Posted in: Lawyers None, Diversity Committee Spotlight

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Judge J. Michelle Childs says she wants to be thought of as a mentor and someone who opens doors to opportunity for others in the legal profession. 

Judge Childs, who has served on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina since 2010, is current chair of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division. Active in various state, local and national bar organizations, she encourages young lawyers to get involved in volunteer service. 

“I’d like to think that I’m always trying to help others in terms of mentoring, giving broad opportunities to people, pushing them to have more experience through internships whether it be clerking, whether it be community service and Bar leadership opportunities so that they have the opportunity to excel,” she said during a recent Virtual Fireside Chat: Beyond the Robe hosted by the SC Bar Diversity Committee. 

Prior to her current role, Childs served as a South Carolina At-Large Circuit Court judge, which included responsibilities as the chief administrative judge for General Sessions and the Business Court for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Richland and Kershaw counties.

A Detroit native and graduate of the University of South Florida Honors College, she moved to the Palmetto State to attend the University of South Carolina School of Law. Participating in Mock Trial as a young woman inspired her to pursue a career in law, Judge Childs explained during the Beyond the Robe event. 

She has had the distinct honor of receiving gubernatorial appointments as a Workers’ Compensation commissioner and the deputy director for the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Labor. Judge Childs was formerly a partner with Nexsen Pruet Jacobs & Pollard, LLP, in Columbia, where she practiced in the areas of employment and labor law and general litigation.  

In addition to serving as chair of the ABA’s Judicial Section, she is secretary of the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section and serves on the ABA’s Litigation Section’s Committee on the American Judicial System. Judge Childs is also a member of the American Law Institute, having served as an Advisor to the Restatement (Third) of Employment Law.

Throughout her career as a practicing lawyer and judge, she has lectured and served frequently on panels regarding litigation and trial techniques, courtroom practices and procedures, e-discovery, expert witnesses, evidence and various topics for new lawyers. 

“Judge Childs embodies what it means to ‘hold the ladder down,’” said Diversity Committee member Amber Hendrick, a former clerk for Judge Childs who moderated the Beyond the Robe talk. “She makes a sincere effort to bring clerks and interns along to legal and community events to introduce them to people, get them involved in the community, and of course, to help them network. I think it is important to her that the people who pass through her chambers continue to do well even after they leave, and I think she does a great job in providing clerks and interns with the tools to do just that. She is a constant guide and resource for us in career and life. I certainly still turn to her for advice, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”