Family law is rife with emotion. Michelle Lawless kept that in mind when she built her solo family law practice, after a 19-year tenure at a successful Chicago family law firm. Balancing kindness with efficient processes, Michelle explains how technology, which is usually on the wrong side of the ‘good for mental health’ equation, actually makes difficult family matters easier to emotionally handle. It’s just a bonus that it keeps her solo venture moving full speed.

Key moments:

  • Attorney assisted mediation and collaborative law (05:16)
  • Crafting a kind and effective intake process for family law clients (21:42)
  • “The Daley Center is a daily education!”: Building experience in family law (28:26)
  • What Michelle Lawless wants to see changed in the legal profession (39:37)

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“[Mediation has] been a growing trend…. Clients want an alternative to litigation… Litigation is emotionally difficult. It can be protracted and inefficient [and] incredibly expensive.”

“Clients have told me how difficult it was to almost get up the courage to walk into a divorce lawyer’s office for a console. Because, physically, it was a manifestation that their marriage was over, and that that was a really difficult step to take…. [Because of this] I was kind of thinking about, ‘are there ways to do Virtual Counsel,’ and then boom COVID hit.”

“I’m using online forms to capture information that you need in every divorce case but you don’t want to keep asking people for, like the names and the ages of their kids and the birth dates….Making things easier on clients was something that I was really looking to do.”

“I always prided myself on providing personalized service, and being there for clients, listening to them. Getting back to them quickly, as quickly as I can…. As a solo I think that’s even more critical because it’s me. I mean, the business is me. So, I need to provide almost… I look at it like a better client experience. Because I am the client experience. A hundred percent.”

Michelle Lawless


Michelle has spent her entire 20-year career assisting high-net-worth individuals and their spouses by protecting and preserving their assets during divorce. After spending 19 years with one of the most prominent family law firms in the country, she opened her own law practice in 2020, where she is able to take her in-depth training and experience with executive compensation packages, valuations of closely-held businesses, and other complex, hard-to-value assets and income streams to her own practice.

She is a graduate of the American Bar Association’s Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute focusing exclusively on business valuations and has also been named one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Illinois for Outstanding Client Service by the American Institute of Family Law Attorney (2017-2019). Michelle is a past recipient of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s “40 Under 40” award and holds certifications in Collaborative Law and mediation.


Michelle’s Firm:


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“The 1958 Lawyer and his 1938 Dollar” still defines the business of law…
It’s time for a change.

If you’re a lawyer, you’re familiar with the ABA article “The 1958 Lawyer and his 1938 Dollar” which gives our podcast its title, and its inspiration. That article was the start of the billable hour for law firms…And the last major change to the business of law, 70+ years ago now. Well, it’s past time for another change.  

This podcast is all about bucking the status quo of the business of law. Your hosts Ron Bockstahler and Kirsten Mayfield run Amata Law Office Suites, providing law firms an alternative to the traditional fixed-cost business model that places unwanted stress on attorneys to work long hours that often-times lead to burn out, broken relationships and in many cases substance abuse. Each week they’ll discuss alternatives to the 12 hours days, endless rotation of clerks and paralegals, and the expensive offices leased to impress clients who rarely show up in person anymore. They’ll interview successful lawyers who are doing law differently, and finding a work-life balance while still running a successful firm.  

Do you want to find a better way to run your law firm? It’s time for the next big change in the business of law, and you’ll get it here on The 1958 Lawyer.

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