AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION

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Augusta Massey

Managing Partner, Massey & Associates Law Firm

Why did you decide to study law?

When I was a teenager, my father was killed in front of me in Africa. My family and I fled to America, but within 6 months, I experienced another tragedy. While walking home from school one day, my then 12-year-old younger brother was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Amid our grief, my family and I found ourselves inundated with lawyers – including civil, criminal, and immigration attorneys. Through this, I learned first-hand the impact lawyers and judges could have on a family - both good and bad. This inspired me to go to law school.

What is your proudest professional moment thus far?

Getting my MBA in the middle of a pandemic.

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Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?

I had an internship lined up with the company of my dreams: coca cola. I let imposter syndrome keep me from taking this internship, but it thought me a valuable lesson: be confident in yourself and in your abilities. Also, the stories we tell ourselves are important so we need to constantly evaluate them.

Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.

As a woman, when I walk into the court house, I am sometimes mistaken for the defendant, the secretary, the court reporter, etc and not the attorney. Seeing women in the court house and in court rooms should be normalized. We are just as smart and as capable and should be treated with the same respect our male counterparts receive.

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What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?

From the beginning, you must set a path for yourself. Move with confidence knowing that you will succeed. Set a clear vision of your career path, but do not be afraid to pivot. Always search for opportunities to grow and do not shy away from the hard stuff. Find mentors and advocates early as they are critical to your success. As you climb, lift others because we are better united. Remember that self-care and mental health are not buzz words but absolutely necessary in our line of work. Finally, believe in something bigger than yourself.