Meet Sydney Thaxton

By Jamie Miles

Anyone walking through the doors of Miles Mediation will see the face of Sydney Thaxton. Her bubbly personality, infectious laughter and ready-to-help attitude are impossible to miss.

But what are some unknown tidbits about this engaging woman?

Inquiring minds want to know.

I spent a few minutes on the telephone chatting with Thaxton and learned lots about this energized, accomplished young woman.

Coming out of Spelman College, Thaxton took a paralegal position with Pete Law. There she found her love of structure and creating order was tailor-made for office management. Though she laughed, “In college, I ran from management and marketing. I didn’t want to sell anybody anything.”

How was John Miles lucky enough to find you?

Thaxton explained that longtime friend of John Miles, Jimmy Rice, was an attorney at her old job.
Though we didn’t know each other very well, Jimmy overheard that I was interested in doing something else. He pulled me aside. I told him, “Sure I was interested. Here’s my resume.”
Then John Miles called me. It was a Tuesday – I’ll never for get it. At 11 o’clock. And he asked me for an interview.

At the time she was hired, Thaxton was the only office employee. She confided to being a little nervous.

If I messed up at this, there wouldn’t be anyone to take up the slack. That was a little extra pressure (laughter) but John was a visionary. I always admired and loved that about him. He told me from the beginning, “You have the skills to manage and make things happen and run it. And that’s what I need you to do for me.”

(More laughter) I was like . . . Okay. If you say so. I’m going to try it and we are going to make it work.

One of her last games as a high school cheerleader. I was captain for my last two years on varsity.

One of her last games as a high school cheerleader. I was captain for my last two years on varsity.

Any ideas why you enjoy the legal environment?

Growing up in Hartwell, Georgia, my dad was very involved in politics. He was a preacher. He was really, really busy in the community. That is where I got it. I’ve always been interested in law. Interested in the community. Being busy from a legal perspective of things. In college my focus was law school. I always thought that I was going to be a lawyer. She added laughing, “That thought is not completely dead.”

Before and during college, Thaxton was busy with legal or government positions.

I had done volunteer work. I did internships. I participated in a domestic exchange at American University in D.C. my junior year at Spelman. The program focused on the courts and the justice system. Pretrial services. Drug court.

All that was building up to what I do today. I was fortunate to start early. I had an internship at 19 with a law firm at home in Hartwell. I worked in the D.A.’s office in the summer time during college.

Sydney with younger sister Rhendy and brother Jay.  Thaxton laughed, We were outside picking up sticks. One of the many “fun” tasks my dad used to make us do, hence my brother’s “pleasant” face.

Sydney with younger sister Rhendy and brother Jay. Thaxton laughed, We were outside picking up sticks. One of the many “fun” tasks my dad used to make us do, hence my brother’s “pleasant” face.

What do you like about working at Miles?

I like that I have a certain level of autonomy but the owner of the business is still on the ground. It’s a good work environment. Your boss cares about you.

I like the constant involvement with people. I never know who is going to call. I never know who is going to come in and pull me aside. Often we have these amazing conversations that end up inspiring me while I’m inspiring them.

I love, love, love the event planning part of what I do here. So much so that I started my own freelance company to do office event planning. And that’s going really well.

I always want to have a project. You probably won’t finish what you started in the same day – but there is an end in sight. Seeing something from start to finish. And that gets me excited.

It’s also great being a part of something good that is going on. Mediation is great. It’s a good opportunity to come get cases settled. You don’t have to fight with the courts. I can’t tell you number of plaintiffs and clients who hate going to court. I know from my paralegal work. They hate going before a judge. I think we are on the cutting edge. I think that’s where things are heading. And I love being a part of that. It’s growing.

What might we be surprised to learn about you?

I studied political science but I could have minored in music. I have a heavy music background. I sing and play the piano. I also grew up dancing and cheerleading. So I’m very musically inclined.
And performing Yes. Lots and lots of performing.

Sydney with her Spelman Glee Clue sisters signing their allegiance to the Class of 2006.

Sydney with her Spelman Glee Club sisters signing their allegiance to the Class of 2006.

And in recent years, she has changed her eating habits drastically after finding out that she was allergic to gluten and lactose. Thaxton keeps a strict diet made up of mostly protein and vegetables. She also drinks water – Smart Water, her favorite – all day long.

I feel so much better with this diet – so much so that my body can tell if I mess up and have a little bit of what I’m not supposed to. My body has such an allergic reaction; to me it’s not worth that kind of pain to have a piece of cheese or bread.

For exercise, running around work in her six-inch heels is about all she has time for these days. “I’ve got great legs,” she added with a laugh.

And her paternal great grandmother, Rhendy for whom Sydney’s sister was named, was full Choctaw Native American. A fact she speaks of with pride. Thaxton hopes to research that part of her family history more in depth.

Sweet Sixteen. A sophomore in high school.

Sweet Sixteen. A sophomore in high school.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you at the office?

Without hesitation, she recalled SNOWMAGEDON ’14.

The snow day was crazy. About 10 I started watching the news and knew it was getting dark. An hour later at 11, the snow was going crazy – and I’m thinking no one has called this yet? No schools have shut down.

I looked outside and saw I-285 backed up. “I was like “Oh no.” I told Jessica and Miriam, “People are starting to freak out.”

Mediations were still going on. Jessica and Miriam left because of the worsening conditions. Sydney could look out and see that Peachtree Dunwoody Road – her way home – was packed. At some point she realized there is no way she was getting home. Then at three o’clock the office door opens and it’s Miriam who never could get out of the parking deck after an hour and a half.

At four o’clock my mother called me. She is up in Hartwell in the country where they shut down two days before snow gets there. She’s calling me, “Where is your cousin?” (Jessica is Sydney’s cousin.)
Sydney replied, “Mama why are you worried about Jessica? She’s gone.”

“No. Her mama called me and she’s on the side of the road.”

I was like – mom it’s okay. Breathe.

So I get my keys and my boots and I’m ready to go out the door and see if I can find my cousin and here she comes back through the door.

The three women spent two nights in the office, sleeping on the couch. So many people were similarly stranded in the large office complex that the Concourse opened up the Athletic Club to give Snowpocalypse detainees the opportunity to shower.

Four years of work at Miles has taught Thaxton to think on her feet — standing securely in those six-inch heels. Whether it’s a bored child, non-English speaking client or stormy Mother Nature, it’s business as usual for Sydney Thaxton . . . Keeping Calm and Mediating On.