Get to Know Margo E. Edwards

 

By Teresa Killeen
Washtenaw County Bar Association

Attorney Margo E. Edwards was born in Bradford, Pa., but moved to Michigan at an early age. She graduated from Belleville High School, attended Michigan State University and completed her bachelor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University.

She obtained her law degree from Wayne State University.

Edwards worked at Michigan Legal Services in Detroit before opening her own office in 1997. In 2010 she formed a partnership with two other individuals creating the Legal Defense Group, PLC, which handles juvenile defense in Washtenaw County.

Did you always know you wanted to be an attorney?  When I was a small child, I wanted to be a police officer or firefighter because it was acceptable to drive fast. There was also a time when I thought driving the car that goes before the “wide load” on the highway would be a nice job because you could drive around and listen to the radio all day. My parents were very supportive and from an early age told me I could be anything. By the time I was in junior high, I had narrowed it down to law or medicine. My family and friends always said I thought like a lawyer. I continue to believe that is a compliment.

What jobs did you have before you became an attorney?
My first job right after high school was making ham sandwiches and popcorn that people bought at a snack kiosk located in the middle of the Belleville Kmart. Before we were so health conscious, eating while you shopped was considered a convenience. While I was in college I also worked as a sales clerk at a fabric store, as a pharmacy tech, and at a day care. The day care was super-fun. Where else can you get paid to play all day! Had I not been so close to graduating I might have continued working with children.

What area of the law do you like the best and why? I was encouraged as a law clerk to pursue children’s law, that includes abuse and neglect work. I was reluctant because I thought it would be too emotional and draining. Thankfully, one of my mentor attorneys continued to prod me along that path. Now I cannot imagine doing anything else. I was very happy when I was able to start devoting the majority of my time to this type of work.

What is the biggest challenge facing you as an attorney? Time is always my biggest challenge. I think the cases have become more complex and time-consuming. Each case comprises a family, and most of those families have a lot of needs. My own immediate family consists of my 84-year-old mother and my 18-year-old, Sabastian. In many instances I have no control over the time needed by each event in my day, so balancing everything can be tricky.

What would you be doing today if you were not doing your current work? When I worked at Michigan Legal Services, I wore many hats and worked with several non-profits, with the Detroit City Counsel (under Maryann Mahaffey—she was a wonderful lady), and with the Detroit Housing Commission. I most enjoyed drafting ordinances and grant proposals in conjunction with Detroit city government. I could see myself working in that area. I also contemplated administrative positions in the non-profit housing and homeless sector.

Any words of wisdom to pass on to new lawyers? I always pass on the best advice I received as a new lawyer. “When others mess up, be gracious. When you mess up, and you will, perhaps people will be gracious in return.” I also pass on advice from a now retired 3rd Circuit judge who called me into chambers after my first appearance in his courtroom. He told me he was sharing with me the secret of a successful law practice. It is so simple: “number your pages.” To be clear, I had numbered my pages, but I think he just liked to reiterate the importance of numbering when he had a captive audience.

What is your favorite movie or book? I enjoy both movies and books tremendously so picking a favorite of either is difficult. While I like multiple genres, the most enjoyable movies are those that can make you laugh just thinking about them. If I had to recommend one movie it would be “Return to Me,” because I think it has something that appeals to everyone regardless of age or gender. It has a lot of well-known actors and great music. While it has substance, you can also just sit back and let it wash over you without a lot of complex thinking. After a long day, that’s nice. Every December I also recommend “A Muppet Christmas Carol.” Gonzo narrates and I find it is quite funny. I don’t think that was the intention though.

Describe a perfect day off: My perfect day is one where I do not have to leave my house. It doesn’t matter if I am working or relaxing. I like being home.

What are some of your favorite places that you have visited? I enjoy family (and extended family) trips back to Pennsylvania and Niagara Falls because we get to spend time together. I enjoyed experiencing the culture in Puerto Rico and Ireland.

One of my favorite travel memories was convincing a courthouse officer in the Cayman Islands to let me into the state-of-the-art courtrooms when the courthouse was actually closed. He even called his friend working at the Capitol Building who let me in there while it was also closed. That was many years ago so I don’t think they will get in trouble if I share that now.

When you have a little extra money, where do you like to spend it? Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks! The Venti Chai Tea Frappuccino (no whipped cream) has the calories of a meal but is definitely worth it.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  I read a lot. I usually have a book with me. I try to make time with family and friends a priority. I enjoy “light” household projects. And, when the weather is nice, working in my yard. I used to be quite crafty making greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, lace, crocheting, and sewing. I don’t have time for that anymore but maybe someday. At this point, I seriously enjoy focusing on relationships more. Time invested in others is never wasted and lasts forever.

— Reprinted with permission from the Washtenaw County Bar Association’s newsletter, Res Ipsa Loquitur.





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