Guest Blog – 5 Money Tips to Start off the New Year

With the winding down of the “new year” and tax season straight ahead, most of us have our finances and money on our minds.  That is why we asked Financial Architect’s Asalyn Coachman to give us some pointers in a guest blog as we move through the start of this year.  Here’s what she has to say:

1. Know Your Credit Worthiness

Once a year, your free credit report is available at  This is a statement of your credit history, but not the actual credit score. Review the report to make sure there are no errors. To find out your free FICO score, there are several options, including credit karma and Discover.

2. Track Your Spending

It may not sound like fun, but tracking your spending for one month will show where those dollars are really going. If you are having trouble reaching your financial goals, it may be all those little incidentals that are adding up. Knowledge is power, so face the reality of how much you are spending.

3. Don’t Count on a Bonus or Refund

Many of us hope to get a tax refund or a bonus at work, but spending it before it arrives can lead to problems. Plan your spending as if you are not getting this extra boost in income. When and if it does arrive, be strategic about where it can do the most good– saving, debt payment, etc.

4. Set Up Automatic Payments

Just one late payment can adversely affect your credit score, so put as many payments on an automatic schedule as possible. Deposits to your savings should also be scheduled to occur automatically so you always pay yourself.

5. Take a Big Financial Goal and Turn it into Mini-Goals

If this is the year you want to build your savings, decide how much you would like to have in savings at the end of the year. Then break that number down into a monthly or weekly amount so the goal does not seem so overwhelming. Saving $5,000.00 by the end of the year sounds like a lot until you think of it as $96.00 a week! Make a plan and hold yourself to it.


Asalyn Coachman is a financial advisor at Financial Architects, Inc.  This article was prepared for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.  Please be mindful of the fact that everybody’s financial and legal situations are different and there is no “one size fits all” approach.  If you are looking for legal or financial advice, please contact a competent professional in your geographic location.  


Officer Focus: Andrea Symbal

This month, we are featuring Andrea Symbal–the current Vice President of the WBA.  Read what she has to say!

What inspired you to become an attorney?

I wanted to be an attorney for as long as I can remember and I don’t know if there was any one inspiration, but I became an attorney because I enjoy puzzles.  Whether you are working through litigation or overseeing legal transactions, it is all about working out the intellectual pieces of the puzzle and putting them together to achieve a satisfactory outcome for the client.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

I became interested in the WBA as a 2L when I attended the WBA mentorship event and was paired with a practicing attorney as my mentor. My mentor encouraged me to attend meetings and become involved not only to get my name out into the field, but to also develop meaningful relationships with a group of successful female attorneys.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Being outdoors, walking, biking, and boating. I also enjoy spending time with my husband Brian and our dog Ernie. I like to do crafts such as scrapbooking and wreath-making, and I can sit for hours doing jigsaw puzzles.

What is your favorite book?

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

Alicia Florick from the Good Wife

Do you have any pets?

A miniature Australian labradoodle puppy named Ernie that will be one year old this month.

What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?

I listen to music from my past, which some may say unfortunately includes 80s and 90s music.

What are three things that people probably don’t know about you?

(1) I am a Yooper. I lived near Marquette until I was 21; (2) I worked for 7 years prior to going to law school; and (3) I wrote articles for our local newspaper when I was a kid and had the privilege of briefly meeting Hillary Clinton as a part of that experience.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak in Las Vegas. It was the most extravagant meal that I have ever eaten and each bite was worth every penny!

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?


Favorite travel destination?

Anywhere with a white sandy beach, crystal clear water, and a tropical climate.

What superpower would you like to have?


What are your words to live by?

“Never give up.  Great things take time.”


Officer Focus: Erin Klug

This month, we are featuring Erin Klug–the current President-Elect of the WBA.  Here’s what she has to say!

What inspired you to become an attorney?

Working in the engineering field made me realize I didn’t want to be an engineer. Patent attorney seemed like a logical alternative.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

A highlighter passed out at the Oakland County mass swearing in ceremony! Representatives from the WBA were handing out packets and highlighters. I decided to attend a board meeting, and here I am. For the record, I still have the highlighter.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Traveling, running, and spending time with my fur-children.

