Georgia State Law professor, Brandy Owens Domengeaux, has always excelled. As a child growing up in Mobile, Ala. and later in Albemarle, N.C., she made straight A’s in school.
In the second grade Domengeaux decided she wanted to become a lawyer and a teacher, although she was discouraged by others along the way. She remained steadfast in her pursuit. Today, she is doing both of those things as senior lecture of law, teaching Lawyering Foundations and Legal Writing and Analysis to LL.M. students in the College of Law.
However, she took a somewhat unconventional path to get here. Domengeaux earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Winston-Salem State University. She taught second and fifth grades prior to attending law school, and she says that the lessons learned during her time an elementary educator stay with her now.
“During my first year teaching second grade, I had students who were on a kindergarten reading level and others who were on an eighth-grade reading level,” Domengeaux said. “My job was to ensure that each student was supported, encouraged and challenged to reach their full potential no matter their level. Keeping that in mind helps me to this day as a law professor, especially teaching a foundational skills course.”
After teaching elementary school, Domengeaux was ready to fulfill the other half of her lifelong dream. She knew she wanted to attend law school at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) because of the close-knit environment, cultural connections and the opportunity to build lifelong relationships with professors and colleagues. She went to Southern University Law Center in Louisiana, where she immersed herself in public interest work. The summer after her first year of law school, she worked with the Innocence Project New Orleans on a case that exonerated a client who had spent nearly 28 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Domengeaux graduated as valedictorian of her law school class and worked at Lightfoot, Franklin and White in Birmingham, Ala. for several years before moving to Atlanta to practice corporate law at King & Spalding. However, becoming a mom marked a turning point in her life.
“I was the only associate on my team with a child at the time, and we were the largest practice group in the firm,” Domengeaux said.
She looked toward academia for an opportunity to achieve balance. She was recruited by Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School to teach writing courses, and during her tenure she also helped develop bar exam preparation programs. She taught there for four years before returning to practice for a short time at Greenberg Traurig. Then, a chance encounter with professor Maggie Vath and professor emerita Anne Emmanuel in 2015 brought her Georgia State Law.
“It is an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to prepare the next generation of practice-ready lawyers,” Domengeaux said. “In my classroom, my students are the junior attorneys and I am the more senior attorney, and my goal is to teach them the skills to think, analyze, write and read like a lawyer in order to zealously advocate on behalf of their clients.”
In addition to teaching, Domengeaux helps students develop study strategies for law school and for the bar exam. She also works with students to help them fine-tune their time management skills. Most importantly, she encourages them to take care of themselves and find their own path in law like she did. Going from elementary educator to attorney to law professor might be an unexpected path, but it is not an impossible one.
“I tell students ‘this is your journey,’” Domengeaux added. “We’re not all meant to occupy the same space.”
Written by Kelundra Smith