BYC Spotlight – Judge Pat Wise

Judge Pat Wise (JD 1984)

Who has had a tremendous impact on your career and how did this person help you?

Former Supreme Court Justice Rueben Anderson had a tremendous impact on my career. I clerked for Justice Anderson while I was doing an externship while in law school. Working with him jumpstarted my legal career and helped me to find a comfort zone as an attorney — I really learned from him how lawyers and the Courts work together. I tell him often how much that helped me in my legal career.

What was it like being an older law student going back to school?

On the plus side, I was very focused. Before I went back to law school, I was a speech pathologist in Jackson. Coming back to Oxford meant coming home for me as my family is from Oxford. My girls were in 3rd and 4th grade when I started law school. Having family in Oxford was a great help.

The downside: I missed a lot of good parties! I was too busy taking my children to piano lessons to attend law school parties.

What unexpected turns has your career taken?

I would say the effect it had on my older daughter, – BYC Board Member, Crystal Martin – who also decided to go to law school. I served as the First Female President of the Magnolia Bar and took her and her sister to meetings with me. I believe she became interested in the law mainly because she was older when I went back to school and began my career, and went to all those bar conventions and Magnolia Bar meetings with me. She also served later as President of the Magnolia Bar Association.

What is one characteristic that you believe is important to be successful and why?

I believe in having faith in God and trusting how he teaches us to live and how to treat people.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop in your career?

I do everything I can to stay open to changes in technology and to know what is going on in the world today. I try not to be judgmental and to make sure that my rulings are based upon up to date law and consistent with current trends. I stay active in the community. It is important to me to connect with both younger and older people and a diverse group of the community.

What are your strongest memories from law school?

My first day! When then Dean Parham Williams welcomed all of the new law students and said, “Look to your left and look to your right. One of those people will not be sitting there next year.” I made my commitment right then and there that I was not going to be one of those missing people next year. It terrified me!

And then about two days later in contracts, my professor had the same last name as me, Wise. He looked down the row and said, “Wise, let’s see how wise, she is?”… He started drilling me (for what felt like for days) during the entire class – that was a good introduction to law school.

Where was your favorite place to study while in law school?

I would always work in a carrel after class and immediately rewrite all of my notes. By the end of the semester I had my own “skinnys” or outlines prepared. My best time to study was when my children were in school. After they had gone to bed, I would review and prepare for the next day.

Why is supporting the mission of the Bessie Young Council important to you?

I understand what it’s like to be a nontraditional student and fully support that as the BYC’s mission. Just recently, I had a third year law student come into the courtroom with her 7 month old baby. She was admitted under the student limited practice act and needed to present an order but couldn’t find a sitter. She was hesitant to come, but I told her we would work with her and to come on in.. I know she’ll remember it. I’ve worked with a few female lawyers that have had to bring their children to court and we’ve been open-minded and helpful.