Profiles in Practice: Sheri Stewart

Sheri-Stewart-400I am living my dream right now. I told my friends and family 10-12 years ago that I was going to go to law school and be an attorney. And those words have come to life, I want to live it to the fullest.”

Stewart is a proud New Yorker who loves the city she was raised in. She loves the energy and excitement that New York City provides. Stewart moved to Minnesota for law school and has enjoyed the opportunities and relationships she has here. She is currently an attorney at Bassford Remele, where her practice includes construction, employment, and general liability law and litigation. Stewart graduated from Wellesley College in 2009 with a degree in Philosophy and a minor in Africana Studies. While at Wellesley she was the founder and president of the Wellesley Women of Color Pre-Law Society. Stewart graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2017.

She credits her family for giving her the support in her path to becoming an attorney. “My family were always my champions. They always believed in me,” Stewart said. In particular, Stewart’s mom was and still is a role model and hero to Stewart. She states, “My mom is the reason that I am here. Not just because of the fact that she had me, but because she was relentlessly supportive of me every step of the way.”

Stewart reflects that her childhood in New York inspired her to dream big. She states,
“I come from a very humble family that has given me strong values about what it means to create the life you want to live.” Stewart believed in herself and knew that education would assist her in creating the life she wanted. Her family always stressed the importance and power of education.

Stewart has lived her life authentically and she continues to be authentic and intentional as she starts her career as a lawyer. Stewart notes, “Now that I am in my first year of practice, there are moments that I try and journal to recall and remember how I felt initially and how I feel like I am getting more accustomed to the motions.” 

She also understands that her clients and even other attorneys look to people they can relate to and she has discovered that being vulnerable and up-front helps establish meaningful relationships. Stewart also believes that these personal relationships built on honesty help her lead a successful life. “There are so many people that do not want to be vulnerable because they feel like if they do show who they are people will take advantage of them. But I have learned that with success there is a necessity to be vulnerable because that is how people identify with you.” Stewart said. “If you do not share enough of you, people cannot relate to you, they cannot understand or empathize with you.”

Stewart is a people-person and full of energy. She also knows that she is most successful when she brings her full, true, energetic self to the table. Stewart stated “I am very cognizant and receptive to energy, and I use these external abilities to connect with others. I have been told that “I have a big personality”. This is who I am, if I try to change it, I feel that people will know that I am not being genuine.” 

Stewart loves practicing law, especially the creative part of crafting arguments while practicing law.  “When I think about the advocacy part, and the way I can use what I have learned from the rule of law and then be creative with an argument is always intriguing to me.” Or to be able to just say “Hey I am going to assert a point of view for this argument and it is going to be contested, well, let’s go," Stewart said. 

She also appreciates the variety of the practice of law. Stewart stated, “What is so beautiful about the law is that there are so many different perspectives and nuances that people can bring their authentic self to it.” Stewart also notes for her that “it is not about the day-to-day practical, it is the big picture that keeps me engaged.”

Stewart’s authenticity is evidenced by her ability to learn from small interactions with strangers. For example, in her first year of law school Stewart met a child at a Minnesota Association for Black Lawyers (MABL) event. Stewart states, “The kid was about 6 or 7 years old. And he was asking about how law school was. And I told him it was a lot of work and that I was busy all the time, studying a lot. I told him that even if I get tired, I have to keep going. I have to take it one step at a time. And this kid, he sounded like he was 30 years old, responded ‘Well, I am telling you, if I ever needed someone to represent me, if I needed legal help or did something wrong, I wouldn’t want a lawyer to just give up. I need to know that you are ready to stand the test of time.’” Stewart admits that this interaction has stayed with her and has helped her keep perspective on the need to be ready to fight through the struggles of both law school and now legal practice. Stewart states, “If there is anything the law school process and legal practice is about it is: are you willing to fight the fight? Will you stay in it no matter how tough because your clients are depending on you? And this kid understood that.” 

Stewart is also mindful of the need to holistically evaluate people and situations. She notes, “I assess people really quickly; I try myself to not judge. I use the word assess because judging comes with a weight. There is a weight that sometimes you do not have perspective enough to give it the credit. But when you assess, it is based on your five senses.” 

 


By Nick Ryan

Mr. Ryan is an associate attorney at the Law Office of Eric T. Cooperstein where he represents and consults with lawyers facing legal ethics issues. Previously, he was a law clerk at the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. He is also the communications director of the HCBA New Lawyers Section.