Lynn Mckeel’s (J.D. ’18) career journey has been anything but ordinary. Originally going to undergrad for art, theatre and production, she quickly realized it was a hobby and not something she wanted to pursue as a career. Mckeel then decided to get her bachelor’s degree in political science, which she planned to use to help her succeed in the non-profit sector.
It wasn’t until she started working as a paralegal at a small family law firm in Atlanta that she decided to apply to Georgia State Law. While first waitlisted, Mckeel stayed persistent before getting accepted just days before orientation began. Now, she can’t imagine what her life would be like had she not attended the College of Law.
After graduating, Mckeel spent her first year as a licensed attorney working for Rockdale County as a public defender. Though she recently started a new role as an Enforcement Attorney with the Georgia Secretary of State. Here she discusses the many facets of her career and what she’s learned along the way.
What was it like being a public defender as your first job as an attorney?
It was an amazing experience because I got courtroom experience right out of the bat. Within six months, I was first-chairing a felony criminal jury trial. I worked there for a little over a year and I got to do two jury trials and I won both of them, which was really exciting. Georgia State Law also prepared me through my Trial Advocacy class. We were able to go through the motions and learn what techniques work when going through a jury trial. That was just so invaluable.
What are you looking forward to most working for the Georgia Secretary of State?
In my new role I will be working as an Enforcement Attorney for the Securities and Charities Division. Part of the role is assisting businesses and individuals register in compliance with the laws of Georgia, but a lot of the position investigates fraud and nefarious financial actors. I am definitely excited about learning more about what seems like a complicated field, and hopefully in some way being able to use my education in this role to help others know more about these important decisions they make with their finances.
What have you learned so far that you would pass down to current students?
When I first started as a public defender, I would get nervous with public speaking and get worried about if other people could pick up on it or if it would prevent me from being able to get my point across. A fellow alum then told me, ‘They hired you for you. You have to be confident that you’ve got the skills to be effective in your job because they would not have hired you if they didn’t see your potential.’ So, my advice would be to just trust in your own abilities to be the person that will be successful at what you’re trying to accomplish. Life is too short to have self-deprecating doubts. I took that advice and every time I was in court I just thought, ‘I have to be confident in this situation because I can be, and people are relying on me.’
Interview by Mara Thompson