Monday Profile: Karen Quinlan Valvo

Karen Quinlan Valvo is a partner at Fink & Valvo, PLLC. in Ann Arbor, where her focus is family law and real estate law. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and the University of Toledo College of Law.

Residence: Ypsilanti.

What would surprise people about your job?

Clients are always surprised by how much time we spend waiting in court. It is not what they expect, based on all-action-all-the-time TV shows.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Good conversation with family or good friends, accompanied by good food. Or, time on the patio in beautiful weather and a good book to read.

What is your greatest fear?

Making an error that causes a client irreparable harm.

Which living person do you most admire?

It is hard to name just one--I admire people who have the courage of their convictions and act on them whether or not they are socially or politically popular, while remaining gracious to those who disagree with them.

What is the trait you hate most in yourself?

Negative thinking.

What is the trait you hate most in others?

Narcissism.

You had four children before you went to law school. Did one role prepare you for the other?

It sure did. Time management skills, financial thrift, attention to multiple issues and personalities at the same time, crisis management and empathetic listening are all key skills which have served me well in the practice of law.

Biggest regret?

I have six brothers and sisters, all of whom are scattered around the world. I regret not taking more time to spend with them and my parents (also out of town) over the past 30 years or so.

What is your most treasured possession?

My family.

When and where were you happiest?

Any time I am spending leisure time with my children and grandchildren

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?

Stop challenging your father and learn from him; he knows what he's talking about.

What would be your ideal job?

I am in my ideal job right now. I love being able to problem solve with people. If I were not practicing law, I would want to own a community bookstore and facilitate discussion groups and music and art presentations.

What one thing do you wish people knew about your work?

It takes time to think about issues and craft intelligent solutions, particularly in family law cases. The advent of email has been wonderful in so many ways, but a negative side effect is that people want instant answers at all hours of the day and night.

Favorite joke: None of my favorites are politically correct ...

What one habit do you wish you could break? Procrastination.

What is something most people don't know about you? I hate math, so I decided to become an attorney rather than enter the medical field which required all those nasty math and statistic course requirements. Imagine my surprise to discover practicing law is all about math ...

What do you wish more people understood?

It is OK to let people work out their own paths in life, as long as they are not hurting others.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?

Mother Teresa, Katherine Graham and Abraham Lincoln.

Who is your favorite character of fiction? It depends on the day. Right now I am enjoying Carol O'Connell's series about a female sociopathic homicide detective.

Favorite words: Relax, it will work out.

Favorite movie:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

What's one thing you can do now that you couldn't do 20 years ago? Make my own decisions about how to spend my time and my money.

Favorite place to spend money:

Barnes and Nobles. It used to be Borders. I really tried to keep them in business!

What is your motto? Treat others as I would like to be treated.

Where would you like to be when you're 90? Alive, healthy and still able to read and travel.

Published: Mon, Jun 25, 2012

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