When she's not in the courtroom, water is the natural element for competitive swimmer Laurie Speed-Dalton.
Laurie Speed-Dalton's youthful career ambitions ran more to sports journalism than the law. But she didn't like football. So after college, she followed in her father's footsteps and went to law school.
"As my father pointed out, I have a lawyer's personality," she said. "I don't really like conflict, but I could never let a remark I disagreed with pass. Some things you just have to argue. I like being an advocate for my clients."
Three years ago, Speed-Dalton started her own firm, The Speed Firm, which specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice law.
Deciding on a personal sport was easy, however. "I love everything to do with the water. Swimming defined me during my school and college years," she said.
How did you start swimming competitively?
The story goes that I was swimming at the pool with my family when a children's swim team came to practice. My reaction was, "Do you mean there's a team for this, and you've been keeping it from me?" I was 4. After that I swam on community, high school and college teams.
Did you have a specialty?
I was a sprinter. The 50- and 100-yard freestyle were my best events. I had the sprinter mentalityget in and get it done. A short race is basically a one-breath-after-the-turn race.
But I was also considered a utility swimmer, and could compete in any stroke as long as it was under 500 yards.
You were All American in college. Was that the highlight of your swimming career?
Yes, I was All-American for swimming and All-Academic at Emory University. In my senior year I was the NCAA Division III for the 50 freestyle and swam my personal best of 24.92 seconds. It was a big deal.
What's swimming like as a sport?
You're on a team with men and women, so you train together and you compete together. You learn how to work as a team. But there's also an independent element to swimming. Once you put your head in the water, it's very isolating. You feel alone, and you know it's up to you. It was good preparation for being a lawyer, because I'm comfortable working with a co-counsel or doing it myself.