Posted January 26, 20248:44 am
When Deborah Michelson was completing her undergraduate studies at Northwestern University, she wasn’t sure of what she wanted to do after graduation. While she had always wanted to be a lawyer, during her undergraduate studies she thought she might do something else, such as teaching or acting.
After she graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., she applied to graduate programs in teaching, acting and law. She got into all three programs, but ultimately decided to accept the offer from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to study law.
“I always had a sense that I would need to be a financial supporter, so teaching and acting didn’t seem stable,” she said. “And I always loved the law, and I love being a lawyer.”
Michelson moved back to Cleveland to attend law school with her then-husband and their one child. She had three children in total, which made her place a priority on supporting her family financially so her children could have things such as braces and haircuts.
Michelson has been working in the field of law for over 30 years and works at Buckley King LPA as an attorney practicing in business disputes and complex commercial litigation.
Michelson, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and first moved to Cleveland with her family at 10 years old, said she believes that part of being a lawyer is that you owe public service to your community.
She devotes time outside of working hours to the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland as a volunteer lawyer. The Legal Aid Society provides no cost legal representation and assistance for people that have a low income and may not be able to afford a lawyer otherwise.
“Community is important and you need to be part of the community,” she said. “Whether it’s being a volunteer lawyer, being something within a temple or being involved with the schools, I have to do something outside myself and my own family.”
Michelson, who was a founding member of The Heights Synagogue prior to merging with Beth El, uses her Jewish values in her everyday life and as a lawyer. Her faith instilled a sense of importance of the values of tikkun olam, along with justice, mercy, tolerance, learning, thinking and listening within her, she said.
Tikkun olam, or repairing the world, drives her in her field and volunteerism and she said she hopes that she has had a positive impact on people’s lives.
Michelson has found through her volunteer and pro bono work, that sometimes people simply need someone that is willing to listen to them and not push away their concerns, she said. They want someone to take them seriously and may not know who to go to for help.
She enjoys being able to help people by giving them someone to turn to when they need legal help and have no one to turn to.
“It helps me personally and professionally, but also it’s helping another person,” she said. “You never know how you touch that life – maybe not very much, maybe a lot or maybe it’s a ripple effect, but you just have to hope that it helps somebody somehow.”
Source: Cleveland Jewish News - Deborah Michelson | Profiles