Alumna Takes Law Practice to the People, Adapts to COVID-19 Restrictions
Meet Ashley Myers Jackson (Law ’09), the owner of Myers Jackson Law Firm, LLC, in Columbia, S.C., which focuses on the areas of estate planning, and probate and real estate law. Ashley earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Spelman College and a law degree from The University of Toledo College of Law.
You call yourself a mobile attorney with a mobile practice. How did you develop this plan/concept?
I stumbled upon this business model in 2017, shortly after giving birth to my now 3-year-old. I was looking for flexible work that I could take on periodically while caring for my baby. In addition to providing estate plans for a few clients, I ended up partnering with a real estate law firm as a mobile attorney to conduct loan closings at the borrowers’ homes. I was meeting with people every day, and that side of my business was flourishing. It did not take long for me to realize that the mobile attorney concept could be applied to my entire business.
How have you adjusted operating a mobile law practice during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Although COVID-19 has created quite a few changes in how I operate as a mobile attorney, I have not stopped conducting business. However, I am taking every precaution to ensure the safety of my clients and my family. The Department of Homeland Security has identified the financial services industry as one of the 16 industries of critical infrastructure for our country. As such, it is imperative that real estate lawyers in the state of South Carolina continue, in the safest ways possible, to conduct loan closings. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to conduct full e-signings in South Carolina. Consequently, we are required to engage with clients on a face-to-face basis.
About half of my business consists of loan closings and requires in-person meetings with my clients. Whenever I engage real estate clients, I use the following process:
- I request that we set up in an area that will meet the six-feet social distancing requirement;
- I provide supplies to disinfect my workspace;
- I sanitize my hands and wear gloves;
- I use a selfie stick to pass papers back and forth;
- I limit my contact with the documents and send them off to the lender immediately after the signing;
- I discard my gloves and ink pen once the signing is complete
For my estate planning clients, I limit our meetings to phone calls and virtual meetings. I will conduct face-to-face meetings with them only if documents need to be executed, and I follow the same procedures I use with my real estate clients. The method of conducting business has changed drastically, but, amazingly, has not slowed down at all. This current climate has forced me to become more creative in how I engage my clients and to understand the importance human connectivity plays in my business.
Why did you choose to come to Toledo Law?
Honestly, Toledo Law chose me long before I was sold on it. I applied for law school through the LSAC website and stumbled upon Toledo Law during my application process. Being as frugal as I am, I applied to every school that waived its application fee, and Toledo Law happened to be one of them. After receiving my acceptance letter, I did a little research and realized that Toledo Law ranked as one of the top law schools in the nation. So, I decided to take the 11-hour drive from South Carolina to visit the school and the area. During my visit, I met several students who spoke highly of the program, and from that point forward, I was sold!
What suggestions do you have for current law students and new lawyers who might be interested in a mobile practice?
The best advice I would offer a law student or new lawyer interested in working as a mobile attorney is to be flexible and learn to roll with the punches because things will happen that will throw you off course. Also, develop great social skills and understand how to connect with potential clients, as people love conducting business with relatable people who make them feel comfortable.
What were the turning points in your education and career that led you to where you are now?
Since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to practice law. So, my entire educational journey was geared towards that. My biggest turning point happened once I began practicing with a corporate firm in Columbia, S.C. Working in the corporate sector helped me grow and mature by revealing to me those things that were not for me. During that time, I learned that my personality is geared more towards helping people on a more personal level. I also learned that I am at my best when I can be authentic and true to myself. I found that the corporate space did not allow me the freedom I needed to be myself. That realization set things in motion and propelled me to where I am today.
How did Toledo Law prepare you for your legal career?
Toledo Law did an amazing job of preparing me for the bar exam and introducing me to the practical side of the legal profession. Every final exam I took at Toledo Law included a bar-style essay and numerous multiple-choice questions. This conditioning over the course of those three years made studying and sitting for the bar exam much easier for me than some of my peers. Also, I participated in legal clinics that allowed me to experience the practice of law prior to being licensed.
What are you passionate about?
I am most passionate about servicing and giving back to the community that made me who I am today. One of my goals is to educate my community, specifically the African-American community, on the importance of building and protecting generational wealth through estate planning. My goal is to provide a more holistic approach to estate planning that goes beyond a simple will and one- or two-term life insurance policies — which is what I’ve found most people believe is a complete estate plan.
Share something you want Toledo Law alumni to know about you.
I want Toledo Law alumni to know that I absolutely enjoy being a ‘mompreneur.’ I love being able to balance the two most important things to me (my family and my business) with each other. It’s challenging but so rewarding.
What has been the best work or personal advice you have received? The best advice I have ever received is to be true to who I am. Every person is born with a unique style and personality. Remaining true to yourself, regardless of the environment or situation, is your gift to yourself and to the world.