Monday Profile: Jennifer Harvey

 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
Residence:  Ann Arbor.
Currently reading …“The Marvelous Land of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.
What is your most treasured material possession? Family photos.
What advice do you have for someone considering law school? Go to dental school – kidding! In all seriousness, go to law school to hone your studying skills and learn to “think like a lawyer.” Practice law to help others.
Favorite local hangouts: Zingerman’s, Espresso Royale, Seva, Biggby.
Favorite websites:,,
What is your happiest childhood memory? All times spent with my maternal grandmother, Florence.
What would surprise people about your job? I always go the extra mile, both legally and practically, to achieve my clients’ goals. There is never a “typical day at the office.” It is always an adventure.
What do you wish someone would invent? Quick, safe transportation, to take me from court, client meetings, mediations, and my presentations for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). This would have to be some technology from Star Wars!
What has been your favorite year so far? Each year since 2011. My second child was born then, and we’re all happy to be a family together.
Does your job ever make you pessimistic? No, but it is frustrating to deal with some situations where others lie and make devastating choices that have negative impacts on others. It gives me more resolve to make a positive difference. 
If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? Dolly Parton. She is so beloved and has a good heart. Also, my daughter would love playing dress-up with her wigs and costumes?
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you have visited? Washington D.C.’s memorials honoring our fallen soldiers.
If you could have one super power, what would it be? Super strength.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self? I wanted to be an attorney since I was in second grade, simply because I wanted to help people. That’s something about me that’s never changed. I’d want my 16-year-old self to know—not just believe—that it’s possible to be an ardent officer of the court, represent your clients zealously, and make a positive impact.
What is guaranteed to make you laugh? My kids.
What one thing do you wish people knew about your work? The general public thinks that there are no real court rules, no real rules of evidence, and that any huge legal dilemma can be resolved in an hour (per legal TV dramas). Being a good lawyer is very hard work that requires commitment, diligence, and good listening and discernment skills. I think about my cases and clients when I am not working, and I care deeply about them.
What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? The first that comes to mind is my first big probate litigation case. I was going up against a former president of the State Bar of Michigan and representing my 20-year-old client who was not being given from her deceased dad’s estate what she was entitled to receive. No disrespect to my opposing counsel: I did very well and achieved great success for my client in court and in a later settlement.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I went to an all-girls Catholic high school and grew up to marry a Protestant minister! Yes, you can tell all the jokes that you want about the lawyer who married the pastor. We keep each other grounded, we love each other and our kids and are very committed to our work.
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? At first, I’d say Jesus, Lincoln, and Mother Teresa. If I was looking for just comedy and fun, it would be Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur of the TV sitcom “The Golden Girls.” The stars of that show have all sadly passed away except Betty White – we have to keep her safe in a bubble. What comedic treasure! 
What was the greatest compliment someone ever paid you? Prominent estate planning attorney Michele Marquardt taught an ICLE class that I took in 2008. At the conclusion of the class and after I did my presentation to the class, she came up to me and without a word, grabbed me by the wrist and lead me into the hall to ICLE director Jeff Kirkey. She said to him, “This is Jennifer Harvey and she has to present for us [ICLE].” That was a big compliment that blew my mind. I also enjoyed being honored by Super Lawyers last year and by Hour Detroit as one of the Top Women Attorneys earlier this year. 
Jennifer Harvey is the founder and managing partner of Harvey Legal Group, PLLC in Ann Arbor. She serves on the Probate and Estate Planning Advisory Board and is also faculty for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) in Ann Arbor, where she teaches other attorneys about estate planning and estate administration.
A graduate of the University of Michigan and Ave Maria School of Law, Harvey has extensive experience volunteering legal services for churches. She began her legal career working as outside counsel for Ford Motor Credit Company, and is a frequent speaker on topics including elder law and women’s legal issue.
What’s the best advice you ever received? From fellow attorney Bob Siemion shortly after my law school graduation and just before I was married: Your ability to argue as an attorney is a samurai sword; never use it in arguments with your spouse.   
If you can help it, where will you never return? Law school . . . as a student! I am happy to be a guest teacher in the law school classroom, which I regularly do at the University of Toledo’s College of Law.
What do you drive? A Nissan Maxima. I have it on good authority from a prominent lemon law (plaintiff) attorney that they are good vehicles. She drives one as well, and hasn’t had to file a lawsuit against the company.
What would you drive if money were no object? I drive my kids crazy – it doesn’t matter what the vehicle is.
What is your motto? As a practice that specializes in estate planning and probate: taking care of you and your family when you can’t.
Where would you like to be when you’re 90? If my husband and I are both still alive, I’d like to be with him, holding hands on the porch in rocking chairs with great-grandkids running around. I hope that we are both as active, sharp, and cool as Betty White is at that age right now.
What would you like carved onto your tombstone? “Honest lawyer – 6 feet down.”