Camille Kennedy says she loves jigsaw puzzles.
Kennedy’s attraction to puzzles is partly tied to her golden-hued memories of family vacations at a cabin in Gatlinburg, where she and her parents and siblings would decompress from the stress of Christmas. Someone would bring a puzzle, and they’d gather around the scattered pieces and snap them together, as if they were posing for a Thomas Kincaid painting.
Kennedy, 26, also likes the satisfaction that comes with sifting through hundreds of tiny, irregularly-shaped images, spotting the details that connect them, and then assembling them into the bigger picture, she notes.
A child of the Mount Juliet area outside of Nashville, her love for this process sparked an interest in architecture, she says.
“I liked the idea of looking at a building, zooming in to peer at the details and then zooming back out to see the bigger picture again. I wanted to be an architect for years, and then I realized the math involved would be a lot for me.”
“No problem,” Kennedy says she thought as she approached the end of her senior year at Mount Juliet High School. “I’ll become a lawyer.”
Kennedy’s attraction to the law was initially tied to her father, Nashville attorney David Kennedy, telling her to not become a lawyer, she laughs.
“As I was growing up, he tried to dissuade me from following in his footsteps. He’d say, ‘Don’t go to law school; it’s stressful.’ He runs his own general practice, so he was trying to spare me the stress that comes with being self-employed. But him telling me not to do it for so long pushed me in that direction.”
Kennedy’s grandfather also was an attorney, and had joined his son in urging Kennedy to choose a different career. Both men would have had better luck talking the wind out of blowing.
To Kennedy’s surprise, her father and grandfather were excited for her when she declared her intentions to them, she recalls. “They were super supportive. Maybe I wasn’t the talkative type growing up, but by the time I told them I wanted to go to law school, they said, ‘Yeah, it makes sense.’”
Kennedy was shopping around for a college when she and her parents drove to the Scenic City to tour the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After each of them made a connection with the school, Kennedy knew where she wanted to spend the next four years.
“My dad liked the story about (NFL wide receiver) Terrell Owens playing for UTC, and someone told my mom a ghost story, which she loved,” Kennedy remembers. “I thought the campus was beautiful; it felt like a small school, which is what I wanted.”
Kennedy began running for a Chattanooga law firm while a freshman at UTC. While later attending classes at the UT College of Law, Kennedy spoke with a former office administrator at the firm where she’d worked. The woman had moved to Husch Blackwell, and encouraged Kennedy to apply to become a summer associate, assuring her she’d love the firm.
Kennedy did as the admin suggested and landed a spot as one of Husch’s 2022 summer associates. She was pleased with the outcome. “I loved everyone I worked with, as well the work I did,” she gushes. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
After returning to Knoxville for her L3 year, Kennedy continued to explore her burgeoning interest in litigation, which she says appealed to the puzzle-lover in her.
“Trial practice was the one subject in which I was top of the class. I liked standing up, showing what I’d done to prepare and winning a case. I’m not overly adversarial, but that was fun. It felt like it was a thousand-piece puzzle, and I had to figure out how to put it together.”
Kennedy says her hope during law school was to return to Chattanooga, as she’d fallen in love with the city. She also wanted to work at Husch.
As the child of an attorney, Kennedy had heard people say negative things about lawyers in general but was unable to reconcile those slurs with the kindness her grandfather expressed to others and the relaxed manner in which her father talked with clients and fellow lawyers.
Likewise, during Kennedy’s summer with Husch, she says the people at the firm were closer in nature to her father and grandfather than the stereotypes she’d heard about while growing up. So, that’s where she wanted to take her first steps as an attorney, she says.
Husch was happy to oblige. Since the firm welcomed Kennedy in September, she’s worked on a variety of projects for the senior attorneys. Essentially, she’s been assembling some of the small pieces of Husch’s corporate cases.
It’s given Kennedy a sense of what lies ahead, and she says she believes she’s on the right path.
“I like litigation. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but I don’t know if I have the brain for transactional work, or for looking at the same contract over and over,” she muses. “Litigation is fun. You have an end goal, and you have to make all the pieces fit together.”
At home, Kenney cherishes her time with her dog and cat – both of which are rescues, she says, and both of which are “terrible,” she adds with a smile. She also spends her off hours improving her cooking skills, which served as her COVID hobby.
However, Kennedy now reserves her puzzle-solving abilities for work, and says she looks forward to each day and the challenges it will bring.
“I’m glad my dad told me to not become an attorney,” she says, laughing again. “It’s been fun so far.”