Georgia State College of Law graduate Jennifer McCall (J.D. ’13) did not take the most traditional route to become a successful family law attorney, but the challenges she faced along the way only helped shape the attorney she has become.
The first hurdle came in high school, when McCall had her first child. The change meant missing out on the traditional high school and college experiences, as well as some judgment from others, but a strong support network helped her through.
“I was really fortunate to be surrounded by a loving community of family, friends, and my friends’ parents,” she said. “They were all supportive of my child and me. My oldest daughter is in my high school yearbook more often than some of my classmates. She came to events and was loved by all of my classmates.”
McCall went on to North Georgia College and State University, where she studied English and met her future husband Josh.
After graduation, she still harbored a life-long desire to be a lawyer, but she took a job in banking to support herself and break her reliance on help from her parents.
In 2008, McCall faced another hurdle when the market crashed, and she was laid off. She began looking for other jobs, when Josh encouraged her to look back into an old dream.
“I told him I wish he had known me when I was in high school, that I was smart and ambitious,” she said. “He told me I was still smart and there was no reason not to be ambitious because he would support me. I was still unsure. He bought me an LSAT study book and told me to just take the test, that he knew I would do well.”
McCall did do well, and she enrolled at Georgia State College of Law because of the part-time program.
Meanwhile, Josh, who taught Latin full-time at Riverside Military Academy, also took part-time jobs delivering pizzas and working in retail.
“I asked if he would be embarrassed if a student saw him,” McCall said. “And he said that there is no shame in supporting his wife’s dreams.” (She’s had the opportunity to return that support now that he’s a student in the College of Law as well.)
With the support of her family behind her, she took advantage of every opportunity. She was a member of Moot Court, the Public Interest Law Association, the Asian American Law Students Association, the Association of Women Lawyers, the Christian Legal Society, the Class Gift Campaign Committee, and Phi Alpha Delta.
Her final year of law school, she served as president of the Student Bar Association, was named the Outstanding Law Student of the Year for Georgia State by the National Association of Women Lawyers, and her classmates voted her Miss GSU Law.
She ultimately graduated with pro bono honors, and she delivered the student commencement address alongside guest speaker, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
“I’ve always believed that anything worth doing is worth doing well,” she said. “If I’m going to do something, I want the fullest experience available to me. I’m also always grateful for new experiences and for the connections they afford me.”
After college, McCall worked at a small general practice firm. She recognized that she was most helpful in family law cases, but after going through a divorce herself, she never wanted to practice in that area. However, she couldn’t ignore the calling.
“There’s nothing so bad in your life that God can’t use it for good,” she said. “I’ve been able to use my personal painful experience to help others.”
The call to do more became even louder when her firm wanted to withdraw from representation of a client who went as far as to offer to mop the floors for continued legal services. The situation made McCall realize that she could find success while handling cases her own way.
Now, McCall stays busy running her own firm, while balancing time with Josh, their three children and three dogs. In addition, she volunteers with numerous nonprofit organizations as well as with the local Vietnamese community and is active in her church’s family and youth ministries. She also serves as a board member with Family Promise, WomenSource, Hall County Family Connection Network and Phi Alpha Delta Alumni.
“I grew up very poor,” McCall said. “When I was born, we lived in government housing. I had a lot of people help me along the way to help me get to where I am. I feel that it is important that I do the same for others. My earliest memories of my dad are of him volunteering in the community. I’ve always known how important it is to give back.”
Written by Alex Resnak