Thursday Profile: Gina Torielli

Gina M. Torielli grew up the oldest of five girls in Danbury, Conn. For three generations her family owned the first Italian-American restaurant in Danbury.  The first person in her family to go to college, she chose to attend Michigan State because it was far from home, had a good restaurant management program, and gave her a small scholarship.  There she immediately decided to become a political science, pre-law major.

In 1978, Torielli joined the Michigan House Democratic Research Staff right out of college, working on issues relating to public assistance, Medicaid and unemployment insurance.

She left Michigan in 1981 and worked a federal lobbyist, then director of State governmental affairs for the National Wholesale Druggists Association. 

When her father became ill she returned to Danbury to run the family restaurant business.

 After three years, she decided to go to Harvard Law School, where she was in the same study group as the future President Barack Obama. 

Torielli joined Dykema’s Lansing office in 1991 as an associate in the tax department.  A year later she became involved in her true love in practice - the tax aspects of public finance.  She followed two partners in that group to Howard & Howard’s Lansing office where she was elected President and CEO of the five-office law firm in two years.  After completing her term as CEO, she was recruited by Cooley Law School to head their Master in Laws program in taxation.  She served as a Professor of Law and headed the Graduate Tax Program for 11 years, while also consulting with Dykema on public finance tax matters.

Torielli worked on the federal mediation team for the Detroit bankruptcy, providing advice on state taxation and public finance matters.

This past January, she rejoined Dykema in the Ann Arbor office as Senior Counsel working on taxation and public finance matters. 

Residence:  Ann Arbor Township.

What is your most treasured material possession?  Our home.

Favorite local hangouts: Bigalora for pizza, Ann Arbor farmers’ market.

Favorite websites:  Embarrassing to admit, but, truthfully,  I hate spending time shopping for most things.

Favorite app:  The Weather Channel, to see if I can garden!

Favorite music:  Motown, hands down.

What is your happiest childhood memory?  Hanging out with my grandmother, cooking.

What would surprise people about your job?  How much fun bond lawyers are.

What do you wish someone would invent?  A device that would clearly magnify those tiny spreadsheet numbers.

Why did you become a lawyer?  I always wanted to be a lawyer.  We are a helping profession and I can’t stand the sight of blood! 

What’s your favorite law-related TV show, movie, and/or book?  Law and Order.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?   Omaha Beach and environs in Normandy France.  I just saw it last month, and you can feel the bravery and self-sacrifice of those young people on D-Day.

What did you do last weekend? Worked in my vegetable garden.

What do you do to relax?  Gardening and cooking.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?  The super focusing power of my younger eyes!

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  Relax!  People will accept you for who you are.

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer?  The day the Detroit bankruptcy was confirmed by Judge Rhodes.  Eugene Dryker and I sat together in the jury box and cried. 

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?  Play the piano.

What is something most people don't know about you?  I got married March 22, 2014, during the one-day window after Judge Friedman’s ruling.

Favorite place to spend money:   The farmers’ market.

What is your motto?  Don’t waste time regretting something you did; learn from it.

Which living person do you most admire? William Clay "Bill" Ford Jr.

Where would you like to be when you’re 90?  On the beach on Cape Cod.

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