What is your favorite book?

The Great Gatsby

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

Oliva Pope (former lawyers count, right?)

Do you have any pets?

Currently only two dogs–Lola the Poodle and Almond the Pit Bull. Give it a few weeks, and we will have more…

What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?


What are three things that people probably don’t know about you?

I love audiobooks, I buy most of my shoes from Payless and Target, and I am a former homecoming queen.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Seva in Ann Arbor.

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?


Favorite travel destination?

Cinque Terre, Italy.

What superpower would you like to have?


What are your words to live by?

“This too shall pass.”


Officer Focus: Kristen Pursley

This month, we are featuring Kristen Pursley–the current president of the WBA.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

I worked as an administrator for a transactional attorney during undergrad and discovered that you can be an attorney without going to court.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

I work in a very male-dominated area of practice, so I was looking to meet other female attorneys. I had an amazing group of friends in law school, but we all left for different parts of the county upon graduation, and I really missed those friendships.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I like to watch my kids swim. I love to read, though I have a hard time finding the time to read. I would say I like to run, but that is really more of an obligation.

What is/are your favorite book(s)?

Pride & Prejudice and The Count of Monte Cristo

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

John Cage

Do you have any pets?

A little maltipoo named Frodo.

What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?

Books on Audible, NPR, and Britney Spears.

What are three things that people probably don’t know about you?

I am an avid tap dancer, I love playing Fantasy Football, and I can’t stand election years.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Mabel Gray

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?

Coffee and more coffee – tea is good too.

Favorite travel destination?


What superpower would you like to have?


What are your words to live by?

“It is what it is.”


Officer Focus: Channelle Kizy-White

Channelle Kizy-White

The WBA’s Board of Directors and Officers include some amazing ladies.  We want to make sure everybody else knows it.  Beginning this month, the WBA will highlight those ladies.  The questions and the ladies’ answers can range from serious to downright silly.  This month, the focus is on Channelle Kizy-White, the Immediate Past President.  We asked her a few questions, and she answered!

What inspired you to become an attorney?

When I was younger, I just thought it would be cool to be the first female Supreme Court Justice.  Since you have to be a lawyer first, that was an easy choice.  Too bad I didn’t realize that someone had already beat me to it!  I’d still like to be a judge one day, but not on the Supreme Court.  I just love being able to tell people what to do and that they would have to listen to me or get in trouble if they didn’t.  My younger brother and sister know all about how that works.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

I was looking for an organization to get involved in, and a member of the WBA invited me to a summer planning meeting.  I did not know much about the organization, but after I went to this meeting, I was really impressed by the women and immediately wanted to be more involved.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Reading and hanging out with my kids.  Or even better, reading to my kids.

What is your favorite book?

The Kite Runner

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

There are so many good ones, it’s hard to decide.  I used to love John Grisham, but then I went through a Jodi Picoult phase.  Now, I can’t say I have a true favorite.

Do you have any pets?


What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?

105.1 is the best thing that has happened to the radio recently.

What is your favorite restaurant?


Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?

Why not both?  Coffee in the morning and tea for the rest of the day.

Favorite travel destination?

I just wish I traveled more.

What superpower would you like to have?

I want to be able to freeze time like Evie from Out of This World.  There are just not enough hours in the day.

What are your words to live by?

“Without my kids, tomorrow wouldn’t be worth the wait and yesterday wouldn’t be worth remembering.” –Unknown

Also, the best advice I’ve ever been given professionally is to “never burn any bridges.”


On the Horizon: What to Expect from the WBA this Year

September 13, 2016

September is here.  Not only does that mean that school is back in session, but organizations all across the nation are in full force again—the WBA being one of them.  Our organization is going strong and continues to welcome new members.  We are looking forward to another great year.

After the WBA’s Annual Dinner on May 12th, we made sure to stay active and continue our community involvement.  Thanks to our Bar Briefs happy hours, the brainchild of our current Communications Secretary, Tanya Lundberg, we were able to stay in touch and continue networking with the WBA community over the summer.

