Attorney Spotlight: Michael Kapellas

November 4, 2015

Michael Kapellas spotlightTell us about your practice:

As a new associate in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice Group, the bulk of my time is spent working on general commercial litigation. That often involves working to settle financial disputes between our clients and their customers, either through pre-litigation negotiations or through the court system.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in the legal field?

When I went to college to study journalism I had it in the back of my mind that I might go on to law school. Instead, after graduation I decided to follow another dream of mine, and went to work as a newspaper reporter. A few years later, I went back to graduate school at the Indiana University School of Journalism and I found myself enrolling in almost as many courses in the law school as in the journalism school. Meanwhile, most of the research projects I worked on involved legal questions, often related to the First Amendment, and my favorite course to teach was communications law. The more time I spent grappling with legal questions, the more I realized how passionate I was about the law. The decision to enroll in law school at that point became an easy one, albeit one that was 20 years in the making.

You were a reporter and taught journalism for a number of years before entering the legal field. How will those experiences shape your new role as an attorney?

If a person is going to have a career before becoming an attorney I can’t think of any that would be better than being a reporter, especially in the old world of newspapers. There are obvious parallels between the fields – both require patience and persistence as you dig in to an issue and require you to be able to write succinctly, and often on tight deadlines. But the biggest lesson I learned as a journalist and the one I always tried to impart on my students was that in order to tell a good story you had to be willing to listen and to hear the things both said and unsaid. Being a good attorney requires the same ability and willingness to listen, first and foremost to your clients, but also to your colleagues, the judges you appear before and opposing counsel. The more time I spend working as an attorney, the more I realize how fortunate I was to have been trained and to have worked as a journalist.