It was the summer before her senior year in college, and Amber Floyd was lying on the pavement. She had just been thrown from her green Mitsubishi Mirage after being hit by an 18-wheeler.
“I remember laying out on the pavement and one of the first thoughts that came to me was, ‘I’m going to try law school,’” Floyd said.
Growing up, Floyd always knew she wanted to be the first in her immediate family to go to college, and she knew she wanted to be self-sufficient. What she didn’t know until that moment on the pavement was that she wanted to be a lawyer.
When Floyd returned to the University of Memphis that fall, she didn’t have the money to take an LSAT prep course, so she checked out an armful of books, studied hard and passed.
Initially, the Nashville native wanted to attend law school in St. Louis, but after her grandmother fell ill, she decided to stay closer to home. She attended the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humpreys School of Law, graduating in 2010.
Since that time, Memphis has become home for the young lawyer.
Floyd has worked with Wyatt Tarrant & Combs since her first summer in law school, when the firm sponsored her scholarship. She is now a senior associate at Wyatt, concentrating her practice in commercial litigation.
And, she recently represented Memphis — and the entire state — as the only attorney from Tennessee to be named among the Top 40 Young Lawyers in the country who are “On the Rise” by the American Bar Association.
Floyd is routinely asked why she doesn’t move back to her home city of Nashville — given its current economic growth – but Floyd says Memphis provides an opportunity for more meaningful growth.
“The one thing I love about Memphis is there’s a lot of opportunity to plug in,” Floyd said, talking about opportunities to serve the city and its residents.
“When you look at a city like Memphis, people see the issues, and they see the brown faces on the news, and they say, OK, that’s a black problem,” Floyd said, “When the reality is this is a socioeconomic problem — this is about poverty and class issues.”
Floyd chairs a number of committees dedicated to community service and access to justice. She is also currently working on a master plan to unify pro bono efforts in Memphis.
When the Memphis Bar Association co-sponsors an expungement clinic with the Ben F. Jones Chapter and the Tennessee Bar Association-Young Lawyers Division, for example, Floyd is planning to bring in other groups who are willing to hire people with criminal records.
While Floyd dedicates a lot of her time and energy to pro bono work, her dedication is part of a larger effort to improve the city.
As a commercial litigation associate, Floyd wants to see more businesses locate in Memphis, and personally, she wants to have more places to shop and eat.
“I want to go to Paris [France] and, when they hear that I’m from Memphis, they are not automatically associating that with gun violence,” she said. “All of this is about building a better Memphis and that benefits everybody.”