Are You an Outlaw? Meet Michelle Friends

Who has redefined what it means to think outside the law (aka OUTLAW) and is helping each of us in the process? 

Meet Michelle Friends. Michelle is the Director of Operations and Business Development for Fairfield and Woods, P.C., based in Denver, CO. In her role, Michelle oversees all aspects of firm operations, including attorney recruitment and development, marketing, information technology, human resources, finance and strategic planning. She is also a Member-at-Large on the LMA Board of Directors. She has held many roles within LMA, including speaking and co-chairing QuickStart at the annual conference and two terms (2014 & 2015) as the Rocky Mountain LMA Chapter President.  

Michelle is passionate about her work in the legal industry, and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Judicial Institute (CJI) and chairs the organization’s Development Committee. CJI works to preserve and enhance the fairness, impartiality and excellence of Colorado’s Courts.

Prior to joining the legal industry, Michelle worked in the non-profit sector. She holds a Master of Applied Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and Marketing from the University of Denver. Currently Michelle is pursuing her Master of Science in Legal Administration at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

We asked Michelle a few questions, and some of her answers can be found below. Learn more about Michelle and read her full interview here. Enjoy getting to know this Outlaw!

Q: Who is your real life hero?
A: My grandfather was my real life hero. He served in the Army in World War II, spoke five languages, and retired at 90 years old. While he never graduated college, education was always important to him. I know he would be proud to see me graduate with my second master’s degree this December. His work ethic made him a very successful man, and afforded him a nice life. The internal drive he had is something I believe I inherited. While I don’t plan to work until I am 90, I learned staying active is what keeps you going and I try to live a life that would make him proud.

Q: What is your motto?
A: It is no secret that I live by the motto work hard, play harder. I love being busy. I thrive by learning new things, serving for LMA, serving for the Colorado Judicial Institute, and helping my firm grow, innovate, and give back to our community. However, the balance in life is what makes it all possible. I am a frequent concert attendee (of all types of music), I make a point to see my friends regularly, I always have travel on my calendar, and I love the Colorado outdoors.

Q: Finish this sentence: “If I won the lottery tomorrow I would…
A: I would hire an attorney, I work for a law firm and I know some good ones.
I would absolutely still work, likely in some type of non-profit. I would travel, volunteer, and give back as much as I could. I would also have a potbelly pig farm and save as many pigs as I could. If you don’t know me, I am the proud mom of a five-year old potbelly pig.

Pictured above is Malcolm, Michelle’s five-year old potbelly pig.

Q: What would you consider your greatest achievement?
A: My education is my greatest achievement. I was the first in my family to go to college, and as I have mentioned, I am set to graduate with my second master’s degree this December, this one is a Master of Science in Legal Administration. I have always been a good student, but I did not plan to go past my bachelor’s degree when I was younger. I took an unconventional path starting in community college when I was a junior in high school, taking classes at night and over the summer. I later graduated with three associate degrees and I transferred to a small university in Denver to complete my bachelor’s degree. Taking this route allowed me to spend more time exploring career paths, which led me to business, then marketing, and later to the legal industry.I would be remiss to not also mention that serving on the LMA board is one of my greatest achievements. It is an honor to serve a community of professionals I respect and admire.

Q: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A: What a question! There are so many people I could list, but I do have a go to person. If I could have dinner with one person it would be Phil Jackson. Jackson is arguably one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time. He coached the Bulls during the Jordan years and the Lakers during the Kobe years. He is known as the Zen master, and his wisdom for dealing with some of the biggest personalities in sports would undoubtedly be useful in the legal world.

Q: What is your greatest fear?
A: My greatest fear is disappointing people I love. I always want to be a dependable person whether it is work or being a shoulder to cry on for a friend. Disappointing someone I love is by far a bigger disappoint to myself than them.

Q: Who would you have liked to be?
A: No one other than me. There are times where we all want to be rich, famous, or traveling the world. While those moments exist I am grateful for the person I have become. Being me is pretty awesome, and that is in large part, because of the people in my life (and one special piggy).