VOL. 128 | NO. 228 | Thursday, November 21, 2013
Memphis Law Talk
Darker’s Diverse Background Translates Into Right Career
RICHARD J. ALLEY | Special to The Daily News
Legalese is the formal language of the law that comes across as gibberish to those without a juris doctorate. For attorney Tatine Darker, though, it’s just one more etymological arrow in her quiver of languages.
Darker and Robert Amann have teamed together to open the Amann-Darker Law Firm in Midtown Memphis. Within the firm’s general practice areas of federal criminal and state criminal, immigration, divorce and personal injury cases, Darker plans to focus more on criminal and immigration law, her areas of expertise.
Born and raised in France to a French mother and American father who was a CBS correspondent, Darker moved around to places such as Russia and the Middle East as a child. Most of her time, though, was spent in the south of France and with a grandmother who had emigrated from Spain.
This multilingual upbringing has been an asset in her immigration practice and is much of the reason why she practices law in the first place. A freelance courtroom interpreter certified for French and Spanish in immigration court, Darker began to take notice of the proceedings and the players in the room.
“I thought, ‘You know what, I really want to be a lawyer. I don’t want to be just an interpreter,’” she said.
She received an undergraduate in languages and literature in France and began work as a teacher while there. A high unemployment rate among young college graduates was among the reasons she moved from the southern region of France to the southern region of the United States permanently in her early 20s. “I didn’t really like teaching that much, and I wanted to change careers and also make more money, so I came over here for the summer first to see how it went and one thing led to another and I stayed.”
She landed in Conway, Ark., her father’s hometown, teaching French at Hendrix College. After only a short time, she moved to Memphis as vice president of sales for the Hispanic newspaper La Prensa Latina.
Upon her judicial epiphany, she attended the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. After graduating with honors in 2008, she went to work for the federal public defender’s office as an appellate writer and researcher, which, she says, “was actually great training out of law school.”
Darker was promoted to assistant federal defender and, though she enjoyed the research, stepping out from behind the books and into the courtroom was an exciting change.
“I never thought I’d like it so much,” she said. “I won my first four jury trials in federal court.”
Darker was with the office for six years, and at the beginning of November, went into practice with Amann.
“It was something I’ve always wanted to do because I’ve always been interested in immigration work, and I wanted to go into private practice and kind of diversify my legal knowledge and try to build something, basically,” she said.
With the recent government sequester and shutdown, Darker felt the time was a good one.
“The office was really strained for resources so I thought, ‘You know what, this is the perfect opportunity for me to do this,’ because it took a little burden off of the office and also allows me to branch out and do what I want to do,” she said.
Darker helped start the Immigrant Justice Program for the Community Legal Center and is now vice chair of the board. The pro bono program for people with immigration issues is “very near and dear to my heart,” Darker said.
Married to Bruce VanWyngarden, editor of The Memphis Flyer, the couple have two children each. Darker’s son, Roman, is a student at White Station High School. Her daughter, Agatha Cole, recently graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York and is home clerking for Judge Bernice Donald on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I have someone at home to constantly talk about the three things I’m most interested in, which are the law, shoes and clothes,” Darker said.
Darker has found her calling with the law and hopes to use lessons learned from past experiences to realize the rewards in her new endeavor.
“Our law firm right now is focused on people. We cater to people who have people problems,” she said. “For me, being a lawyer is being able to work with people and help them at sometimes the most difficult time in their life. And you get that in private practice as much as you get that at the federal defender’s office, and it’s really meaningful and satisfying.”