After 12 years with Martin Tate Morrow & Marston PC, attorney Lauri Prather has made the move to in-house counsel with ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Specifically, Prather will be one of five attorneys working within ALSAC, the fundraising arm of the hospital.
Prather, who began at ALSAC on New Year’s Eve, said she can already tell it is a unique work environment.
“Even in orientation and their boot camp over here it’s pretty clear that everybody is here, not just to have a job, but more to support the mission here, and everybody is pretty passionate about it in a great way,” she said. “For everybody here, their clients are the children of St. Jude.”
Prather’s commitment to bettering the community is seen in her work as a board member of Hope House and the Junior League of Memphis, civic engagement enthusiastically supported by her previous employer.
The mother of two – son Hays, 7; and daughter, Wright, 4 – found that it was becoming more difficult for the hands-on volunteer work as her career and her kids’ activities demanded more time.
“I had always thought that it would be nice to parlay my private firm experience into some sort of nonprofit experience,” she said.
Another impetus for her move to ALSAC was the loss of her mother to cancer in 2010. It prompted her to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon and to become more familiar with the mission of the hospital.
“When this opportunity arose, it was kind of a no-brainer in terms of a fit for what I would like to do mission-wise,” Prather said. “The children and the families that come here never pay for anything for their treatment and that was really compelling to me in that my mother was fortunate to have great health care, but we were real quick to learn how financially devastating it could have been to our family. So that really helps you get behind the mission of ALSAC to raise the money for St. Jude.”
Prather began her education at Hutchison School before going off to college at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where she studied English literature. She enjoyed her courses and learned that she preferred persuasive writing as opposed to journalism or fiction writing, and it led her to law school at the college.
“I really enjoy writing advocacy pieces,” she said. “I like to be able to educate people on a topic and then make a suggestion as to why and how it should be handled a certain way.”
After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law, Prather was drawn back to Memphis to be closer to her newborn nephew and to clerk for Martin Tate. She went on to practice general litigation and advise smaller client companies.
While working as in-house counsel will be a new endeavor for Prather, she has called on resources and colleagues with FedEx and International Paper for advice.
“I think it will be very similar in that a lot of times it’s going to involve on-the-spot problem solving,” she said.
And, again, it all comes back to community for Prather.
“My mother was a good role model in that respect,” she said. “She worked outside the home but always still volunteered, so she set that example for me and I am a firm believer in that. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of educational opportunities and work opportunities, and I just think it’s imperative that when you’re fortunate in those ways that you should give back in some capacity.”
In addition to volunteer work and spending time with her kids and husband, David Prather, an attorney with Ford & Harrison LLP, Prather enjoys running, having kept up with her marathon training.
“It was tough to leave Martin Tate after 12 years and, had it not been for the mission of ALSAC and St. Jude, I probably would have never left,” Prather said. “I consider myself very fortunate for my time at Martin Tate where I worked amongst very smart, civic-minded people that were fantastic mentors to me, and I think that it’s because of my years over there that I’m prepared to try to help the folks out here at ALSAC and St. Jude to continue to do great work.”