During the summer, we also held our Summer Planning meeting.  It was this past June and the ideas were flying!  We know what goals we want to accomplish—from streamlining event registrations to strengthening the membership base in and around Oakland County.  We would also like to explore the options of hosting a Bar Briefs happy hour or other event in our neighboring Lapeer or Genesee counties during the 2017 calendar year.

Summer Planning 2016
Summer Planning Meeting 2016

The WBA is absolutely excited about the events coming up.  We have a jam-packed year—filled with new events and some of our more traditional events.  Of course, we will continue putting on the well-attended Holiday Party, Annual Dinner, and Painting with a Twist events.  In addition, the WBA will continue its charitable efforts and give back to the community.  We are participating in a service activity.  Last year, the WBA participated in a Humble Design project.  We hope you will join us for our project this year.  We also plan to go to a local elementary school to educate students on women gaining the right to vote in the United States.

The WBA will also continue its efforts to guide and make connections with local law students.  We plan to have a table set up at this year’s University of Detroit Mercy School of Law’s Bar Association Fair and participate in Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Mentor Jet Networking Fair.

Some of our more immediate events are the Complete Headshot Experience, a financial seminar at the Detroit Athletic Club, and our Painting with a Twist event.  If you are looking for a new headshot for your LinkedIn profile, your website, or any other reason, then the Complete Headshot Experience is definitely the event for you.  You can choose the Full Treatment in which you can get your hair done, makeup done, and a photo session.  Otherwise, you can register for a Half and Half in which you can get either your hair or makeup done along with the photo session.

As WBA President, Kristen Pursley, puts it, our organization is interested in providing member benefits that are “new and unique.”  Networking will always be the backbone of our events.  We also want to offer more.  With our Complete Headshot Experience, we will be offering makeovers and pictures.  Then with our financial seminar, you might gain financial information that can change the way you manage your finances.  The WBA board is definitely excited for the upcoming financial seminar that we are planning.  “I think this will be a great event to help women think about good financial strategies and how they can put their money to work for them,” says Lundberg.  Another event that will give you other benefits in addition to networking will be one focused on health and well-being.  Previously, the WBA organized a yoga event.  Going forward, we hope to do something similar.  As our Treasurer, Samantha Orvis, explains, it is “always fun to combine exercise, personal well-being, and professional networking!”

In addition to those events, we will continue our monthly Bar Briefs gatherings.  Our next one will be held next week at D’Amato’s in Royal Oak on September 21st.  The two after that will be at the Steelhouse Tavern in Troy on October 19th and the Woodward Avenue Brewery in Ferndale on November 16th.

Please note that some details regarding these events and projects are subject to change.  The best way to stay informed on changes and additional details for upcoming events and happy hours is to check our website, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and sign up to our e-mail list.  So make sure you are connected with the WBA!

We are excited for this upcoming year and are working hard to make it a memorable one for everybody.  We want you to join along whether you are a veteran member, new member, or somebody who is maybe thinking of getting involved.  Whatever category you find yourself in, let us tell you why you should get involved with the WBA.






















Blast From……..Not So Long Ago–Women’s Leadership Forum Q&A


June 2, 2016

Back in April, the WBA, in conjunction with the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section, held the Women’s Leadership Forum at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.  We had an amazing turnout and a great panel.  The panel could not get to all of the questions that night, but still wanted to answer some questions afterwards.  Check it out below!



Q. — As I’m starting out in my career, I have noticed that the threshold for being deemed “selfish” is extraordinarily low for me as a woman as opposed to male students, especially with respect to family commitments. How have you responded to people thinking you’re selfish for making your career a priority?

A. — I tune them out, for the most part.  When someone says something negative (or that goes against my core values), I simply smile, thank them for sharing, and exit the conversation.  You are not obligated to explain or defend your choices to anyone; the only opinion that should count is your own.

If the person communicating with you is someone whose opinion matters to you, then I suggest having an honest conversation over coffee in which you share your feelings.  If the person values the relationship, he or she will make an effort to respect your choices (even if he or she doesn’t like or agree with them).  If the person doesn’t value the relationship, then he or she will continue his or her behavior, at which point you may want to consider whether or not you should place a high value on that person’s opinion when they seem to place a low value on the things that matter to you.


