Tarrant Award winner sets sights on becoming 'Complete Lawyer'


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Stephanie A. Thomas launched her academic career trajectory with an undergrad degree, magna cum laude, in psychology and a minor in sociology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. 

During her studies, she received intensive training and professional development in early childhood theory and practice, language and literacy development, leadership skills, and communication with families.

After graduation, and a job with the federal government, Thomas realized she could achieve more if she earned a law degree. She gained some experience in the legal field as office manager for her father’s firm, the Law Office of Attorney Stephen A. Thomas in Detroit. The firm partners with Cass Tech, to allow students to intern and receive high school credits; and many students go on to excel in undergraduate school and pursue law. 

“I was able to be a part of that program and be an intern,” Thomas says. “Even though Attorney Thomas is my dad I received just as much work and no short cuts were given to me. I’m really happy to have had that experience and see the structure of how things work from an intern position to an office manager position in a law office.”

Now a 1L student at Detroit Mercy Law School, and an active member of the Women Lawyers Association (WLAM), her current interests are family law, civil rights law, intellectual property law, and immigration law.

“I’m looking forward to really becoming the ‘Complete Lawyer’ as Mercy Law states they will educate the complete lawyer,” she says. “Although I have an interest in certain areas of law, I’m keeping an open mind and excited to see how those interests may change. 

“My ideal career involves work-life balance and having a positive impact on the community I’m in.”

Thomas also is a recipient of the Henry H. Tarrant Award for Black Student Excellence, named in honor of the first known Black graduate of Detroit Mercy Law, Henry H. Tarrant, who graduated in 1922. The award, established in partnership with Detroit Mercy Law’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA), recognizes incoming Black law students for their achievements prior to law school and for their potential as future leaders, influencers, and activists, who will advance justice, equality, civil rights, and service.

Born and raised in Detroit, Thomas is happy to be back in the Motor City and enjoys spending time with her 5-year-old daughter, close family, and friends.

“It feels great to be home in the heart of Detroit,” she says. “I love my city just as most Detroiters do. It's home and I see and enjoy the good we have to offer from the summer Dream Cruise to the winter Auto Show. I love our history in music and our geographical location.  

“I consider myself a true Michigander,” she adds. “I boat in the summer and go snowmobiling in the winter. I also love to travel and eat food; and I speak Spanish.”

Over the years Thomas also has participated in different organizations working with women and children, including mentoring young pregnant women, counseling children, and teaching children to read.

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