2014 Woman of the Year: Tracey Malone

2014 Woman of the Year, Tracey Malone
Tracey Malone

Law, family and church are the focal points of Tracey Malone’s life, and she has worked as a general practice attorney in Bartlett since she graduated from law school in 1982. Her contributions earned her the honor of being named this year’s Woman of the Year and Best Lawyer in The Bartlett Express Readers’ Choice Awards.

When she was still in law school, she began working with Bartlett Municipal Court judge Freeman C. Marr, and she has been with him ever since.

He’s probably been the biggest influence in her legal career, she said. “Wonderful, wonderful person.”

She’s made a well-rounded career of helping people through momentous points in their lives, from domestic cases (such as divorce, child support and custody) to real estate, bankruptcy, probate and general civil litigation.

“There are not a lot of attorneys anymore who are doing the general practice,” she said. She sees her work as fulfilling the needs of the community.

She doesn’t really keep score of her personal or professional contributions, she said. “I’m just here in a small office, trying to do my job.”

Law has been her passion since high school. “I don’t know if it was because I was an argumentative person — my parents seemed to say that was right, but I don’t know if that’s accurate,” she said, laughing.

She was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in the Raleigh section of Memphis, graduating from Raleigh-Egypt High School. She graduated from Memphis State (now University of Memphis) with a major in sociology and earned her law degree from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She and her husband now live in Cordova.

She has been married to Memphis attorney Charles Rich for 19 years and has three children, two stepchildren and one grandchild, all in the greater Memphis area. One stepson, daughter-in-law and son-in-law-to-be are also following legal careers.

When she is not giving back through her career or church activities, her interests include cooking (especially baking and a new pursuit of making her own pasta), flower gardening over an acre of land, taking family trips to Florida and traveling internationally with her husband. Some favorite destinations have been Italy, Spain France, Switzerland, Africa and Antarctica. But wherever she travels, the Bartlett area still tugs at her heart.

She sees Bartlett as a pivotal place in her life, and she credits its success to strong and long-lasting leadership in the judicial system, the police force, and politicians. “Bartlett has had a very big influence in my life. I think it is a stabilizing force in the Memphis community.”

She appreciates the opportunity that her legal training and her years of experience give her in helping clients.

“I have seen so much that I understand what people are going through and try to appreciate where they’re coming from, sitting on that side of the table,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy for me to see what the solution and results should be, but it’s hard for them to get where they are and see the logic of what needs to be done or what needs to happen.”

She draws a healthy line between being the legal counselor and being a psychological counselor, however. “I can’t make those emotional decisions for them. I can help them get legally where they’re trying to go.”

Malone has been deeply involved in her church, Hope Presbyterian in Cordova, for years as an elder, deacon, member of the admin committee and kitchen volunteer. She said the church responds to local needs, plans mission trips, gives support in other countries and helps out in times of national crisis, such as when Hurricane Katrina hit or when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred.

She sees giving back as a sacred obligation. “Those of us who have been gifted by God need to give back.”

She has also served professionally on the board of the Memphis Bar Association and its bankruptcy section chair.

“I’ve always had an interest in trying to think of some way to assist people. I think I’m that type of personality,” she said. “And the legal field seemed to be a good way for me to do that.”

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to bartlett.editor@journalinc.com.