1L Student Named Unsung Legal Hero

December 6, 2021

While also raising a son and managing a law firm with husband Bryn Swartz, Mandy Truman pursues her J.D.

Truman and Family

Husband Bryn and son “Spud” accompanied Truman for a photo opp on her first day of law school. “While law school is a dream of mine, my family's the best thing ever,” said Truman.

Mandy Truman, C’21 & L’24, and her husband, Bryn Swartz, L’11, launched their law firm in August 2019 – on the same day their son was born. Now, two-and-a-half years later, they have a successful workers’ compensation practice and are parents to an active toddler – all while Truman starts out on her new path as a law student. It’s no wonder that Virginia Lawyers Weekly just named Truman to its annual list of Unsung Legal Heroes, a program that recognizes some of the “most talented and dedicated legal support professionals.” 

You might say that Truman started her legal career at the age of 14, when she got a job “pulling staples out of paper” at the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission where her mother worked. The whole time, though, she thought to herself, “I’m never going to be a lawyer.” After her dream of becoming a police officer was derailed due to a serious car accident, Truman reconsidered her options.

Several experiences helped cement her decision to pursue a legal career. Working in the Clerk’s office of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Truman had the opportunity to learn about both the substantive and practical aspects of the justice system. She also spent time back at the Workers’ Compensation Commission and at a private practice defense firm. Along the way, Truman earned her associate’s degree in paralegal studies from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College before completing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Richmond in 2021. She decided to take the next step and pursue her J.D., enrolling at Richmond Law that same year. 

The journey to launching a private practice started when Truman was working at that defense firm. “I met my husband across the table at a hearing for worker’s compensation,” said Truman, which she acknowledges as “the silliest meet-cute on the planet.” The couple was headed in for a scheduled cesarean section to welcome their first son when, moments before delivery, Swartz received an email notification that he was being laid-off by his firm. “He looked at me and said, ‘Do you want to start a law firm?’” said Truman.

That same day – after the safe delivery of their son – they formed an LLC and started the hunt for office space. And Pathfinder Injury Law was (also) born.  

Now, as firm administrator for Pathfinder, Truman keeps operations running – from human resources to research and writing to tax filings. Time management and support from her extended family are certainly part of the key to success for the full-time student, mother, and legal administrator. But it’s also about balance, explains Truman, and “being true to who you are.” In law school, that might mean “understanding that you’re more than a number and more than a grade.” In practice, that might mean identifying and focusing on core values – such as that “law should be accessible, people should be accessible.”

The designation of Unsung Legal Hero came as an unexpected but welcome honor for Truman. “It’s really cool to be acknowledged by the legal community, especially for something that I wanted to do for so long,” she said. “It means a lot to be respected, and to be proud of where I came from.”