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Recent Graduate Tchanavia Bryant Wants to Practice Family and Military Law

published June 17, 2013

By Follow Me on

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Personal Life

Melvyn Weiss
Tchanavia Bryant is a third year law student at Mississippi College School of Law and anticipates a May 2013 graduation. Although Tchanavia has several areas of interest, she plans on practicing family and military law. She decided to go into the law to help individuals. Tchanavia claimed, "I believe that one of the greatest things a person can do is help another person in need. I know that if I can help a person with his/her legal issue, I have the potential to completely change his/her life."


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Tchanavia was born in Albany, GA, and was raised all over the country as a military brat. She has one sister and four brothers. Tchanavia graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Baylor University. While studying at Baylor University, she was a member of the Nu Iota Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Pi Delta Phi French Honor Society, National Pan Hellenic Counsel, Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, and the Impact Christian Club. Tchanavia is the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Student Assistant Award and she made the Dean's List for four semesters by earning at least a 3.7 GPA.

At Mississippi College School of Law, Tchanavia was a member of the R. Jess Brown Chapter of Black Law Students Association, National Black Law Students Association, Family Law Society, Military Justice Society, and the Charles Clark Chapter of American Inns of Court. She earned the 2011 Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project Certificate of Appreciation, 2011 Mississippi Center for Justice Certificate of Appreciation, 2012 BLSA Presidential Leadership Award, 2012 R. Jess Brown Award, 2013 Magnolia Bar Scholarship/Magnolia Foundation Young-Hall Scholarship, and the 2013 Frisby Griffing Marble Scholarship. In the summer of 2012, Tchanavia received the AmJur Award for the highest grade in her Comparative Law and in the fall of 2012, she received the AmJur Award in her Constitutional Law Seminar. She wrote one of the top three papers at NAAAS & Affiliates Graduate Student Research Competition in 2013. Tchanavia also made the Dean's List while attending law school.

From January 2012 to April 2012, she served as an extern with the Mississippi Center for Justice, Jackson Office. Tchanavia helped to draft court pleadings and letters to clients. She provided legal research on various issues like expunctions, child custody, and traffic tickets. Tchanavia met with potential new clients and discussed their legal issues so that she could get a better understanding of what their legal issues were. She also had the opportunity to help with gathering information on for-profit colleges and any potential targeting those colleges were doing. Tchanavia participated as a tester.

From January 2013 to April 2013, she also served as an extern with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Tchanavia often completed case assessments, which gave her the opportunity to interact with potential clients by having them explain their legal issues. Tchanavia also helped out at legal clinics across the State. She was able to sit down with clients and draft legal pleadings, under the supervision of a licensed attorney.

Tchanavia recently submitted a paper for potential publication with the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association. She is currently a member of the Charles Clark Chapter of American Inns of Court.

When the Baylor University alumna isn't studying, she enjoys reading, watching live concerts, and making craft projects like scrap booking. Tchanavia loves to read historical fiction and psychological thrillers. She also enjoys eating Italian food.

Tchanavia's Academic Law Career and Future Aspirations

Tchanavia was asked about her aims and aspirations. She said, "My main aim is to make a positive impact on the life of other people. At the end of the day, I want to know that I have changed someone's life for the better. Life just seems that much better when I know I have done some good in the world. My short-term aspiration is to find work with a firm that not only allows me to be fulfilled, but also allows me to help others."

What are Tchanavia's key accomplishments? "Some of my key accomplishments are graduating from law school, presenting a paper I wrote at a conference, and getting to study abroad."

Tchanavia discussed her key strengths and skills that she would like to use to advance her career goals. "I would like to leverage my strong work ethic and ability to work with all kinds of people to advance my career goals. While I am not the most loquacious person, I do have the ability to get people to open up to me and trust me. This allows me to build connections with people, whether they are fellow co-workers, attorneys, judges, business owners, or your everyday lay person."

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As for her weakness, she noted, "The biggest weakness I would like to work on is public speaking. I am getting better and more confident in my public speaking, but I still have difficulty sometimes speaking off the cuff."

Since law school can be hectic at times, Tchanavia pointed out how she relieves stress. "Take a break and step away from what is causing you stress. Sometimes you just need to put the work down and go to the movies or go for a run. The work will still be there when you get back and you will be a little more level-headed after you have had time to decompress."

Many readers are probably wondering how Tchanavia handles new assignments. She asserted:
"With a new assignment, before I start, I make sure that I understand the assignment I have been given. If I have any pressing questions, I make sure to ask my supervisor. There is no point in starting an assignment if I am unclear as to what exactly I am supposed to be doing. Then I formulate a plan of attack. I put things in order from most to least pressing. For instance, if a particular document has to be filed by a quickly approaching deadline, then I would make sure to have that taken care of as soon as possible."
When asked if there were any particular achievement or activity that she has been involved in, Tchanavia replied:
"I wrote a paper for my Constitutional Law Seminar class about presidential powers. My topic focused on the 2012 election and how the presidential candidates addressed the issue of poverty and the poor. My paper was selected to be presented at the 2013 National Joint Conferences NAAAS, NAHLS, NANAS & IAAS with Center for Islamic Studies. This was the first time any paper I had written had been selected for presentation."
Where does Tchanavia derive her confidence? "I derive my confidence from my family. They have always been supportive of me."

