Monday Profile: Melissa Keener

Melissa Keener is an associate at Hanes & Associates, PLLC in East Lansing.  After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University in 2005, she attended the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and was admitted to practice law in May 2009.  

She and her husband of 17 years, Ivan, are the parents of Ivan Jr., 16; Malachi, 12; and Areté (air-ah-tay), 10. 

 Residence:  Okemos.

What's the best advice you ever received?  My friend Sara told me that I would be a lot happier if I stopped expecting people to act a certain way and instead set standards.  If people fall below my acceptable standards, then I can make the appropriate adjustments.  That way I would be back in control.  (I like being in control.)
Currently reading … “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris and “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. 
What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  
I believe in order to be a good lawyer you need to be a problem solver.  You have to learn how to investigate and become somewhat of an expert in areas you may have never thought you would ever have to learn about.  One of my pet peeves is when someone says, “I am going to law school because I love to argue.”  There are a lot of lawyers out there, but there are a limited number of “good lawyers” who are willing to be effective problem solvers.  Do you really want to be a problem solver?
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?  Maybe a yoga instructor?
Favorite local hangouts:  Anywhere my friends and family are, but also NCG Cinemas, Kelly’s Downtown, Sholty’s Bar, and Stober’s. 
What is your happiest childhood memory?  When I was 11 or 12, we attended my Grandpa and Grandma’s 50th wedding anniversary.  They polkaed all night together, and my cousins and I were cutting the rug too so to speak.  Best night ever.
Which things do you not like to do?  I like a clean house, but I don’t like to be the one to do it.  
What would surprise people about your job?  I don’t go to court that much.
What do you wish someone would invent? A teleportation machine.
What’s your greatest achievement?  I think my children are smart, funny, and kind.  I don’t know how much credit I can reasonably take for that because we are surrounded by a very loving and supportive family, but I think that would be my greatest achievement. 
If you could have one super power, what would it be?  I would want to be able to force people to be reasonable and kind.  
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  I would say be as honest and possible and don’t be afraid to be yourself.   Listen to what others say about you as a means of reflection but never accept it as “truth.”  
Favorite joke:  What did the alien say to the gas pump?  Get your finger out of your ear and take me to your leader.   You really have to be older to get that. 
What is guaranteed to make you laugh?  My kids.  They are hilarious, and not in a “kids-say-the-darndest-things” type of way.  They are calculatedly funny.  I am not just saying that because I am their mom.  
What word do you overuse?   I don’t think I overuse any words, but I have been told that “amazing” is an overused word in general.   I am self-conscious about using “amazing” now, but I still use it.  
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?  I am going to learn how to speak Spanish fluently and maybe how to play the guitar.
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?  Marshall Bruce Mathers, III;  my Grandma Sanchez; Jesus Christ.
Favorite CD:  White Stripes’ “Elephant.”
Favorite law-related movie:  “A Few Good Men.”  (I strenuously object).
Your worst moment as a lawyer? I hate losing.   
Your proudest moment as a lawyer?  When I first became a lawyer, I had an unreal expectation that I should know more than I knew. I was too proud to ask questions, especially when talking to more seasoned attorneys.  I remember a phone conversation with an experienced attorney who said something I did not understand. But instead of asking him to clarify, I thought I would just tell my boss and he would know what it meant.  I repeated what the attorney had said to my boss, and my boss said, “What does that mean?”  I had to respond, “I don’t know.”  My boss made me call the attorney back and find out what he meant. It was a very humbling experience, but the next time I did not understand what was being said, I did not hesitate to ask for clarification.  
Favorite place to spend money:  I like to spend money on events and building memories: vacations, parties, etc. 
What is your motto?   “Reach for the stars; you may grab the moon.”
Where would you like to be when you're 90?  With my husband on a porch swing—at one of my kids’ homes. 
In last week’s Monday Profile on attorney Nancy Little, her residence was mistakenly identified as Okemos. Little lives in Genoa Township. We regret the error.

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