Q. — When you are at a firm where men are the decision-makers, how do you manage cultural differences–i.e. the tendency for men to have more in common with young male associates and as a result to form relationships with those associates while you struggle to figure out how to get your kids to sleep at night and get stains out of your suits?

A. — This is hard, but there is no way around being your authentic self.  The way I manage differences (racial, ethnic, gender, education, income, sexuality/sexual preference, etc.) is to find areas of commonality (and there are more than you might think).  Those areas of commonality might be children, alma mater, or even a shared passion or hobby.  I have successfully used those things to build relationships with people, who on the surface, appear to be different.


Q. — How do you negotiate job perks/fringe benefits with firm partners as a new associate?

A. — For me, the answer to this question is not how, but whether, you should do so.  If there is greater demand for lawyers than supply, then you are probably in a better position to negotiate.  The reverse is true if the supply is greater than the demand.  It is also easier to negotiate “perks” after you have rendered yourself indispensable to your employer.  Before the interview, do some research regarding job perks/fringes.  Find out what the firm offers (from the website, HR person, or attorney at the firm), and what other similarly sized firms offer.  You may find that the benefits are similar, in which case it may be unproductive to negotiate for something different (as the market has already dictated the norm).

That said, if you want to negotiate, then you should have a specific plan to articulate, and strategically deploy it.  I suggest that you wait until after the firm makes you an offer, and then present your plan.  Your plan may have a greater chance of success if you are proposing less money in exchange for more benefits.  Be clear in communicating how your proposal is beneficial to the firm (and not just you), and be prepared to offer both quantitative and qualitative reasons supporting your proposal (verbally and in writing).  As a brand new attorney, however, please understand that there is a very real possibility that your prospective employer will have a negative response, and you will have to have a plan for dealing with it.


Awards, Annual Dinner, and More!

WBA Logo

May 4, 2016

In case you have not been following, great things are happening with the WBA these days!

Recent WLAM Annual Meeting

Recently, on April 14th and 15th, WLAM, our parent organization, held its annual meeting.  Several WBA members were in attendance.  The first day of the meeting comprised of a great tour of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.  The second day of the meeting was held in Ann Arbor and included a keynote speaker, the swearing-in of the new board, award presentations, and panel discussions.  For more information on the recent WLAM meeting, please click here.

During the meeting, our very own current WBA board members Erin Morgan Klug, Ryan Kelly, and Samantha Orvis were sworn in as WLAM Directors-at-Large.  In addition, WBA board member Tanya Lundberg received a 2016 WLAM Regional Leadership Award.

Attorneys being sworn in
WLAM Members sworn into their positions. Ryan Kelly, Samantha Orvis, and Erin Morgan Klug are fifth, seventh, and eleventh from the left, respectively.
Samantha Orvis and Tanya Lundberg
Samantha Orvis (left) introducing Tanya Lundberg (right) as the award recipient.

Bar Brief Happy Hours

This year, the WBA began organizing monthly happy hour events entitled Bar Briefs.  These Bar Briefs are being held at different dining establishments throughout the Oakland County area each month.  In February, March, and April, the Bar Briefs were held at The Emory, Hamlin Corner, and Kona Grill respectively.  This month, the Bar Briefs will be held at Bar Louie in Novi on May 18th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Bar Briefs are a casual and informal gathering where no registrations are required.  They provide a great opportunity for interested individuals to meet WBA members and learn more about the organization.  They also provide a great opportunity for current members to catch up with one another!

Collection of Happy Hour Pictures
Recent Bar Briefs–Kona Grill (top), Hamlin Corner (bottom left), and The Emory (bottom right).

WBA Annual Dinner

Last, but not least, our own Annual Dinner will take place this year on Thursday, May 12th at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills.  Registration is currently open, but tickets are going fast!  Reserve your spot now!

