Yolanda Trotman, Lawyer & Founder of iSpeak Now
Yolanda M. Trotman is a native North Carolinian. She has been a Charlottean for 20 years. She was born and raised in High Point North Carolina and is the youngest of three children.
Yolanda graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and she was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. After graduating from college with Honors, Yolanda was a high school history teacher, debate and speech coach, and Mock trial coach for three years at North Mecklenburg High School. She was honored by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, (CMS), as the First Year Teacher of the Year amongst all high school teachers in CMS. She was also recognized in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and was honored with a commendation as a top Debate and Speech coach in the state.
In 1999 she attended law school at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in May 2002 with her Juris Doctor degree. She received the Community Service Award from the law school upon her graduation for her work within the community. After law school she decided she wanted to return to Charlotte to begin her legal career. Yolanda began her career as an Assistant Public Defender in October 2002 and handled criminal matters in District and Superior Court. During this time she was also an Adjunct Professor at UNC-Charlotte in the criminal justice department.
In 2005 she wanted to become a small business owner and opened her own law practice, the Law Office of Yolanda M. Trotman, PLLC. She was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Phoenix. Yolanda is nationally ranked at one of the “Top 10 Ten Under 40” Family Law attorneys by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys.
She was elected as District Court Judge on November 4, 2014 and served as a Judge in the 26th Judicial District where she presided over criminal and civil matters. She presided in matters in all criminal courts, civil court, domestic violence court and family court. Yolanda has continuously served her community, and received several awards for her service to the community. She also volunteered as a Truancy Court Judge, regularly visited classrooms to read to children, and mentored several youth and law students of her community.
In August 2016 Yolanda founded iSpeak Now, a non-profit organization that teaches public speaking, critical thinking and related skills to elementary and high school students by utilizing an interactive mock trial model called the Mock Trial Experience in partnership with law enforcement, law and college students and members of the community. The program also teaches advanced public speaking and speech writing through a program called iWrite, by traditional speeches, hip hop and poetry. The organization also created the “Secret Storyteller Project” which pushes for literacy with unique approaches for elementary school students. Finally iSpeak Now is also creating internet programming and shows created by students.
Yolanda decided to leave the bench in December 2016 and return to the private sector to practice law, to pursue to development and expansion of iSpeak Now throughout local schools and to expand to other counties and other states. She is also in the process of developing a non-profit organization to address four key areas where there is a lack of access to legal representation that she observed from presiding in criminal, civil and family law courtrooms. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for three non-profit organizations: the YWCA Central Carolinas, Above and Beyond Students and Community Dream Builders.