Alumni Spotlight on Chinazo (Chi Chi) Anachebe, '10 (political science), an Associate Attorney in Atlanta
Published on Jan 09, 2019
Alumna Chinazo (Chi Chi) Anachebe,’10, is an associate attorney in Atlanta for the national law firm Lewis Brisbois. In our interview with Anachebe, she recalls her Auburn experiences; which happens to include etiquette lessons, taking on leadership roles, going to games, and a piglet dissection that changed her academic trajectory.
Would you please tell us about yourself?
I’m an Atlanta, Georgia native, and grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Fayetteville. I’m also a proud Nigerian-American woman, as both my parents emigrated to the United States to pursue their career opportunities in architecture and medicine. Currently, I reside in Atlanta and work as an Associate Attorney in the General Liability practice group for the national law firm Lewis Brisbois. At the firm, I defend retail businesses, apartment complexes, nursing homes, subcontractors, and transportation companies.
Why did you choose to attend Auburn, and how did you choose your major?
I chose Auburn for a number of reasons! Some of my favorite high school teachers were Auburn Alums and they always spoke fondly about their experiences and the love they had for the university. Those who weren’t alums had children at Auburn and raved about the academics. At the same time, one of my childhood friends was already attending Auburn when I began applying for college. Every time she came over to visit, she marveled about Auburn, its traditions, and the variety of campus programming organized by the UPC [University Program Council].
When I arrived at Auburn, I was an exercise science major with plans on becoming a physical therapist first and would eventually go to medical school to become a doctor. However, once I took my first biology lab course and had to dissect a baby piglet—which I couldn't go through with—I immediately changed my major. There’s a running joke in my culture that a Nigerian can only become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Given my refusal to dissect the piglet, medicine was out the picture. As for the remaining choices, I found both career paths exciting because I really enjoyed calculus and also enjoyed participating in class discussions in my social science classes. While I personally didn’t know any lawyers, I had learned through research that many of them had political science degrees. Once I settled on becoming a lawyer, I chose to pursue my degree in political science.
What was your Auburn experience like as a student? (favorite memories/traditions, favorite class/professors, etc.)
Auburn was so much fun especially during my freshman and sophomore years. Mainly because I tried so many new experiences and met new people from various walks of life. I felt as if I was coming out of my comfort zone. I had friends who I always went to the games with, volunteered with at BSU [Black Student Union] community service events, or went to mass with at St. Michaels. As for my junior and senior years, I started to take on more leadership positions and found my niche through the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) where I became the President of the Student Eminent Society. I also served CLA as peer advisor to incoming students at summer orientations. Auburn definitely provided me an unforgettable collegiate experience. It built my character, taught me leadership skills, and improved my work ethic.
There are so many to name! Mitchell Brown - Race & Politics; Ted Becker (retired)- Conflict resolution;
Chukwudi “Chu Chu” Chidume - Calculus; Steven Brown - Constitutional Law, and Joseph Kicklighter (retired) - History.
Rolling Toomers Corner after a big game win!
What do you miss most about Auburn (if anything)?
There are so many aspects about Auburn that I miss, but honestly, as odd as this seems, I really miss walking the concourse. Whether it was walking the concourse in between classes while catching up with friends or visiting the different student organization booths set up alongside the concourse, I really loved the hustle & bustle that took place during the 10am-3pm time span! Everybody was on the concourse! All the action took place there and I really loved being in the thick of it.
What was your career path after graduation?
After graduation, I took a year off before going to law school at Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Mississippi. I graduated with my JD in 2014 and briefly dabbled in politics working on a few campaigns. Soon after, I went on to complete a graduate fellowship with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, where I handled a variety of civil matters, including but not limited to family, employment, and education law matters. After my fellowship ended, I worked for two solo practice attorneys, and worked for an e-discovery company. Subsequently, I went on to clerk for Chief Judge Ben W. Studdard of the State Court of Henry County. During my time at the court, I served as Judge Studdard’s sole staff attorney, advising him on the disposition of both criminal and civil litigation issues and drafted judicial orders. Serving as Judge Studdard’s staff attorney has been one of my most cherished professional experiences. I left the court in September of 2018 and entered the world of private practice, joining Lewis Brisbois where I have been at for over three months now.
What’s the best thing you did/learned at Auburn that prepared you for your career?
One of the best things I learned at Auburn that prepared me for my career was the etiquette training, taught by Pat Wingfield. I can’t stress enough how much this course prepared me when attending dinner interviews or client dinners and knowing which fork to use at each stage of the dining process. We even learned something so simple as knowing where to place a nametag when attending a networking event—up high on the right shoulder so when some goes in for a handshake they’re able to quickly read your name as they make eye contact with you. I’m so lucky to have taken her course!
When you reflect upon your time at Auburn, is there anything you would do differently? If so, what and why?
I definitely would have taken a semester-long study abroad course and double-majored in a foreign language. I had friends who spent their semesters in these exotics locales who raved about their experiences and the places they visited that I had always seen in textbooks but had no desire to visit in person. I was also too chicken at the time to go on an adventure of that magnitude mainly because I was scared to immerse myself within the unknown in a far away, foreign place. Thankfully, I grew out of that feeling and took a study abroad course during law school, which I felt liberated me from my comfort zone and ignited a passion to see the world. But I definitely wish I would’ve done this sooner with fellow Auburn students as the opportunity would’ve given me an even more well-rounded Auburn experience.
What are your future career plans/goals?
Haha! I’m still trying to figure that out! Some days I think I want to become a judge, an expert legal consultant, a law school dean, an in-house counsel attorney, or fulfill my dream of one day becoming a US ambassador to a country. Honestly, I really have no idea what my future career plans will be! Growing up, I used to say that I was going to become the next Oprah. I guess given the number of former practicing attorneys who’ve successfully transitioned into daytime television like Judge Judy, Star Jones, Sunny Hostin, or Megyn Kelly, perhaps there’s room for me in that arena too!
And finally, what advice do you have for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
I live by the mantra “closed mouths don’t get fed” as a way to always remind myself that if I don’t speak up for myself to get what I want, I can’t expect to have those things come to fruition. I remember after my fellowship wanting to clerk for a judge because of the prestige a clerkship provided and the opportunity it affords one to hone their critical thinking and research and writing skills. During my interview with my Judge, after giving what I considered a great interview, when asked if I had any questions, I boldly asked if I could get the job?! I know my question caught him off-guard, but he smiled and understood the seriousness of my intention. Luckily, it worked because I received the clerkship two days later!
I think for some people they’re scared to ask for things they know they deserve whether it’s a raise, desired salary, etc. The reality is that one is going to encounter many NOs until they receive that one YES. However, I believe that you might have fewer NOs if you push conventional wisdom aside and ask for what you want because it might happen!
With all that said, I would say don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for what you want.