Utah Appellate Law, Principal
B.Y.U. Law school
Briefly tell us about your academic/professional life:
Michelle Mumford is an attorney in private practice in Salt Lake. She attended law school at Brigham Young University and worked at a large law firm on Wall Street after law school. She took eight years off to be at home with young children, and then reentered the legal profession as a clerk for Judge Monroe G. McKay on the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. She was Assistant Dean at BYU Law as the Dean of Admissions for one year, and then entered private practice as an appellate attorney. She is an elected Commissioner for the Utah State Bar, and is licensed in New York, California, and Utah.
Briefly tell us about your life outside of School/Work:
Michelle is also active in politics, as a former Utah State Republican Party officer. She ran, unsuccessfully, for Utah Attorney General, and is a frequent guest panelist on ABC4 Inside Utah Politics. She serves in the community as a member of Primary Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council, as a member of the Organizing Committee of Real Women Run, and as a member of the Development Committee of The Road Home shelter. She has seven children, including her baby, Noah, who has Down syndrome.
How did you know your path or decide your current path??
I never expected to be living the life I am living (7 kids and working?!?), and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But I am happy when I’m engaged in the process of moving forward. Sometimes that looks like I always imagined — writing briefs and arguing in court. But sometimes opportunities have arisen from completely unexpected sources — like a failed run for Attorney General. I think my greatest successes have come at precisely those times when I’m in a situation I’m not happy with, and the hard choices I made to change it.
Are there major obstacles still limiting your achievement? What are they, and what could be done about them?
I am constantly worried about time passing by and the amount of attention I can focus on my career. “Well, I missed the 30 under 30 lists . . . there goes the 40 under 40,” and so on. My children are still young, and I want to be home with them when they’re home after school. I have a scarlet letter on my chest – I call it the “P” word. Part-time. Very few legal employers, including state and local governments, are ok with the idea of part-time work from the get-go. They hear part-time and think I’m not committed, that I won’t work hard. In reality, part-time moms work so much more than they are paid for. To achieve my ultimate career goal, I need to log hours and experience. But I can’t because of the P-word.
What can be done? I’m working through the Bar Commission to help change the image of a part-time worker with employers. I can also work my networks to get clients of my own to offer as incentive to employers considering my part-time status. And I can reach out to others in the same situation — quantity and quality will make a difference.
How do you de-stress?
I love movies. I’ll find a day to myself and go watch two or three or even four at a time. I’ll get some lunch or dinner in between movies, something I didn’t have to make myself, talk to no one, and — PERFECTION.
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