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IAM1621 – Divorce Lawyer Represents a Wide Array of Clients

Podcast Interview with Michelle C. Thomas

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: One of the most impactful things I heard over, and over and over again was the importance of the morning routine and while it seems obvious it is often overlooked. When starting something new and thinking of planning and preparation, don't forget about the morning routine. The most successful people are “relentless” in their morning routines and systems. Michelle started early at the age of 8 and it was intriguing to hear as she journey through her career how she was being a sponge and learning things that were seeds for her own firm. One of the most valuable things she mentioned is that she didn't just “jump”–she planned and prepared with intentionality prior to her launch date. Also, how important it is to not lose or sacrifice your journey along the journey.

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Michelle C. Thomas Teaser 0:00

So I always say, be intentional about your business. Be intentional about your future. Take it into yourself, be proactive and take it into your own hands. Because too many times we people almost kill ourselves to build somebody else's dream. And they die with their dreams, die inside of them. And I just said, oh no, that this is just not what we're doing over here, so I was able to launch and that's been it.


Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs, without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:54

Hello, hello, hello this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Michelle C Thomas of M C Thomas and Associates. Michelle, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Michelle C. Thomas 1:04

Thanks so much for having me glad to be here.

Gresham Harkless 1:06

No problem, super excited to have you on as well too, and before we jumped in I want to read a little bit more about Michelle so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. Michelle C. Thomas, Esquire is a seasoned divorce lawyer and the founder of M.C. Thomas & Associates, PC, a premier divorce and family law firm serving Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland. Michelle and her team represent a wide array of clients ranging from business owners and corporate executives to physicians, law firm partners, politicians, professional athletes and more. Her passion is helping people protect their assets and their future, and ultimately transform their lives for the better. Michelle Thomas has been repeatedly recognized as a Top Rated Family Lawyer in Washington D.C. by SuperLawyers, and recently named a Top Attorney by Bethesda Magazine. Michelle is a sought after speaker and media contributor in local and national media on issues such as effective co-parenting, parenting through the pandemic, divorce-proofing your marriage, and law firm management. She has been seen and heard on the Michael Baisden Show, Fox 5 news, News One Now with Roland Martin Radio, ESSENCE magazine, the Washington Times, The Daily Drum Show on WHUR/SiriusXM 141, and Law Talk with Ethel Mitchell on Radio One and more. Welcome, Michelle C. Thomas.Michelle, great to have you on the show, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Michelle C. Thomas 2:23

I'm ready, let's go.

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Gresham Harkless 2:25

Let's do it, so to kick everything off I want to hear a little bit more, on how you started, could you take us through, on what I call your CEO story. And we'll let you get started with all the awesome things you're working on.

Michelle C. Thomas 2:34

Sure, so Gresham I have to tell you, I've always sort of been entrepreneurial and business-minded since I was a kid. I mean, I had my first business when I was eight years old, selling candy on the bus and I actually had a good thing going. I was taking inventory in my little pink notebook, it was great, until of course the authorities found me out, who were the school principal apparently when they say not for resale on the candy bags that means something. So I learned that, but at the time I didn't know, and thankfully the statute of limitations has passed.

Gresham Harkless 3:03

There you go.

Michelle C. Thomas 3:05

But that's always been part of me, the concept of being independent appealed to me even from a really young age. Don't get me wrong, I did have wonderful parents, who provided for me a nice loving home. But there was something about an internal drive and desire to be sort of a self-made woman. So anyway, I developed an interest in the law, I'm sort of fighting for people and I ended up going to college. I ended up working for a family lawyer in Chapel Hill, and in addition to getting to observe the lawyer and her impact on her clients, I distinctly remember thinking, so this is how you run a firm, you know, this is how you organize, this is how you save resources, she used to reuse folders and files and everything.

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And those were some of the other tips that I was taking away. I was taking mental notes because I believed that one day that would be me. So I continued on to law school, attended the George Washington University Law School, and started working at a pretty high-end divorce and family law firm in Virginia. Great experience there and one day, one of the partners said to me, I think I was in my second year and he said, your client generation is unprecedented for a second-year associate, you should think about starting your own firm one day. Now I'm sure he thought one day would be way down the road, but that wasn't the plan, so that was sort of the first whisper about doing stepping out on faith.

