Amanda Jones never expected to pull double duty as president of The Mississippi Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD). But after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Mississippi on August 29, she was firing on all cylinders despite having no electricity at her home.
Jones, whose division has been utilized by the American Bar Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) since 1978 to provide legal assistance to disaster victims, has been coordinating volunteer attorney efforts for the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) set up by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the toll-free hotline for disaster victims in the 32 counties declared disaster areas.
She is also juggling work duties since being officially named head of the Bar division that represents Mississippi attorneys age 37 or younger or those who have been practicing law in the state for less than three years. Ironically, the passing-the-gavel ceremony was nearly postponed in July, when Hurricane Dennis headed toward the Bar convention’s meeting venue in Destin, Fla.
Jones, a member of the Litigation and White Collar Criminal Defense Practice Groups at Bradley Arant Rose & White, LLP, in Jackson, focuses her civil litigation practice primarily on products liability defense, insurance sales practices cases, and commercial litigation in both state and federal courts.
An active member of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, where she serves on the Mission to Jackson Committee, Jones is a weekly tutor and board member of the Neighborhood Christian Center, an organization located in Jackson’s inner-city that ministers to the physical and spiritual needs of the surrounding community.
Jones took time from her hectic schedule in the post-hurricane frenzy to answer a few questions for the Mississippi Business Journal.
Mississippi Business Journal: What are priority issues for the YLD?
Amanda Jones: Service to the public and service to the profession. We do that through several projects or programs. Our public service projects include hosting the High School Mock Trial Competition, Teen Court and Lawyer in Every Classroom. We also have a very active child advocacy committee. We obviously provide disaster legal assistance.
Professionally, we hold bar admissions ceremonies for new Mississippi attorneys, Bridge-the-Gap seminars for newly licensed attorneys, sponsor the Mississippi Clerkship Interaction Program, which places minorities as summer clerks in majority firms and majority students in minority firms, and publish yearly calendars and manuals.
MBJ: Tell us more about the YLD’s law-related educational programs.
AJ: Through our High School Mock Trial Competition, students in high schools across Mississippi compete in a mock trial as lawyers and witnesses and learn about the judicial process. Area lawyers serve as judges through our Teen Court Program, in which first-time juvenile offenders agree to have their sentences determined by a jury of their peers. A student attorney represents the offender and a student prosecutor represents the state.
MBJ: What are the biggest challenges facing young lawyers today?
AJ: Before Hurricane Katrina, I would have said that it was the lack of opportunity to get into the courtroom. After the hurricane, I believe it is the survival of their law practice.
We intend to assist young lawyers in this challenge as much as we can in the coming days.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.