Attorney at Law Magazine Phoenix Publisher Charles Douglass sat down with Michael Kelley to discuss his career and his practice.
AALM: Did you ever want to be anything instead of an attorney?
Kelley: Growing up, I always wanted to be a police officer. During my junior year at NAU a Flagstaff police officer was killed during a traffic stop. It scared me to think that a police officer was killed in such a friendly community and I didn’t want my family to worry about my safety. I still wanted to work in the justice system so the next obvious choice for me was to become an attorney.
AALM: How would you describe your practice? What is your main area of law?
Kelley: Thomas Markson Rubin & Kelley PC focuses on insurance defense litigation and providing insurance coverage opinions. Our cases range from automobile accident cases to wrongful death, product liability, construction defect and bad faith claims. Our clients include insurance companies, real estate brokers, retail businesses, rental car companies and individuals.
AALM: What drew you to your current firm? How would you describe the culture there?
Kelley: Our associates are trained litigators. They are not stuck only responding to discovery requests or authoring research memoranda. All our office doors are left open and everyone talks to each other on a frequent basis. Being a smaller firm also allows us to know everyone on a personal basis, which creates a friendlier work environment.
AALM: Are there any changes coming in the future that you’re excited about?
Kelley: I am proud to announce that the firm name is being changed from Thomas, Thomas & Markson, P.C. to Thomas Markson Rubin & Kelley PC. We will also be launching our new website, which will be operational by summer 2015. We look forward to providing the same quality legal advice our firm has been providing for over 30 years.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Kelley: I have four young children so my nights and weekends are filled with sporting events and family activities. I am also one of the assistant coaches for the Chandler Twins, a youth baseball club which competes with some of the best youth baseball teams in the state.
AALM: Are there any flaws in the legal profession that you see? If so, how would you fix them?
Kelley: Many young associates think of their work as a job, rather than a career, and this negatively impacts their ability to flourish as an attorney. This may be due to law schools focusing on the bar exam rather than teaching them to think like a lawyer. When an associate starts at Thomas Markson Rubin & Kelley PC we make sure they treat their work as a profession, rather than just a stepping stone to the next job.
AALM: What is the best compliment you’ve received or the funniest story you have?
Kelley: One of my clients told me, “I always get very nervous when I receive anything in the mail about this lawsuit, but as soon as I talk to you I feel better.” As an insurance defense attorney, many of my clients do not hire me directly. Some new clients do not know who I am or why they are being sued. It was nice to know that this client was comforted by our discussions and felt confident with me representing her in that case.
AALM: What do you find most rewarding in your day-to-day work as an attorney?
Kelley: I love being intellectually stimulated. Whether it involves finding the small piece of helpful evidence in a large stack of records, or discussing legal issues with associates or opposing counsel, I am always excited to try to prove my case. Being a litigator gives me the opportunity to influence people’s thoughts and decisions.