If attorney Michele Livingstone with the Charlotte office of O’Hagan Meyer asked you to jump off a bridge, she has so much energy and positivity that you’d probably ask which one.
It’s her uplifting personality that she says is part of what makes her law practice successful. “I feel it helps because I put people at ease and make difficult situations seem more approachable,” said Livingstone. “Often when people get sued, their first thought is to panic. And that’s completely understandable. I like to use the phrase counselor-at-law. I feel like part of the job really is just counseling clients, getting them to calm down and getting them comfortable with me because the more they tell me, the more I can help them.”
“I try to take the stress and the pressure off my clients during the case. Being positive moves the ball forward,” Livingstone continued. “I try to have a good relationship with opposing counsel, so we can cut through the posturing and find a resolution. There’s no reason to be angry or rude to each other. I think that is an outdated idea of what an attorney is.”
Livingstone said her positive attitude pairs well with her ‘tenacity.’ “I think of tenacity as perseverance and determination. When representing my clients, this usually emerges as not letting the ball drop on a case, continuing to apply pressure, and thinking of creative solutions. Essentially, doing anything I can to keep the case from languishing.”
Law Suited Me
Michele Livingstone grew up in Santa Clara, California, the daughter of an urban planner and a registered nurse. She found her path toward the law at an early age.
“I was told that I could talk a lot and read a lot. That seemed like a great idea when I was five. Then as I got older, it just kind of seemed to suit me and my personality really well,” said Livingstone.
Livingstone graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in political science and economics. She earned her Juris Doctor from Wake Forest University School of Law.
After law school, she practiced insurance defense and workers’ compensation law. Eventually she went on to represent individual members of the Durham Police Department under federal statute Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which allows people to sue the government for certain civil rights violations such as excessive police force.
Livingstone’s practice now includes labor and employment, commercial and business disputes, and property-related disputes. A big piece of her practice is the ever-changing and evolving labor and employment laws, rules, and regulations. “This is one of my favorite parts of employment law. There are always a ton of learning opportunities and chances for research. I attend CLEs, lunch-and-learns, and mostly I always rely on my own research to make sure everything is up to date,” said Livingstone.
While one in seven North Carolinians is food insecure, the demand for meals spiked during the pandemic when people lost their jobs and couldn’t afford groceries.
Livingstone was on the front lines of filling the food pipeline as the co-chair of the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division’s Feeding Frenzy. The annual Frenzy is a competition among law firms, law schools, and corporate in-house counsel organizations to make the largest donations to Carolina’s food banks. In 2022, the Frenzy raised $226,646, which equated to 907,699 pounds of food.
For Livingstone’s work with the Feeding Frenzy, she was feted with the Charles F. Blanchard Young Lawyer of the Year 2022 award by the NCBA and the Altruist Award for Legal Feeding Frenzy 2022.
“It was an amazing experience, and I was so proud of the legal community,” said Livingstone. “Giving back always makes me feel better, and it is nice to do something with more tangible results that are more wide-reaching than the normal day-to-day of being an attorney. Attorneys were largely fortunate during COVID to have the opportunity to work from home and adapt to the situation. I was touched that our community came together to help those less fortunate in outstanding numbers.”