April 23, 2018

Member Spotlight: Mishell Kneeland

How long have you been a member of the Austin Bar and what is your favorite thing about the organization?

I joined the Austin Bar (which was then the Travis County Bar Association) when I relocated here from New York City in 2002.  I’ve always loved the community service projects that the Bar sponsors and still miss delivering holiday baskets!

What do you like most about being in the legal field?

I enjoy being able to make a difference and help people solve problems.  If I hadn’t gone to law school, I wouldn’t know any lawyers, so I am always happy when people turn to me for referrals instead of whatever people use instead of the yellow pages these days.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you be?

I would probably be in hospitality, running a restaurant or hotel.  I’m a night owl, and I love food and entertaining, but my mom always told me I was going to college so I could have an office job, so that’s what I did.  And my dream job would be to write for Saveur magazine – the best travel/food writing!

What’s the craziest job (other than lawyer) that you’ve had?

In college, I worked at Penn’s best known watering hole — Smokey Joe’s — which sometimes required me to do some crazy things to keep up with my customers, and I also was the host of its weekly “Starmaker,” which was a sort of pre-video karaoke with tapes and printed sheet lyrics.  To this day, at Penn, people see me on Locust Walk and say, “I sang for you!” (my usual response is, “Um, no.  You sang for a free pitcher of beer!”).

If you were a character in a movie or a TV show, which character would you be?

I’m a social outcast because I don’t watch TV and rarely see movies.  But if I could be a character in a book, I’d probably want to be someone like Temperance Brennan, who is basically a bone detective.  My favorite subject when I was young was anthropology and combining it with Nancy Drew/Encyclopedia Brown level sleuthing really appeals to me (I will read almost any mystery series that is out there).

What have you been doing in the community, and how is that making your world a better place to be?

Most on my mind right now is AYLA’s Women’s Resource Fair.  We’re gearing up for the 11th one on May 5.  For many years, I’ve coordinated the provision of medical services.  Women who attend have access to health screenings, well woman exams, a primary care physician, immunizations, HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, a nutritionist, and screening mammograms.  This year, we are adding a few dental spaces.  It is a lot of work, but it is the best thing I do every year.