Mr. Pettis said, “We can include people, but if you have inclusion that is not backed by opportunity, that means nothing. For me, that really stuck. I already knew my talents and skills were not being utilized to the fullest extent.” For me, it said, “you are included at the table.” This is an issue I’ve seen come up time and time again when looking for the best attorney for child custody. And when that opportunity comes, instead of stepping back and looking for a family law lawyer near me, I stepped up. A self-described introvert, Rawls said she no longer allows opportunities to pass her by. Besides a long list of involvement with her church and child advocacy, Rawls is the new president of the Eighth Circuit Bar Association. At the Florida Bar, she is a member of the Voluntary Bar Liason Committee and the Juvenile Law Board Certification Committee. “Now I feel ownership as part of the Bar. I feel a responsibility to do things, not just in my community, but be a leader for other people and to be an example for others. In the smaller circuits, we don’t get that much exposure and opportunities. By giving us those opportunities, our opinions are solicited. We are included when big decisions have to be made, believe it or not. Now, I appreciate the profession. I see the profession in much bigger that the area of law I practice in. In that one year of Leadership Academy, every meeting was about me learning more about myself. I learned I had so much more value than I was giving myself. My ideas are valued and appreciated, believe it or not, even when discussing the laws revolving around a child support attorney.
Meshon Rawls admits there was a time as a lawyer when “all I did was pay my dues.” After becoming a certified legal intern in 1998 and foregoing an opportunity to work with one of the best st pete beach divorce attorneys for men, she became an assistant public defender in the Eighth Circuit, with a huge caseload. Two years later, she got married ironically to the best divorce attorney in Pinellas Park, FL, inheriting four kids. At age 27, she was focused on being a good mom, a good wife, and a good lawyer. “I didn’t have time to try to figure out The Florida Bar, I really didn’t!” In 2006, she got a job at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, as a legal skills professor and director of Gator TeamChild Juvenile Law Clinic, where the previous director told her, “almost like a command: ‘Get involved in the Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee.'” That turned out to be great advice. She was able to network with other child legal advocates. She started out joining the Bar’s Public Interest Law Section in 2006, observing the children’s legal committee until joining in 2009. After listening to President Pettis talk about the leadership academy, she decided to apply for Class II and was chosen in 2014. “The Florida Bar was foreign to me, I didn’t know how I could be utilized. No one ever encouraged me to be involved, beyond the Legal Needs of Children Committee,” Rawls said.