Criminal Defense Attorney Tracy Pratt
Determined to Make the World a Better Place
Project 180 is delighted to welcome attorney Tracy Pratt to our board. Tracy, 45, who hails from Michigan, was the first person in her family to obtain a college degree. Born to a plumber and day-care provider, she grew up in a blue collar industrial town where the most commonly traveled path was straight to factory work after graduation from high school.
Knowing nothing about college or even where the universities in Michigan were located, Tracy followed the well-trodden path to the factory. At 18, she landed a job in a plant where she pulled foam protectors over strips of conduit, leaving work each day with bloodied hands and only enough money to afford one meal a day. She lasted a month.
Packing everything she owned in her “beater” car, she moved back and forth between Michigan and Texas after enrolling in community college and failing a class. “No one had ever taught me how to attend college” she says, and juggling two jobs plus relying on public transportation had taken a toll on her class attendance. Tracy moved to Sarasota in 1994 and enrolled again. With greater stability, her grades improved and she completed her Associate degree at MCC (now SCF).
While she studied toward a Bachelor degree in human development, Tracy landed an internship in India working at a school for developmentally disabled children. After completing the internship, she traveled extensively and volunteered in one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages. When a friend suggested that she enroll in law school, her blue collar background stopped her cold. Her first reaction, “I don’t even know any lawyers. What do they do?,” shifted to confidence in knowing she’d found her place in life when she reviewed a law school’s curriculum. She knew that a career in the law would lead her exactly where she wanted to go: the place where the buck stops in making a better world.
Today, Tracy is married to Cole Pratt, a local physician. Cole and Tracy’s meeting had its genesis in Tracy’s volunteer work in India where she met a child on the streets of Kathmandu whom she came close to adopting. She paid for the child’s board at a school in Nepal and, upon her return to Sarasota, held a fundraiser for the school; her fundraising efforts were reported in the Herald Tribune. Cole read the article and was deeply inspired by Tracy’s work. By chance, weeks later he and his mother heard Tracy speak at a Buddhist center that both Tracy and Cole attended but through which they’d not previously met. So, how do you introduce yourself to the woman of your dreams at a Buddhist lecture? Put your mom on the case.
Cole’s mother set it right up. “What a great talk! You just have to meet my son. He’s a doctor! He’s about to travel to Thailand to work at a medical clinic in a refugee camp but he just happens to be here tonight…” and the rest is history.
Tracy and Cole have two children, Atticus and Eleanor (as in Finch and Roosevelt). Tracy received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in New Orleans and has a private practice in Bradenton focused on criminal appeals and post-conviction cases. Tracy is a member of the Manatee Bar Association, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Manatee County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ACLU, and is on the board of the Sarasota Cooperative Learning Project. Tracy is Vice Chair and Secretary of the Project 180 Board of Directors.
Tracy, welcome to the Project 180 Board of Directors!