Monday Profile: Elisa Gomez

 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
 
Elisa M. Gomez has been a staff attorney with the Jackson office of Legal Services of South Central Michigan since 2012. She is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School.
 
Residence:  Dearborn.
 
Currently reading: “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy and “Red Sea Under Red Skies” by Scott Lynch.
 
What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  Work at a firm, a legal services office, with a judge or with a prosecutor’s office before even taking the LSAT. Lots of first year law students don’t seem to have any practical idea of what the day-to-day life of an attorney is like and then they realize they hate it when they’re already in too deep, in terms of time, money and emotional investment. Assume you will make less money than you expect.
 
Favorite local hangouts: Night Light, for sure. I love how cozy and unpretentious it is and the food and drinks are great. 
 
What is your happiest childhood memory? My memories of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when I was 7 and 8, before my maternal grandparents passed away.
 
Which things do you not like to do? Cleaning the house. Arguing about responding to or turning over discovery. Waking up early.
 
What would surprise people about your job? I don’t think most people realize the amount of federal regulatory compliance work we have to do, in terms of how our case work gets documented and reported. Complying with federal grant requirements as a lawyer in a non-profit firm is a pretty unique skill set.
 
What about that commute?
My commute is 70 miles or about an hour and 10 minutes each way if there is not much traffic. Once you do it for a while, it just sort of becomes a tedious routine unless traffic is truly awful, usually in the morning. Then I want to rip my hair out. I can't move closer because of my family. It helps to have a really fuel efficient vehicle!
 
What do you wish someone would invent? A fully automated house, so I never have to vacuum, do laundry or wash dishes again. It’s such a waste of time.
 
What’s your most typical mood? Sardonically amused.
 
If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? If I actually get to be the person, I would want to see what it’s like in Hillary Clinton’s head. If I just get to experience a day as myself, I would want to trade places with a Supreme Court justice, preferably on an oral argument day or on a case meeting day.
 
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? Cesiak Reserva Natural in Tulum, Mexico. I’m convinced it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
 
If you could have one super power, what would it be? Clearly, flying. No question. Mind reading/control and invisibility both create too many moral quandaries.
 
What would you say to your 16-year-old self? I would tell her that she’s beautiful and to stop worrying so much. Things will be okay.
 
 
What one thing do you wish people knew about your work? It’s so collaborative and fun. We really lean on each other for support, to discuss novel legal issues and to discuss strategies to ensure the best possible outcomes for our clients.
 
What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? I have a couple, all of which revolve around restoring Social Security or Medicaid to individuals. The work I do to ensure economic stability (through direct benefits or through programs like Medicaid and food stamps) for people is the work I love the most.
 
What do you do to relax? Lap swimming and reading.
 
How would you describe your home? Cluttered, colorful and covered in cat hair.
 
If you were starting all over again and couldn’t go into law, what career path would you choose? I would be a high school teacher or a university librarian. I still might go get a master’s in Library Science at some point.
 
What’s your biggest regret? I wish I had taken a couple years between undergrad and law school to go live in Europe. Or, I was seriously thinking about getting a master’s in International Relations from a Swedish university. I still want to do that.
 
What word do you overuse? It changes depending on the day and mood. I love words and language and bad puns. I like fancy Latin-derived words the most, probably.
 
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do? I’d like to go to culinary school to learn how to cook like a professional chef.
 
What is something most people don’t know about you? I’m really profoundly terrified of heights. It all stems from a traumatic experience at a ropes course in 6th grade. I’m okay if I’m enclosed, though, so flying and skyscrapers don’t bother me.
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? Woody Guthrie, Thurgood Marshall, and Stephen Colbert.
 
Can’t-live-without technology: I mean, let’s be honest – modern medicine. I love getting vaccinated and taking antibiotics. It beats dying at 35 as a feudal serf from a preventable illness.
 
What was the greatest compliment someone ever paid you? I have been complimented by a judge for “a good piece of lawyering.” I also have had a couple colleagues tell me how much they respect my work, opinions and/or strategies. In those cases, the wording of the compliment itself wasn’t something amazing but I found it extremely meaningful because I respect the people who complimented me so much.
 
If you can help it, where will you never return? I never want to visit with a criminal defendant in those little holding cells that some courtrooms have again. I did it once as a law student clerk and it was rough. It was one of the reasons that I realized criminal defense is something I am not suited to do.
 
What do you drive? A Jetta TDI with a manual transmission.
 
What would you drive if money were no object? An early model Aston Martin DB5, preferably hunter green, also with a manual transmission.
 
Favorite place to spend money:   The perfume counter at Barney’s in Chicago.
 
What is your motto? “You drink deeply from the wells of freedom and liberty that you did not dig.” It’s a quote from Cory Booker, paraphrased from a lecture that his father used to give him when he was a boy.
 
Where would you like to be when you’re 90? In Buenos Aires.
 
What would you like carved onto your tombstone? Ni dieu ni maître!
 

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