Look at the board of directors of most major legal organizations in the state. Greensboro family law attorney Manisha P. Patel is listed as a current or past president or board member – NC Association of Women Attorneys, NC Advocates for Justice, Legal Aid of North Carolina, National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, to name but a few.
All of which she says makes her a better family law litigator. “Whether that being thinking on my feet or my public speaking skills, it’s being able to think off the cuff when something unexpected occurs in court or negotiations or a mediation.”
“Leadership roles and training over the years have made me conversationally intelligent so that I have the awareness and insight when I speak with lawyers or clients. I am very direct. I may say something, but how is my client hearing it? How are they receiving my message? The awareness of these questions helps me communicate with my clients and for them to understand why I am taking a particular strategy or giving specific legal advice.”
Commitment to Service
The Danville, VA native graduated from Virginia Tech with degrees in economics and history. Patel earned her Juris Doctor from Elon University. She decided to pursue a legal career at age 14 while working on an eighth grade research project on the death penalty’s constitutionality in the United States.
Patel also traces her desire to be a lawyer and a leader committed to service back to her parents and their early lives in India, where her father Pravin and mother Smita each came from large families and “humble beginnings.” Her mother was a teacher in India, and her father is still a practicing physician in Danville.
“From a very young age, they instilled a value in my older siblings and me that we should always give back – to our educators, communities and professions. We don’t keep our hand out; we don’t always take; we want to make sure that we leave a place better than we found it. And if we have the ability, then give and provide anything we can to make that community, that person’s life, the family, and the groups we work with better.”
Pro bono service is one of the central themes of Patel’s law practice. She has received laudits at every stage of her career for her contributions to her community, the legal profession, and work with law students at her alma mater, Elon University School of Law. Even in 2019, Patel was chosen as the first female commencement speaker for the Department of Economics at Virginia Tech.
Patel places a high value on her ethical standards and reputation with fellow local attorneys as one of the reasons she was elected as one of two councilors to represent the 24th Judicial District. The district, which encompasses over 1300 lawyers in Guilford County, elects two councilors to represent member attorneys on the North Carolina State Bar Council, which regulates the legal industry to make sure lawyers are not harming the public. She is one of the youngest and only Asian members of the NC State Bar Council.
“I take a lot of pride in that and what I represent to the profession for the public and to other lawyers.”
Like most family lawyers, Patel will tell you that they strive to keep family law matters from having to go to court. “My MO is that I always want my clients to have control of their own lives, whether it be how they will receive marital assets, pay debts, or how and when they are going to see their children. My mindset is that it’s always better for you as the client to come to those decisions over a stranger, which is exactly what a judge is to your family.” However, Patel adds that she is more than willing to go to court to litigate for her clients if that’s what a case merits.
Her practice runs the gamut of family law matters. She has a soft spot for handling adoptions by a non-biological parent. “Making sure my client has the legal ties to their child is one of the greatest joys of my life.”
When asked what makes her happy when she looks back on a day of work, Patel said, “If I am working on a case and provided some benefit to my client that they are grateful for, that’s the great win I have day in and day out.”
For more information, contact Patel at [email protected].