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Staff Attorney, Legal Services of Southern Missouri

While many younger than age 30 are still soul-searching in hopes of nailing down their life passion, Andrea Long’s career path was determined at the green age of 3 weeks old.

“As an adopted child, I always felt I wanted to be an attorney,” the Nixa native says. “I knew an attorney helped my parents to adopt me… I didn’t know how it all worked at the time, but I just knew I needed to be a part of that process in some way.” As a staff attorney at Legal Services of Southern Missouri, a non-profit dedicated to poverty law, Long works to reunite parents and grandparents with children who have been placed in foster care. While high stress levels are a given, the courtroom regular says the rewarding nature of her profession overshadows the not-so-glamorous aspects that make up the majority of her cases. “The success stories continue to fuel the passion,” she says.

As a member of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s Network for Young Professionals, numerous bar associations and the Missouri Bar Leadership Academy, Long’s passion carries over into her personal life. When she needs a break from law, she turns to scuba diving, hot yoga, shopping and traveling for the perfect retreat. With a juris doctor degree, masters in health administration and bachelor degrees in business administration and French, Long hopes to one day blend her medical and legal knowledge together in the name of public interest. –D.D.

417 Magazine: How would you define the secret to success?
Andrea Long: Picking up a paycheck for doing something that you love. It doesn’t matter if the paycheck is big or small; if you can get up almost every day excited for what your workday holds, you have made it.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
A.L.: When I was in law school at the University of Tulsa, the career services office started a mentoring program. The goal was to link mentees with mentors located in the mentee’s preferred geographic location and practice area. I was lucky enough to be paired with Deanna Scott at Legal Services. When we first met for lunch we talked the entire lunch hour. She invited me to volunteer over Christmas break, which lead to a summer job. When I finished school, there was an opening in the Juvenile Unit, and the rest is history.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
A.L.: As an adopted child, I always felt I wanted to be an attorney. I knew that an attorney helped my parents to adopt me when I was just three weeks old. I didn’t know how it all worked at the time, but I just knew I needed to be a part of that process in some way. In my job, I try to help reunite parents with their children who have been placed in foster care. It is so rewarding when you have a parent who goes from a life of drugs and poor choices to a life of stability for their children. The success stories continue to fuel the passion.

417: Are you single/married, and do you have any kids?
A.L.: Single, with one cat named Chanel. I promise I am not a crazy cat lady.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
A.L.: I love trying new things. Travel is one of my biggest passions, and I will pretty much go anywhere if I can find a travel buddy (and some money). I also am obsessed with practicing hot yoga at Sumit Hot Yoga, and I enjoy almost all forms of exercise. I recently took scuba diving lessons and am looking forward to getting certified this summer. I hope to dive in the Caribbean soon. It also tends to surprise people that I have a love for motorsports, especially stock car racing. I grew up going to local dirt tracks with my dad, and I played in the dirt while he worked on the cars. In the summertime you may still find me at the races, whether it be dirt or NASCAR.

417: Are you involved in any charitable organizations?
A.L.: I am on the charitable work group through the Network for Young Professionals and I am part of the Missouri Bar Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy spends one year putting together a service project, and then pledges two years of service to the Missouri Bar.

417: Are you a member of any professional organizations?
A.L.: The Network for Young Professionals through the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, American Bar Association, Missouri Bar Association, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, Christian County Bar Association.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
A.L.: Picking up a paycheck for doing something that you love. It doesn’t matter if the paycheck is big or small; if you can get up almost every day excited for what your workday holds, you have made it.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
A.L.: Helping people learn how to help themselves. Many times I deal with people who haven’t had a good start to life. They have had bad childhoods and don’t have support systems in their lives. If I can build a good relationship and be a support system for them, I feel really good about what I am doing.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
A.L.: In big cities you hear horror stories about how professionals treat each other. In the Ozarks, I feel that the attorneys I work with are top notch. They are respectful, kind, and considerate to one another and I believe that this greatly benefits their clients.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
A.L.: Not everyone is going to like you, deal with it. You must remember to be yourself, take the good and let go of the bad. Being a young professional you always want to do a good job and do the best you can, but you will make mistakes. When you make mistakes, an apology goes a long way.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
A.L.: As far back as I remember, I always wanted to be a lawyer and I don’t think that ever changed growing up.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
A.L.: Loving what you do and getting paid for it, having autonomy and flexibility in your work life and being respected in your professional community.

417: Why are you a 20 Under 30?
A.L.: I think it is because I have met wonderful mentors who have shared with me the secrets to their success. They have always told me to be honest, kind and to admit if you make a mistake. I have tried to make those three things my personal goals, and I hope that I am accomplishing them.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
A.L.: Working for a non-profit and practicing poverty law is very challenging. Every non-profit realizes constant change based on funding, partnerships and board direction. With recent changes in the health care law, LSSM anticipates an increase in health-related cases. I have a masters degree in health administration and hope to utilize my degree by providing guidance as LSSM is faced with new challenges.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
A.L.: Professionally, my job is more case-oriented than project-oriented, and I am proud of all of the families that I have had a hand in reuniting.

417: ______ makes life worth living.
A.L.: Family, friends and adventures.

417: A day at work wouldn’t be complete without ______.
A.L.: Drama with a capital D.

417: Ten years from now, I hope I’m ______.
A.L.: Figuring out how to balance a family and a great career, and if not, I hope I am getting paid to travel the world as a travel writer.

417: If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would _____.
A.L.: Take a trip around the world.

417: The best part about being a 20 Under 30 is _____.
A.L.: Getting to meet other people who have a passion for life and what they do for a living.

Celebrate with the Class of 2013 on Thursday, April 25 at Highland Springs Country Club. 

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