McShane & Bowie PLC named Michelle H. Anthes among three managing partners, responsible for its day-to-day direction. Michelle, who's practiced law for 21 years—12 at McShane & Bowie—is the first woman promoted to the role in the firm's 66-year history and one of few in a larger Michigan firm.
She serves on McShane & Bowie's management committee and for the past three years was chairperson of its Estate Planning Practice Group.
"This year, it was my turn to be managing partner."
What drew you to law?
I like to micromanage and control things. I considered becoming a physician. I have a general business and accounting background. I decided to try law because it seemed to fit me. Law sounded interesting. I thought, "This could be fun!" Even in law school, I kept management and leadership roles.
What do you appreciate most about the field of law?
When I started at law school, I was told: "You will never look at life the same way again."
How you listen to people talk. How you analyze things. You think "liability." How your brain processes things. We can't help ourselves—we have to think too much! It's the way you are trained, to think like a lawyer.
I'm also married to a lawyer.
Your best lesson learned?
Being in leadership, I had to learn how to turn the lawyering off a little bit; to be empathetic and hear things from others' points of view. I may have to "turn off" what's best for me, for the greater good.
What do you hope to accomplish?
Becoming a managing partner was a natural progression. The firm is strong. Previous leaders did a really good job of building an incredible foundation.
I want to keep the trajectory it's been on, to be even better for the next generation. This is a two-year term. After that, it will be reassessed. It may become time to step back and let others manage. But who knows?
What does West Michigan mean to you?
I met my husband, who's from Grand Haven, in law school. He encouraged me to move here. The experience of getting to know Grand Rapids and Grand Haven—the city and the lakeshore—it's a great community and a great place to raise a family. The growth has been phenomenal. People who've done well give back. The philanthropy is amazing! It's nice to see it throughout the area.
What advice do you have for women hoping to pursue law?
Not to sound corny: If you can dream it or think it, you can become it. You have to believe you're capable. Picture yourself in the role. Don't think, "Why would they want me?" Think, "Why wouldn't they?"
Women bring a unique perspective to law. It's different from men's—and that's OK. It's really useful and valuable. We need to be in more prominent roles. We do things well! You have to believe in yourself. McShane & Bowie wants everyone to know we're putting women in leadership.
Women are considered a minority in this profession, and larger clients want to see women in these roles.
We're getting there!
Written by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for West Michigan Woman.