Michelle Mancias is an Assistant Vice President and Counsel at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
How has your practice evolved over the last few years?
Even in an in-house context, the legal landscape is changing to keep up with the increased pace of change of the business environment. External factors are having such an impact on strategies, operations, and even perspectives, so it is critical to understand how the law functions within those changes.
How can lawyers adapt to the changing legal profession?
Adapting well requires an innate curiosity and drive to continually learn and grow. It requires flexibility, the ability to collaborate, a level of humility to understand that you may not have all the answers, and the confidence in your ability to find or craft those answers.
Why is civility important to the practice of law?
Practicing law is grounded in interpersonal relationships – those with clients, adversaries, court personnel, regulators, and so on. It is so hard to be an effective lawyer and advocate where those relationships are not strong and there is no trust. Over the course of my working years, I’ve worn many lawyer “hats.” I was a law firm associate, a nonprofit legal services attorney, a pro bono attorney, and an in-house attorney. In any of these contexts, it would be an insurmountable burden to be effective if there is a lack of – or a perceived lack of – professionalism and civility.
What advice do you have for young lawyers?
Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Encourage those younger than you to follow in your footsteps and be a solid role model for them. Appreciate the benefits diversity and inclusion can bring to the legal profession.
What do you do in your free time?
Spend time with my family, get lost in a good book, run, and make music with friends (I play guitar with a classical mandolin group and banjo with an old-time music group).
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