Helping the 'underdogs'

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Attorney focuses on personal injury law and auto no-fault work

 By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

From an early age, Katie Tucker wanted to help the proverbial “underdogs” and impact people’s lives in a meaningful way. “Pursuing a career in the law, particularly doing plaintiffs’ work, provided a pathway and platform to do so, while also allowing me to explore my interest in a variety of other fields and subject areas,” she says.

An attorney with the Sinas Dramis Law Firm in Lansing, Tucker earned her bachelor’s degree, with high honor, from Michigan State University, and remained a Spartan to earn her J.D., magna cum laude, from MSU Law.

“MSU Law boasts an impressive array of full-time faculty and adjunct professors who are published or otherwise recognized experts in their respective fields,” she says.

“I was fortunate to have several professors who challenged me to look at the law, and at the world, in new and different ways, and who inspired me to improve my advocacy and analytical skills. I also found both the faculty and the incredible team of staff that supported them cared not only about students’ academic success, but also about their personal and professional growth.”

With a special love and respect for animals, the role of editor-in-chief of the law school’s Journal of Animal & Natural Resource Law was a natural fit for Tucker. “During my term, the Journal hosted a symposium on animal cruelty, which included a panel discussion on the social, ethical and legal implications of dog fighting,” she says.

“Serving as editor-in-chief also allowed me to hone my research and writing skills, and to develop leadership skills. I led the initiative to expand the scope of the Journal, and to seek and publish scholarly articles on topics pertaining to natural resource law as well.”

Focusing her practice at Sinas Dramis in personal injury law and auto no-fault work, Tucker enjoys developing a strong relationship with clients and serving as an advisor and counselor, especially when clients encounter a difficult time in their lives.

“Helping injured persons and their medical providers navigate the complexities of the legal system is particularly rewarding,” she says.

“I also enjoy this niche because I have a keen interest in medicine and a natural curiosity for the way the human body works. My husband is a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation and has treated many patients who have been catastrophically injured in auto accidents. I’m fortunate to be able to learn from him, as well as discuss those topics with him.”

During her term as 2015-16 president of the Ingham County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, Tucker aimed to build on the successes of her predecessors, by continuing to expand YLS’ reach and enhancing educational, networking and community service opportunities.

“I believe we accomplished those goals during the 2015-16 membership year, and I know YLS will continue to thrive this year under the leadership of our new president, and my Sinas Dramis colleague, Jackie Dupler,” she says.

During Tucker’s time at the helm, YLS organized and sponsored a variety of events. “I’m particularly proud of the many educational seminars and programs we hosted, including the Watch & Learn Wednesday series – formerly known as Motion Call Wednesday – which offers attorneys a unique opportunity to observe local judges’ criminal or civil dockets and to engage in a discussion with the judges about the docket and motion practice, in general,” she says.

“I’m also proud of the YLS evidence seminar, featuring Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Amy Ronayne Krause and Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk.”

Under Tucker’s leadership, YLS organized the 2015 Horn of Plenty drive to collect donations for Volunteers of America and Cristo Rey Community Center; the Water for Flint Drive to collect monetary and other donations; and the 3rd Annual Paper Chase 5K run/walk. YLS also hosted a fall tailgate, holiday party and spring social during the 2015-2016 membership year.

The brains behind the 2014 launch of The Paper Chase, Tucker served as race director for two years and as marketing coordinator this year. “The number of race participants and the amount of money raised has grown each year, and we look forward to continuing to host this event in the future,” she says. “It’s an event that brings together members of the legal community to engage in some friendly competition and to raise funds in support a local legal charity – Legal Services of South Central Michigan in recent years – and the events YLS hosts throughout the year.”

A long-time member of WLAM, Tucker’s favorite event is the Stell Reception each fall, a fun evening that brings together lawyers to raise funds for a $1,000 scholarship granted annually to a female law student in mid-Michigan.

Tucker’s favorite winter activity at the ICBA is the Bench-Bar Conference, when lawyers interact with and learn from local judges.

“The seminars cover a wide variety of topics, with an emphasis on developing and enhancing practical legal skills,” she says.

In summer, the Ingham County Bar Foundation golf outing tops her list.

“It’s a chance to enjoy a summer weekday on the course with a variety of area lawyers in support of a good cause – in recent years, the Ingham County Veterans Treatment Court,” she says.

Tucker recommends membership in any or all of these organizations for the myriad of opportunities to meet and connect with a diverse network. “I’ve been fortunate to meet and develop friendships with so many attorneys – with whom I would have never interacted otherwise – through my involvement in these organizations,” she says.

She particularly recommends membership in ICBA and YLS for their educational programming and resources. “YLS’ Educational Programming Committee Chairperson Chris Wickman deserves special credit for all the time and effort he has devoted to enhancing and expanding our educational offerings,” she says.

A life-long resident of East Lansing, Tucker met her husband Mat when she was in undergrad and he was in medical school at MSU; they were married in 2012 about a month after Tucker sat for the Michigan bar exam. The two share their home with three “furry kids.”

In her leisure time, Tucker enjoys working out, doing so routinely at the Michigan Athletic Club. With an eclectic taste in music she enjoys a variety of concerts and has seen The Police, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Jack Johnson, Tony Bennett, Paul McCartney and others perform live in recent years.

An avid reader – especially of nonfiction – recent favorites are “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson and “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi.

Tucker also enjoys traveling, especially to warm weather destinations in the Caribbean and Pacific.  In recent years, she and her husband have visited Maui, Kauai, Oahu, the Turks & Caicos, St. John, St. Thomas and the Bahamas, among other locations.

A member of St. John Catholic Church and Student Center in East Lansing since her college days, Tucker volunteers at St. John Food Cupboard, a food pantry in the church basement that opens 9 to 11 a.m.
Saturdays and feeds about 60 families each week.  “Many of the individuals and families it serves are international students or staff at MSU, my alma mater,” she says.

She also volunteers at the non-profit Haven House in East Lansing, inspired by her father who has been a weekly volunteer for several years. “What’s particularly unique is that staff and volunteers assist homeless families to prepare for – and eventually transition to – permanent housing,” she says. “Haven House is a tremendous local organization that does a lot of good for many local families in need.”

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