GETTING TO KNOW: Emily Thomas

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Emily G. Thomas, a birth injury and medical malpractice attorney at Olsman, MacKenzie, Peacock, & Wallace in Berkley, has focused her legal career on aiding clients with special needs and disabilities.

Her first interaction between the law and injury occurred while in high school, when her mother became disabled. Prior to college, Thomas assisted traumatic brain injured individuals with their financial, healthcare, and legal matters. She continued to assist the disabled during law school helping represent clients before administrative law judges in Social Security disability cases.

Following graduation from Wayne State University Law School and admission to the State Bar of Michigan, Thomas began her career at a leading medical malpractice firm investigating birth trauma cases. During her years of practice, she has assisted in obtaining numerous multi-million-dollar results.

The Pontiac resident is a member of the Detroit Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, and the Oakland County Bar Association, where she is past chair of the Medical Legal Committee and a past associate of the Inn of Court. Thomas is chair of the Professional Negligence Section and a member of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group at the American Association for Justice. She is also chair of the New Lawyers Division at the Michigan Association for Justice, and a New Lawyer member of the Council for the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Section.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
After I won a motion in court, I went to the back of the court, and a person completely unknown to me yelled “Yeah! Great job!” and gave me a high-five. To this day, I’m not sure who the person was. I always want to inspire others that my client’s case deserves justice, especially to a jury of my client’s peers – it’s always good to infect others with the enthusiasm I have for what I do for my clients.

What inspired you to enter the field?
My mother’s disability after being exposed to toxic mold in her workplace—it was a hard time for my entire family. 

What would surprise people about your job?
The amount of medicine one has to know just as well as the law.

When you were considering law school, what was Plan B?
To be a professional cellist. 

Can you think of a failure that ultimately became a positive?
When I take a deposition I sometimes ask the wrong questions, but sometimes the wrong question ends up eliciting a positive and very useful answer. I’m very prepared and always have a plan. But sometimes when the plan fails, good things happen.

Favorite local hangouts?
Coffee shops—The Office in Royal Oak;  Bosko’s in Keego Harbor; Orchestra Hall to see the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Eastern Market.

Favorite websites?
Brainpickings.org; Gatesnotes.com; audible.com.

What was always written on your grade school report card?
“Emily is a pleasure to have in class.”

What is your happiest childhood memory?
Working on a project to build a forgotten planet when I was six. I painted a blue rubber ball to look similar to Earth, and my parents helped me mount it to piece of wood. I called it ”Planet Oops!”

What do you wish someone would invent?
A way to clone oneself so I can do everything in life that interests and challenges me.

What has been your favorite year so far?
2018, but stay tuned for 2019—it’s shaping up to be great, too.

Favorite stamp on your passport?
Switzerland. The country everyone gets along with.

When you look back into the past, what do you miss most?
I had a wonderful childhood because of my parents. I miss the safety and support I always had, which allowed me to be endlessly curious and take risks.

If you could have witnessed any event in history, what would it be?
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee negotiating the end of the U.S. Civil War.

What were you doing in your last selfie?
Flashing a peace sign while wearing an “I voted” sticker. 

What’s something you changed your mind about recently?
It’s OK to feel angry, sad, and frustrated by life. These are not things to beat yourself up about, instead they are things to observe, gain perspective on and learn from.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do?
Fly a plane.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
You can’t have highs in life without corresponding lows.

What purchase of $50 or less has most positively affected your life?
A Moleskine journal and Pentel Energel Pens. Keeping a journal is the best way to solve any problem in life.

What are you looking forward to?
Being a mom.

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