Barbra Stooksbury, newest attorney at Smith Legal Group, knew she wanted to pursue three career avenues in her life: Counseling, English, and Law. Her love for the practice of law first came about when Stooksbury was serving jury duty – a task that most people find to be a burden.
“This was a very exciting experience for me, and I immediately knew it was the career I wanted to pursue,” she said. “I truly believe it’s an honor to serve on a jury, and I wish more people would be more willing to serve. Being on a jury changed my perspective of our justice system.”
Stooksbury has been practicing law for 18 years and recently joined the Smith Legal Group team at the start of 2020 shortly after meeting Courtney Smith, owner and founder of Smith Legal Group. They met through the Women’s Lawyer Association, which promotes the advancement and success of women in the legal profession.
Being a part of the Women’s Lawyer Association is just one of the main reasons that Stooksbury and Smith mesh so perfectly. The organization promotes civility and collegiality, encouraging women to ascend to the bench.
“I knew I had found my place when I first stepped foot in Smith Legal Group’s office and it felt like home. My 14-year-old son Braeden also solidified this feeling when he told me that my boss, Courtney, was the bomb,” Stooksbury laughed. “It’s just a great fit. I’m super excited for our adventure, and I know it’s going to be an amazing, successful journey.”
Stooksbury’s law career began in litigation and soon morphed into practicing family law exclusively, now with Smith Legal Group.
“I enjoy family law because it’s a very intimate practice of law and you get to know your clients on a very personal level,” Stooksbury said. “You must build trust with your clients, and the way that I do this is by simply making myself available to them all of the time. If they call, I answer or call them back. I text, email, or do whatever I can to acknowledge their needs at all times of the day.”
As part of her job, Stooksbury encounters some heavy emotions in all who are involved in her cases. Often, cases can be filled with high-stress situations and sensitive topics. Navigating these circumstances is something that Stooksbury handles with great care.
“I try to ease their stress or worries as best as I can. Sometimes, I send them little notes to brighten their day or simply just to remind them that I am here for them. I do whatever I can to make them feel safe and protect them,” Stooksbury said.
Drawing from her experience as a therapist, Stooksbury incorporates counseling and therapy recommendations to her clients.
“I always recommend it because it helps my clients come to terms with what they are going through and get a different perspective on things,” she said.
Stooksbury also considers and shares some of her more personal experiences to best relate to her clients.
“My husband and I went through separation and divorce and then remarried within a ten-month time frame,” Stooksbury said. “During this time, we did our absolute best to keep the normalcy for our kids and have their best interests in mind. So, I draw from these personal experiences and use these examples for my clients when they are going through similar situations.”
In addition to practicing family law, Stooksbury also serves as a part-time deputy prosecuting attorney in La Porte County where she is appointed to the Problem-Solving Court and Veterans Treatment Courts. These courts are designed to provide rehabilitative support and resources rather than punishment for addicts and veterans involved with the criminal justice system. These courts focus on mental health and sobriety, which were established to emphasize treatment rather than incarceration.
“I love that I’m able to be diverse in my profession. The blend of practicing family law and being a prosecutor for the state offers me the perfect profession,” Stooksbury said. “I use all three of my passions – Counseling, English, and Law – in my day-to-day life to advocate for my clients.”
Stooksbury’s proudest moments in her career are when judges have taken her proposed Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law and used it as their final court order.
“This has happened to me several times throughout my career and it’s always a huge accomplishment because I know I did my absolute best for my clients,” she said.
In her free time, Stooksbury loves spending time with her family. Her 16-year-old son, Tristan, is involved in travel hockey, while 14-year-old Braeden partakes in horseback riding.
“We are on the road constantly, but my life motto has always been mom first, wife second, and attorney third,” Stooksbury said. “I don’t define myself as being a lawyer. I always put my family first.”
This key-value is another reason why Stooksbury and Smith mesh so well in the work environment.
“It’s not even a question – family comes first. If you’re happy in your personal life, this makes you happier at work. When you’re happy at work, you work harder,” Smith said. “You can never get back missed time with family.”
Stooksbury also makes time to serve on the La Porte, Porter, and Lake County Bar Associations, and sits on the Foundation for Behavioral Health Board at the Swanson Center. She enjoys exploring and supporting local restaurants, advocating for and enjoying the arts, and participating in local motorcycle runs with her husband and friends.
Looking forward, Stooksbury hopes to continue to build her client base at Smith Legal Group.
“I am always accepting new clients and they can count on me to give honest, compassionate advice,” Stooksbury said.
For more information, visit https://www.smithlg.com/.
Coming up for Smith Legal Group:
As the Go Red for Women Executive Chair, Courtney Smith works to spread awareness and support for the American Heart Association’s national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women.
On March 6, Smith will be attending the Go Red for Women event in La Porte at the Allure.
In May, she will be attending a Go Red for Women luncheon symposium at the Patrician Banquet Center in Schererville.