B.A. in English, 2009
Any other degrees:
Juris Doctorate, 2013, Mississippi College School of Law
Favorite memories of being an undergraduate English major:
Dr. Matthew Little’s quirky wit and having hot tea in Dr.
Claggett’s Victorian Poetry and Prose class
Solo Practitioner Attorney, Public Defender & Guardian ad Litem
The Law Office of Amanda S. Beard, PLLC & Oktibbeha County Youth Court
When you graduated with a degree in English from MSU, what were your plans for your future? Has your career path mostly realized those early plans, or have you discovered new plans and goals along the way?
When I graduated from MSU with a degree in English and a minor in Gender & Women’s Studies, my plans were to go to law school. I have wanted to be an attorney since I was about 12 years old, and I never deviated from my plans. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I interned at a law office shortly after graduation that I decided to focus my practice on family law. Even though I mostly deal with domestic relations cases, I still try from time to time to establish new goals by branching out and learning more about different areas of law.
What is your current occupation, and what does your work mostly consist of?
I am an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Mississippi. My work mostly consists of litigating domestic relations cases such as divorces, child custody disputes, adoptions, estates, and probate matters. I also work for the Youth Court of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi as a Public Defender for delinquencies and as a Guardian ad Litem for child abuse and neglect cases.
Which skills that you learned as an English major do you use most in your job?
I draft pleadings and various documents every single day at work. Proper formatting, use of punctuation, and how to construct every sentence are skills that I learned as an English major that I still use to this day.
What additional skills did you need to learn in order to do your job, and how did you learn them?
Patience and understanding via OJT (on the job training).
In what ways does your career enrich your life and help you to achieve your personal as well as your professional goals?
One thing that my career does is allow me to become a voice for those who cannot speak. My career has created purpose in my life because I oftentimes have the opportunity to fight for the weak or vulnerable and speak up for those who have no voice. Part of my law practice is dedicated to a very niche area of law, that being legal issues impacting the LGBTQIA+ community. As an ally, it is extremely rewarding to be an integral part of the process of when a transgender individual wants to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, or when a newlywed same-sex couple decides to create a new last name together. I hope I get to continue to help my clients achieve their goals for many years to come.
What advice do you have for undergraduate English majors right now who might want to follow the career path you did?
There is more to being an attorney than just arguing. Learn to be compassionate early in life. Never let your career/professional goals get in the way of your personal goals.
UPDATED Feb. 2023