Jacki Payne

Jacki Payne

Managing Attorney

Atlanta Legal Aid Society

Marietta, GA USA

What good have I done today? Always think positively about your life and how you can help.


By Roadtrip Nation

Jacki Payne


My road in life has been direct.
Grandparental relationships have always been very near and dear to my heart—my parents were very young, so my great-grandmother lived with us and helped raise my siblings and I.
I graduated from Spelman College with a degree in sociology and then went on to earn my law degree from the University of Georgia.
During my second year of law school, I interned with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and decided that I’d like to build my career around helping the community through free legal services.
After my internship, I applied for a position with Atlanta Legal Aid and received a fellowship to work with senior citizens—I spent a few years doing that and then branched out into other services.
I eventually left the firm because I was now a single parent with young kids and knew I could make more money in private practice.
During that two-year break, my former executive director at Legal Aid would check in to see if I wanted to return—I eventually took him up on the offer because I wasn’t fulfilled in private practice.
I rejoined Atlanta Legal Aid in their family law unit—I ended up really loving it and eventually became the managing attorney for the unit.
I now work as the managing director of our kinship care unit, where I'm focused on helping relatives raise children in the place of deceased or absent parents.
Keep following my journey


High School
Spelman College
University of Georgia


Managing Attorney

I'm the managing attorney of the kinship care unit of a nonprofit law firm.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Non-Profit Organizations
Helping People

Day to Day

I arrive at the office by 9:15 a.m. I check emails and phone messages, review my calendar for meetings, and plan my day based on priorities. I supervise staff, both attorneys and non attorneys. I respond to each of those requests for assistance. My first priority is my client and their needs. I check my case status list and interact with clients—this can be anything from just checking on them to prepping them for a trial. My day continues on this manner until 6 or 7 p.m.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

In preparation for the LSAT, I suggest taking some philosophy classes and practicing logic models. That's what helped me get through the hurdle of preparing myself for a test that wasn't constructed for me, a Black woman. If you're not interested in going into law, there are many other avenues into public service. You can be a legislative advocate or a legislator without being an attorney. Make sure you consider those alternate paths to helping people.

Recommended Education

My career is not related to what I studied. I'd recommend this path instead:



The Noise I Shed

From Parents:

"When are you going to start taking on paying clients? You can make more money doing private practice."

Challenges I Overcame

Cancer Survivor