Michael Bailey: The Possibilities of a Law Degree

When a cow escaped from a small farm in Richfield, Utah it was hit and killed by a dairy truck. The dairy threatened to sue the farmer, who had very little money, for the damages caused to the truck. The farmer’s lawyer and personal friend, Michael Bailey, told the dairy, “Not only are we not going to pay for the truck, but if you bring this up ever again, we’re going to make you pay for the cow – and by the way, the cow was pregnant.” 

“They never contacted us ever again,” says Michael. 

Michael Bailey, who graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1986, thinks it is opportunities like this that make having a degree in law significant.“The way that your law degree has the most impact is the ability to make things better for people. As lawyers we don’t build bridges, we don’t build buildings – what we really do is try to solve peoples’ problems,” says Michael. 

Since graduating from BYU Law, Michael’s career has included many other meaningful experiences. He has spent thirty-one years as a practicing attorney at Parsons, Behle, & Latimer in Salt Lake City, and is currently a shareholder in the litigation and government relations department. He concentrates his practice on commercial and environmental litigation and government relations, lobbying, and political law: “I have a great interest in my community – in politics. I loved working for political candidates; I loved making a difference that way.” 

In fact, it was his first experience working on a political campaign that showed Michael one of the benefits of having a law degree. He arrived expecting to be asked to create lawn signs and pass things out. “They wouldn’t even let me do those things,” Michael remembers. “They just elevate you immediately.” 

According to Michael, “One thing that’s really great and probably unfair about being a lawyer is that everybody in the world that’s not a lawyer thinks that because you’re a lawyer you have some special sauce that they don’t have. Being a lawyer gives you the chance to have some opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have.” Some of these experiences include serving on the board at his law firm, serving on community boards such as Ballet West, and having been a counselor and lawyer for a U.S. congressman for 12 years. 

He is most proud, however, of being the first Utahn on the United States Golf Association Executive Committee. Michael is an avid golfer: “Love the game of golf. It’s the best game ever invented,” says Michael, quoting English author A.A. Milne: “‘Golf is popular because it’s the best sport in the world to be bad at.’ So golf is fantastic.”