I even mailed out employment packets to certain firms, knowing that it is easy for emails to get lost in an inbox along with hundreds of others from people in my same position. I would explain that while I was looking for an employment opportunity, I would still love to meet for coffee should a position not be available at the time. Needless to say, I went on a lot of coffee dates and had tons of informational meetings with attorney’s prior to landing my first position. It was my goal to simply get my name and face out there and to ask informative questions of those already in practice. I ended up receiving an associate estate planning position immediately after passing the bar. Once employed, I soon found my way back to family law, having realized my passions lie more with protecting families and children during intense and tumultuous times. I have been with Honorable Legal Services for over a year now. Our firm deals with divorce and custody cases, most of which involve abuse related issues in one capacity or another. I have also personally spearheaded a guardianship division of the firm which has already seen great success for our clients.
- What is the most exciting / rewarding part of your job?
I love talking to clients. Attorneys are called counselors for very good reason. I think the title is extremely fitting when dealing with family law situations. Whether I am trying to empower a domestic violence victim through a dissolution process, advocating to the court to ensure children are safe and protected through custody and visitation battles, I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve.
- How did you become interested in your area of practice?
While a student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law I used almost every semester as an opportunity to gain work experience and truly discover what practice areas I could see myself working in. I was able to intern with the Department of Child Support Services where I participated in Stand Down, a program that helps homeless veterans resolve their immediate medical, dental, and legal issues. In just one afternoon, I went on record a few dozen times in child support arrearage cases. I also interned for private family law firms and the Alternate Public Defender in the Juvenile Delinquency division. I worked in public service prior to law school, handling policy and constituent work for a local City Council member, so I knew I had a passion for public service, I just did not know how my contributions would best be used. When I discovered family law I immediately fell in love with the attorney- client interaction and felt good about helping families. I knew that I would enjoy a career in this practice area and that it could one day bring me back full circle in being a public service advocate in one way or another.
- What advice would you give to students who have recently graduated and have passed the bar?
As mentioned earlier, finding a job is a full time job! From the time I woke up in the morning, until the time I went to bed I was applying for jobs and meeting with attorneys. I even took a non-paid position while still job searching so that I could keep my resume fresh and I could keep learning the law in a practical and real-life capacity. You know what they say; it’s easier to find a job once you already have one! Do not get me wrong, this was not fun or easy. It was stressful financially and emotionally but it was what needed to be done. Persistence will pay off!
- Any fond memories that stand out for you about your time at Thomas Jefferson School of Law? Did any particular office help you in any way?
Professors Thomas Golden and Mary Beth Harold made me want to excel, not only to find my own success, but also to make them proud and feel like their guidance was appreciated. As difficult and demanding as law school could be, I felt connected to their teaching methods and was inspired by their own obvious passions. Lucky for me they were both presenters and on stage at my graduation; the perfect send off into the real world!
- Did any of the organizations that you were involved with help shape where you are on now?
During my time at Thomas Jefferson School of LAw I was a member of Phi Alpha Delta and on the board of directors. This gave me the opportunity to try out for the PAD Mock Trial Team and compete in Washington, DC. Although I never had the desire to litigate beyond what was necessary in family court, I knew that the opportunity would give me the confidence to break out of my comfort zone.
- Anything else you would like to add…
I am a self-proclaimed Thomas Jefferson School of Law Cheerleader!