Kelly garners accolade for pro bono work

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

Nov. 14, 2013

To wrap up October as Pro Bono Month, Pamela Williams Kelly of the Law Offices of Pamela Kelly was presented with the Celebrate Pro Bono Award from the Memphis Bar Association Access to Justice Committee and the Memphis Area Legal Services Pro Bono Project.

Kelly received the award for working on extended cases on behalf of indigent clients through the clinics offered by MALS.

“They said I had accepted the greatest number of cases, that’s either by volunteering my time for those clinics and just answering questions from people,” she said, adding, “I was just doing my part. … I was so surprised and so grateful.”

Kelly grew up about two hours from Memphis in North Carrollton, Miss., going to nearby Mississippi State University for a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations. While what to do after college wasn’t necessarily in the forefront of her mind, doing something creative was in the back.

She eventually found her calling in radio and wound up in Memphis working on promotions for FM-101 Jams. When the station was purchased by Clear Channel Communications, she took another path that would lead her to the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. It was a challenge undertaken as a divorced mother of four children, all under the age of 7.

“I was just really wiped out,” she said of the period following graduation in 1999. “When I was interviewing for jobs at that time, it was very much about billable hours, and I knew that I could not take care of my family and work a firm job.”

Instead, she delved into another passion – teaching. She taught physics and American government at Westwood High School. It was an experience, she says, that was “one of the best lessons I ever received. Those children are honest. If you’re slacking off as a teacher, they’ll tell you. It was a real awakening to me about what the educational system can feel like for teachers. … It’s a real struggle sometimes.”

She would go on to teach online legal classes for Strayer University and Axia College at the University of Phoenix, as well as onsite at Remington College . . . (read more)