By Jo Mathis
Pat Conlin's law partners have each served as president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association.
And he comes from a very lawyerly family.
So he figures it's about time that Pat Conlin takes his turn at the helm of the WCBA.
Now that he's officially accepted the gavel from Peter Falkenstein, Conlin says he's eager to continue the tradition of outstanding leadership of the WCBA when he officially takes over on July 1.
"My goal is to examine what the organization can do for its members," said Conlin. "We are a voluntary membership organization. Unlike the State Bar of Michigan, which you have to join to get your license, we exist just to help our members. So in addition to what we already do, I'm looking at ways in which we could use our resources to distinguish Washtenaw County lawyers."
Falkenstein is confident that Conlin will do a great job.
"He is respected and liked by everyone," said Falkenstein. "He also has an easy-going personality and an ability to engage other people at any level."
During his 10 years on the WCBA Board, Conlin has served as community liaison, co-chair of the judiciary committee, director at large, secretary, treasurer, vice president and president elect.
"He is very well grounded," said Falkenstein, noting that Conlin has always been an advocate for the most reasonable and logical of solutions to pressing issues.
WCBA Executive Kyeena Slater agreed he's ready to lead.
"He's open to new and fresh ideas and well prepared for the challenges," she said.
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Conlin taught high school in New York City before returning to Michigan to attend law school at Wayne State. As a student, Conlin clerked for the Monroe County Circuit Court and at Legal Services of Southeastern Michigan.
In 1998, Conlin accepted a position with Keusch & Flintoft, P.C. (now Keusch, Flintoft & Conlin) in downtown Chelsea. Conlin focuses on family law, estate planning, real estate, probate, small business and corporate advising.
Conlin joined the WCBA in 1997 just before he graduated from law school because he knew he wanted to practice locally and figured it was a good way to network. Since then, he's been an active member in the bar, as well as in the Chelsea community, where he lives.
Conlin says he had a great childhood growing up in Ann Arbor and Chelsea.
"I always stuck to the straight and narrow," he says. "It's only after hearing stories of my dad growing up that I sort of feel cheated. He certainly didn't exactly stick to the straight and narrow when he was growing up. He grew up in a house full of brothers and they kind of raised hell all over Ann Arbor. And I was a pretty good boy."
With so many judges in the family, it's easy to understand Conlin's motivation for keeping his nose clean.
His grandfather, John Conlin, served as first a probate judge, and then a circuit judge. John Conlin's son, Patrick (Pat Conlin's father), was a district judge and then elected to a newly created circuit judge seat. But soon after the election, John Conlin died and Patrick was appointed to his father's seat.
John Conlin's brother, Henry, was a circuit judge. John Conlin's youngest son is 14A District Court Judge Richard Conlin.
And there are many lawyers in the extended family. Conlin's sister, Kelli, recently moved back to the area with her partner, attorney Angie Martell, and their twins. Martell joined the WCBA a few weeks ago.
Conlin, his wife Elaine, and their sons, 13, 11, and 6, live around the corner from where he grew up on land that had been in the family. While their house was being built nine years ago, the family lived in a one-room log cabin with an outhouse on Friends Lake in Chelsea for about 18 months.
"It was fun," said Conlin, who loves the outdoors. "I was like Batman. I had all my suits at the office. I'd come to work, take a shower, and don my uniform. I'd work, and then at the end of the day, I'd go back down and change back into my camping clothes and go home."
Conlin isn't worried that his new role will consume too much of his limited free time.
In fact, Falkenstein says being WCBA president was less time consuming than he had expected and with virtually no stress, thanks to the WCBA staff.
"I felt that pretty much all I had to do was follow their lead, and then show up at the dinners, and everything would take care of itself," said Falkenstein, who enjoyed the networking and outreach opportunities as the WCBA president. "Most of the energy I expended was therefore permitted to be in furtherance of specific projects I had focused on."
Falkenstein is most proud of the Washtenaw County Trial Court's new civility principles, which are currently pending before the State Court Administrative Office as a proposed local rule.
Conlin has some ideas of his own. In March, he and president elect Delphia Simpson attended an American Bar Association conference in Chicago where they learned new ideas about how technology and social networking can help members.
He's considering ways the WCBA website can be used to promote the good work members are doing.
Those who know him as "an idea guy" have no doubt he'll accomplish what he sets out to do.
Falkenstein says Conlin came up with many creative ideas the board adopted over the years.
"He will be a great ambassador for our association," he said.
Published: Thu, May 3, 2012