Local attorney Carla Fortner Brewer credits her innate ability to wrestle a point to the ground for her success as a young woman doing battle on behalf of her clients in the courtroom.
Brewer also credits her father, Ray Fortner, for giving her the idea that she might just be a good attorney because of that talent.
Brewer says she often wondered as she passed the old courthouse building on Main Street just what went on inside those majestic walls.
“Surrounding the courthouse and lining the street were small offices. I read the names across the doors. The signs read Estep & Estep, Stone & Stone, Stanifer & Stanifer.
“It never once crossed my mind that I could be an attorney,” she said, adding she now finds it humbling that those same attorneys are her closest allies and mentors.
Brewer says she envisioned one day having her own practice alongside those other attorneys on Main Street. In February, her vision became a reality as she hung her shingle outside the door of her new practice just down the street from those well established lawyers.
Prior to opening her office, Brewer spent eight months as a stay-at-home mother to her two year old daughter, Lendree.
“I missed work, and I felt it might be a good decision for my daughter if she saw me in this role, as she grows up,” she said.
Brewer spent nearly five years in the Eighth Judicial District Public Defender’s Office. She spent the first 17 months as a law clerk before landing the position of assistant public defender in December 2009.
Stints as Judge John McAfee’s law clerk and intern at the Ninth Judicial District Administrative Office in Gainesville, Ga., prepared Brewer for the arduous journey that lay ahead for the determined young woman.
A 2009 honors graduate of the Appalachian School of Law, Brewer earned the Willard Owens Award for Excellence in Community Service, served as a senior editor for the law school’s ‘Natural Resources Law Review Journal’ and was president of the Sutin Public Interest Association.
Brewer said her graduation from law school precipitated a scramble for enough tickets to allow her 22 friends and family to attend. She says she found herself bartering and begging for them so as not to disappoint the people who cheered her on during the tough years.
Prior to law school, Brewer graduated in 2006 ‘cum laude’ from the Brenau Women’s College, where she earned her bachelor of science degree in legal studies and conflict resolution.
While there, she placed on the dean’s list four semesters and was editor of the campus legal newsletter, ‘Ergo.’
“Martha Yoakum, Judge McAfee and my high school criminal justice instructor, Bob Oakes, were sources of major support to me. My family and those at my church (Sunrise Church) have supported me every step of the way,” she said.
Brewer is the daughter of Ray and Margaret Fortner and the wife of Craig Brewer.
The new law practice is located on Main Street in Tazewell, between the Rome Cardwell Park and the Sports Center. Business hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
For more information, you may call 423-526-5640.
Jan Runions may be reached at 423-626-3222