August 28, 2020
August 2020: Grace Stranch
Grace Stranch (she/her)
Co-President, ACS Nashville Chapter and ACS Next Generation Leader
My grandfather used to joke, “How do you get good lawyers? You raise them; it just takes a while.” Though my parents did not push me into following them into a legal career, they instilled in me the values intrinsic in public interest law. They raised me to fiercely advocate for the most marginalized in society and to use every ounce of influence I possess to push for a just society. When I decided to attend law school, one of their first suggestions was to get involved with ACS.
When I discovered that the University of Tennessee did not have an ACS Chapter, I committed to working with the administration of the law school and my fellow students to found one. After getting our chapter off the ground, I served as its president until I graduated. While at UT, I made it a priority to partner with other student and community groups because I believe the fiercest advocates are those who collaborate with others and seek to amplify the voices of those most impacted. Following the ACS model, we created collaborations to address voting rights issues, desegregation of schools, and pathways to the bench, and to organize the Appalachian Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. I was thrilled when ACS chose me to be the first Next Generation Leader in Tennessee, where I committed to being involved with ACS for my career. What I learned about ACS during law school made me want to entrench myself in its diverse network and join its fight for the interests of the public.
Upon graduation, I co-founded the ACS Knoxville Lawyer Chapter. Through my work with this chapter, I was honored to receive the Rookie Lawyer Chapter Chair of the Year at ACS’s first National Lawyer Convening. The National Conventions and Lawyer Convenings of ACS have provided me with important knowledge, deep friendships, and business partnerships. Perhaps the greatest strength of ACS is its collaborative model: ACS uses its resources wisely by creating spaces to share the expertise necessary to accomplish its goals.
I fulfilled my grandfather’s punch line by returning to Nashville as a third-generation lawyer at Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC. I took up his mantle by focusing my practice on labor and employment litigation with an emphasis on union representation and expanded his vision through complex litigation and class action work. I use ACS’s collaborative model throughout my practice and in my personal life. I serve on many nonprofit boards and actively collaborate with a variety of grassroots movements. Now, more than ever, is the time to expand and share the vision of ACS. Through my work as the co-president of the Nashville Chapter of ACS, my legal career, and my personal life, I will continue to fight for the ideals espoused by ACS and work to expand its collaborative model and its diverse legal networks.