Thursday Profile: Gene Turnwald

Gene Turnwald grew up with 11 brothers and sisters on a small farm near Saginaw. After his father died when he was very young, the family lived on Social Security.

Turnwald was the first in his family to go to college, with his siblings loaning him some of the money to attend Lansing Community College and Michigan State University before he went on to Cooley Law School.

Law school was always Plan A, even though he started a handyman repair business while he was in college.

After law school, Turnwald was a corporate attorney for several years before starting his own law firm, and he has now been practicing law for 25 years, with an office in Okemos.

He is a published book author and has maintained a financial advice column in the Lansing State Journal for six years.

In addition, the handyman repair business Turnwald started in college slowly expanded to a multi-million dollar real estate company with more than 50 properties in the mid-Michigan area.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

Residence: Haslett.

What is your most treasured material possession? The Hamilton Building where my office is located is 115 years old.  It is the oldest commercial building in Meridian Township, and I would like to see it preserved it for another 100 years.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school? It is worth the time, effort and money. Once you become a lawyer, you have a title, and people you have known all your life will treat you differently.

Favorite local hangouts: The Tap Room, Maru, and Home Depot.

Favorite websites: Kyiv Post, The New York Times.

Favorite app: Flashlight.

What would surprise people about your job? The amount of time I spend on the road traveling.

What do you wish someone would invent? A Republican presidential candidate.

What has been your favorite year so far?
I’m always looking forward to the next one.

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

How do you define success?
Being happy in your own shoes. After all, “not all who wander are lost.”

Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party? Christopher Columbus, Mahatma Gandhi, Christine Lagarde, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Why did you become a lawyer? I started college Day One with the plan to become a lawyer. 

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? I have been all over the world, but just down the road here, up north, is Hartwick Pines, an original growth forest that reflects how Michigan was 1,000 years ago.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? To read minds.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Don’t worry about the money, focus on the journey.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
One of them would be taking the Michigan and Florida bar exams 25 years apart. I forgot how hard it was to be a student.

How did you earn your first dollar? Working at McDonalds.

How would you describe your home? I bought a foreclosed house 15 years ago that was only 70 percent finished and finished it all myself, all brick, 7 bathrooms, 5,000 square feet.

What word do you overuse? Several that are unprintable according to most editors.

If you can help it, where will you never return? An unemployment line.

What do you drive? A 2004 BMW with 292,000 miles.

What would you drive if money were no object?  If it is clean and dependable, it does not matter. I do admit to liking European cars, though.

What is your motto? 
“Fortune favors the bold.” - Latin proverb.

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