I then went to another firm, not as great of an experience, if I can be candid in terms of the environment, I found myself feeling unhappy and just believing that there was more. I was working these big firm long hours, but getting small firm pay, just that typical scenario of being overworked, underpaid and knowing that I brought value. I was still generating clients and I brought some of the clients from the Virginia firm there and then I continued on that path. So at some point I said okay, you know this is it, this is sort of the second risk from where that there's something bigger and there's a there's a way that you can do this. So I then stepped out on faith.

Now I will say, I didn't just jump. I planned, I prepared, I planned by actually writing out a business plan. I found some business planning software, wrote that out, I was working on a website in the middle of the night, because I was working still very long hours. So I was working on building the infrastructure and then it was the day to launch. And so I did, I gave plenty of notice but I did launch and all but I think one client came with me, which was further affirmation that this is the right path and just from what I had seen.

I knew that I wanted to do it a different way, I wanted to do to help people in a manner that was just in alignment with my core values and so that's what I did and the M.C Thomas and Associates PC was birthed and I have to tell you Gresham, I have never looked back. It's really been a tremendous blessing from that point forward and even when I launched, I was intentional about where I was going. So people would try to just send me, to be helpful, clients from all kinds of cases and I would say, oh no no, I'm handling high-end divorce. Like this is what I'm doing and I was laser-focused on carving out a niche for myself pretty early from day one. And that is certainly what we do today. So it was really just a faith walk and I've never looked back.

Gresham Harkless 6:51

Nice, I absolutely love that and I love how you kind of talked about those whispers.

Michelle C. Thomas 6:55

So I always say be intentional about your business, be intentional about your future. Take it and be proactive and take it into your own hands. Because you know too many times we people almost kill themselves to build somebody else's dream. And they die with you know their dreams dying inside of them and I just said, oh no, this is just not what we're doing over here. So I was able to launch and that's been it.

Gresham Harkless 7:21

Yeah, I absolutely love that, and some say that the wealthiest place in the world is not a bank or certain countries it's the graveyard. Because there's so many people that have those dreams, that have those goals that really never saw them come to fruition so I think they're so powerful.

Michelle C. Thomas 7:36

Absolutely, yeah.

Gresham Harkless 7:38

Awesome, so I know I touched on it a little bit when I read your bio, and you did as well. Can you take us through a little bit more on how you serve your clients, and what you feel kind of sets you apart and is your secret sauce and you feel makes you unique.

Michelle C. Thomas 7:49

Sure, so we help families in transition, we help families through one of life's most difficult transitions. Actually which is generally divorce, sometimes very highly contested custody cases but we hope to then bring them from usually one of their worst moments in life through to the other side. Where they can see brightness again, and sunlight so we really hope that there's a better future, a better life lies ahead, and awaits them once they can get through this typical hurdle that they're in. But we believe that there's life after divorce so we don't just sort of drop our clients, and get divorced and move on. We really want them to be relieved, to know that they don't have to worry about the future, that what they fought hard for has been protected from the work that we do.

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So we serve our clients again guided by the firm's core values which are Integrity, consistency and excellence. And the reason why those values are on our website is because that is critically important to me. And I tell people whether you're looking to hire me or work for me, if you don't really share in those values, if you want to just go after your spouse and just for the purpose of ruining them, we may not be the best fit. Because we want to help you get the best end result, not just seek revenge and the same thing with my team and staff. It's a matter of, we want to serve a thing too but we've all been in those businesses where someone tells you to lie or just tell them I'm not here and that sort of thing and that's not what we're doing over here. It's on the front website, I wrote it myself because it's what I believe and it drives the way that we serve our clients.

And we've been like I said from the beginning I sort of had a goal of the niche that I wanted to serve and while we do a lot of great work in the community as well, we do have a lot of client that are professionals, doctors, lawyers, athletes as well but we've certainly just our primary focus is to serve with integrity, consistency and excellence.

Gresham Harkless 9:47

So, now I would like to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to a time machine you might tell your younger business self.

Michelle C. Thomas 9:58

Oh my goodness, what would I tell my younger self, I would tell my younger self- don't be so hard on yourself, that's number one. Mistakes are nothing more than opportunities for growth. And to fulfill your greatest potential you have to live life fearlessly right, you have to be bold about what you want and again be intentional about what you want. So being bold or fearless means that you may make some mistakes along the way but that is okay and that is how you grow.

