Although custom-cabinet maker Amy Escott really enjoyed her work, she wanted to try something new.
“It was creative and pretty satisfying,” she said, “but I got to the point where I needed to either put resources in and grow the business or do something else.”
A Vermont Public Radio story about Justice Skoglund introduced the Escott to the idea that one could become a lawyer in Vermont without going back to school.
“That’s when bells went off,” said Escott of Hinesburg. “I wasn’t keen on more academia. The whole concept of learning while doing is what I did with woodworking, so it really resonated with me and also meant no law school debt.”
Escott said many people were shocked at the idea of their truck-driving, Carhart-wearing pal working in an office, but one friend introduced her to attorney Tom Walsh, who agreed to sponsor her.
“He took me on despite the fact that I knew nothing about the law or office machinery or even how to dress,” she said. “In every way I knew nothing.”
Walsh mentored Escott for four years before being appointed to Environmental Court. She did her remaining apprentice time as a paralegal for the Vermont Land Trust where she worked on real estate and title issues.
After passing the bar on her 40th birthday, Escott returned to Walsh’s old law firm but she wasn’t fully satisfied.
“I got into law to help people,” she said, “but I saw that there are significant barriers to people getting legal services. I had a problem with that.”
In addition, Escott had enjoyed being her own boss as a woodworker. Hoping to return to that level of autonomy and also to reach a more diverse group of clients, she took the plunge and hung out her shingle in January 2016.
Escott’s firm specializes in land issues, wills and estate planning, and assistance for those wanting to start small businesses, with some additional work in landlord/tenant law and small collections. The 46-year-old has a niche with the LGBTQ community after having helped found the first LGBTQ-focused legal clinic in the state through the Pride Center. She has served on the board of Outright Vermont and continues to do pro bono work for them.
Escott and her wife Tamara Orlow moved to Hinesburg in 2005.
“This is a great location and a great community,” she said. “It’s accessible to the lake, the mountains and Burlington and we have great neighbors.”
In college at Princeton, Escott threw shotput and hammer, sports that don’t allow for much opportunity later in life. She has run legs of the Vermont City Marathon but her newest sport is ice hockey.
“My hockey people are like family,” she said.
Escott loves her new profession but hasn’t completely given up on her old one. She recently bought a lathe, which is a tool she hadn’t used much previously.
“I still like to tinker,” she said. “I would like to carve out a little more time for projects. I also used to paint and I’d like to get better at that.”
Although her two professions appear entirely different, Escott sees common themes that run between them.
“They both involve problem solving,” she said. “They involve taking a unique situation, figuring out how to tackle it and making it work. I love a challenge.”