A humble mentor
Key employee, dedicated leader and trusted assistant
Briana Stockdale didn’t go into law thinking she’d stick with it. After graduating high school, she took a part-time entry level file clerk position, preparing to go to school for accounting.
“(If) something needed to be served on another law firm, and she’d go there and maybe they were closed, she’d find a way to call,” says Mischelle Fulgham, with Lukins & Annis. “So the lawyers learned ‘OK, this is a person who’s pretty smart … she’s doing these low-level assignments but when there’s a problem, she always gets it handled.’”
Stockdale says she absorbed as much as possible and, while going to school for paralegal studies, worked her way up.
“I just realized it was something that would fit me very well, and that I would enjoy doing,” says Stockdale. “I’m really glad I had that opportunity and actually seized (it),” she adds.
The key right-hand person
Stockdale’s involvement expanded when she became a legal assistant and paralegal to Fulgham, a partner with Lukins & Annis. In addition to organizing files and calming clients, Stockdale aided Fulgham in her role as First District Bar president.
“This is the person (who) gets things done,” says Fulgham, “regardless if she’s dealing with the menu for a continuing legal education presentation I’m putting on or whether she’s dealing with a $5 million lawsuit.”
Stockdale was there to help when Fulgham had two children and was on maternity leave. She worked part-time from home, juggling client and mom duties.
“You’ve got to have a key right-hand person and that was her,” says Fulgham. “(I hope) that everyone she works for appreciates her as much as she deserves.”
Stockdale is now working for Smith + Malek as a paralegal and firm administrator. The days and weeks vary with preparing and filing paperwork and being available to answer any question an employee might have.
The most important part of her job, Stockdale says, is attention to detail. And her peers commend her for just that. The most enjoyable part, she says, is helping attorneys with trial prep.
“You’re in there with them sitting next to them and helping them get everything together and organized so they can be successful when they go to trial,” Stockdale says. “I get to impart all of my knowledge that I’ve accumulated in the 10 years I’ve been doing it, so I think being able to teach them and watching them be successful is really rewarding.”