Cocktail hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. with dinner, the swearing-in of the new board, and awards to start at 6:30 p.m.  The new board for next year’s WBA is:

  • President: Kristen Pursley, Dobrusin Law Firm
  • Immediate Past President: Channelle Kizy-White, Kizy Law
  • President-Elect: Erin Morgan Klug, Varnum, LLP
  • Vice President: Andrea Symbal, Hall, Render, Killian Heath & Lyman, PC
  • Treasurer: Samantha Orvis, Collins, Einhorn, Farrell, PC
  • Recording Secretary: Erin Flynn, Kelly & Kelly, PC
  • Communications Secretary: Tanya Lundberg, Collins, Einhorn, Farrell, PC
  • WLAM Representative: Melissa Atherton, Fishman Stewart, PLLC

In addition, we will also be handing out awards to the following individuals:

  • Joan Young Judicial Excellence Award: The Honorable Judge Cynthia M. Arvant, 46th District Court of Michigan (Southfield)
  • Evelyn Forrest Distinguished Advocate Award: Mary Margaret O’Donnell, Blue Filament Law

We hope you can join us and help us celebrate at this year’s WBA Annual Dinner!  To take a look at pictures from WBA Annual Dinners from the past few years, please click here!


Women’s Leadership Forum – Recap

March 28, 2016

The Women’s Bar Association (WBA) and the State Bar of Michigan – Young Lawyers Section hosted the Women’s Leadership Forum on March 24 at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.  The evening featured a panel of six women leaders in the law fielding questions on various topics, including the paths they took in their careers, work and life integration, and the challenges women face in the legal field.  More than thirty law students and women lawyers attended the event, which was generously sponsored by the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Dickinson Wright PLLC, Collins Einhorn Farrell PC, and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

The Women's Leadership Forum Panel
Pictured from left to right: Kristin Murphy, Dean Phyllis Crocker, Erika Davis, Sarah Gale-Barbantini, Deborah Hebert, and the Honorable Judge Denise Langford Morris. Not pictured: Katheryne Zelenock

Dean Phyllis Crocker of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law represented non-practicing attorneys.  Judge Denise Langford Morris of the Oakland County Circuit Court was the judicial representative.  Sarah Gale-Barbantini of the Meemic Insurance Company represented in-house counsel.  Erika Davis of Butler Davis PLLC represented solo practitioners.  Deborah Hebert of Collins Einhorn Farrell, PC represented small and
medium-sized firm shareholders. Katheryne Zelenock of Dickinson Wright, PLLC represented large firm shareholders.  Kristin Murphy, a shareholder at Brooks Kushman, PC and a past WBA president, served as the panel moderator.

The crowd at the Women's Leadership Forum.

Judge Langford Morris discussed some of the issues she has faced as an African-American lawyer, running for re-election, and the importance of carrying on after facing career challenges.  Dean Crocker talked about her interest in civil rights and the importance of relationships in networking.  Sarah Gale-Barbantini talked about the transition from law school to practice and the relationship-building that helps with in-house counsel choosing outside counsel.  Erika Davis talked about the decision to go
solo and the flexibility that has given her.  Deborah Hebert talked about the importance of continually evaluating priorities and the personal decisions that all women lawyers must make based on their own priorities.  Kathy Zelenock discussed her transitions in and out of practice and work-life integration from the perspective of a busy large-firm lawyer.

Immediate feedback on the Women’s Leadership Forum was very positive, and the WBA hopes to make this a biannual event.


Attorney Volunteers Needed for OCBA’s Free Legal Aid Mini Clinic – October 20, 2015

September 28, 2015

In recognition of the State Bar of Michigan’s designation of October as Pro Bono Month, the Women’s Bar Association is encouraging its members to volunteer at the Oakland County Bar Foundation’s Free Legal Aid Mini Clinic. At the clinic, volunteer attorneys and legal aid providers will provide basic legal information and brief advice. Typical practice areas addressed include family, criminal, juvenile, landlord/tenant, and bankruptcy.

The clinic will take place on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 (4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.) at the Farmington Community Library (32737 W. 12 Mile Rd, Farmington Hills MI 48334).

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Catherine Neal (OCBA) at 248.334.3400 or Katie Brown (WBA) at by Friday, October 9, 2015.