Just cause: Attorney assists clients through tough times

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney Lisa Hagen always felt compelled to be in a practice that helps people.

“I found exactly that at the Sinas Dramis Law Firm,” she says. “There’s never a more stressful time in someone’s life than when they’ve been injured and they’re having trouble getting their bills paid through their insurance company. To be able to assist someone through that rough time, so they can focus on simply recovering from their injury, is exactly why I wanted to be lawyer.”

Hagen, who joined the firm in January, does a lot of work with Bryan Waldman, lead attorney in the firm’s bicycle litigation group.

“One of the things that has surprised me the most in working on bicycle cases is how often I read, or hear, ‘I just didn’t see the cyclist.’ It can be dangerous for bicyclists out there, especially if drivers are unaware of their surroundings” she says. “This is something that sticks with me as I drive each and every day.”

A member of the personal injury and auto no-fault team, Hagen focuses on personal injury, auto, motorcycle and semi-truck accidents, slip and fall accidents, brain injury cases, and wrongful death claims, among others.

She was recently elected the 2016-17 regional representative for the Mid-Michigan Region of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM).

“I love to be part of such a positive group of women, who are committed to supporting each other in all phases of their careers,” she says. “This group is devoted to developing various events surrounding education, networking, and professional development.”

Hagen is a member of the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ), and the Ingham County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section (ICBA-YLS).

“ICBA-YLS hosts various socials and other events that assist young lawyers to come out and get to know each other in a more relaxed environment,” she says, adding that she particularly enjoyed a recent “Refresh Your Recollection Evidence” seminar    

Hagen started her career path by graduating with high honors from Michigan State University with a double major in criminal justice and psychology.

“I’ve always had a strong desire to understand people, which is why I wanted to pursue a degree – and possibly a career – in psychology,” she says.   

A Criminal Justice Procedure course in her sophomore year, where the majority of the reading was U.S. Supreme Court case law, sent her in a different direction.

“It was taught by a wonderful, iconic MSU professor, Dr. Christopher Smith, who turned out to be a fantastic mentor of mine,” she says. “I realized my desire to understand and help people could still be accomplished, but perhaps in a different way.”

Hagen remained a Spartan to earn her J.D., cum laude, from MSU Law, and praises the high caliber of educators.

“I saw professors countless times going the extra mile for their students,” she says. “I had mentors, and I saw professors being involved in various student groups. Since I’ve graduated, there have been professors who have checked in to see how my career path has gone. It’s refreshing to see a group of people care that much about their students.”

While at MSU Law, Hagen enjoyed the variety of work offered during two years as a law clerk with the Michigan Supreme Court, Friend of the Court Bureau.

“Every day was a little bit unpredictable, and definitely there were no two days that were exactly the same,” she says. “Whether it was a different research assignment, or a different phone call, I certainly never felt bored.”

She also gained litigation experience during 17 months as a student clinician at the MSU Law Civil Rights Clinic, where she advocated for the constitutional rights of indigent and low-income individuals.

“It was the highlight of my law school career,” she says. “Professor Manville is so passionate, it makes you want to work just as hard as he does. The clients were so grateful to have someone on their side, and it was amazing to have actual litigation experience in front of federal judges and juries. I was able to do depositions and participate in three trials, all before graduation.”

After receiving her law degree, Hagen spent 14 months working for the State of Michigan’s Office of Child Support/Courtland Consulting in Lansing.

“It was an amazing time in my life,” she says. “The people at that agency are truly passionate about child support and families. They are constantly working, brainstorming, and collaborating to come up with new ways to be better.

“That job taught me that if last year was good, then this year can be great, so don’t ever quit.”   

A native of Grand Haven, Hagen now makes her home in Holt, south of Lansing, with her 7-year-old yellow lab, Cooper.

“I got him when I was a junior in undergrad, so he’s been with me through it all – college, law school, bar exam.”

A fan of sports, she enjoys watching the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, and any Spartan sports.  An avid runner, she runs three to five half-marathons a year.

“I’m trying to find the motivation to run my first marathon – it hasn’t happened yet,” she says with a smile. “I’m also a bit of a foodie, so I’m always looking for new and interesting restaurants to try.”

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