Stephanie Beale (JD ’13) finds work/life balance in Pacific Northwest

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Stephanie Beale (JD ’13) didn’t know anyone in Portland, Oregon, when she began interviewing with Pite Duncan LLP. Before attending Wake Forest Law, the Mississippi native had never lived in a city larger than Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But that didn’t stop her from taking a chance.

Two years later, Beale has made the Pacific Northwest home. In fact, to solidify her commitment to her new home, she bought a bicycle to ride to and from work. “I’ve become very Portland,” she says with a laugh over an Americano-style coffee at the Public House, just steps from Pioneer Square, which doubles as a hub for live music, outdoor movies, yoga parties and farmers markets throughout the summer. “It’s been good for me. It’s a different lifestyle and it’s helped me obtain a good work/life balance. Coming out here let me be a better version of myself.”

An associate attorney at Aldridge Pite, LLP — the Atlanta-based firm recently merged — Beale loves working in downtown Portland, best known for its baristas, food trucks, craft breweries and wacky donuts, as well as its bikeability, which is understandable if one decides to partake in the city’s famous offerings.

While she has family to the north in Seattle, Washington, and to the south in Southern California, Beale says she chose Portland, in part, because she didn’t know anyone.

“You have to be willing to go out on your own,” she says, adding that she now has a group of friends she has brunch with on the weekends — brunch is also big in Portland and again another reason a bike is necessary. “It’s a risk. I got this job sight unseen. But it’s nice here. It’s a big small town.”

The Portland legal community is small, but Beale says the number of legal jobs in the booming craft beer industry is growing.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask people for help,” she advises current and prospective law students. “I didn’t make any Wake Forest Law connections out here, but I did meet someone who went to undergrad at Wake Forest.”

While at Wake Forest Law, she participated in the Litigation Clinic and the Innocence and Justice Clinic, both of which she felt provided great practical experience. “It’s all about the work you put into it,” she says. “You can adapt if you’re willing.”

Beale’s legal work focuses on residential and commercial foreclosure and eviction proceedings, which means one day she can find herself in mediation meetings and the next filing a complaint. Because she works in a remote office with a handful of other attorneys, her schedule is perhaps a bit more flexible than many young law firm associates. “The office has a good community feel,” she says.

Beale says she takes advantage of the outdoor opportunities as often as she can.

“It’s a different lifestyle out here. When I was in Winston-Salem I would go hiking at Pilot Mountain sometimes, but here I go camping, hiking, skiing all the time,” she says, adding she lives an hour and a half from the beach or year-round snow skiing on Mt. Hood. “I’m friends with people I might not have been before. I am growing. My parents think that this suits me and they are proud of that.”