Meet Maryland Carey Law’s new Alumni Board president

September 27, 2019

Not a single surface in Michelle Daugherty Siri’s ’02 Towson, Md. office is bare, and it’s no wonder. The well-organized stacks of papers and files reflect the large workload that comes with being executive director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, a nonprofit providing free legal services for women with domestic violence, family law, and employment law cases.

A former board chair for Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Siri says the position, which she began in 2014, is the perfect opportunity to “meld my passion for women’s rights with my legal career.”

As executive director, she oversees a staff of around 15 attorneys, advocates, and administrators serving over 11,000 individuals a year through legal representation and education programs. Siri can also be found, periodically, in Annapolis on the floor of the legislature advocating for systemic change and equality.

She is not the only busy one in her household. Michelle’s husband Michael Siri ’01, a former partner at Bowie & Jensen, LLC, was recently appointed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to the bench for the district court of Baltimore County. With two young sons, the hard-working couple is constantly on the move, especially, in their rare free time, when they are training for marathons.

Siri credits Maryland Carey Law with providing the knowledge and professional network that helped her grow and flourish in her career. Not to mention the perfect setting to meet her husband—a connection cemented when he was president of the Student Bar Association and she was secretary.

The first person in her immediate family to attend law school, Siri wasn’t set on practicing a particular kind of law when she arrived for Orientation in 1999 soon after graduating from William & Mary with a BA in religion. “I didn’t even know what a tort was,” she laughs (landing in Professor Don Gifford’s class soon straightened that out).

 “The law school gave me a very strong foundation, especially in those procedural issues that I would then go back to as a practitioner,” says Siri, reflecting on her years as a judicial clerk and then litigator for Segal, McCambridge, Singer & Mahoney, Ltd. and the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.

Even more valuable to the Pennsylvania native, however, may be the community of colleagues and mentors that grew out of her time at Maryland Carey Law and influenced every move she has made in her successful career.

That clerkship at the Baltimore City Circuit Court right out of law school? Siri was hired through the Hon. Ellen M. Heller ’77, who is a current member of Maryland Carey Law’s Board of Visitors. There, she worked closely with Judge Richard Rombro ’53, who oversaw asbestos litigation in Baltimore from 1989 to 2005, and advised her on next career steps, which led her to positions in private practice and as assistant AG. When the job at the Women’s Law Center was posted, Siri heard from multiple members of her Maryland Carey Law community advising her that the position would be a great fit. And surely her long connection with alumna Laure Ruth ’93, who was already working at the Women’s Law Center, helped her stand out during the interviews.

“Through Maryland Carey Law, Michael and I have built a community of colleagues and friends,” says Siri. “We help each other network and grow and learn, and when we do that, we all rise up.”

Grateful for that community, Siri is dedicated to giving back. She visits the law school regularly to mentor students and speak on various topics related to the legal profession. After seven years as a member of the law school’s Alumni Board, she is now Alumni Board president.

“The law school made me the lawyer I am,” says Siri. “Now I want to do my part to lift up today’s students and give them the same kind of support that I’ve enjoyed.”

Siri is a recipient of the Rita C. Davidson Award from the Women’s Bar Association. She is also one of The Daily Record’s Maryland’s Top 100 Women and a member of the Circle of Excellence.

In a sentimental mirroring of their Student Bar Association days, Michelle and Michael Siri are both members of the Baltimore County Bar Association executive committee. In two years, Michael will rotate off the board after serving his term as president. That’s when he will begin attending executive board dinners for the next 10 years, as Michelle ascends to the presidency, in what he jokes is the best job of all—his wife’s plus-one.