Michael C. Weiss
IT’S A POINT OF PRIDE that Michael Weiss was the first member of his family to attend college; that achievement put him in the unique position to also be the first member of his family to change his major.
“I’m not one of those persons who always wanted to be a lawyer,” Weiss explains. “I was a math major. But as I got to my last year or so in college, I discovered I just wasn’t all that interested in math. I found that other college courses I took – humanities, interdisciplinary arts – were more interesting. Somebody said that law is a profession for generalists; in other words, a good lawyer is interested in many different arears of life and society, and the law draws those areas – human psychology, economics, philosophy, social policy – together in a professional setting. And that’s me.”
At Zolton Law Firm, Saginaw-born Weiss enjoys a reputation as one of the most experienced, knowledgeable attorneys in the area. He specializes in estate planning, probate law and adoptions, three areas that lend themselves to relatively acrimony-free proceedings. “These are areas of the law that you can do something positive for a client without necessarily having to mediate a disagreement, or be in conflict with another side,” he says. “You can help in a positive way, and I really enjoy explaining how the law applies to their situation and helping them work through the process.”
Weiss practices the law guided by three core principles – integrity, empathy and gratitude. “For integrity,” he explains, “it’s important that you always do what’s right, in a proper and ethical way. You also have to care about the clients as individuals, understanding their backgrounds and their concerns, and doing your best to help them in what are often stressful and difficult situations. And finally, I think you have appreciate what you have in life – an attitude of gratitude. That’s so important.”
When Weiss meets a client for the first time, he carries out a quasi-formulaic process – almost mathematical, in fact – to plug in the various factors in deciding if there’s a good fit. “The main thing is to run through all the circumstances and try to figure out what the client’s goal is,” he says. “You have to ask if the goals are legitimate – can the law be applied to help the client achieve what he wants? Am I going to be able to help him? If you can answer those questions, you move on to determining the best way to do it.”
Outside the courtroom, Weiss enjoys an active life with his wife, Jane. A singer all of his life, Weiss is very involved with the local arts scene, which gives him a unique appreciation for the area. “My dad was a skilled worker in the auto plants, and I understand people in the community and the struggles they’ve gone through,” he says. “I think it’s a great place to live, full of people who do all kinds of things for their community, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”