Leaders in the Law: Michelle Sweatland, president of the Clay County Bar Association

"Each person brings their own strengths and weaknesses to a case."


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  • | 5:10 a.m. October 14, 2019
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What inspired you to become a lawyer?

I always wanted a profession that allows me to learn and grow while maintaining a certain degree of professional autonomy.

How does your undergraduate degree relate to your practice of law?

My undergraduate degree in psychology relates to almost every aspect of family and adoption law from the initial consultation to mediation to strategy at trial. Each person brings their own strengths and weaknesses to a case and my degree helps sort through those factors.

How did you decide your practice area?

I really enjoy family law and have found a balance to the practice. I balance the dissolution/paternity actions by including adoption as part of my practice. With adoption, the parties are more likely working together for a remarkable outcome for a child.

What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar?

Timesharing for the father has changed and continues to change and expand in paternity and dissolution actions.

What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law?

I think alimony will probably be the next big area of change with a move away from permanent alimony.

If I could change anything in the legal system …

I would like to see more pathways to private adoption where incentives are put in place for birth mothers to choose adoption. One example might be providing birth mothers with stipends for education in addition to the allowed birth mother medical and living expenses. I would also like to see cases move through the system quicker. Many times, urgent parenting issues just cannot be addressed timely.

What community service have you pursued and why that?

I help out in the local legal community by volunteering with the Low Bono Program in Clay County. This program allows for low-cost consultations in family law.

What’s your advice for new lawyers?

Confidence comes from doing. Always, always, always do your research.