2019 YG&E Leader of the Year
Updated: Oct 13, 2019
When Tiffany Graves says she became a lawyer to help people, those aren’t just words for her. It’s literally her life’s purpose and passion. Her fight for equity and justice for the underserved and disadvantage began while working as an academic counselor with an Upward Bound Program while attending the University of Virginia School of Law.
“I never considered the youth that I worked with as at risk kids, but working with them and seeing some of the challenges they faced at home and school is really what prompted me to consider a career in public interest law,” said the Winchester, Virginia native.
Upon graduating from law school, Tiffany was recognized for logging the most pro bono hours of any graduating student. Her work of helping marginalized and low-income individuals continued after marrying her husband James Graves,III and moving to Mississippi. She worked with the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, a Supreme Court-created entity aimed at promoting initiatives to improve and expand access to justice to the more than 700,000 people living in poverty in Mississippi; led the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, and used her Powell Fellowship to work at the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), a public interest law firm focused on advancing racial and economic justice.
The Winchester, Virginia native now serves as the first-ever, national pro bono counsel for Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings LLP, who has nine offices in seven states throughout the Southeast.
“We started thinking about having a single person be pro bono counselor for our offices and the communities we serve. Tiffany was by far the best person we thought about and has been fantastic,” shares Bradley attorney and colleague Margaret Cupples. “Tiffany is really good at making connections with people. I think a lot of lawyers who want to help, but don’t know how to start or what to do or how to get into it. Unless there is someone like Tiffany who can connect lawyer to clients that need help, it’s really hard for them to know how to help people.”
Throughout her career Tiffany helped attorneys log thousands of pro bono hours and hosted more than 100 legal clinics. Under her leadership, 47 percent of Bradley’s attorneys now provide pro bono services.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to go into communities and help attorneys provide these types of services and have people leave and literally see the weights lifted off of them,” Tiffany said. “It has truly been my greatest reward...to be able to help people. That’s why I said I wanted to go to law school and to be able to do that everyday is incredibly fulfilling.”