It’s Women’s History Month, where once again we take the time to acknowledge the struggles and achievements of women throughout the history of the United States.
And there’s no better person who exemplifies all that Women’s History Month stands for than attorney Amanda Jelks.
Jelks has succeeded in spite of various odds. Her story can truly be an inspiration for everyone, and especially women of color.
The Chattanooga native said she has faced many challenges on her journey from being a mom at 15, to valedictorian (while working full time) to college graduate in 2.5 years, to becoming managing attorney at Jelks Law PLLC.
“Although it may not be written on my face, I overcame some pretty difficult situations to get to where I am today and, even more so, where I’m going,” she said.
Jelks attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for undergrad and the University of Memphis for law school, both on academic scholarships.
“I had the distinct pleasure of working with the corporate legal department of Pinnacle Airlines (now known as Endeavor Air) during my last year of law school,” Jelks said. “Then, I spent the first five years of my life as a Chattanooga lawyer at a larger regional firm, where I handled complex business matters for clients ranging from entrepreneurs and small business owners to international corporations.”
To finally find the freedom she’d been seeking, she launched Jelks Law in the summer of 2015.
“Our goal at Jelks Law is to protect what matters most to everyday people–their dignity, their family and their businesses,” Jelks explained. “We accomplish this with a wide variety of tools including wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney for families; and contracts, entity formation and trademarks for small business owners.”
During the past year, that’s meant helping her clients and staff cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic turned everything at our firm upside down in the beginning,” she explained. “We are now all back in the office, but are continuing to see clients on Zoom, by phone, and in-person when needed. The pandemic has made my team stronger than ever. It really made each person step up to the plate and learn how to rely on one another like never before.”
Since starting her business, Jelks has been selected as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers® for the last five years in a row, Best Attorney by Chattanooga Business Elite in 2020, the Emerging Business of the Year by the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga in 2018, and recognized as one of the Top 20 professionals under the age of 40 by Chatter Magazine and the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2017.
Fun fact: Jelks occasionally serves as a legal analyst on Fatal Attraction, a true crime TV show.
Jelks and her husband, DeAngelo, are parents to daughter Victoria, and sons Tyson, Desmond and DeAngelo Jr.–ranging in age from 6 to 19 years old.
The family also has a 4-year-old black lab.
Her words of wisdom?
“My advice for overcoming obstacles in life is to remember your why. For most of the challenges I have faced in life, my why has been my children–to give them a better chance at life than I had. When you remember your why, it no longer matters if you feel like facing your obstacles head on–you do it anyways. On the days you feel like it and the days you don’t.”
Jelks’ firm is located at 201 Frazier Ave., Suite F, in downtown Chattanooga. She is licensed in Tennessee and Georgia.