I was born and raised in Northeast Florida. After graduating as valedictorian of my high school, I received a scholarship and moved to Atlanta, where I majored in English and minored in psychology at Emory University. My studies included a semester abroad in Emory's British Studies program at Oxford University. There, I took classes in Shakespeare and films studies.
After graduating from college in 1989, I taught in the public school systems of Florida and Atlanta for a couple of years and then enrolled in law school at Florida State University in 1992. My law career began in the private sector, and, in 1996, I was hired as law clerk to Judge Philip J. Padovano at the Florida First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. After Judge Padovano retired, I returned to my hometown in Northeast Florida in 2015, to serve as caregiver for my mother.
In addition to my law career, I'm also a singer/songwriter and a photographer, with a punk rock leaning in both fields. I've released several albums of original music and I occasionally still do live gigs, despite being a terrible guitarist. I’m also a passionate animal advocate. In 2015, I self-published on Amazon a book of photos of some of the cats I've photographed as a volunteer at local animal shelters. Proceeds from the book benefit Best Friends Animal Society. I’ve been the sole caregiver for my mother for the past four and a half years. Mom and I co-parent my tortie cat Betty, who's terrified of everything but still manages to boss me around.