Monday Profile: Stefanie Meisel

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Born in Monterey, Calif., and raised in Ann Arbor, Stefanie Meisel graduated from the University of Michigan in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in English literature.

She then got a job at Zingerman's Delicatessen, where she met her future husband, Keith, and learned how to provide excellent customer service.

Meisel went on to attend the University of Michigan Law School. After graduating in 1998, she became an associate at Honigman, and then Butzel Long, where she says she learned to appreciate eating at her desk while solving the riddles within ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

From 2002-2016, Meisel worked for the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court (FOC) as a Referee, where she heard, and settled, countless cases ranging from in pro per child support objections to complex, high-asset divorce cases.

After 14 years at the FOC, Meisel has joined two experienced attorneys, Basil Baker and Tom Stringer, as a partner to create Baker, Stringer & Meisel, LLP. She will continue to use her established skill in consensus building to create her mediation/ADR, family law, and estate planning practice.

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Residence: Grass Lake.

What would surprise people about your job? I think people would be surprised to learn that there are points of agreement in almost every domestic relations case. It may take a while to identify those points, but once you've established these, you can use them as building blocks to resolve more difficult issues.

What is your most treasured material possession? At the moment, my most treasured material possession (other than my wedding ring) is a quilt top. My mother and I are collaborating on the design, using fabric I've dyed and printed, as well as quilt squares that my great-grandmother made in the 1950s.

Favorite local hangouts: The Raven's Club, Maker Works, and local tennis clubs.

What do you wish someone would invent? Teleportation. Or, at the very least, pothole-free roads.

Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party? Haruki Murakami. I just finished "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" and can't stop thinking about it.

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? Nina Totenberg.

What's the most awe-inspiring place you've ever been? There are too many to list, but the most recent is Hocking Hills, Ohio. We went last year during the off-season to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary and the hikes were spectacular.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer? When I assist in settling cases that the attorneys and parties feel are impossible to resolve without litigation. I was actually called a "miracle worker" after a hearing last year, which made me very proud.

What about your professional life today most excites you? I am very excited to make the transition from Washtenaw County Referee to private practice. After 14 years as a referee with the FOC, I am well-versed in family law issues. However, I recently took Zena Zumeta's excellent Elder Mediation seminar and am looking forward to mediating a broader range of issues in my new practice.

How did you earn your first dollar? I can't remember, but I'm guessing it involved waiting tables.

Who inspires you, and why? My mother. She's a retired teacher, but now spends her days traveling to schools with her therapy dogs to work with traumatized children.

What do you do to relax? I translate sketches into machine embroidery patterns; it's meditative and also amusing to see a portrait of Tom Waits on my kitchen towels.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do? Scuba dive.

What is something most people don't know about you? I used to be an avid weaver and have published several magazine articles in Handwoven Magazine.

What is the best advice you ever received? "Breathe!"

If you can help it, where will you never return? Any highway during an ice storm.

Favorite place to spend money: Penland School of Crafts (NC) or Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (TN); both are art schools in beautiful locations. There's nothing like time to focus on creativity without household chores.

Published: Mon, Jul 18, 2016

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