Get to Know Mary Comazzi


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Mary Comazzi is a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, an Am Law 100 law firm with 22 offices across the country.

Named a Crain's Notable Women in Law, 2021, she is an aviation attorney and works almost exclusively on aviation transactions, including domestic and foreign-based aircraft purchases and sales, aircraft leasing and other operational agreements, joint and fractional ownership agreements, personal and executive use policies and other FAA and compliance matters.

Previously, she spent nearly six years as in-house counsel with CHI Aviation, a Michigan-based helicopter services company. There, she developed, implemented and managed programs involving virtually all aspects of its business including human resources, import/export regulatory compliance, Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) compliance, and facility and employee security clearances. She also handled complex corporate transactions, namely asset purchases and sales, contract review and negotiation and finance matters.

She is a  past chair, State Bar of Michigan Aviation Law Section; council  member, State Bar of Michigan Business Law Section; member, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA);  and member, Charles Woodson Clinical Research Initiative Event on Main host committee.   

She earned her undergrad degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a master’s degree from the University of Missouri; and her J.D. from Ave Maria School of Law.

Comazzi volunteers and supports the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Tell us about your background:

Born and raised in rural northeast Missouri, I am thankful for a small-town upbringing.  I was fortunate to spend time on my grandparents’ and other family members’ farms.  t was there that I learned what hard work and determination really is, especially from my grandmother, who, along with her sister (age 9) and brother (age 1), lost her father in 1931 when she was just 5 years old. Her family worked their land, canned vegetables, and cured meat just to get by.

What is your current position:

I am privileged to be a Partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, an Am Law 100 law firm with 22 offices across the country, and credit this opportunity to my mother, grandmother and other family members who taught me – by example – how to work hard and persevere.

What would surprise people about your job?  

Nearly every aspect of my practice is related to aviation and I love it. But, no, I do not get to fly on private airplanes all the time. But, yes, being in this industry has provided unique opportunities to fly on private airplanes and helicopters.

Who are your law role models – real and/or fictional?  

I have many, those I have worked with in the past and those I work with now.  I think that you can learn something from everyone – including what kind of attorney you want (or don’t want) to be.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school? 

Be open-minded to opportunities that may not be in the area of law you are considering.  You may end up in an unexpected, cool practice area like… aviation!  

What do you do to relax? 

My husband says I don’t know how to relax, but I love to read, bake, and lie on the beach.  

What other career path might you have chosen?

Country music radio show host.  

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? 

Be confident instead of just putting on a brave face.

Favorite local hangouts: 

Maiz in Depot Town in Ypsilanti; Knight’s (downtown Ann Arbor); and home.  

What is your most treasured material possession?

I have cookbooks from 1923 and 1945 that belonged to my great-great-grandmother and great-grandmother along with other handwritten recipes and cooking notes. I also have a diamond necklace that belonged to my grandmother. She always let me borrow it when I had a special event in high school.  

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

“If you say you’re going to do something, do it.” – My mother.  

What is your motto?  

See above. My mom said this a lot.  

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? 

My two children, ages 4 and 6. What a privilege it is to be their mom. They are truly the best thing I have ever done.

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