Seattle Divorce Services is pleased to welcome Attorney Michelle Danley to our group! Michelle’s career in California and Washington is based on a passion for helping families and children in difficult situations. She has worked on care and family law issues and has a background in both mediation and collaborative divorce.
Michelle’s early life was in Southern California, including some time in the Midwest. Being raised by a single father was viewed with suspicion by some in those days, which helped her learn to look beyond past appearances to see the deeper reality. Various exposures to the legal system also sparked an early interest in one day becoming a lawyer.
While studying at Berkeley, Michelle had the opportunity to spend a year abroad in Madrid, Spain. This was a tremendous opportunity to open your eyes to the bigger world through traveling and working with other people. In college, she also became involved in peer counseling, which in turn sparked interest in the counseling work of lawyers.
After graduating from Berkeley, Michelle attended NYU law school. The experience in Spain had helped spark an interest in experiencing other places, and she knew that New York would be very different from California. New York turned out to be a great cultural experience indeed. In the end, the cold winters and the lack of outdoor surroundings to which she was used made her longing for the west coast again. For her final year as a lawyer, she took the opportunity to return to Berkeley as a law student and join her new husband, who also studied law there.
Michelle’s internship experience while studying law, including doing charitable work with children and spending a summer in housing law, piqued her interest in building customer relationships and helping real people, rather than feeling like a cog in a machine.
After graduation, Michelle pursued these interests, working for Legal Aid in Honolulu for a while and becoming Guardian Ad Litem for Foster Children. She moved back to the Bay Area and opened a nursing replacement practice. Over time, this turned into more and more vocational work related to nursing problems.
One of the lessons Michelle learned during this time was the importance of helping clients understand the problems and system they are dealing with in order to both reduce their fears of the unknown and them empower them to make decisions that affect their lives. She became more aware of the sometimes subtle differences between the law and pragmatic reality, and in her appeal work she had the satisfaction of directing the law in the right direction.
A few years ago, Michelle and her husband decided to move to the Seattle area. It felt like a less crowded area and like a place to raise your kids. At the same time Michelle was training in collaborative divorce, a process she had learned about through friends in the Bay Area and which she believed would better enable families to put children first.
The pace of life up here has allowed Michelle to focus on her family, while the nearby mountains have enabled her to indulge in the love of hiking. On the other hand, home time during Covid has also opened up a greater opportunity for another interest, baking (always a good addition to any office).
Michelle’s core values - being open and honest with clients and other lawyers, respecting others and empowering their clients – as well as her experience in mediation and collaboration are reasons we are glad that she agreed to Seattle join divorce services and why we believe it would be a good fit for our company.