Published on November 3, 2020 by Morgan Black
Stephanie Houston Mays '07 is a shareholder in Maynard Cooper & Gale's Labor and Employment practice and the firm's chief talent officer. Here she shares her Cumberland School of Law story and why she gives back.
Why did you choose to make a leadership commitment to support Cumberland School of Law?
Scholarships assisted me greatly when I was pursing my law degree and I am grateful to have the opportunity to give back. My Granny always said, “Don’t ever forget where you came from.” And, Cumberland is one of the places that I’m from. Cumberland provided me with a great legal education, opportunities for leadership, and meaningful and lasting friendships, and for all of those reasons I’m committed to the law school and to the success of Cumberland’s students.
Why do you support the Bishop Society at Cumberland School of Law?
I support the Bishop Society because it honors Professor Bishop, who has such a significant positive impact on students at Cumberland and because it provides financial support to the next generation of lawyers – allowing them to focus on their studies and more fully enjoy their law school experience.
Tell us your personal Cumberland story and what led you to choose Cumberland for your law degree.
I often joke with people that “country came to town and didn’t go home.” I grew up in Woodland, Alabama, a small town in Randolph County, and moved to Birmingham in 2000 to attend Birmingham-Southern College. In deciding on a law school to attend, I was looking for not only a great legal education but also a learning environment where I would be a part of a community. I found just that at Cumberland. In addition, Cumberland awarded me much needed scholarship funds that allowed me to focus on my education and to fully participate in and enjoy my law school experience.
Tell us about a special moment while you were a student at Cumberland or about your favorite Cumberland tradition.
Some of the most memorable times I had in law school were serving on the Student Bar Association (SBA). I was honored to be elected president during my third year. American Idol was one of my favorite shows when I ran for positions on SBA, so I used phrases related to the show on my campaign signs. One sign read: “Simon says: Vote for Stephanie" with a picture of Simon Cowell who was a judge on the show at the time. I also visited other classes and gave out homemade fans that read: “I’m a Stephanie Houston fan.” What I lacked in financial resources, I made up for in creativity. While I was on SBA, keeping with the American Idol theme, we planned and hosted the inaugural Cumberland Idol singing competition during Law Week. It was so fun to see our classmates perform on stage with a live band. I’ve heard that pre-COVID the competition was still a tradition.
Tell us what Cumberland School of Law has meant to you as an alumna.
As an alumna who practices in Birmingham, Cumberland has provided me with a community of fellow Cumberland lawyers who serve as advisors, advocates, mentors and friends to me. I am a member of Cumberland’s Advisory Board and Inn of Court and enjoy opportunities to connect with and learn from fellow alum. Through the Inn of Court, I also get the opportunity to serve as a mentor to Courtney Howard (current third-year student), who is a rock star and inspiration. This year, being a Cumberland alumna has meant having a friends with whom to navigate work, child care and educational decisions. Currently, my daughter is attending school virtually in a “pod” with two of her friends, who are daughters of my dear friends from law school – Sara Williams (class of 2006) and Jennifer Reid Egbe (class of 2007). My friendship with these law school friends has been the blessing of a lifetime – especially in 2020.
What do you hope current and future students gain through your support?
I hope that current and future students are encouraged by the support of alumni. We believe in you and trust that you are going to use the opportunities that you are being given to make this world a better place.