Thursday Profile: Mary Chartier

 Mary Chartier is a partner at Alane & Chartier, P.L.C., a women-founded law firm located in downtown Lansing that she began with her law partner Natalie Alane. Chartier’s practice is focused on criminal defense, defending parents charged with abuse and neglect, and appellate work. She practices in courts throughout the state, and practices extensively in federal court. 

One of Chartier’s positions was working at the Michigan Supreme Court for Justice Michael F. Cavanagh. She also taught at Thomas M. Cooley Law School for more than 10 years, and at the Hillman Advocacy Program, which provides courtroom training to trial lawyers. She has presented at numerous nationwide and state conferences on topics related to criminal defense and has argued and won numerous cases at the Michigan Supreme Court.
She is a member of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the National College of DUI Defense. She is also the Appellate Unit chairperson of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, co-chairperson of the Ingham County Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section, and an officer of the Board of Directors of the Ingham County Bar Association. 
By Jo Mathis
Legal News
 
Currently reading … I’m reading the novel “Black Chalk” by Christopher J. Yates and a host of legal publications that I truly enjoy, such as NACDL’s The Champion and the ABA Journal. Of course, I also enjoy my weekly People magazine.
 
What is your most treasured material possession? Some photographs to remind me of great times.
 
What advice do you have for someone considering law school? Make sure that you understand and appreciate what attorneys really do and the importance of what we do before making such an important decision.
 
Favorite local hangouts: I really like going to most places, so I don’t have favorites.
 
Favorite websites: Trip Advisor for traveling, Facebook to see what people are doing, and The Daily Puppy to see the day’s cute puppy.
 
What is your happiest childhood memory? There isn’t just one. We had a lot of fun growing up, and I still have a lot of fun with my siblings.
 
Which things do you not like to do? I really can’t think of anything – most everything has some fun element to it.
 
What would surprise people about your job? That our clients are often polite and pleasant, and that we laugh a lot with our clients despite what many of them are going through. 
 
What has been your favorite year so far? There are so many great things in life, so every year is a favorite because of the privilege to experience all that life has to offer.
 
What’s your most typical mood? I think I’m usually pretty cheerful, but others may certainly disagree.
 
If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? Either the President or the Pope because I’d love an inside look at the White House and the Vatican.
 
What word do you overuse? It’s not a word that you can print in the paper.
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? The great state of Rhode Island, where I was born and raised is a special place to me. I also felt a real bond when I was in Italy, where my mother’s family is from and where we also still have family. But I’ve really loved everywhere I’ve traveled to – every state and country is so unique and welcoming. People around the world are pretty great.
 
What do you wish someone would invent? More hours in the day because there’s so much to do and not enough time to do it.
 
If you could have one super power, what would it be? I’d like to be able to affect world peace, but I’d also like to engage in time travel and be able to fly.
 
What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Life is going to pretty great, and you really are smart enough to go to college and become an attorney.
 
What one thing do you wish people knew about your work? How nice my clients are. As a criminal defense litigator, people usually have no idea that my clients are often interesting and kind people who may have made some bad choices, but are not necessarily bad people. 
 
What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? Any time a client recognizes that I’ve worked my hardest on their case is a proud moment. Another hallmark was winning an appeal that resulted in the release of a man who had been wrongfully convicted of homicide. Realizing the effect that this had on his entire family’s life was humbling.
 
Favorite joke: I have a hard time remembering jokes, so I don’t have a favorite, but my brother-in-law just told me this one – I’m going to sell my vacuum cleaner. It’s only collecting dust. (I know it’s bad.)
 
What do you to relax? Sleep, work out at the MAC (well, I used to and I’m starting to again), and spend time with family and friends.
 
How would you describe your home? Unfortunately, a bit messy at times, but I love organizing so I’m hoping that will be remedied soon.
 
If you were starting all over again and couldn’t go into law, what career path would you choose? I’d own a bakery. (Or I’d design wheelchairs because I think there are some better ways to build this essential piece of many people’s lives.)
 
What’s your biggest regret?There’s something to learn from every choice and event – even the bad ones – so I can’t say that I really have one.
 
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do? Two things – snowboard and archery.
 
What is something most people don’t know about you? I grew up in a working class family and in a working class neighborhood where going to college was certainly not common. When I went to college, I was only the second person to go in my family (my brother was the first) and the first woman to go to college. It was a big deal to graduate and go on to law school. In my old neighborhood, it’s still pretty rare for anyone to go to college after high school.
 
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? My parents, who have both passed away, and Frank Sinatra because my parents loved his music and would be able to dance while being serenaded by their idol. 
 
Can’t-live-without technology: I love my I-Phone and TiVo. In the summer, it’s definitely air conditioning.
 
What was the greatest compliment someone ever paid you? I don’t know if it’s the greatest compliment, but I’ve been told that I’m easy to talk with, care about people, and have a good sense of humor, so that’s nice to hear.
 
What’s the best advice you ever received? Whenever I would have a choice to consider, my mother always used to ask if I was going to hurt someone and to consider that before choosing my path. I think that’s pretty great advice that I still consider every day.
 
If you can help it, where will you never return?
JFK airport. My husband and I recently had a horrendous layover there where many of my overused words were said with great frequency.
 
What do you drive? An SUV.
 
What would you drive if money were no object? A bigger SUV. (I was in a car accident last year, and I’d prefer to be in a tank if I could.)
 
Favorite place to spend money: At a restaurant or while traveling.
 
What is your motto? “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela.
 
Where would you like to be when you’re 90? Above ground, and enjoying a glass of wine with family and friends.
 
What would you like carved onto your tombstone? “I finally left Pawtucket” is already taken by a family friend and a phrase that only Rhode Islanders would get. “I’ll be back” seems terribly creepy, so I would just hope that people would say that I made the world a bit better by having been here.

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