Aging In Michigan - February 2021

Live, Love and Law: In Their Own Words

In 1996, Michelle Lane and Amy Tripp both applied for the same job at the legal aid office in Jackson, Michigan.   Michelle got the job as the elder law attorney,   while Amy was awarded a consolation prize and hired as the pro bono coordinator.  A bond was formed, and from that day until now, the two of them have shared weddings, births, hopes, dreams, trials and tears – all while practicing law.


This is their story. These are their words.


Michelle:  It was a fun office to be in with great people who mentored us. It was especially nice to be working with a peer who was getting her feet wet just like I was.  We knew we were very passionate about being good lawyers and we did not compete with one another, we just wanted to help each other meet our goals.


Amy:  Michelle and I had some amazing car time (those were our Thelma & Louise days) when we would trek all over Hillsdale and Lenawee County visiting clients, oh the stories.


Michelle:  Amy would go to Jackson Crossing and find some great deals on shoes and clothing. I would go during lunch or after work and buy the exact same outfit. We just wouldn’t wear them on the same day.


Michelle:  Amy and Steve attended our wedding and she was a firsthand witness to the development of my relationship with Byron. I wouldn’t be exaggerating too much if I said she was partly responsible for my marriage to Byron.


Amy:  Michelle and I both are planners and like order in our lives. When both of us had our first children and both of those children had serious medical issues,  it flipped our worlds upside down and reminded us what little control we have.  The support we each had from each other was amazing.  I knew Michelle was prayer warrior for us and I was for her.


Michelle:  But, those babies are now 20 and 21 years old and are both thriving!


Michelle: Our parents were not rich which meant we were not rich. We both had to work hard and overcome barriers to get through law school, pass the Bar exam and get where we are today.  Amy witnessed the prejudices I experienced while practicing in Jackson County.  There were times when I was mistaken for being the client and my client (who would happen to be white) was thought to be the attorney.


Amy:  I was ashamed and angry.  Then and now, Michelle and I have always been able to discuss race and diversity matters and I value those honest conversations and believe it has helped me to understand some aspects that I otherwise would not.


Michelle: We value each other’s opinion and rely on each other to vent when needed. Amy has groomed me into a better lawyer by helping me make up for years when I was a stay-at-home mom. She didn’t underestimate my gifts and talents (even though I wasn’t as confident in myself) rather she made sure I was maximizing them. I could say more…


Amy: Wow, more tears in my eyes.  At legal aid Michelle was grooming me and I followed in her footsteps which started my path into elder law.  I have always admired Michelle’s decision to stay-at-home and to make that her main priority.  I am so grateful to have Michelle as a colleague but more thankful she is my friend who has always been there to offer her guidance and support to me.  We have laughed and cried together.


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