Stacey Strentz, Brenda Greene, and Tara-Beth Coleman have dedicated their services to the Fredericksburg area for their entire careers.
Stacey Strentz, Brenda Greene, and Tara-Beth Coleman have dedicated their services to the Fredericksburg area for their entire careers. Now, their law office sits at 620 Princess Anne Street in downtown Fredericksburg. We had the opportunity to interview them about their experience practicing law, the importance of community, and the women who have inspired them along the way.
Stacey: The reason I went into family law is because I love the stories, it’s a human interest. I was interested in psychology and sociology, and oftentimes I feel more like a therapist than a lawyer. For me, family law integrates all of those great aspects of getting to know my clients, knowing their story, helping them overlay the law, making a plan, and strategizing. That’s my love for family law.
Brenda: I came to practice law in this area through Legal Aid, and the opening that I took was a family law position. Family law was natural, it made sense to me. There is always an emotional component. Every family is different, all their needs are different, and I just naturally flowed into it. I also had the pleasure, before I worked with this fascinating woman over here [Stacey], to have cases opposite of her. I always said that Stacey made me a better lawyer, because there is not a lawyer who would go against her and not be prepared. There was no doubt in my mind that if I was going to have a case with Stacey Strentz that I was going to be prepared twice as much as any other case.
Tara-Beth: I don’t know if it was the generation I grew up in, but I bought into the ideal of the United States, the form of our country, the Constitution, and the battle that we fought to get the amendments to the Constitution. When I was in the 8th grade, we had a Youth of Law class, and we had to be lawyers. They stressed the ideal that it was better for 12 guilty people to go free than have one innocent person go to prison. I was young and I was impressionable and I believed in that ideal. I’ve always been very patriotic. I believe in our rights and I believe they should be defended. I’m in court all the time and I’m good on my feet. There’s poor people out there that deserve good representation and they need good attorneys to look out for them.
Brenda: We became partners [Stacey and Brenda] because she saw something in me.
Stacey: We just work really well together, our personalities really compliment each other. It’s been 13 years in different roles, different firms, different iterations of she and I being partners.
Brenda: As far as Tara-Beth was concerned, she was a natural fit: her personality, her skill set, and the way judges, clients, and the legal community respond to her. She’s just phenomenal! If you need criminal defense, Tara-Beth should be the only person you call.
Stacey: You are! You’re a phenomenal criminal lawyer. Tara-Beth is just amazing.
Brenda: One of the reasons that Stacey and I built this firm was because we wanted to have an opportunity for working women, mothers, in different stages of our lives, and build each other up in this career. It’s still not necessarily the norm to have a female-dominated law firm. We do a lot of encouraging one another and making sure we’re building each other up. With this job, you get beat up a lot, so it’s important for us to have a group, partners, paralegals, associates, that all build each other up, regardless if they’re a man or woman.
Stacey: We’ve hired women right out of law school, we’ve hired women with a few years of experience, and what happens in some women’s lives is they go in and out of law. I think law has been a nice field for me especially, I was able to take a couple years off when I had my son. It’s nice to have that flexibility and be able to give that to other people, because when I had my son, the firm I was at was not so great about when I wanted to come back. I had that stinging experience where you’ve been with a firm for over 10 years and they were really not willing to carve out any non-traditional role. I don’t ever want a talented young woman to feel like, “If I have a child or choose to take some time off, I can’t carve out a more creative role for myself.”
Brenda: She’s sitting right over here [points to Stacey]. We also had a female judge, Judge Hutcherson, and the way she handled people and her courtroom was the epitome of class. That was certainly an inspiration, but day to day, I want to be her [Stacey]. If I could be as good as her, I have accomplished something.
Tara-Beth: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is awesome. It just brings tears to your eyes, the things that she’s done for women and men in the workplace. Judge Kelly and Judge Deneke: Judge Deneke was a prosecutor and Judge Kelly was a criminal defense attorney. Partially I’ve also got to say my grandma, I just recently lost her this year. She was a huge hero for me. She started working when she was 18, and worked every day until we had to put her in a nursing home three years ago. My grandfather died in 1987 and she spent every day after that waiting to go to heaven to meet him. She’s a wonderful woman.
Stacey: Ann Hunter Simpson. When I was a young lawyer working for Joe Ellis, he sent me to watch Anne Hunter Simpson and Georgia Sutton practice law. They had a case against each other the first time I watched them and they’re both amazing female lawyers. The second time I had the honor to watch them, I was the guardian in their case, and one was representing the father and one was representing the mother. I was 27 years old and I was so stressed out because here I have to make a recommendation as the guardian and both of these women I just idolized!
Brenda, I just have to say, you’re a lot better at numbers than I am. You’re my idol when it comes to numbers, you can make sense of some of the worse cases!
Brenda: I have my skill set but I’ve never been told when I litigated a case it’s like watching poetry! More than one person has said that about Stacey!
Brenda: It’s our role to collectively represent the people in this community. Stacey, Tara-Beth, and I still represent clients in pro bono cases. It’s important for us to bring the services we offer to everyone in the community, not just the people that can necessarily afford our services. We are part of the fabric and fiber of Fredericksburg. All of us have pretty much practiced our whole careers here or in the surrounding area. We are Fredericksburg attorneys.