10 Questions with…

Florida Bar President-elect nominee Michelle Suskauer

What is your name?
Michelle Suskauer

What is your current job?
Managing Partner of Suskauer Feuer LLC in West Palm Beach

What was your first job?
Summer camp counselor

How do you do your best work?
I prefer a quiet place without distraction and a list of what I need to get accomplished.

Any family?
Married to Scott, who I met on my first day of work at the Public Defender’s office.  He was my law partner at the Suskauer Law Firm for almost 18 years until he was appointed to the circuit court bench in Palm Beach County in June, 2015.  We have two daughters: Talia, 20, is a junior at Penn State majoring in musical theater; Becca, 18, is a senior at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts and will be attending college in the fall for musical theater.

Any tips for balancing work and family?
I am always trying to balance the demands of being a mother of two, running a small firm, and bar work. Every day brings a new set of challenges and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all you need to accomplish. The key for me is staying as organized as possible.  I’m a list maker and I need to see what tasks I have for the day and what is on the horizon. Don’t be too proud to call on friends and family for advice and help.

Any funny stories or teachable moments from when you were a brand-new lawyer?
My very first day of work, I walked into court, files in hand, extremely excited to start my career.  Almost immediately, an attorney approached me and asked if I was the court interpreter. My first thought was to whip out my Bar card to show it to him. Instead, I took a breath, smiled and said that I wasn’t the interpreter, I’m a lawyer, it’s my first day as a public defender and I’m hoping I remember English today!  I think that humor diffused the situation and is always a better response.

Pet peeve or unprofessional behavior you have seen in the legal profession?
One of my pet peeves is lawyers who refuse to speak on the phone. It’s too easy to be dismissive or nasty in a text or email and so much more can be accomplished if we just talk to one another.

Favorite way for a young lawyer to get involved?
There are over 250 voluntary bar associations across the state.  Getting involved in one or more of them in your community is a great way to get started in bar work.  I first got involved as a young lawyer and joined several local voluntary bars: Inns of Court, the Palm Beach County Bar Association and FAWL. I met many judges as well as lawyers from every practice area around my county. My closest friends come from my involvement in bar associations.   Most have young lawyers divisions with regular programming and many volunteer opportunities.   Find one or more that interests you and get involved!

Best advice for young lawyers?
As a young lawyer, you are always learning, about the law, about the legal community. The best advice for young lawyers is to find a mentor. A mentor can be anyone, a friend, a co-worker, a family member, a senior partner.  A mentor can help you build positive relationships in your community. Additionally, as a young lawyer, you are forging your reputation and it is important to always be ethical in your dealings and be prepared.