NexGen Committee Interview

Melissa Bailey, Partner, Copeland, Stair, Valz & Lovell

  1. If you could give your 25-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be? Slow down. You don’t have to reach every milestone as quickly as possible.  Enjoy the ride a little more.
  2. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? Teleporting. Many of my closest friends and family live a significant distance away, and it would be amazing to literally pop in for dinner or a glass of wine before popping back to my own bed.
  3. What has been your most notable career accomplishment so far? My team is primarily female lawyers, and my greatest accomplishment is working every day to cultivate an environment where young women can be amazing trial lawyers but also choose to have (or not have) a family without being fearful of going “off track.”
  4. What is a secret skill/talent you have? I have an encyclopedic knowledge of song lyrics. 2000s hip-hop is my sweet spot.
  5. What is the biggest goal you have for yourself in the next five years? Disconnect more. My phone and I are in an unhealthy relationship, and I need to give myself the gift of stepping away from my email inbox every now and then.
  6. What is the biggest value you receive from being a member of Themis? Marriott points. Just kidding—learning from the folks who really pioneered this area of the modern legal market without losing their humanity.
  7. What is your favorite event Themis hosts? I love the Annual Conference.  We get several days dedicated to enjoying our clients and Themis colleagues without a hustle from one session to another agenda. You learn a lot about someone after 4 hours together at the Ritz pool.
  8. What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? Traveling to see live music. I’ll go pretty much anywhere for a good show. Last year, I saw my favorite band, Turnpike Troubadours, at Red Rocks during an eclipse. Going to be hard to beat that one.
  9. What made you want to pursue a career in the legal field? If I’m being honest, I wasn’t really good at anything else.
  10. What piece of advice would you offer young lawyers wanting to advance in their careers?  Find your currency. A lot of young lawyers try to emulate other attorneys at their firm rather than really figuring out what works best for their skillset and temperament. I’ve never seen anyone be a successful legal clone.
  11. What piece of advice would you offer young lawyers wanting to get involved in Themis? Say yes. Standing on the sidelines waiting for the perfect opportunity is unlikely to yield dividends.
  12. When did you get involved with Themis? I went to my first Themis event about six or seven years ago as a young associate, but I didn’t become active until the post-COVID Atlantic City event in 2021.
  13. Where did you go to college and law school? I did my undergraduate work at Georgia Southern University (Go Eagles!). I earned my law degree from the two-time defending College Football Champion University of Georgia.
  14. Who do you look up to the most and why? I suspect you’ll be hard-pressed to find a female millennial lawyer who doesn’t idolize Ruth Bader Ginsburg in one way or another. More directly, my partner Fred Valz “raised me” as a lawyer starting my second year in practice. I come from a blue-collar background and didn’t have any real clue how to navigate the professional world. More than teaching me how to be a lawyer, he taught me how to be a leader and how to build a team based on mutual respect and trust. And bless him for (somewhat) taming my smart mouth to make me a more palatable member of respectful society.
  15. Why did you get involved with Themis? After the pandemic, I was itching to get back out there and make new connections. I tested the waters with Themis in Atlantic City in 2021, and I never looked back. I’d found my people.