Thursday Profile: Nan Elizabeth Casey

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Nan Elizabeth Casey was born in Petoskey and grew up with three sisters. She has a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University, attended the University of Oxford in England for a semester, and earned her law degree from Cooley in Lansing.

She is owner and attorney at Nan Elizabeth Casey and Associates, PLLC in Lansing where her practice focuses on mediation, with emphasis on veteran rights and elder law and divorce.

For the past 35 years, Casey says she's been surrounded by testosterone as a wife and mother of five sons: Jamie (an entrepreneur in Oregon), Andrew (a realtor in the Detroit area), Casey (an associate with the Catholic church in Chicago), Danny Patrick (who is working on his master's degree in public policy at Michigan State University) and Joey (a student at Davenport University).

Her husband, Jim Dunn, is deputy director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Department, and was once a professional hockey player whose career was interrupted by the draft.

After having three sons, Casey says she is thrilled to have three granddaughters, Violet, Addison, and Ava Rose.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

Residences: East Lansing and Petoskey.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school? It's the best job in the world. Where else can you go from being a law school teacher to corporate attorney to domestic law to private practice to probate to veterans right? It's incredible how many options and doors a law degree opens. The only problem I had was that there were too many things I liked to do, and when the kids came, I had to limit my time in the office.

Favorite local hangouts: Crunchy's patio, Reg's Gazebo, Art's Bar, Park Garden and Mitchell Street Pub in Petoskey.

Favorite websites: Take Shape For Life. I went back to school in 2013 to become a health coach, fitness instructor and personal trainer. It was very painful taking anatomy and kinesiology classes and I failed many classes before I was certified. It has opened up new avenues in how I can impact on lives and help people. I wanted more options for the clients I train that want to lose weight and TSFL has provided that.

Favorite music: Gospel, Elvis, Moody Blues.

What would surprise people about your job? That I spend hours listening. Everyone has their own story and I listen to a lot of truly amazing stories. Life is hard. People have an amazing capacity to persevere.

What do you wish someone would invent? We have too many gadgets as it is particularly my husband who has more phones and IPad's and computers than any one human being should have.

What has been your favorite year so far? Right where I am now.

What is your most typical mood? My kids would say 'intense.' My clients may say 'bold.' I would say that I definitely have a range from very happy to very frustrated and mad. But, I don't stay angry or frustrated long. Life is too short.

Why did you become a lawyer? I tried social work and it felt ineffective and there was so much to be done-particularly in women's rights and human rights.

What's the most awe-inspiring place you've ever been? Petoskey. The Greek Islands. The Catholic chapel on Mackinaw Island.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Time travel.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Chill out and don't be such a 'man hater.'

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer? Nearly every week I have someone come up to me and tell me that I changed their lives by helping them during their divorce. Recently, I received an email from a client whose ex-wife had agreed to a counselor/mediator rather than pursuing litigation because I raised the issue at the last hearing. His ex-wife was very unhappy when I suggested that their conflict was impacting on their children but after reflection, she agreed with the opposition which was me.

What do you to relax? Work out-something different every day. I watch sports with my husband and sons and friends, walk the dog, watch the sunset, go to my book club, bike ride with my husband. I spend time with my friends who are truly amazing human beings. I go somewhere new, such as recently to 'Hair' with my friend Nelly.

How would you describe your home? Incredibly quiet after having anywhere from one to eight living in it for 20-some years. Fortunately, I like having my husband and the dog-both faithful companions.

What words do you overuse? OMG and NFW.

What is something most people don't know about you? Three of my babies were over 9 pounds. And I was involved in the Earvin Johnson litigation back in 1990 (and I was pregnant too).

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? My dad, the pope and Mother Teresa.

What is the best advice you ever received? From Camille Abood: "My children's education is their inheritance" and from Joe Reid: "Don't be so eager to get there that you miss the enjoyment of the ride (of each step of your children's lives)." And Ted Swift ,who said, "Who cares what people think of you? You're the only one that matters." Father Bill (who married us) said, 'You are known by the commitments you make.' I have great mentors. And, although Vince Lombardi is not a known mentor, his saying "God, family and the Green Bay Packers" is how I have tried to live my life.

What do you drive? A Ford Escape.

What would you drive if money were no object? A Ford Escape.

Favorite place to spend money: New sneakers, or a hamburger and wine on a patio looking out over the water. Of course, with family or friends. And it's nice if the dog and cat can come too.

What would you like carved onto your tombstone? Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend. And as a result of my husband's courageous service, we will be buried side by side in Arlington Cemetery where everyone is encouraged to come and visit and see the Changing of the Guard. My husband will have the 21-gun salute as well as the rider-less horse. And, we had a number of discussions about the tombstone and it was clear that neither of us wanted to be on the bottom. Fortunately, we found out that we could be buried side by side.

Published: Thu, Jun 04, 2015

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