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Attorney stories: Meet Jessica Taylor Levine

Our On-Call attorneys are an experienced and diverse group of lawyers, who are committed to our mission of making law simple and affordable. These stories are a little peek into our attorneys’ lives and how they’re helping our customers to achieve their goals while using Rocket Lawyer.

Meet Jessica, surfer and full-time attorney

Attorney Stories Jessica Levine

My name is Jessica Taylor Levine. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I have a deep love for the ocean, so much so, that I stayed in Miami for college and attended the University of Miami where I studied journalism, philosophy, and English literature.

While attending the University of Miami, I did a great deal of surfing, I taught spin classes, I rocked climbed, and ran almost daily. Running is a passion of mine and my Pharaoh Hound, Tut, usually ran with me.

After graduation, I knew that I wanted to continue my education and wanted to continue to write (which is what you spend most of your time doing when studying journalism, philosophy, and literature).

At that point in my life, my family had moved to Nashville, leaving me behind in Miami. I spent the next two years after college working, saving for graduate school. There was only one school I wanted to attend, Savannah College of Art and Design. After two years of saving, a lot of studying for the GRE, and compiling my writing portfolio, I sent out a single application to a graduate school, SCAD. I found out I was accepted on my birthday. Soon after that, I packed up myself, my apartment, and, of course, Tut, and moved to downtown Savannah, Georgia. Living in Savannah was like a dream. You exit off the highway, enter downtown, and all of the sudden the streets are paved in brick and the houses are 200 years old. The Spanish Moss overwhelms you and the beauty and sense of history in undeniable. And then the first day of Graduate School arrived.

SCAD is very selective. I was maybe 20 out of all applicants accepted into the graduate program that year. The expected workload was ruthless. In fact, SCAD does not hold classes on Fridays, leaving their buildings open 24 hours, expecting that students would require 3 day weekends just to keep up – and we did.

After your first year as a graduate student at SCAD, you are put through a review process. You have to assemble your thesis advisors, put together a portfolio exemplifying your improvement, and write an essay, the topic being your only guidance – Write about something that affects your field.

Well, I was a non-fiction writer. I was half way through my thesis, a non-fiction novel (a miracle in itself considering you have 5 years after the completion of your course work to finish your thesis). The intentionally open-ended topic left me unable to sleep. At some point in the middle of the night, as I sat mindlessly watching TV, I looked up, and there was a 20/20 episode about some pornographer. He was being interviewed and, to my surprise, he wasn’t talking about porn, he was talking about the First Amendment. At first, I couldn’t make the connection.

Like most people, the First Amendment had been this general idea of freedom to say as I pleased, speak my mind, say FU to censorship, you know, the stuff in movies. But, the realization that this man seemed to educate me more in 5 minutes about the First Amendment than anyone ever had made me realize that the First Amendment was not only was that going to be the subject of my midterm review essay, it had become an instant passion.

From that point forward, after passing my midterm review, I threw myself into studying every aspect of the First Amendment. I bought legal textbooks about obscenity, flag burning, protesting, separation of church and state, the Southern Poverty Law Center. I bought and read books that had, at one point been the subject of censorship, books that had sparked great First Amendment debates, and I began following some of this country’s leading First Amendment scholars, reading their essays. I was hooked. Strangely, though, through all this, I had never considered going to law school.

So one day, a few friends were over, and I was telling them how upset I was about that day’s events. One of my professors had politely requested/demanded that I expand my mid-term essay into a full blown thesis. I wanted to finish my book! But, sometimes it takes someone else looking in to see what the truth was. My friends looked around, and there were law books everywhere, and one of them simply said, as if it had been a given all along, “Well then maybe you should do that and then just go to law school.”

I actually didn’t give it another thought. The next day I told my professor I would write my thesis with her suggested topic and that I would finish within the year because I was going to law school. I googled law school requirements, signed up to take the LSAT, bought a book on law schools, and Mercer University was listed as having the number one legal writing program in the country. I took my LSATs, finished my thesis, graduated with honors, and was accepted into law school at Mercer University. It was a whirlwind of a year. There was no time to think twice or look back. I simply graduated, packed, moved, and a week later was sitting in Law School orientation.

Law School at Mercer was amazing. It was like having a built-in community. I had professors that allowed me to do independent studies to continue to learn and explore the First Amendment. I had my choice of so many Constitutional Law electives. I spent my time between studying the Constitution and Family Law. Why Family Law? Because that has been a subject matter of great importance to me because I watched my parents go through a two-year divorce and it seemed like the lawyers were never looking out for what was best for the family, the children, me and my brother. I wondered if I could be the kind of family law attorney who broke that mold and disproved the stereotype of the divorce attorney we all know too well.

When I graduated from law school, I took the GA bar, fully intending to move back to Savannah, surrounded by the historic scenery I loved, and, importantly, close to the beach. But, before the results had even come in (I passed, by the way), my family had convinced me that a decade was long enough, they wanted me near them, so I packed up everything and moved to Nashville and began studying for the TN bar. I took the TN bar in February and, while I was on vacation visiting a friend for my birthday, my mother called to tell me I had passed the TN bar. It was a good day.

Within a month I had decided to open up my own little practice, and my goal was to be in a position to help families going through divorce and child custody issues. I always put the good-being of the children involved first and remind my clients of that fact. It’s not always an easy job. In fact, I am still having a hard time not getting attached to my clients and their children. But, I would rather be passionate than apathetic.

An important thing I learned as I began to practice family law is that there are so many families that need help but can’t afford full-time counsel. Some people can’t even afford a consultation fee. When I found Rocket Lawyer, I read what services they offered, and was very excited to be given the chance to be a part of Rocket Lawyer. I love getting to answer people’s questions, even ones that people ask just for a little peace of mind.

Practicing family law means you are always dealing with people at their most vulnerable. The cases I handle are about families and parents and grandparents and the children they love most in the world. Can it be emotionally exhausting? Yes. Are there days when I am so exhausted I just sit in pajamas and work from home? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t trade the endless hours of work, my clients, or my job for anything. I love what I do.

You can follow Jessica on Twitter. 

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