Get to Know Melonie Stothers

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

Melonie Stothers is a Michigan native who grew up in Macomb County. She graduated from Michigan Technological University in Houghton with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1999 and from Syracuse University College of Law in 2002.

Stothers has been an attorney with Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker in Detroit since graduating from law school.

Stothers’ legal practice started in general commercial litigation.

Over the years, her practice evolved into mainly employer-sided employment litigation and compliance. She regularly defends employers in lawsuits and in front of administrative bodies. She also advises employers on employment regulations and laws, as well as crafting and implementing employment policies and agreements.

The Troy resident is married with two middle school age children. She has been extremely active with the Children’s Heart Foundation, where she recently completed terms as president of the Michigan Chapter and a member of the National Board of Directors.

What are your proudest moments as a lawyer? Getting opinions from a court, granting my client’s summary judgment or finding in my client’s favor on appeal because of the work I did. Most of the time, cases settle because it is the most cost effective way to manage litigation, so those cases that go through to opinions in our favor make me proud.

What inspired you to enter the field? I was inspired to become lawyer in my high school AP government class. I loved everything about the issues and debates we had in class. I wanted to be part of that process.

When you were considering law school, what was Plan B? My undergraduate degree was in mathematics. If I had not gone to law school, I would have pursued a graduate degree in mathematics.

What would surprise people about your job? That I spend most of my time trying to prevent lawsuits rather than start them.

Can you think of a failure that ultimately became a positive? As I was ending my second year of law school, I had what I felt were two major failures—I ran for Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and lost, and I sought to be a TA for a clinical program and was instead chosen to be the professor’s personal TA. Both failures took a lot out of me as I felt I had lost both for unfair reasons. Eighteen years later, I know those failures taught me what may or may not be “fair” is all relative depending upon your perspective. While I may have known that perspective mattered in an academic way prior to those failures, it was the process of working through those failed expectations that taught my heart the necessity of perspective. Because of that, I try hard to look at situations, especially in my practice, from many perspectives. I think that makes me a better lawyer and human, which is a positive.

What has been your favorite year? 2006—the year I became a mother and a major lawsuit that our firm spent years working on ended favorably for our client after an extensive trial.

Favorite local hangouts? Gran Castor, Troy.

Favorite websites? I spend the most time on the page that aggregates news articles for me.

What was always written on your grade school report card? I imagine my enthusiasm to socialize was mentioned frequently.

What is your happiest childhood memory? I have many happy childhood memories, but spending the summer swimming with my sister and friends is what jumped to mind.

What do you wish someone would invent? A truly functional autocorrect that uses the word I type.

Favorite vacation areas? The U.P. is one of my favorite trips. Having gone to college at Michigan Tech, being able to return to the Keweenaw Peninsula – hiking, waterfalls, lakes, mines, old haunts, favorite restaurants, and relived memories – is the best.

When you look back into the past, what do you miss most? Being able to talk with my grandparents.

If you could have witnessed any event in history, what would it be? I think it would be fascinating to have witnessed the back and forth debates and discussions around the drafting of the Constitution of the United States.
What were you doing in your last selfie? Spending the day at the Henry Ford Museum with my family.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do? Play the violin.

What is the best advice you ever received? The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.

What purchase of $50 or less has most positively affected your life? Coffee. Every day, coffee has a positive impact on my life.

What are you looking forward to? The fall. I love the cooler temperatures, colorful trees, cider mills, and all of the fun of the fall.


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