Pamela Enslen. Photo by Johnny Quirin
Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.
Pamela Enslen is a partner with Warner Norcross & Judd, where she chairs the Higher Education Practice Group.
Her practice consists of commercial and employment litigation, labor consulting and white collar criminal defense.
Enslen also has a significant practice as a facilitative mediator, which allows her to act as a neutral party in resolving business and private disputes.
Biggest career break?
I have been fortunate to have had several important career breaks, the latest being the privilege of becoming a partner with Warner Norcross.
Professionally, I have to say my proudest moment has been serving as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association’s 36-member Board of Governors. The board is the governing body of the 400,000-plus member ABA, and it has been a true honor to work with lawyers from around the country on issues of importance to our profession. My term, which included acting as chair of the Board of Governor’s Program Evaluation and Planning Committee, will end on Aug. 31.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever received was to stop, take a deep breath and reflect on the moment. Life has its challenges, tragedies and joys, and it is important to fully experience each of those moments. I also received good advice about remembering who I really am in all situations, no matter how stressful or challenging, and working to maintain a sense of humor throughout.
How did you make your first dollar?
I made my first dollar and paid my way through college and law school playing and teaching the oboe. I was a music major in college and grad school and played professionally for a number of years.
Anything given to me by my late husband, Richard.
My dream profession is the law, so I am very fortunate to be doing what I love. My dream job would always involve helping people in some way, as I do in my current career.
If I were president for a day, I would…?
Do whatever I could to help lessen the hateful dialog and actions that seem to permeate our society today.
Last book you’ve read?
I tend to read several books at once, depending on my mood and surroundings. I am currently reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, the new book about Patty Hearst called “American Heiress” by Jeffrey Toobin and the final book in the massive “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon.
Last thing you Googled?
I frequently Google the names of people I read about or see on the news. I also enjoy Googling unfamiliar terms and locations.
Your worst habit?
There are probably several. I’m sure my son could name a few.
To unwind, I like to…?
Exercise has been my absolute best stress reliever for many years. I also love to read while sitting on a float off my dock at Gull Lake.
I tend to prefer vacations to places I have never been before. While not technically vacations, my trip to Guantanamo as an observer of the criminal proceedings against the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks was a trip of a lifetime, as was my trip to Vietnam and Thailand to consult with judges and mediators about better methods of dispute resolution.
Chocolate, in pretty much any form!
Person you most admire?
I cannot name just one person I most admire. I have been fortunate to have known and been related to several people I view as role models, as well as people I believe we all should admire. One example that comes to mind is the Honorable Dennis Archer, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice and Mayor of the City of Detroit. He was the first African-American President of the American Bar Association and was just last week awarded the ABA Medal, the highest honor given by the association. He has spent his entire career furthering the cause of diversity and inclusion and has been a mentor to me and many others in the ABA. So many are in his debt, and so many of us have tried harder to do better, to meet his example.