Thursday Profile: Deborah Frederick

Deborah (Deb) Frederick was born in Alexandria, Va., and moved to Detroit at age 2, as her parents were looking for work. They arrived very poor, but her father’s job at Cadillac Motors eventually pulled them up into the middle class.

She attended Detroit and Dearborn Public Schools, and after graduating from high school a year early, took a job with the state of Michigan. After a couple of years, she left her job to put herself through Henry Ford College and Wayne State University. She enrolled at Thomas Cooley Law School at the age of 45.

Over the years, Frederick worked for the Michigan unemployment compensation and welfare systems; a statewide organization advocating for rape victims and rape crisis centers; a women’s foundation; a small law firm; Legal Services of South Central Michigan; and a circuit court.

She has been married for 40 years to Andy Frederick, the co-guardian of three small rescued dogs.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News
Residence:  Downtown Lansing.

What is the best advice you ever received?
From former Michigan State Senator Lana Pollock, when I told her I thought I was too old to go to law school:  “So what, if you’ll be 48 years old when you graduate from law school. You’re going be 48 no matter what—don’t be 48 and regret you didn’t go.”

Why did you become a lawyer? The intellectual challenge and to increase the venues in which I could advocate for others.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
Do you really want to be a lawyer? The education is very hard, stressful, and expensive, and will probably leave you with substantial debt that you will, at best, struggle to repay. Studying for and taking the bar is one of the ultimate stressors.

What would surprise people about being a lawyer?
The variety of legal issues, from drafting aviation leases to adoption to animal law and a lot in between.

How do you define success? Doing work that benefits individuals and society and maintaining my personal integrity.
Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party?
Mick Jagger, Pope Francis, Jon Stewart, Anna Quindlen, Oprah, Bob Dylan, Ellen Degeneres, Robert DeNiro, Dame Judi Dench, Barack Obama, Malala Yousafzai.
If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? Ellen Degeneres.
Favorite websites: Facebook (love/hate), Wikipedia,
Favorite app: Maps, Pinterest.

Favorite music: Highly eclectic, but especially early rock-n-roll, Beethoven’s 9th, Delta blues, Rolling Stones, old school gospel, bluegrass, “old timey” Appalachian.
What is your happiest childhood memory? Visiting extended family in northern Georgia every summer.

What do you wish someone would invent?
A self-cleaning house!
What has been your favorite year so far?
1998, the year I passed the bar.
What is your most typical mood? Mostly positive outlook, looking for the humor in life to keep the ugliness in life from overwhelming my mood.
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? The Grand Canyon.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
Sponsoring my friends, Anna and Brandon Scott, as they were sworn in to the bar.

What did you do last weekend? Continued to recover from an open house at our condo the prior weekend and watched a few favorite TV shows, including “Sunday Morning,” “60 Minutes,” “Madame Secretary,” and “Ray Donovan.”

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Have an unlimited fortune that I would use to make secret $1 million grants to people and organizations that make the world a better place.
What do you do to relax?
My ideal relaxation is to sit overlooking an ocean on a sunny day, sipping a very tall Caipirinha and meditating on the waves. Most days, I meditate and practice deep breathing hanging out at home.
What word do you overuse?  The “F” word.
What is one thing you would like to learn to do? Learn to speak Spanish fluently.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I'm part Huguenot. Yeah, go look it up.
Favorite place to spend money:  Chicago.
What is your motto?  You can’t always get what you want; but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.

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