And it's not where you start it's where you finish and I would also tell myself to remember to enjoy the ride. You know people become so fixated on the end goal that they neglect what matters most whether it's their families you know, relationships, children. Happiness is really important. Their own wellness, people neglect their physical and emotional health just to hurriedly achieve those end goals and they're just working too hard working all the time. Sometimes how you're experiencing your rise to success matters and who you are on the process. So if racing to this end goal. It's either you turn into someone who you're normally not or it's causing you to compromise or neglect yourself and your well-being. It's time to hit pause and say, well wait a minute, now what really matters and to reevaluate that so I would just say you'll get there. Keep pushing forward but enjoy the ride as you go along.

Gresham Harkless 11:33

Yeah, that's so powerful and it's so important not to lose yourself and your values as we about as well too. And who you are as you're going to whatever that goal is and wherever that destination might be. And I think you hit the nail on ahead and when so many times especially if you're driven, you want to get there at all costs so to speak but in reality, you want to remember why we're doing what we're doing.

Because the loved ones that we have or our values or our integrity, all those different things that we hold true and hold are really important to us. We don't want to lose those by getting to our destination because truly will it be why we were trying to strive and do all the things we were hoping to do?

Michelle C. Thomas 12:10

Correct, I mean, all the money in the world with no one to share with, right? What's that really important to stay focused on what your intention is, why you're doing it. And you know that you'll get there, there's no shortcuts, hardworking is what it takes but as long as you know plan, prepare and then go forward, you'll end in prosperity that's my belief.

Gresham Harkless 12:35

Yeah, I absolutely believe the same thing, you cannot cheat the process as a whole. So now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show so Michelle, what does being a CEO mean to you.

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Michelle C. Thomas 12:49

Freedom. Freedom to lead, to influence on your terms and in alignment with who you are and your core values. You know that if something doesn't fall in line with your core values, then what you have of being a CEO allows you to take what works for you to not take it and also to focus on how you are impacting those around you, the community and also to be able to amplify your influence to the community around. I wanted to cultivate a space where we could do an influence and do family law the way that I thought that it should be done and help people the way that I thought it enables me to influence even the people on my team. People that work for me, mentees, as well as those who are watching you from afar because people are always watching and so it gives you that audience, that freedom to be able to express and do the work that you've been called to do on your terms and the way you want to do it. I would also say that it also means responsibility.

I believe that to whom much is given, much is required. And it's not something I take lightly and as we were mentioning really at the top of the program. The goal is that when you leave, we're all going to leave here at some point, you want to leave empty, you want to know that you've maximized and used your gifts and talents to the best of your ability. It's a heavy being CEO, it's a lot of responsibility. But I wouldn't trade it for the world really.

Gresham Harkless 14:26

Nice, I absolutely love that freedom and responsibility. And gave me a visual I was just thinking about talking about entrepreneurship and business like lemons, making lemons in the lemonade. We ourselves want to be those lemons that have the seeds every single part and aspect of the juice out by the time we're done. And I think that when you're able to really execute, you're able to amplify and show tremendous influence so well, in so many different ways that's truly when we have been able to do that. So Michelle, truly appreciate that definition, I appreciate your time even more, what I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and of course how best they can get a hold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Michelle C. Thomas 15:06

Sure sure, it's about the vision, plan your vision, write it down. Be intentional about your vision and believe that it will come to fruition. Build your team before you need it, build your network before you need it. I always say that your network equals your net worth so be intentional about who you're even spending and surrounding yourself with. And you know, watch, speak affirmations and then watch it come to fruition. Your dreams are possible and I'm living proof of that. So no looking back, being a CEO has been great.

And people can reach me I'm we're pretty much everywhere our website is or on social media Instagram, Twitter, Facebook at DC divorce. So you can find my personal pages are Michelle C Thomas or Michelle C Thomas Esquire, we're pretty much everywhere. We try to provide inspirational quotes and some motivation to our community. And so that's what we're here to do is we're here to serve.

Gresham Harkless 16:05

Awesome we'll definitely have the links and information in the show notes as well too but I appreciate you for serving us and providing us with so much knowledge and information and wisdom as well too as much as you give to the people that you work with and be able to serve other people that you have as clients and I truly appreciate you again and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:24

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media, tune in next time and visit us at I am CEO is not just a phrase It's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts subscribe and leave us a five star rating grab CEO gear at this has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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