Emily Gillis was barely a teenager when she decided she wanted to be a lawyer.
"I was in ninth grade and it was in Dr. Armstrong's class (at North East High.) It was Intro to Law class and it spoke to me," said Gillis. "This is something that I needed to do."
She pursued her dream, taking general classes at Cecil College, then earning a bachelor's degree in criminology at University of Maryland.
When it came time to apply to law schools, she let nothing stop her.
"I applied to Harvard. I wanted the letterhead with my name on it," she said. She earned her Juris Doctor at Suffolk University School of Law in Boston. She passed the bar exam on her second attempt and is licensed to practice law.
"When I failed the bar the first time, I cried for an hour than knew I'd be okay and my parents still loved me," laughed Gillis.
Gillis has and needs a great deal of family support.
She has cerebral palsy. She said it's a misconception that those with the affliction don't have the verbal, auditory, and mental process skills. On the spectrum, she said she is high functioning "unless my coffee doesn't kick in quick enough." She practices general law - criminal defense, family law, personal injury, and contracts. She doesn't do title work. She was officially sworn in to practice law in June. In July, she hung out her shingle in North East.
She had originally intended to set up in the Elkton Main Street area near the court buildings. Because she uses a power wheelchair she found it difficult to find a building which was accessible. She shares space with Untamed hair salon.
"I looked for a job with other firms, but accessibility was an issue," she said. She also found that the local firms were staffed.