Monday Profile: Nancy Little

Nancy Little is an attorney with Bernick Radner & Ouellette, P.C. in Lansing who has practiced in the trusts and estates field of law for 25 years. A graduate of Wayne State University and the University of Michigan Law School, Little has served as the editor of the State Bar of Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal for the past 12 years. She is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the past chair of the Probate & Estate Planning Section, Capital Region Community Foundation and the Lansing Community College Foundation; and has served on the boards of the Capital Area Humane Society and the American Red Cross—Livingston County Chapter.


 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
Residence:  Okemos.
Currently reading … “A Delicate Truth” by John Le Carré – 
my all-time favorite author.
What is your most treasured possession?  My dogs Mumushka and Chip are great companions. They listen without complaint and ask for nothing more than an occasional snuggle.
What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  You are going to be working really hard for three years and then, with some luck, you’ll get hired and you’ll be working even harder.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be? A linguist.  I love studying the origin of words and learning other languages.  
Favorite local hangouts: El Azteco in East Lansing, home of the fantastic blue corn enchiladas and enchiladas de jocoque!
Favorite websites: Le Programme de recherche en démographie historique ( – a University of Montreal catalogue of French-Canadian parish records dating back to the early 1600s - and the Fichier Origine ( – an index of immigrants to French Canada.  Both have been invaluable resources for my 30-plus year family tree research project. And they have also sharpened my French language skills, because the documents are in French.
Your proudest moment as a lawyer? Seeing younger lawyers that I have mentored stretch and grow as they realize their potential and become accomplished attorneys.
What is your happiest childhood memory? Spending time with my maternal grandparents. They were so full of love that a day with them was always wonderful. I can still remember sitting around the radio at twilight listening to the Tigers baseball games with them. And the nightly bowl of ice cream didn’t hurt!
Which things do you not like to do? Getting up early in the morning would be at the top of the list.
What would surprise people about your job? When I tell people I work in the area of trusts and estates, they always assume it is a dull, boring area of law. In reality, it is a wonderfully nuanced and challenging field of law in which I have the opportunity to help people create the legacy they want to leave their family.  
What do you wish someone would invent?  A dog that house-trains itself, can hold it all day while I’m at work, and will do light housekeeping and laundry in its spare time.
What’s your greatest achievement? My daughter, Jessica. She constantly amazes me with her intelligence, poise, and accomplishments. She is way ahead of where I was at that point in life.
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you have visited? St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It has to be experienced to truly appreciate its beauty and spirituality. The Pieta literally glows. The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, is a close second.
If you could have one super power, what would it be? The ability to always have a clean and tidy house.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  Most of the things you are worried about right now won’t matter a bit by the time you’re 30, so relax and enjoy life.
What one thing do you wish people knew about your work? It is so rewarding to work with and get to know families. I’m now working, in some cases, with the second and third generation of client families.
Must-see TV: “Blue Bloods,” “Modern Family.”
What’s your biggest regret? The untimely death of my husband, Jim, in 2008. He was truly the wind beneath my wings. I miss him every day.
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?  I would like to have time to seriously study mathematics. When I was in school, I convinced myself math was not my subject. But now I find math to be quite fascinating.  
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? Judi Dench, Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn.   
Can’t-live-without technology: My iPhone.
Favorite CD:  I don’t have favorite CDs anymore—I just have playlists, which range from Fergie and the Black-Eyed Peas to the Beatles to Willie Nelson.
Favorite law-related movie: “Philadelphia.”
What’s the best advice you ever received? “The best thing you can put on in the morning is a smile.”
What do you drive? A Honda CRV.
What would you drive if money were no object? I would still be driving my 6-year old Honda CRV. Despite growing up in the Detroit area, I’m just not that into cars.
Favorite place to spend money:  On travel – I’ve been fortunate to visit Russia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, England, Austria, Tanzania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, as well as many places in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean. And there are plenty more places I plan to see before I’m done.  
Where would you like to be when you’re 90?  Having a margarita at El Azteco with any remaining members of the Association of Good Ol’ Girls (an informal group of local businesswomen who bond periodically over food, drinks, and shenanigans)