During the month of March, which is Women’s History Month, #DawsonWritesAmerica will be placing a spotlight on WOMEN MAKING HISTORY, a series acknowledging the very best of us.
Natalie Griggs‘ goal is to change the world. As an Associate Attorney with The Fogle Law Firm in Atlanta, she is taking steps to do just that, representing clients in their immigration matters before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Courts and Board of Immigration Appeals) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
It’s those cases that make Griggs believe that changing the world is even possible. “I’ve just always liked taking up for people,” she recalled. “There was a particular girl in school that was always picked on, and I always felt for her and decided to take up for her. Her parents thanked me for doing it, and that’s when I knew I wanted to do that for a living.” Which makes immigration law the right choice for the Laurens, South Carolina native, especially with everything that’s currently happening in our country.
Griggs graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Experimental Psychology. As an undergraduate, she served as an intern with the South Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee and participated in numerous community service events with her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.She earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in May 2016.
While in law school, which she calls “school… on steroids,” she competed twice in the Mid- Atlantic Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition, earning a spot in the semi-finals her final year. “It wasn’t easy making it through law school, to tell the truth,” she admits. “The school part was fine. There was so much going on outside of that. I had family issues to deal with, and just living in DC, where there are so many distractions, it was tough.” However, it was the drive and dedication to social justice–realizing her greater purpose to help others–that helped her push through.
HOW ARE YOU MAKING HISTORY?
“I’VE MADE HISTORY BY SHEDDING LIGHT, OPENING EYES, AND HOPEFULLY CHANGING THE MINDS OF FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND THE COMMUNITY ON ISSUES REGARDING SOCIAL JUSTICE AND REFORM… I’VE INSPIRED AND MENTORED YOUNG GIRLS AND BOYS TO TAP INTO THEIR MELANIN MAGIC. I LOOK FORWARD TO MAKING HISTORY THROUGH CONTINUED ADVOCACY AND POLICY IN THE FUTURE.” –NATALIE GRIGGS, ESQ.
A zealous litigator and advocate, Griggs accumulated over 700 hours of client centered representation through the Juvenile and Special Education Clinic and the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic. During her third year of law school, she won her first case when the Arlington Immigration Court granted asylum for her client and her clients’ five non-U.S. citizen children. Following her law school graduation, Griggs briefly served as a federal contractor with the United States Attorney’s Office’s Cyber Crime Unit, working with Assistant United States Attorneys and the Office of International Affairs on investigations and prosecutions of international cyber-crimes.
Shortly thereafter, she served as an Assistant Public Defender with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Charles County, Maryland under Rule 19-215, representing numerous defendants in the Maryland Criminal Court system. “It’s the cases involving women, and domestic violence that stand out as some of most memorable wins,” Griggs says when asked about the court cases that have stuck with her. “Family cases, and everything having to do with family reunification, renews my purpose daily.”
Representing those in need through immigration law is one of the logical steps on a path to her ultimate goal, which is serving in public office. “I want to be a state representative, and before that I kind of want to go more into Civil Rights law, and in order to do that you have to have at least three years experience.”
When asked how she is making history, Griggs was very measured in her response. “I haven’t made history in the way I’d like to yet,” she said thoughtfully. “However, I’ve made history in the lives of clients and their families. I’ve made history by shedding light, opening eyes, and hopefully changing the minds of family, friends, and the community on issues regarding social justice and reform… many of which they were unaware or unconcerned about before. I’ve inspired and mentored young girls and boys to tap into their melanin magic. I look forward to making history through continued advocacy and policy in the future.”