Managing Attorney & CEO
Michelle T. Dellino is the Managing Attorney of Dellino Law Group. The firm was founded by her and on her belief that there is, very simply, a solution to every problem. Her personal practice focuses on complex family law matters including high conflict cases; committed intimate relationships, high asset divorce, cases involving business owners, IT, and medical professionals; domestic violence family law; and preparing cohabitation, prenuptial, and postnuptial agreements. Both a trained mediator and former criminal trial attorney, she has the skills and experience to take a case anywhere it needs to go, whether that is a creative settlement or intensive courtroom litigation. As managing attorney, she oversees the firm's legal work and is involved in all of the firm's cases on some level. Along with her younger brother and COO, Tony Dellino, she also oversees the day to day operations of Dellino Law Group.
Who I Am
I am an attorney but also a human being. I have four dogs -- and a longterm Sunday routine of trying to read the New York Times before they do their best to lie flat across the travel section. I make a version of bulletproof coffee almost every morning for breakfast. I love the Oxford comma, one space after a period, and loathe the appearance of contractions in writing -- so you will not see them in mine unless it reflects a quotation. I love the sound of rain on my sliding glass doors and misty Seattle days, but I never miss a chance to escape to warm climates. If you are reading my biography page it is either because you: a) need a lawyer; b) are a client; c) are a fellow attorney and want to get to know me better/find out who I am; d) are someone looking for any information you can possibly obtain to use against me (and my clients); or e) you are a random visitor. Welcome to all of you.
One of the best moments came early in my career. It was not a trial or a hearing. It was a routine morning in the hallway of a courthouse in Tacoma after a hearing with a client in her early-20s and her mother in tow. My client walked ahead of us on the way out of the courthouse staring at her phone. Her mother was walking along side me. She shook her head, looked completely defeated, said she did not know if her daughter would ever get herself together before something worse happened and wondered what she did wrong. She said something like, “you can't be much older than her (I was), and I am sure your mother is very proud of you.” I told her that my mom is proud of me and I talk to her almost every day, but when I was her daughter's age I had already dropped out of high school, ran away from home, been arrested in my youth, let my parents (who did everything right) down more than a few times, and would fall down a few more times before I decided to get back up and be a better version of myself. I told her I was not worried about her daughter, that we had spoken about her plans – and that I knew her daughter would be more than okay, that she had plenty of time to figure it out. It was the truth. She wiped away a tear and smiled for the first time all day. She then picked up the pace, took her daughter's hand, and hugged her. This remains one of the best moments of my career. That client is now a first-grade teacher. She figured it all out. She was okay. I am okay. You will be okay, too.
Why I Do This Work
When we have the chance to meet, I will likely tell you that I believe people are resilient and should not be defined by their worst relationships or moments. I mean it. Like you may have, I have experienced tumultuous periods in my life. Have you been through a horrible breakup? Have you been divorced or are you thinking about it? Have you been uncertain about what to do financially, career wise, emotionally? I have been there, too. I have been through a divorce that pained me in a way nothing else ever has. I have been scared of the unknown, like you may be. I was diagnosed with cancer at 25 while I was living 3000 miles from my family. To be accurate, I was misdiagnosed and that resulted in having my cancer recur a few more times before people much wiser than me finally found a way to get rid of it. Since being forced to repeatedly face my own mortality and then surviving, not much can scare or overwhelm me. I have started over many times when I did not want to. In short: a lot has happened. All of those life experiences are what led me to be in a position to get to work with people in difficult times and why I am one of the very best at what I do. I know that I am still here to do this work. All of those ups and down are why I started my firm and work hard to put together a team of people with hearts bigger than anyone I know who do not rest until they know they have done everything they can to help those we advocate for.
If something had not happened at a few different turns for me along the way, I might not be here. Maybe you can say the same. If so, I am glad we are both here. There is probably a something in your life. You may be hurting, overcome with stress, or just want a way out of your current situation. Along with all of that, you may be ready to tell your comeback story. You might be in the middle of it right now. If you want to tell me your story and have a problem that needs to be solved, I am ready to listen and help. The best day for me is when I can sit down with you, hear your story, and help get you where you want to be.
My Background and Education
After foregoing traditional high school, I decided to complete my secondary school education and get college credit at Portland Community College. After that, I had some tough jobs before I went on to higher education. I managed a Starbucks store in downtown Seattle, was a top sales performer for Verizon Wireless and the former US West/Qwest Communications, had an extensive paper route covering two counties, and even sold burial plots. These jobs taught me how to do what it takes to get the job done and be the best at it, no matter the task. I firmly believe there is nothing I cannot do - and nothing you cannot do.
