Elaine M. Smith, top of her class in her second year at UMKC, is editor-in-chief of the UMKC Law Review and a staff member of The Urban Lawyer. Her budding law career comes on top of an eight-year career as a senior project manager for H&R Block.
What are some of your proudest career accomplishments? As editor-in-chief of the law review I have worked to raise the visibility and prestige of the law review by soliciting donations for new office furniture and to award staff members for their editing work. I have also established a framework to increase the awareness and visibility of the online presence of the law review and the online De Jure Journal.
As a student returning to law school I have successfully earned top grades in many of my classes while maintaining my responsibilities at home with my family and working part-time. I was also published in two of the law journals at UMKC.
My favorite writing assignment came from a winter clerkship with the Honorable Jalilah Otto. I drafted a chapter on grand juries and indictments for a bench book.
What inspired you to get involved in the justice system? When I was in high school I was drawn to the law because I was acutely aware of how important the law was to everyday life. I am pursuing a career in the law because it promises to challenge me and forces me to learn every day. I also enjoy the idea of solving problems with creative solutions, something I did in my previous career.
What is something that would surprise people about you? I grew up in my professional life as a computer programmer. I majored in computer management systems in college and absolutely loved programming. For fun I enjoy horseback riding, working in my garden and cooking.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given or received? The best advice I have ever received is “that it will all work out.” I’ve tried to keep that in mind in everything I do. There are so many unexpected challenges in life, school, and at work I’ve learned it wastes a lot of energy trying to plan for all of them. Going with the flow helps me enjoy the journey, which can be more rewarding than the ultimate destination.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be? I don’t remember having any lofty career aspirations as a child. In fact I remember the summer between high school and college thumbing through my college’s course catalog trying to pick a major. I have always been interested in so many things that it was hard to choose. I’ve been fortunate that through my life I have had the opportunity to pursue all of those interests.