Fagan McManus, PC
It was Royal Oak attorney Jennifer McManus’ grandparents who had the most influence in steering her toward a legal career. “My grandparents, and my father, were immigrants that came to the United States knowing that our country’s commitment to justice would provide them with every opportunity they needed to create wonderful lives for themselves and their children. They depended on our civil rights laws, along with banking, real estate and business laws, to ensure that they could have every benefit and opportunity that citizenship afforded them. As with many immigrant families, my parents wanted their children to obtain degrees in defined and respectable professions, and my sisters and I all followed through,” said McManus.
McManus didn’t plan to become an employment lawyer. “As a law student, I thought I would work with immigrant communities, or perhaps even work with indigenous communities in South America, and I focused on international law in law school and spent a semester studying just outside of the Hague in Leiden, Netherlands. Employment law is a natural progression of these earlier instincts, since I still work with often overlooked and underserved people that need assistance navigating their way through difficult life circumstances.
“I became a member of MAJ in 2012 when I started working with Barry Fagan. He told me that I should join, so I did without knowing much about what I was getting into. Now I’m on the MAJ Executive Board. I am also the treasurer of the Women’s Caucus and serve on the Employment Discrimination and Civil Rights Committee. MAJ provides a sense of camaraderie, an ability to share resources and strategies, and a reminder that we’re not in this fight for justice alone. MAJ’s list servers are the most important service to me on a day-to-day basis. The willingness of so many people to offer assistance, strategies, briefs, research or general knowledge demonstrates to me the commitment to justice that we have as an organization.”
McManus’ practice is devoted entirely to plaintiffs’ employment law issues. “I only pursue claims on behalf of employees that have been wronged in the workplace. One distinctive characteristic of our office is that Barry Fagan and I truly run our own cases from start to finish. I think that this consistency provides a comfort level to our clients that is extremely important, since dealing with the loss of a job, harassment or discrimination can be emotionally traumatizing and our clients look to us as counselors beyond just the legal sense of that word.”
For McManus, representing real people is the most satisfying aspect of being a trial attorney. “Getting to know my clients and their families, learning about their lives, and then being entrusted to tell their stories and work to obtain justice for them is extremely fulfilling. Our clients depend on us to be their voice and their advocates. For many people, their careers are their identity, and losing their jobs can be traumatizing. Hearing from clients months or years later when they call to fill us in on their latest accomplishments, and knowing that we played some small role in helping them move forward, is so rewarding.”
McManus contributes monthly to Justice PAC. “We need legislators/governors/attorneys general in office that support the laws that protect our clients. While we can all work as individuals to try to get this done, having a strong PAC lets our elected officials know that we have a significant membership that can help them when they help us. Our clients depend on us to be their advocates even when they don’t know about it.”
“My husband practices both civil and criminal defense, and I also had a brief stint as a defense attorney. Understanding the perspective of the defense bar helps me to best represent my clients since I understand the other side’s risk assessment and some of their strategic moves. My husband and our two sons all play hockey, and you can usually find one or all of us at an ice rink 6-7 days a week, eleven months a year. I have a very tight circle of friends and when I’m not with my family I like to run or go to a yoga class with them, followed by food and laughter.”