There is a reason that the book about Nashville School of Law is titled Profiles in Tenacity. The School’s graduates exhibit a steadfastness and ability to overcome tough circumstances to better their lives by obtaining a legal education.
Third-year law student Elizabeth Spurbeck is a pristine example of an individual who has overcome circumstances to pursue her dreams. Although she was born in Searcy, Ark., Spurbeck grew up in Mexico, where her parents operated a Bible college at a ranch in Coahuila.
Spurbeck was in Mexico from ages 4 to 9 and learned the meaning of hard work and discipline, as well as how to speak fluent Spanish. Later, she returned to Arkansas and finished high school. Her early years were far from idyllic. She suffered a lot of verbal abuse and was the victim of a sexual crime. Spurbeck persevered, although at her own pace. College was not the immediate next step after high school.
“College was not strongly encouraged in the community I grew up in,” Spurbeck said frankly. “Instead, I got married and had children.”
While she started a family, Spurbeck never lost sight of her dreams of a career in law.
“I wanted to be an attorney ever since I was a kid,” she recalled. “I was probably 8 or 9 years old when I first wanted to be in the legal profession.”
She also read voraciously as a child and has memories of visiting the library with her mother to pick up dozens of books. Years later, she moved to Tennessee and enrolled at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski. Her inspiration was to help her mother, who was ill.
“I was hoping to find the skills to help her, so I went into nursing,” Spurbeck said. “Sadly, she died while I was in school.”
At that time, her thoughts of being an attorney lay dormant, as she thought she was too old. However, a guidance counselor and career advisor encouraged her to go to law school.
“He told me about Nashville School of Law and said I wasn’t too old,” she said.
Spurbeck enrolled at NSL while working full time at Maury Regional Hospital. She loves taking care of her patients, but also is thrilled by learning the law.
“I love the classroom experience at NSL. I love the instructors,” she said. “Mr. [Bill] Harbison – he really cares about his students,” she said of her Contracts professor. “He never displays any irritation when students ask questions.”
She also mentions Judge Marshall Davidson, who teaches Torts: “He is so clear-cut and analytical.”
She credits District Attorney General Glenn R. Funk for making criminal law “exciting to learn.”
She also loved her second-year professors. “Judge [Steve] Dozier really dug into the rules of evidence,” she said.
“Judge [Don] Ash always knew when to offer an encouraging word in Civil Procedure, while Dean Koch really made the stories come alive in Constitutional Law. Obviously, these people love what they do.”
After law school, Spurbeck hopes to use her medical and legal training to help people.
“I’d really like to utilize my knowledge of medicine with my law degree,” she said. “I also want to fight for the underdog.”