College of Law

Micah Barry '14

Adversity Fuels Advocacy

Feb. 7, 2022

Micah Barry

Micah Barry '14  was drawn to Toledo Law to focus on disability rights and education. Following law school, he moved to Atlanta and focused his practice on representing educational and law enforcement employees. Now, as an established attorney, he is the attorney/principal at The Law Office of Micah Barry, a litigation consulting firm where he draws on his expertise in the practice of law, advocating for policy changes and educating college students.

Micah grew up in Worthington, Ohio. A frustrating experience during his undergraduate education fueled Micah's passion for disability rights and led him to The University of Toledo for law school. Micah chose Toledo because it was close to home, offered a good scholarship, and had a well-known professor in his area of interest—Nicole Buonocore Porter.  After graduating from law school Micah moved to the Atlanta area where he became a supervising associate at The Kirby G. Smith Law Firm, LLC, a premier employment litigation boutique in Georgia and North Carolina. Micah focused his practice on representing educational and law enforcement employees. In 2018, Micah left the full-time practice of law to pursue his Ph.D. in educational administration and policy at the University of Georgia. He is now the attorney/principal at The Law Office of Micah Barry, a part-time litigation consulting firm, where he dedicates time to working with lobbyists and union representatives to improve support for teachers and educational administrators. Micah also teaches part-time at the University of North Georgia.

Micah attended The Ohio State University and received a B.A. in philosophy and political science, then attended The University of Toledo College of Law to earn his J.D.  Following his time in law school, Micah received a graduate certification from the University of Georgia in education law and policy, and earned a Ph.D. in educational administration and policy in May 2021.

Q&A with Micah Barry

What took you to Atlanta after law school?
I missed the timely deadline for the Ohio Bar. Georgia's deadline was later.

Do you have a favorite memory from attending Toledo Law?
Yes, Professor Ben Davis found out that I was planning to move to the Atlanta area to practice, so he told me about a conference in Atlanta where he was moderating a panel. He told me to just show up, and he would work out everything. I was nervous, but he not only got me admitted, he convinced the organizer to let me be a panel reporter. He also introduced me to many prominent attorneys and got me invited to the after-conference socializing/networking event.

How did Toledo Law prepare you for your career?
The writing and skills requirements set me up for success. In practice, I went against attorneys from some highly ranked law schools who could not do proper research or properly cite binding case law in briefs. I supervised attorneys who needed to be practically retrained in their writing and negotiating skills. I was blown away because I assumed the classes and requirements were fairly standard, but I learned in practice that Toledo sets up its graduates to meet the highest standards.

What was your first position AFTER law school?
My first position after law school was doing temporary document review.

What else do you aspire to do? Where do you want to go from here?
I hope to be a tenured professor someday. I am currently teaching part-time at the University of North Georgia, and I am on the academic job market looking for a tenure-track position.

What have been the major turning points in your career so far?
The major turning point for leaving the full-time practice of law was a health scare. I tore my esophagus. Despite the blood loss and serious medical situation, I was expected to continue working and even took a deposition and appeared in court. It was then I decided I would begin applying to Ph.D. programs.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your work?
Judicial bias is a challenging aspect of my work and is an area I plan to research when I am no longer practicing.

What have you found most satisfying about your work?
Helping people move on after they lost jobs and suffered blows to their reputation was not just a job; it was a purpose.

Do you have any suggestions for current law students or new lawyers interested in pursuing this practice area or career path?
Focus on building skills. Being able to write well, speak publicly, and think quickly will serve you well. Law firms do not want to hire someone they think knows the law. Law firms want to hire someone who can learn the law through research, write good persuasive briefs, and guide a client or witness where the attorney wants. These skills transcend practice area, and they are not subject to change in the same way laws are.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about pursuing fairness and equity. As an attorney, I fought for employees who suffered discrimination or retaliation. As a scholar, I plan to attack legal structures that support bias and shield discrimination and retaliation.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I relax with my wife and our dog, spend time with family, and binge-watch whatever show catches our attention (currently Ink Master).

What advice can you give law students?
Learn how to be "properly" adversarial. The new associates at big law were pouncing on everything-and petty. It never benefits your client. If you want to look strong, you have to know how to be adversarial while also cooperating. Attorneys who have done this for awhile know you can get on the phone and talk through things. If you fight over every little thing and waste time and client money it won't work. Don't be petty and so wrapped up in it that you refuse to see what the other side is saying. It's not always about proving the other side wrong. Instead, it should be about serving the interests of the client. You do not need to be out for blood to be a strong advocate.

What do you get excited about?
When I was in the Ph.D. program, doing the research, and starting to teach, the opportunity to try to make a difference came in my own way. When I am practicing, I have a duty to each client, but when I am writing articles, I can pick my direction and do not need to focus on one client or the client's needs. I enjoy the ability to follow tangents.

Last Updated: 6/27/22