GETTING TO KNOW: Sarissa Montague

Sarissa K. Montague is an associate attorney with Levine & Levine in Kalamazoo. After graduating cum laude from the Michigan State College of Law she joined Levine & Levine, where she has spent about the past 10 years focusing her career primarily in the area of criminal law.

Raised in Westchester County, N.Y., Montague went to college in upstate New York and lived in New York City for several years after college. She has adopted Kalamazoo as her “forever home” and has dedicated her career to helping people throughout southwest Michigan who are caught up in the criminal justice system.

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

What would surprise people about your job?
That the vast majority of criminal defendants are just regular people who find themselves in situations they never expected to be in.

Why did you become a lawyer?
I would love to provide a philosophical answer, but the truth is I became a lawyer for practical reasons. My parents instilled in me the notion that as an adult I needed to have a profession that would enable me to take care of myself and whatever children I chose to have. My skill set naturally aligned with the legal profession so I became a lawyer.
Who are your law role models – real and/or fictional?
The senior attorneys I work with. Randall Levine, Sharan Levine and Anastase Markou have shown me how to do this job with integrity but also in a way that achieves that best result possible for each client given his/her particular situation. 
If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be?
My son. He sees things so differently than I do and I would love to understand the world from his perspective, just for a day.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
Should you become a lawyer, no matter what else you do, make sure to treat your clients in the way that you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer?
Winning a lawsuit against the Michigan Parole Board in the Michigan Court of Appeals and having my client released from prison after 22 years as a result of our win.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Life is not nearly as scary as it seems right now.

Favorite local hangouts?
Anywhere with my husband.

Favorite app?

OverDrive Library

What is your most treasured material possession?

The stuffed dog I stole from my older sister when I was 3 years old that my daughter now treasures.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?
The Girls on the Run 5K in Kalamazoo. Seeing about 2,000 girls between the ages of 8 and 11 excitedly gathered on the field in a large football stadium for the purpose of participating in a sporting event was beyond amazing.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

To make sure every kid has at least one loving parent.

What is something most people don't know about you?
I can write with both hands.

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

Helen Keller, Barack Obama, Donald Trump.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Don’t cry over spilled milk but do what you can to make sure that you don’t spill it again.

Favorite place to spend money?

What is your motto?
It is what it is.

Which living person do you most admire?

My daughter. She sees the world through rose-colored glasses and it is a pleasure to watch.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Understanding that I am not guaranteed tomorrow so I need to live today so that if it is my last, I am happy with and proud of how I spent it.

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