Number One Priority Outside of Work, Three Wishes to Live By and Study Abroad Program

What is Tchanavia's number one priority outside of work? "I like to volunteer and find various opportunities to better myself. For example, I am currently teaching myself sign language and learning to play the bass guitar. During law school, I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and helped with a peer mediation program at a middle school."

If she had three wishes, what would she wish for? "To be able to provide legal services for everyone who needed them, even if they could not afford it. To have all my student loan debt repaid. I would also like to travel the world and learn about different cultures."

Has Tchanavia been part of any study abroad program? She disclosed:
"I had the pleasure of participating in my school's inaugural study abroad program to France in July 2012. It was an amazing opportunity. I took French in high school and college so I was excited to finally have an opportunity to use my French. The class offered was comparative law. We compared the legal system of France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. We stayed in Perpignan, France, which is a city near the Mediterranean Sea. We got the opportunity to sit while the court was in session. It was so interesting to see how their lawyers and judges interacted compared to ours. The French judges were significantly more vocal and controlling of the proceedings than one is used to seeing in American courts. But it was not all work. I did have an opportunity to spend some time in Paris and see the sights like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. I also had a chance to go to Barcelona with some classmates. It was a great opportunity and I would recommend that any law student who has the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program take that opportunity."
Coping with Fear, Major Obstacles and Volunteer Experience

In regards to handling fear, Tchanavia stated, "I try and understand why I have that fear and what I can do to get over it. I also try and confront my fear. For instance, I have a fear of public speaking. I made a point my last year of law school to try and speak in public more. I actually ended up presenting a paper I wrote at a conference."

Has she faced any obstacles in her life? How did she get through the obstacle(s)? "I have not had any one major obstacle in my life, but instead many minor obstacles. Whenever I face an obstacle, I keep pushing forward. I know that any obstacle can be overcome."

Tchanavia talked about her volunteer experience. She acknowledged:
" I have been serving [at] the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, MS, since August 2012. Through this organization, I volunteered at Hardy Middle School to implement the TAP program. This program is a peer mediation program that teaches middle school students mediation tools to discuss their issues instead of resorting to fighting.

From January 2011 to May 2012, I served the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project in Jackson, MS. I also worked at the divorce mediation clinic and for Each One Reach One.

In November 2010 and November 2011, I served Ronald McDonald House in Jackson, MS. Through the R. Jess Brown Chapter of the Black Law Students Association, I helped to serve Thanksgiving Dinner to parents of sick children at the Ronald McDonald House.

In 2012, I also served Habitat for Humanity in Jackson, MS. I worked on a Habitat for Humanity House."
Legal Role Models, Personal Philosophy, People You Want to Surround Yourself With, Favorite Quote and Final Thoughts

Does Tchanavia have any legal role models? She said:
"Tiffany Graves, general counsel/executive director of Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, is one of my legal role models. She handles so much and always handles it gracefully. She is a wealth of knowledge and truly cares about the work she does. She sets the bar for what makes a great attorney. Professor Angela Kupenda is also another one of my legal role models. She taught my Constitutional Law, First Amendment, and Constitutional Law Seminar class. She is extremely knowledgeable. She has also been one of my biggest supporters throughout my law school career. She encouraged me to submit one of my papers to a conference and the paper was selected to be presented and it won an award."
What is Tchanavia's personal philosophy? "Work hard to achieve your goals and continue to move forward. Life will throw you a curveball sometimes, but never give up. The only time you really fail is when you stop trying."

What kind of situations and people is she attracted to? What kind of situations and people does she avoid? "I am attracted to situations where people are generally trying to work toward a common goal. I also enjoy friendly competition because it pushes me to do better."

As for situations and people to avoid, Tchanavia admitted:
"I try and avoid unnecessary confrontations. I like to weigh the costs and benefits of being confrontational. If I determine that I can concede a minor point without losing the battle, then I will likely do that. I believe in the saying that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I also try to avoid situations and people that have a cutthroat attitude. I feel like one can still be an effective lawyer without being ruthless."
Tchanavia's favorite quote is by Swami Sivananda: "Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." She added, "This quote just reminds me that as long as put my all in and do my best, I never really fail."

Is there anything else you care to share professionally or personally? "Treat other attorneys with respect, even if they are opposite counsel. The legal community is generally a close-knit community. If it gets around that you are rude, ruthless, and unaccommodating, then no one will want to work with you."

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