TMA’s First Lawyer: Tamara Johnson

Tamara Johnson graduated from Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) 

in 2010 and went on to become the school’s first-ever lawyer.  Tamara remembers her 9th-grade year at Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) as the year that sparked her interest in pursuing a law-related career. During her first Portfolio review (an annual self-assessment and goal setting project reviewed by a panel), an attorney asked if she had ever considered becoming an attorney herself. That question planted a seed that would be cultivated by extracurricular activities, the school’s integrated law programs, and a vast peer and adult support network.

Throughout her high school journey, Tamara engaged in activities that helped develop her newfound interest. She was an active member of the debate team, participated in law camp, and earned an internship at a D.C. court through TMA. Tamara says these experiences encouraged her to dream and go beyond what she felt was expected of her. With her steadfast dedication to her education and the support of the school’s Office of College and Alumni Programs, Tamara went on to attend Pennsylvania State University where she studied Criminology and English. 

After graduating college, Tamara worked as a Paralegal for the Department of Justice while studying for the LSAT. After two attempts, she successfully passed the LSAT and was accepted to The University of Maryland, Baltimore. Balancing a robust schedule of work, school, and extracurricular activities she had to find inner strength. “Law school can create a very competitive environment and it takes a lot of mental and spiritual strength to keep yourself grounded.”, says Tamara. 

In her third year of law school, Tamara found herself preparing to graduate during a pandemic. Continuing in the same spirit, she graduated from law school and immediately began studying for the bar exam. She describes this season of her journey as the toughest “but worth it”. She passed the bar exam, and in December 2020, Tamara was sworn in at the Maryland Court of Appeals. She is now in the Legal Honors Program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development where she is assigned a mentor, given the opportunity to rotate to other offices within the Office of General Counsel, and participate in additional training and monthly discussions to enhance their program experience and develop their legal abilities. When asked what she looks forward to in her new career she said, “ It sounds cliché, but I actually look forward to making a difference while in my career. I look forward to being able to help my community whether it is related to my job or not.