Eventually I decided that I could not make coffee for the attorneys in the building my Starbucks was in much longer and needed to start the long road to become one myself. I packed my bags and moved to New York City to head back to school. I felt there was a lot to prove, mainly to myself and immersed myself in reading everything I could get my hands on while completing undergraduate programs at New York University and Seattle University, earning degrees in Politics and Philosophy. My favorite philosophers are Jean Paul Sartre and Immanuel Kant. My Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy is the degree that challenged me the most and of which I am most proud. Studying Philosophy and the professors I had doing so changed my life. If I had not been an attorney, I would likely be teaching philosophical approaches to the self somewhere. I went on to get my law degree with honors from Seattle University School of Law, completing focus areas in both family and criminal law. While in law school, I interned for a large public defender agency, getting to do my first jury trials and finding I loved the courtroom all before graduating. Following law school, while working full time, I completed a Certificate in Law & Technology from the Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law at Arizona State University and a Masters degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, also from Arizona State University. While studying in residence at ASU, I also acted as a graduate teaching assistant, instructing undergraduate students. I love learning in the practical realm and also studying in the traditional sense to master a concept.
Working and supporting myself before I went to undergraduate school and taking a non-traditional path made me more grateful for the higher education experiences I eventually had than I probably would have been otherwise. I threw my heart into my preparation for every class and exams in the only way I knew how, which was by going all in. I did not know it at the time, but treating my education like my job and as if it was the only chance I would ever get at it prepared me to do the same with my cases when I began practicing law. Today I always know that no one will know and remember the facts of a case the way I do. No one will be more prepared than I am. I always know I have done what it takes to get the best outcome possible because I do not know any other way.
Before private practice, I worked as a public defender and then as a staff attorney for Kitsap County Superior Court, a busy trial court, supporting four Superior Court judges. Working for the court was an invaluable experience that gave me perspective early in my career that I would not trade for any other legal experience. Later I worked for other local private firms gaining extensive experience handling family law and criminal cases before starting Dellino Law Group. Handling countless cases, I have appeared in courts all over Western Washington. I first tried criminal cases in front of juries with clients facing prison or jail time, and then later used that experience in as a family law attorney in bench trials where clients have the issues that are the most personal to them and shape their futures on the line. It did not take long to realize that my background in criminal defense, coupled with my life experience, made me an incredibly fearless family law attorney with a focus on strategy and goal setting in an effective manner that is unique and highly effective. Family law is about compassion, details, strategy and humanity all at once. No one can put that together the way I can.
I was born and raised in Seattle, the oldest of three children and the child of two lifelong educators. My parents are also native Seattleites -- and my heroes. Most of my immediate and large extended family live here. I care about this community and believe in giving back to make it better. I am lucky to serve as a volunteer attorney for King County Bar Association's Family Law Neighborhood Legal Clinic and Domestic Violence Clinic. I am also involved with various animal rescue groups and community organizations.
When I am not working, things I enjoy include spending time with my family, wrangling four dogs (two dachshunds, a toy fox terrier, and one big dog) and my curious black cat, plotting how many more animals I can make room for, researching new technology, watching baseball (especially the Yankees), exercising at Roundbox Fitness, and traveling as often as I can. I love the desert, the Big Island of Hawai'i, sports, competition of all kinds, being outside, and cooking when I have time. My husband is my biggest supporter and best friend. He also deserves an award for tolerating the number of times I stop everything we are doing to dictate an email. I like people but I dislike passive aggression and apathy. Sometimes I need to disconnect, but I will be available if you need me (or someone else I trust will be) and have been known to talk to clients or my team in emergencies while I am in a boat, on the other side of the world, on the side of a cliff, or any number of other places where I can still get a cellular signal.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me. However, trust me when I tell you that I am more interested in hearing your story than telling mine.
Back in October I had a run in with the law and felt as if there was no hope. I searched around for a lawyer and Michelle instantly made me feel comfortable. She kept me informed, was very nice, an...
Michelle from start to finish is/was amazing. She handled my case professionally in and out of the courtroom with complete confidence and success. While being an advocate for her client at all time...
Michelle and the team got me and my boyfriend through a new parenting plan and child support modification with much less stress and cost than we anticipated. the other party was making things tough...
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