Thursday Profile: Sam Bernstein

An MSU?Law grad, Sam Bernstein has practiced criminal defense as a solo practitioner for the last three years at his firm, ArborYpsi Law in Ypsilanti. He has represented clients in courts throughout southeastern Michigan.

A native of Ann Arbor, Bernstein graduated from Pioneer High School and Eastern Michigan University. During law school at Michigan State University, he worked at the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office and the Michigan Attorney General’s office. After law school, Bernstein returned to Ann Arbor to establish ArborYpsi Law.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

What is your most treasured material possession?  Books from my grandfather.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school? Law school doesn’t really emphasize what lawyers actually do in practice so i’'s important to seek out that experience. Most of what I do involves a skill set that’s not at all related to staying up late at night reading Pennoyer and International Shoe. 

Favorite websites:
  Amazon is pretty useful.

Favorite music:  Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and all the great jazz greats.

What’s it like having the same name as that OTHER famous southeast Michigan lawyer?
   I get asked if I’m related to that Sam Bernstein so often that I don't even notice it anymore!

What is your happiest childhood memory? Playing basketball all day with friends.

What would surprise people about your job?  The true value of criminal defense attorneys for society is sometimes misunderstood by the public.

What do you wish someone would invent?  I have a few million dollar ideas in the works right now that I should probably keep to myself.

What has been your favorite year so far? 
The year I met my girlfriend.

What is your most typical mood? I always try to be optimistic.

How do you define success?  I like to set very specific and measurable goals.

Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party?  Jack London, Muhammad Ali, and Clarence Darrow.

Why did you become a lawyer? 
I was meant to be a lawyer. I grew up in a family and culture that emphasizes social justice and sticking up for people who don’t have a voice. And that’s just what criminal defense attorneys do. We represent the underdog and give them a voice.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
The obvious answer would be hearing the words “not guilty” at my first jury trial, but there are many meaningful little moments here and there. 

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? Batman.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? I spent half a year in Israel. Every little place there is infused with history.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?  The ability to stop and start time so that everything is paused except for me. I saw it on  “The Twilight Zone.”

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  There’s so much to say that I wouldn’t know where to start. I'll probably have more to say as I get older.

How did you earn your first dollar? I bagged groceries at Kroger. 

What do you do to relax?  I’m an avid bike rider.

What word do you overuse? “Absolutely.”

What is one thing you would like to learn to do?  Origami.

What is the best advice you ever received?  If you’re not getting what you want keep pushing. When you get what you want, be quiet.

What would you drive if money were no object?  A black Maserati.   

What is your motto?  A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.

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