Alumni Spotlight

Storm ’12: “No Hill is Too High”

Michelle Storm ’12

By Suzi Morales
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Michelle Storm ’12 is always up for a challenge.

In January, she was elevated to partner at Monaco Cooper Lamme & Carr, PLLC. Her path to this point reflects the tenacity of someone who has overcome major obstacles and embraced her priorities.

When she was a child, Storm’s biological mother struggled with severe mental health issues. She did not know her biological father and the man who lived with her mother was abusive.

One summer, when she was around nine years old, Storm met an aunt at a birthday party. The aunt invited her over to spend the weekend and swim at the family’s pool.

Storm never went back to her biological family’s home. Today, she calls her aunt, uncle, and cousins her mother, father, and siblings.

“No hill is too high”

That first weekend she was at her new home, her aunt – now mom – asked if Storm knew how to swim. “I looked at her and I said, ‘Yes.’ And then I jumped into the deep end, and I had no idea how to swim, I made it up. It was scary, she came in jumping after me, … but that's my personality,” says Storm. “No hill is too high. If I can't do it, or I don't know it, I will learn it and I will make it happen.”

Storm was involved in model government in high school and jokes that her adoptive father frequently told her she would go to law school because she liked to argue. Later, she worked as a paralegal and law clerk for a solo practitioner, which confirmed her interest in a legal career.
Storm had earned a degree in sociology at the University at Albany (SUNY) and wanted to work and raise her family in the region. Albany Law was her first choice of law schools.

When she began her first semester of law school, Storm’s first child was a few months old. That November, he was diagnosed with type one Mucopolysarcharidosis (“MPS”), a rare genetic disorder that results in the body’s inability to break down complex sugars. Effects can include hearing loss, glaucoma, heart attack, and other issues.

“I'm a doer,” Storm says, “so as soon as my son was diagnosed, I went on to the MPS Society website and I started inquiring as to the best place to go.” She took a leave of absence from Albany Law to devote her time to her son’s treatment. Unfortunately, her son died the following May.
She went back to class in the fall, pregnant with her second child. She delivered her second son three days before spring break. At her graduation, Storm received the Isabelle Redman Prize, created to honor Redman ’99, a former police officer severely injured in an accident while on duty. The prize is given to the graduating student who has demonstrated Redman’s qualities of courage, perseverance, and graciousness in confronting extraordinary challenges.

Changing course

When she began law school, Storm was interested in criminal law. But “my experience with [my son] shaped me in a different way,” she says. “I spent five months in a hospital room, learning things.” She realized that she was fascinated by what she learned from the doctors and nurses.
So when she returned to law school, Storm took a deep dive into the intersection of law and medicine. She particularly enjoyed Professor and later President and Dean Emeritus Alicia Ouellette ’94’s course on risk management in the medical profession.

After law school, Storm began working in plaintiff’s-side medical malpractice, eventually moving over to defense. In January of 2020, she became one of the first associates at the newly-formed law firm of Monaco Cooper Lamme & Carr, which serves clients in a range of practice areas. In addition to medical malpractice, she now also represents municipalities.

Sharing values

Storm appreciates that her colleagues share similar values to hers. “We all have families, we all value family, we all value our clients and our reputations, which I think for me is such a motivator,” she says. “I am surrounded by a group of intelligent, hardworking humans.”

“I might get emotional,” Storm says of her recent elevation to partnership. “From where I came from to where I am, I’m very proud of myself and I’m so honored to be working in an environment and community where people are not afraid to pat you on the back and reward you.”

Storm encourages younger colleagues to pursue their unique paths and priorities, and she is forthcoming about her challenges. “I personally think that it shouldn’t be taboo to talk about challenges because we all have them and we all feel better when we acknowledge them,” she says. “Nobody’s perfect, everyone has hardships and I think we all come out stronger because of it.”

Michelle Storm