One of Rhame and Elwood's newest attorneys, Michael (Mike) Brazil, brings a strong background of practicing family law to his new position at the Portage firm.
Brazil graduated from the Valparaiso University Law School in 2019 where he had been a part of a juvenile clinic involved with the public defender's office dealing with child support issues. His first job out of law school involved practicing family law at Osan and Patton, a firm in Valparaiso in which his former professor Ana Patricia Osan was a partner. However, upon Osan’s departure from the firm, Brazil was looking for new work and was then contacted by Rhame and Elwood to join the team, and has been with the firm since February of this year.
In his time working in family law, Brazil has dealt with a wide range of cases, including divorce, paternity issues, adoptions, and custody issues. Now, Brazil is looking forward to bringing his expertise to Rhame and Elwood as he continues to help and defend those who need it the most.
“I have dealt with a lot of family law clients, beginning with child support issues in IVD for people who could not afford their own defense attorneys for child support, because if you're not paying, you have the potential to go to jail,” Brazil said. “I’m also dealing with people who normally are getting the lower end of the income spectrum and I’m able to defend them in the IVD court. My background has prepared me to finally step into a role as a family law attorney more, taking on more caseloads.”
Brazil credits Osan for developing his interest in this particular field. Without her guidance, he mentioned how he wouldn’t have realized just how passionate he was about helping others through such personal and sensitive issues.
“The field can be stressful with a lot of high demand. People are full of emotions when they're in family law, but they're also looking for somebody to help them,” Brazil said. “So I help them understand the situation and help calm them down, things of that nature. I want to be somebody who people can count on - somebody who can make it easier to go through what they're going through.”
While working in such an intense environment, seeing cases end in positive outcomes is what makes the job worth it at the end of the day. Brazil mentions he always enjoys working on adoption cases for this very reason in particular.
“Seeing the joy in parents when they finally get to legally call their children their own is such a heartwarming moment,” Brazil said. “That means you're doing pro-bono work from time to time when people are looking for help to get out of a situation there. Those are the kinds of issues that have drawn me into family law and it's somewhere that I just feel comfortable.”
Seeing his clients’ outcomes is then Brazil’s favorite part of the entire process - he enjoys that he is now in a career where he is making a difference in people’s lives, and that is all he could ever ask for in his work.
“It's very fulfilling in my professional life, it makes me think I'm actually doing something - I'm doing more than just punching a clock and getting paid. I'm actually giving them time with their children or property that they otherwise might not have known. Just knowing this makes me feel like I am doing something for my community more than just, you know, sitting by and getting a paycheck.”
Additionally, Brazil noted he’s excited to continue practicing within the walls of Rhame and Elwood. With a staff of attorneys who cover many different areas of law, it adds an extra layer of support to bounce ideas off of others with different backgrounds and points of view.
“I really like the atmosphere. It's very friendly; everybody here gets along like close friends,” Brazil said. “Everybody's got something going on, but we also help each other out. We all work together even though most of us work in different fields. If I'm dealing with a divorce, but it involves say a domestic violence situation where there's criminal charges against some other partner, I go talk to the criminal attorneys about what's going on and how I can better help my client in the divorce and stay with them. It's nice to be able to bounce things off of people that don't specialize in the same area as you, and I just look forward to continuing to learn."
Despite his ample experience during his time in the field thus far, Brazil shared how he looks forward to all that's ahead of him to learn and experience in the future.
"I've only been here in the law field for three years, but I'm learning new things every day," said Brazil. "I just want to keep learning, especially from John [Rhame]. He's been doing this for 46 years. There's a wealth of knowledge and as long as he's here, I want to continue to learn from him and other attorneys that are in the office.”
The staff at Rhame and Elwood is also glad to have Brazil on their team. With a strong background in law and as a former police officer, they have full confidence bringing Brazil on was a smart decision for the firm.
“In making hiring decisions, real-life experience is a very important factor for us,” said Attorney Kenneth (Ken) Elwood. “Mike’s experience as a police officer with Crown Point Police Department will be critical to his success. Obviously, he has encountered some serious situations and he knows how to make sound decisions in those situations.”
No matter what lies ahead, Brazil is ready to take everything on as he now knows he has truly found his place in the world of law at Rhame and Elwood.
“This is where I'm at - I'm able to talk to and comfort people, and I just found it as something that comes natural to me. Nothing seemed to grab a hold of me at first, but now that I'm in it, I just really feel like I found my place,” Brazil said.
For more information on Rhame and Elwood, visit rhameelwoodmcclure.com.