“Ten Questions” is a Docket feature focused on getting to know DBA members. If you’re interested in being in the spotlight—or know someone else who should be—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1.Where did you go to law school and where are you currently working?
I graduated magna cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law. Washington D.C. was an amazing place to go to law school. I am a Director/Shareholder at Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe, P.C., where I have worked for 11 years. I am the head of the firm’s Employment Law Practice Group, and I advise employers on legal strategies to comply with employment laws.
2. Why did you become a lawyer?
World peace, of course! Really though, “To Kill a Mockingbird” was my favorite book as a child. I was so moved by the balance of law and justice, and Atticus. I also was influenced by my father who is an attorney and held the profession with the utmost regard and respect. I became an employment lawyer because my mother had a loss of hearing and I saw how she was impacted by her disability. When Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to address issues with disabilities and employment, I took an interest in the statute and took sign language classes because I thought my focus would be in representing the deaf and hard of hearing. When I got to law school, I realized the ADA was only a small part of the laws governing the employer–employee relationship and became enamored with all aspects of employment law.
3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Do that which scares you.” Litigation scared me. As a result, I accepted a job right out of law school with the City of New York’s Office of Corporation Counsel, knowing I would be thrown into the courtroom right away. I had more litigation experience in my first three years than most attorneys have after ten years. The advice and experience served me well. The next best advice—though not given to me directly—is by Theodore Roosevelt: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I make every effort to understand and care for my clients, which makes me a better counselor and gives me better insight about strategies for their business.
4. Where are your favorite places to travel?
The mountains are my “zen,” but I also love the madness of a whirlwind trip to Disney. This summer, we will be taking my 7-year-old son on his first European adventure and seeing part of the Tour de France.
5. What’s your favorite TV show?
No particular show, but I tend to love everything on Food Network, HGTV, or the travel channels.
6. Who’s your role model and why?
Any individual who has stuck their neck out for the common good and the improvement of mankind or their community: True leadership in action.
7. What are your hobbies outside of the law?
I love spending time with my son and husband, whether it is cycling (or more accurately, watching them compete in cyclo-cross races), going to the movies or our favorite restaurants, and just spending time together as a unit. I also love going to musicals!
8. If you could only eat one type of cuisine all year, what would it be?
Breakfast. That may not qualify as a cuisine, but I do love everything about it and could easily eat it three times a day.
9. What’s on your desk right now?
The scales of justice, too much paperwork (neatly organized in piles), pictures of my family, and my lunch.
10. If you weren’t a lawyer, you’d be:
A starving actress trying to make her way on Broadway.
You can contact Michelle at MFerguson@irelandstapleton.com.