Monday Profile: Elizabeth Petoskey

Betsy Petoskey grew up in Ann Arbor and met her husband when they were seniors at Pioneer High School. After earning a bachelor's degree from Indiana University, and an MBA from Eastern Michigan University, she went on to Cooley Law School for her law degree.

Petoskey has been practicing law with Conlin, McKenney & Philbrick, P.C. for 28 years. Although there are nearly two dozen lawyers in the firm, both her father and sister are her law partners.

Petoskey concentrates her practice in estate planning and estate settlement because a graduate course at EMU piqued her interest in estate and gift taxes, and because she hoped the practice would allow her to raise a family while working full-time. "I have found that how one defines full-time is a personal thing," she says.

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

What's it like working with both your sister and your father? We enjoy working together and seeing each other thrive in the profession, and we have so many other great partners that it never feels like a family firm. My dad (Chris McKenney) has been a great mentor, and I am certain he is the best attorney to learn from. However, there were moments when I wished my mentor was less connected to me. Marjorie (Dixon) and I grew up with the "code of silence" that envelopes a law practice, so our work rarely spills over into our family time. I have been working with family so long, I am not sure what it's like any other way.

What is the trait you hate most in others? An inclination

toward prejudice against others.

What was your most memorable meal? My first date with my future husband, before homecoming dance our senior year. His older sisters prepared and served a delicious romantic dinner for two.

What is your most treasured material possession? My wedding ring.

Where have you been that you will never return--if you can help it? Phoenix, Arizona. I know some folks love it for the warm, dry winters, but the absence of hardwood trees, grass lawns, and rivers will keep me visiting elsewhere.

It's 7 a.m. Monday. How are you feeling? Ready to get working. I get to engage my brain in ways I never would without the challenge of practicing law. That's why I came into the profession, and still my favorite part of the practice--you get to keep learning something new, even after nearly 30 years.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? How about the most underrated fault? Pride.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Nothing. Sixteen-year-olds need to find their own way, experience many things and make corrections in their course as they go. A little encouragement from someone who is on one of those crooked paths can help!

What would be your ideal job? The one I have, with a little more time to pursue my volunteer activities and hobbies.

What do you wish more people understood? That public education is the foundation of our democracy. If we let public education slip, the privileged will go to private schools, and public schools will deteriorate further. Our democracy will not survive without good, free education. It threatens all of us, not just the socio-economically disadvantaged.

Who is your favorite character of fiction? Currently it's Stephanie Plum. Not very sophisticated, but she's fun.

What is your motto? Learn something new today.

Where would you like to be when you're 90? Sitting on the porch of my retirement home, with a my husband and a Diet Pepsi, relaxing after a busy day making a difference in someone's life.

Published: Mon, Mar 18, 2013

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