We recently spoke with Jessica Farah, General Counsel of the Judicial Council of Georgia / Administrative Office of the Courts.
Condensed and edited for clarity
Michelle Barclay: Thank you, Jessica, for taking the time to talk with me. Let’s start with your path to becoming a lawyer. Why did you choose to go to law school?
Jessica Farah: I obtained an undergrad degree at a liberal arts college which I loved because of all the reading, writing, and research that I was able to do. I always knew I would do more schooling. Law school was a good fit for my next step because it was more reading, writing, and analyzing. It was also a way to use my education to help people. I think a lot of liberal art graduates think that way. Law school seemed like a good way to work to serve the greater good in either public interest or government jobs. I never really had a dream to go to law school. It was more a series of progressive steps that led me to think that law school was a good option for me.
MB: How did your path lead you to the JC/AOC?
Jessica Farah: I am originally from Florida. I moved here after graduating from the University of Florida law school. My first job was in a financial services company, and after a while, I moved into the General Counsel’s office of that company. I was doing similar in-house work there that I do now, such as contract writing, but that company’s mission did not move me. I saw a posting for a part-time staff attorney at the AOC, and although I did not know what the AOC was or what it did, I began researching it. I started thinking that could be my dream job. By then, I knew that I wanted to work in government. I applied and got the job and started working part-time. Eventually, I became full-time about a year later working for Cynthia, who was General Counsel for the JC/AOC then.
MB: When Cynthia moved to become the AOC Director, you moved to become our General Counsel, right?
Jessica Farah: Yes, I was heading up the legal department at the time and eventually I became General Counsel.
MB: What is your favorite part of the job now?
Jessica Farah: My favorite part is that the job is different all the time. I am a planner. But I also like when something new pops up. Something new happens often and can come from any facet of what the AOC touches, which means every day is different, and I like that. It allows me to learn many things and work with a lot of different people. I also like working in the public interest because you can see the work or the purpose of your work even though we work behind the scenes. When I prepare a contract, I can see what purpose it will serve. When we do research, we can see the impact. I like that we are close to the work and can see what the work does for the judicial system of Georgia.
MB: I like that answer! Do you have any goals for the future?
Jessica Farah: I always want to learn as much as I can about different projects and what is going on in the judicial system. An internal goal we have is to become more efficient and use technology more to keep track of legal requests and contracts. We have not been cutting edge and perhaps we rely too much on email. We are working with IT to use some new tools and I’m excited about the potential to be more organized and efficient.
MB: Switching gears, what do you do in your free time for fun?
Jessica Farah: My family now includes our daughter, Lottie, who is 18 months and she takes up a lot of our time. I love to cook and I cook about five to six nights a week. During the pandemic, it was seven nights a week. I love to read. We all love to be outside and we take a lot of walks with our two dogs. We are very invested in our dogs too. We also enjoy going to north Georgia and hiking.