Lending her voice


Attorney serves on SBM?Representative Assembly

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Elizabeth Kitchen-Troop, president-elect of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, has added another feather in her cap, by winning a contested election in April to represent Washtenaw County for the 22nd Circuit in the SBM Representative Assembly. She and Ann Arbor attorney Ashish Joshi served as appointed members for the April meeting, and will do so again in October, after which they will serve two years in their elected positions. 

“As the majority of my board work has been locally focused, I was interested in getting involved on a more state-wide level,” Kitchen-Troop says. “I’m looking forward to lending my voice to issues that impact the practice of law.” 

Balancing a busy legal career with family life, Kitchen-Troop also was interested in making sure the assembly was truly representative of its constituents.

“My perspective on the practice of law is my own, but not necessarily unique – many young lawyers are solo or small firm practitioners, working to grow their practice while striving to preserve and nourish their family life,” she says. 

“To be ‘representative,’ the assembly must be made up of members of variant backgrounds and experience and I felt I was well suited to provide that representation.”

An associate trial attorney and a trained family law mediator with Kline Legal Group, PLC, in Ann Arbor, Kitchen-Troop handles primary family law matters in Washtenaw, Jackson, Livingston, Ingham, Monroe, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Admitted to the State Bar in 2004, she is no stranger to SBM work; in 2009, she was elected to serve three years on the SBM Family Law Council.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time and look forward to returning when I have fewer local board commitments,” she says. “The members are diligent and passionate practitioners from all over the state, and really strive to make the practice of family law better.

“I was struck by the amount of legislation that is regularly introduced which directly impacts our practice,” she adds. “The Council is fastidious in tracking this legislation and making sure our concerns are heard, whether through our lobbyist or through providing testimony.” 

Named a “Rising Star in Family Law” by Super Lawyers Magazine for the past five years, and a “Michigan Super Lawyer” last year, in 2013 Kitchen-Troop was awarded the SBM Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership award for her work in developing the WCBA Modest Means Program, the first program of its kind in Michigan.

Launched in 2012, the program helps people with income at or below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines that are unable to afford a family law attorney at market rates. The 14 WCBA attorney-panelists currently involved charge no more than $75 an hour with a retainer of no more than $375. If the attorney-panelist has fewer than three years of experience, he or she is paired with a mentor.

To date, the program has helped over 104 clients, and there is typically a wait-list. “This is a great way to provide a pro-bono benefit to the community and I would encourage family law attorneys of all experience levels to join – we need you,” Kitchen-Troop says.

A long time member of the WCBA, Kitchen-Troop has served in many capacities, including Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Director-At-Large, Friend of the Court and the Judiciary Committee, and Chair of the Modest Means Program.

She also co-chaired the Family Law Section for three years, where she was responsible for planning monthly luncheon meetings and hosting annual continuing legal education seminars, including “Clients in Crisis: Dealing with Difficult Clients” in 2007, and “Same Gender Issues in Michigan Law” in 2008, featuring keynote speaker Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly.

“The WCBA puts me in contact with practitioners I wouldn’t ordinarily come in contact with, as they are outside my practice area,” Kitchen-Troop says. “In addition to providing practitioners with ample networking opportunities, the WCBA provides so much to its members, from informational section meetings, to CLE events, to engaging dinner events. 

“The use of the WCBA computer and copy machine has proven helpful on many, many occasions.  Mostly, I like knowing the people I practice with everyday, and WCBA events give me the opportunity to develop those relationships.”

She is also an active member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and previously served as president of the Washtenaw Region.

“WLAM Washtenaw has been such a source of encouragement and support to me over the years, and I feel so fortunate to call so many of its members my close friends,” she says.  “There is this incredible commitment to mentorship – all informal – within the organization. 

“I love that the two biggest events – the summer and holiday parties – are member-hosted, displaying the true dedication of its membership and providing a great opportunity to make lasting connections with other practitioners, in and outside of your area of practice.”  

The daughter of Leonard Kitchen, a former WCBA president who practiced law in Dexter for almost 40 years, the Chelsea native and graduate of Chelsea High School earned her undergrad degree cum laude in psychology from the University of Michigan.

She earned her J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law, where she was team leader for the advanced legal clinic that represents indigent clients throughout the greater Toledo metropolitan area, a member of the Outlaw and American Constitutional Society, and a member of the Student Bar Association in both Michigan and Ohio.

After practicing for a year with her father to help him wind down his law practice, she hung out her own shingle in 2005, focusing on family law, criminal law, abuse/neglect proceedings, landlord/tenant matters, wills and trusts and other small business matters.  

In 2006, after having worked together as opposing counsels on two different cases, Kitchen-Troop was invited to join Kline Legal Group as an associate attorney.

“John (Kline) has been a wonderful mentor to me over the years,” she says. “He has always treated me as a peer and afforded me the opportunity to voice my opinion regarding decisions that affect the business. He has also been immensely supportive of my pro bono board activities and really allows me to operate autonomously.”

She handles litigation and mediation of family law matters including divorce, custody, separate maintenance, paternity, and child support; as well as plaintiff’s auto negligence litigation, personal injury, construction lien litigation, and driver’s license restoration.

“As has often been said, family law practitioners tend to see the best people on their worst behavior,” she says. “Divorce and custody issues are immensely stressful and yet the agreements parties reach through this process have the ability to impact them and their children for a lifetime. 

“To the extent we can help our clients see more clearly and make logical and appropriate decisions during a time which can be emotionally overwhelming, I think the entire family benefits.”
Kitchen-Troop and her husband Doug, a therapist with Livingston County Community Mental Health, live in Howell, with their sons, Alex, 5, and 18-month-old Jackson; the family is rounded out by a pug dog and a cat.

Soon after my husband and I moved into our subdivision in 2009, my parents, my brother and his family, and my in-laws all moved here – we’re working on re-naming the subdivision the Kitchen-Troop compound,” she says with a smile.