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MerGen Law Employee Spotlight: Joan Michaels

Posted by MerGen Law | Jun 08, 2023 | 0 Comments

At MerGen Law, we're proud to have a diverse team of incredible individuals. We're all here to ensure our clients are heard and fairly represented, from our lawyers to legal support staff to administrators.

We want to shine the spotlight on one of our lawyers who was recently called to the bar here in Alberta. Joan Michaels began working at MerGen Law in April of 2022. She came to us with a wealth of legal experience in corporate and commercial law, having practiced in the upstream oil and gas industry in multiple countries.

Her current legal focus is general corporate and commercial law providing a complete suite of services to small and medium-scale companies, including corporate governance and maintenance, share and asset purchases, shareholder agreements, contract review and drafting, franchising arrangements, commercial real estate transactions etc. Joan is also expanding into civil litigation, including estate litigation, matrimonial property division and settlement, adult interdependent relationships and applications for family maintenance and support under the Wills and Succession Act.


Joan's Work at MerGen Law Firm

One of the things that Joan enjoys most about being a lawyer is the nuanced process of finding fair, equitable solutions for both sides of a disagreement. In her experience, lopsided agreements only lead to future legal problems, resulting in additional time and money wasted for both parties. Joan will zealously represent her clients to reach balanced resolutions.


Interesting & Impactful Cases

One of Joan's first files was one of the most interesting cases she's worked on so far, not because of the dispute itself but because of how they reached a resolution.

The case involved an employment dispute between a reputable corporation and a former employee. The goal was to avoid litigation, but both parties were very far apart on the spectrum of reaching a resolution. Joan's challenge was to help bring both parties to a common middle ground.

She listened intently and skillfully guided them to an equitable result that satisfied both sides. Reaching the middle ground, in that case, was both inspiring and impactful for Joan as one of her first cases with MerGen Law.


Joan's Dream of Becoming a Lawyer

Growing up in Ghana, Joan thought she wanted to become a teacher from an early age. It was in her nature to help others when they struggled, whether it was classmates who needed extra help with schoolwork or kids in her neighbourhood who didn't have the same opportunities as her to attend elementary school.

Joan has also had a strong sense of justice from an early age. One of her favourite pastimes was to put forward and defend positions and ideas through debate—the makings of a natural lawyer. She's also been known to stand up to bullies on behalf of both her friends and strangers.


Family Support

While her mother always encouraged her to pursue law, her father advised her to pursue a career in accounting as he had. Joan's entrepreneurial spirit, mixed with her passion for legal matters, made her fantasize about becoming a teacher, lawyer, and accountant all at the same time. Getting the best of both worlds, Joan began her career by studying business and project management before beginning her legal studies and eventually coaching young academics.


Passion, Drive, and Intelligence

Joan began her academic career at the University of Ghana Business School, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Majoring in Finance, and then her Master of Philosophy in Finance. While Joan was passionate about her business education, she still felt a powerful draw to become a lawyer that she couldn't ignore. After working for different businesses, she then enrolled and completed her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Ghana Law School, graduating among the top of her class.

Her passion, drive, and sheer intelligence took Joan to new places. While working for a multinational energy corporation, she received support from the company to pursue her Master of Laws. She applied and was accepted into Harvard Law School, where she completed her Master of Laws with a focus on Corporate & Commercial Transactions.


Motivations and Reflections

One of Joan's admirable qualities is that she's not afraid to face her fears. When asked about what is on her bucket list, she answered that she would love to become a pilot and learn to fly an airplane someday, not because she loves the adrenaline but because she is afraid of heights. Confronting her fears and pushing herself to new heights is a key part of her personality that has led to her career success.

Her other motivations in life and her profession are clear:

  • Be supportive of her parents and siblings
  • Be the best daughter her parents could ever ask for
  • Do a great job in every professional project she undertakes


Advice to Her Younger Self

One of Joan's favourite songs is "Dear Younger Me," and when asked what piece of advice she would give her younger self, she answered without hesitation: "Everything is going to be okay." Looking at how far Joan has come already in her life and where her drive, commitment and passion are going to take her, it would not surprise us if we saw Joan sitting on the bench as a judge one day.

In addition to her work at MerGen Law, Joan also coaches and consults for young academics and professionals, primarily in her home country of Ghana, as they prepare for and apply for professional positions and post-secondary education.


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