School days: Former teacher is now eyeing law as her second career


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

 In her previous career as a teacher, Jocelyn Flemons saw the impact of laws operating on the lives of people in different ways—sparking her interest in pursuing the law as a second career.

“I consider law to be the language of our society,” says Flemons, who recently wrapped her 1L year at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. “Knowing the law and understanding how it works is a benefit to everyone who knows it and a liability to everyone who doesn’t.

“As a student, my goal is to gain a thorough understanding of the law, so that as an attorney I can serve as an effective bridge between those who understand the law and those that don’t. I want to help increase equity in our society.”

A member of the Black Law Student Association and Women’s Law Caucus, Flemons is discovering the benefits and drawbacks of life as a mature law student.

“One of the biggest benefits is that because I’ve experienced success and failure in my career and life, I know there are opportunities to grow from both. Regardless of if I’m experiencing progress or setbacks in law school, I know how to respond to both circumstances in a healthy manner,” she says.

“On the other hand, learning to be a student again has had its rough points. As a teacher, I adjusted myself to understanding concepts starting with the big idea and narrowing it down to the smaller concepts. However, as a law student I’m forced to learn things starting with the small concepts and work up to the larger concepts.    

“But, regardless of the challenges I’m facing, I remain steadfast in my decision to attend law school, so I consider all my law school ‘adjustment challenges’ to be ‘beautiful struggles.’”

With an interest in labor law, Flemons also is open to exploring all aspects of the legal field.

“Being a first-generation law student, and only being in my second semester of law school, I don’t know enough to ‘dig my heels’ into any particular area,” she says.

“My goal is to be an effective litigator and attorney in the Wayne County area, and to be known by my clients and community as a person of integrity, who has compassion for people, and who is committed to excellent legal work.”   

Flemons earned her bachelor’s degree in education as a practical four-year degree with a specific career path.

“I was drawn to teaching by the ability to impact the world in a positive way by encouraging youth to think critically and share their unique gifts and talents,” she says.   

“The most enjoyable part about being an educator was the creativity and artistry it allowed me to express daily. Many people don’t think of teachers as artists, but teachers are assigned a unique group of students each semester, provided limited resources, and assigned the task of ensuring each student learns the content. A teacher must use their resources and find creative and effective ways of reaching, teaching, and learning from students, so the class can jointly create a masterpiece of new knowledge by the end of the semester. Teaching is truly the work of an artist.”

Flemons spent two years as a program coordinator with Playworks in Detroit; a year teaching English in South Korea with EPIK (English Program in Korea), earning EPIK’s 2012 Bronze prize for best co-teaching lesson by an EPIK teacher in South Korea; and taught in Detroit Community Schools, Southeastern High School of Technology and Law, and Detroit Edison Public School Academy.   

Although she no longer teaches in a classroom setting, Flemons works at the UDM Law Library; and works with students as a Girl Scout counselor with her church troop and through the nonprofit Scholars in Making (SIM), an organization she founded in 2007 while in undergrad, and where she serves as director.

“After doing mediocre work in high school, and struggling to pay for college, I wanted to help inspire children in my family and community to do well in school, so they could secure scholarships to attend college,” she says. “SIM allows me to mentor a different group of school age kids each year. Throughout the year I work with my mentees to complete skill-building activities, practice goal setting, and improve grades. We’ve been registered with the State of Michigan since 2009. SIM allows me to continue my work with students while attending law school.”   

The Detroit native, whose mother was a secretary for the Detroit Board of Education for over 30 years, and whose father worked for the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, is very proud of her hometown.

“A lot of people talk about the ‘New Detroit,’ but I’ve been loving it ever since it was just ‘Detroit,’” she says.

“I love going to Belle Isle year-round, Eastern Market on Saturdays during the summer, African American and Jazz festivals in the summertime, and visiting all the local museums.

“I have the spirit of an explorer, so I like to travel, read, and go to events that allow me to learn about new things. I also enjoy going treasure hunting at thrift stores, reading books, and exploring all kinds of music.”



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