Over this time of my adult-life, I have met and befriended some of the sharpest & fiercest women ever in life. These women are movers and shakers. They get up with a relentless drive and they make it happen. They don’t take “no” for an answer. They won’t accept the lesser than. They kick butt and take names later. But even with all of that girl power I just shared, we’ve gotten away from understanding that our differences, talents and gifts all make us collectively stronger. We should celebrate each other and share our stories! They can inspire someone out there. That said, I introduce to you: Hustle, Honey!
Hustle, Honey! is a series I’ve developed to celebrate these amazing women and showcase them on Blushing Black and share their dynamic stories with you. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing & sharing the story of Cherese C. Clark, Esq.
Lawyer, Entrepreneur, & Certified Courtroom Dragon Slayer.
I unofficially met Cherese at a Sorority meeting in 2007. Her presence commanded attention & she spoke with authority about being step master of the step team (Shout out to East Point College Park). In my mind, I instantly became her friend. I joined the step team 4 years later and fell in love with her spirit, talent, and can-do attitude. As I got to know her, I watched her work hard as a mom to a beautiful baby girl, run an award-winning step team, and study to take the Bar Exam! She’s not human! Ever since then, I’ve always been drawn to hear what she has going on.
Here’s Cherese’s story. Get ready to be blown away.
LG of BB: What led you into the field of law?
CC: Many do not know that I was a criminal investigator for 7 years before becoming an attorney. I investigated death penalty cases and moved to felony investigations shortly after the birth of my daughter. I continued as an investigator while attending law school. I fell in love with criminal law and planned to be this “kick-butt and take names” criminal lawyer like Annalise Keaton from “How to Get Away with Murder”- minus her vindictive and unethical practices. However, during my last year of law school and in preparation of the bar exam my life took a different turn. I found myself on the other side of the bar in divorce proceedings.
I didn’t know anything about civil practice, let alone family court. The process was very emotional and confusing. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know how the process was supposed to go, what I was supposed to do, or anything. I didn’t understand what was expected of me and I wished that I had an attorney that understood it from both prospectives – as an attorney and as a client. After all was finalized, I decided that under my care as an attorney, no one will experience what I went through and I felt like my unique and personal experience gives me an advantage in court while I am in #LitigatorMode and an advantage to be the counselor of law that many need to navigate the waters of divorce.
Family law is the only area of law where two things people are ready to kill over intersect – children and money. Having an attorney that “gets it” is rare in this area and that is what my clients get and why I chose this area to practice.
For some reason, every time they told me I couldn’t, I took it as a challenge.
LG of BB: You took a big risk leaving your law firm to create your own. How did you feel during that particular transition of getting Clark, Lowery, & Lumpkin, LLC. off the ground?
CC: Since I was in 6th grade watching the O.J. Simpson trial, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and I wanted my own firm. I was super geeked that Marsha Clark and I had the same last name, but I digress.
In April 2015, I prayed that God would give me 3 signs that it was time for me to move on. My plan was to practice in a firm for five years and then step out into private practice, but God didn’t just reveal three signs – there were literally ten signs within seven days of me asking for them. At that point, I knew it was time to go. I researched and became a student all over again about the business side of running a law practice, marketing a law firm, while still practicing law. In July 2015, I was at a breaking point where God yelled at me and I had to do it. My partners and I were at the same firm and unbeknownst at the time, resigned within one week of each other. We’d been talking to one another, and the rest is history! I realized the three of us complimented one another so beautifully. The partnership formed organically and by August 1, 2015, Clark Lowery & Lumpkin, LLC. was formed. The website was up and running, the phones were ringing, and we were genuinely happy and ready to serve our clients. This was the best decision I could have ever made.
LG of BB: What’s your mantra in life?
CC: My mantra is very simple: “I can. I will. Just watch me.” This mantra evolved when I told people that I was working full time, planned to attend law school at night, and was due with my daughter on August 24th, which happened to be the second day of law school. My family, friends, mentors, and co-workers told me to “wait and hold off on law school”, said “you won’t be able to do it all”, to “slow down” and “hold off”. For some reason, every time they told me I couldn’t, I took it as a challenge. So although I ended up having my daughter two months early, I started law school while she was in NICU reading contract and property law for her bed time stories.
In the meantime, I maintained my full time job as an investigator, working from 8-5 and going to class from 6-9pm and coming home to a daughter that giggled and cooed as she listened to the Rules against Perpetuities and parole evidence. Then, I studied from 11-2am only to wake up and do it all over again! Although I may not have been in the top 1% of my class, I realize that “can’t” is a bad word and that is exactly what I teach my daughter. Now, I can say I Can. I Did. You Saw it.
I overcome this moment of fear by remembering who is watching me – my daughter. That is what drives me.
LG of BB: Do you ever doubt yourself? If so, how do you overcome it?
CC: I wouldn’t call it doubt, I think I would characterize it as fear. Fear that I will let myself, my daughters, my fiancé, my mother, my family, my friends, and mentees down. But I overcome this moment of fear by remembering who is watching me – my daughter. That is what drives me. I have such a great sense of accomplishment as my daughter sits in my executive chair of my firm and helps me type a title page, or shreds my papers for me or simply goes to the printer to help me prepare my files. When I feel that sense of fear, I use it as an adrenaline boost because that fear keeps me motivated not to fail.
LG of BB: What do you want your legacy to be?
CC: I want Londyn, my daughter, to walk in a legacy of ‘I can and I will”. I want her to look at me and be able to say that no matter what, my mommy never gave up and always found a way to get it done. Whether it was having a preemie and attending law school at the same time, while managing an award- winning step team, giving back to the community, and running law clinics to running her own law firm that practices law holistically, I want her to be proud of me. I want my family to be proud of me. I want those that have had similar or worse circumstances to say, she did it and so can I.
LG of BB: There’s a girl out there just like you. She’s smart. She’s ambitious. She’s a mother. She’s a mover and a shaker, but she’s afraid of stepping out and running her business full-time. What advice would you give her?
CC: Wake, Pray, and Slay. Wake up knowing your goals and what you want for yourself. Pray that God give you the courage and armor you need to then slay the dragons, the competition and fear. Just do it. If you have a setback, just use it as a setup for greater. Also, I have pictures in my office of those that are important to me and whose opinions and perceptions of me matter. That way, they are always watching me and my reminder of why I cannot quit. Use them as encouragement to get you through the days when you start doubting yourself.
LG of BB: What’s next for you?
CC: The #PowerHeels Movement is next. I am continuing to write the vision for what this means to and for me. A book is in the works, slowly but surely, and I’m looking to continue building my brand. Motivational speaking and continuing to bring a fresh face to the family law practice and make power moves in my power heels.
LG of BB: I see you girl. Keep hustlin’.