I was raised in both Wisconsin and North Carolina, which explains both my passion for Kringle and love of college hoops. I attended Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana) and North Carolina State University(Raleigh, North Carolina) for my undergraduate studies and earned my bachelor's degree from the latter. I was able to study briefly in Krasnodar, Russia, during a very exciting time as that country transitioned out of the cold war.
Along with my family's support and various forms of financial aid, I put myself through college and law school working a variety of jobs such as server, bartender, salesperson, organizational consultant, and as an improvisational comedian. This variety served me well; I learned about various occupations, the value of hard work and how to work smart because my time is valuable.
To complete my formal education, I attended law school at the University of North Carolina School of Law. During those years, I had numerous experiences that helped teach me what it means to be an attorney and an advocate for my clients. During my first summer and during the year, I had the privilege of clerking for my personal legal hero, Raymond Mason Taylor, Esq., of Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Taylor's decades of experience as a respected and successful attorney allowed him to be a mentor to me. His advice still sounds in my head on a nearly daily basis as I perform work for my clients today.
I spent my second law school summer at Pamlico Sound Legal Services. At Pamlico Sound, I assisted clients who were struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd with FEMA and state claims. The work was rewarding and challenging and I extended my internship well beyond the original agreement to continue working with the people of Eastern North Carolina to recover from the storm.
During law school, I also clerked for my criminal law professor, Arnold H. Loewy, and contributed research for his third edition of Criminal Law in a Nutshell (2003).
After three years of course work, participation in Moot Court, involvement in various volunteer activities, and a brief study abroad observing the institutions of the European Union, I was honored with my Juris Doctor in May 2001. â€¨â€¨I started my legal career as a staff attorney at the Indianapolis office of Indiana Legal Services, where I practiced consumer, family, and landlord-tenant law. This experience was invaluable. Because Legal Services provides free legal services to qualified individuals, the budget was not extensive. I was able to choose interesting cases and dive right in to practicing law whereas in a more traditional firm environment I might have been expected to spend more time observing or supporting more experienced attorneys.
I moved to Chicago in 2003 to take a job with a growing law firm specializing in consumer bankruptcy. I started by taking Chapter 7 and 13 cases and working with clients. Eventually, I managed the practice for Northern Indiana, with offices in Merrillville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Elkhart, Indiana. Later, at the same firm, I was asked to train and manage a number of offices across the country. I have continued to work with attorneys and clients at my former firm. I have traveled across the United States and worked with people in Manhattan, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco and a variety of less exciting locations in between.
In 2010, I moved back to Wisconsin. I chose to live in Milwaukee because of family connections and because I simply love Wisconsin...even when it snows. Fueled by a desire to spend more time with clients and less time in airports, I opened the Law Offices of Deborah A. Stencel in summer 2011.