I always love how there is something new to learn every time and, in every case, and situation

A Special Mother’s Day Edition Of “Thursday Thoughts” With Attorney Micheline Nadeau Fairbank

With Mother’s Day approaching on Sunday, in this week’s leadership profile we headed to Reno to visit with attorney Micheline Nadeau Fairbank!

Micheline Fairbank is an engaged and results driven Of Counsel attorney with broad experience involving the management and resolution of controversial and complex matters who practices in our Business Litigation and Natural Resources practice groups from our Reno, NV office.

Talk about the blur/balancing act required to be a high-profile attorney, as well as a mom.

In honor of my daughter, I will quote Yoda – “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” I think that’s just the reality, you just do. It is a blur to be a mom, regardless. Adding on a demanding career just compounds the blur. However, I learned some lessons in law school that I have been able to apply to finding work life balance. I was a newlywed my first year of law school, and I had to learn to find a balance and prioritize my new husband and the demands of law school. There were times that I made choices to put him first.

That same mentality applies in my professional life – you have a family and a career. Both are important, but there are times where you make decisions to prioritize one over the other. Obviously, sometimes the caseload dictates when and how you prioritize; but, I learned early on that giving yourself space to make time for family ultimately makes me more productive. It allows me to really dig in deep and sacrifice time with my family because it’s not an either-or choice and I have learned to balance both.

Without naming clients, are there any intriguing matters that you’re currently working on in your hybrid Business Litigation and Natural Resources practice?

Gosh, with litigation, I always love how there is something new to learn every time and, in every case, and situation. I think one thing that has been interesting for me right now is dealing with an issue that doesn’t necessarily have a straightforward legal remedy – but I find it fulfilling to be working on making certain that client interests are protected while navigating modern challenges.

What would you tell your younger self, or a 1L, (especially a woman) at the Willamette University College of the Law currently contemplating a career in the legal profession?

Find your passion and be patient. My career path has not been a straight trajectory, but the different directions my career has taken me has given me so much knowledge and experience that is, to me, invaluable. When you’re young, you have this vision of what your perfect job/career will look like. I think being patient helped me better define what my strengths are and where and how I can best draw on those strengths as a lawyer today. It’s easy to get eager and, in some ways obsessed, with what you think you want, and frankly if I had done what I thought I wanted to do right out of law school, I don’t believe I would be who I am today. Meandering and being patient for me to get to where I wanted to be added a lot of value to my practice today.

Talk about your mom – and the impact she has had on your life and career.

My mom also gave me the love of sewing and scratch cooking. Growing up, she sewed a lot and made me a lot of clothes that I have fond memories of – even if they are epically 1970’s style. And cooking; I used to hate her macaroni and cheese because it was homemade, not Kraft. It is so funny thinking back that I was upset about not getting Kraft macaroni and cheese when what I got was the real deal, shredded cheddar cheese and real noodles. Funny how silly kids are. But, I think those wholesome roots have really helped shape me into who I am today.  She has been an ardent supporter of me throughout my life, from school athletics to now. And knowing that she is one of the proudest moms out there really has a meaningful impact for me.

Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?

When I first went off to college, I really enjoyed the college experience my first semester. As a result, I didn’t do so great on the academic front, and I lost my scholarship. Let’s just say the winter break between semesters was a little uncomfortable at home.

Fortunately, I had the chance to earn back my scholarship if I got my overall GPA up for the year. That next semester, I realized I needed to prioritize my academics and be diligent, I earned my scholarship back, and still enjoyed the college experience. It was a good lesson to learn about balancing responsibilities with fun, and that choices have real world consequences, but that you can be successful while still enjoying life.

What’s the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?

Best – take the chances. Sometimes we’re given choices to pursue things that our outside of our comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to take the risk.

Worst – “Never trust the clerical staff.” It was a piece of advice that always rubbed me wrong; the one thing I have learned over my career is that success is not just one person’s doing, it takes a team. Especially in the legal field, the team of people from runners to administrative assistants and beyond are all a part of making things succeed, and if you don’t treat every person on the team as a valued member, the team will break down, and in the end it is not good for anyone.

What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming – and what’s your go-to take-out order?

As for listening, I am a very eclectic music listener. It really is mood driven; I will listen to everything from 80s-current pop, classic & modern country, 80’s and 90’s rap, all genres of Rock – including big hair bands, funk, you name it I probably listen to it at some point in time. This morning’s commute selection was Billie Holiday, and yesterday was Elle King. 

I wish I had more time for reading, but books I’m working through are The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, On to Richmond the second book in the Bregdan Chronicles, and Water War in the Klamath Basin.

For streaming – we’re a family of Star Wars fans, so if there’s a new series that’s what we’re watching. I don’t watch a lot of television, but a couple of regulars include NHK television – we love virtually exploring the culture and food of Japan. The other is Beard Meets Food on YouTube – it’s this English guy who does competitive eating. I know it sounds weird, but it’s easy entertainment and interesting to see the different meals and places he visits, and most of the time the dishes look pretty darn good.

Finally, go-to take-out order – that’s a little difficult, but I think the take-out I frequent the most is the taco truck in the valley where I live, and my favorite dish they offer is their shrimp enchiladas. Always a solid choice in my opinion.

Okay, you’re hosting a lavish dinner party at your home. Name the three people – from any time in human history – who you’d invite.

First and foremost, my Dad, I can’t express how much I miss him and his guidance and perspective on all things. He was such an integral part of molding me into who I am. I would also invite my husband’s grandmother Jessie. She died when my mother-in-law was a young girl, but I have heard so much about her from her sisters and family and she sounds like an amazing woman who I would love to meet and spend time with. Finally, my great-grandfather Charles. He too passed shortly after I was born, but he was an incredible man who was instrumental in a lot of things that happened in far northwestern California. We share many common interests, and I would love to gain his insight, perspectives and hear his stories.

Happy Mother’s Day to Micheline – and to all the legal professionals at Fennemore who balance careers in the legal profession with motherhood!

To learn more about our experienced, forward-thinking Business Litigation team members who go beyond the expected for clients in dispute prevention and resolution, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/business-litigation/ .