Everything about Johana Bufford’s life has been a leap of faith. Studying the law. Moving to a new country. Choosing one friend over some family. Getting up enough courage to ask an attorney she didn’t know a few questions.
The travel from Albania to the United States and ultimately Myrtle Beach was anything but a straight line for Bufford. The Indigo Family Law Office Manager and Paralegal, however, was never looking for easy. She was hoping to make a long-shot dream come true.
“The United States is the wonderland, the land of opportunity,” she said. “Being as I was young, I wanted to explore that. It was a miracle.” It was one she worked for. And how she ended up Indigo is quite the story.
After earning a Law Degree at the University of Tirana in the mid-1990s, she started with a firm there in Albania while simultaneously teaching labor law classes. On a whim, she applied for a U.S. Green Card. Her background fast-tracked an extensive interview and paperwork process via the U.S. Embassy; eventually, she was approved and elected to make the first leap.
Not long after, she was at JFK Airport with another decision to make: Head to Chicago, where some of Bufford’s family had already taken up residence or follow an old friend from high school to the Grand Strand.
The latter won out, and it led to a pair of service industry jobs.
Some 18 months later, while working at a hotel lunch spot, she read a news clipping about a regular who happened to be a local attorney working on a death-penalty case. After a few quasi-surface conversations, she inquired about the American version of the craft she had already started. He offered her a job.
For more than a decade, Bufford shadowed him and acclimated to South Carolina law – all the while earning full U.S. residency. In August of 2016, she joined on at Indigo Family Law alongside founding partners Brana Williams and Ryan Stampfle.
“Johana was an amazing addition to the firm. Her legal training in another country, as well as being raised behind the Iron Curtain, gives her a different viewpoint,” Williams said. “Her unique perspective is such a bonus to our practice. She has such incredible integrity and her dedication to our clients is unparalleled.”
In many ways for those clients, it is Bufford’s feet on the ground that helps Indigo run so smoothly. All it took for that to happen was lifting her own.