As an attorney in the Nashville-Davidson County public defender’s office, Georgia Sims ’06 has clients who are charged with everything from shoplifting to homicide. She represents anyone facing a criminal charge who cannot afford to hire an attorney. That includes people in all stages of court proceedings, from initial appearances, bond hearings, arraignments, and suppression hearings to jury trials and post-trial litigation.
At Transylvania, Sims completed a double major in anthropology and psychology. That proved to be excellent preparation for law school at Vanderbilt University. As Sims explains, “I did a lot of reading, researching, and writing for my majors, all skills I relied on in law school. And I use the knowledge I gained at Transylvania every day in my work. For example, thanks to Dr. (Barbara) LoMonaco’s Urban Anthropology class, I can better evaluate my clients’ social and familial support systems. Also, many of my clients suffer from mental illness. Having taken Dr. (Todd) Van Denburg’s Abnormal Psychology class has really helped me better understand their situations.”
Sims recognizes the value of her William T. Young Scholarship. “Although I now have quite a bit of student loan debt from law school, I am grateful to not have the additional burden of undergraduate debt as well. Obviously, the career path I have chosen is far from the most lucrative work available to attorneys. But I’ve been able to pursue a career that I love, thanks to this scholarship.”
Sims has, indeed, found her niche. She eloquently summarizes her experiences: “When you’re a public defender, successes are difficult to measure. We rarely win outright. My office is overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated, yet I can’t imagine working anywhere else. Every day, I get to advocate for people who have no voice.
"I have the privilege of telling my clients’ stories, and I try to show the judge or prosecutor or jury that my client is more than his charges, or her poverty, or his schizophrenia. I am proud to be a public defender, and I’m grateful for the ways that my Transylvania education prepared me for this line of work.”
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