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Lea Ann Sterling

Family Attorney at Traverse City, MI

5.0   5 reviews
  • State Years
    Michigan - MI 25 years
    Ohio - OH 42 years
  • Licensed for 25 years
    State MI
    Acquired 1998
    Active in Good Standing No misconduct found
  • Licensed for 42 years
    State OH
    Acquired 1981
    Inactive No misconduct found

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

About Lea Ann

Learn Lea Ann’s areas of practice.

Practice areas
  1. Child custody
    Sterling Law attorneys are dedicated to helping clients understand the legal aspects of child custody. We educate clients on their rights and options to help them make informed decisions about their cases. Sterling Law attorneys are experienced in family court and aggressively pursue a resolution that best suits your specific situation and the well-being of your children.

    43 years

  2. Divorce and separation
    Going through a divorce can be a difficult and highly emotional endeavor. Sterling Law attorneys are experienced and dedicated to vigorously standing up for our male and female clients and their rights throughout the course of a divorce. We have over 50 years of combined experience handling family law matters. Sterling Law lawyers are skilled individuals who know the judges, understand the processes of divorce court, and will guide you through the system.

    43 years

  3. Family
    Sterling Law ably handles most family law matters on behalf of both women and men, married and unmarried, including divorce, separation, custody, parenting time, paternity, pre-nuptial agreements, and personal protection orders.

    43 years

  4. Estate planning
    At Sterling Law, we have experience in guiding you through the probate court and in creating plans for individuals, couples, and families of all sorts. At Sterling Law, there is no "one size fits all."

    43 years

  5. Real estate
    Real property can be a complicated area of law. Mistakes can be unforgiving or difficult (expensive) to fix. Sterling Law advises any individual transferring real property to first consult with an experienced real property attorney.

    13 years

Sterling Law handles most family law matters on behalf of both women and men, married and unmarried, including divorce, separation, custody, parenting time, paternity, pre-nuptial agreements, and personal protection orders. Sterling Law is the Northern Michigan affiliate of the American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM), specializing in the family law needs of men. In addition to family law, the firm also provides legal services in the area of:  Estate Planning, Probate, Succession Planning, Real Estate and Small Business Formation, and also provides referrals for Immigration and Social Security disability matters.

* 39 years of legal experience; 49 years as a social justice activist
* Assembled, trained, and supervises a “sterling” team of associate attorneys and support staff
* Innovative and efficient manager of Sterling Law
* Community leader

Photos and videos


Sterling Law
13919 S West Bay Shore Dr Ste 209
Traverse City, MI, 49684-6216
Gaylord Office
100 W. 1st Street
Gaylord, MI, 49735
Sterling Law Office PLLC
13919 S. West Bay Shore Drive
Suite 209
Traverse City, MI, 49684
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5.0 / 5.0
  5 customer reviews
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1 Star
Posted by Anne-Marie | June 8, 2015
Estate Planning Master
Lea Ann helped my husband and I do our estate planning after we had put it off for over five years because it just seemed too overwhelming. She was patient, caring, asked thoughtful questions we had not considered, helped us articulate our wishes in proper legal format, and anticipated a complicated family situation. Further, she was clear on how to proceed after the actual documents were drawn.
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Posted by anonymous | June 8, 2015
child custody
I went to lea ann for help getting my boys into a better situation than they were in. lea ann and her team did a great job in helping me with my situation.
Posted by Dean | June 5, 2015
One of the best in the business.
Lea Ann took my custody case and for three years she showed so much tenacity and care for my case. After plenty of bumps along the way, she finally won the case and I was able to bring my son home with me where he has flourished both as a person and a student. I don't know what I would have done if she would have given up, like I was ready to do plenty of times. Thank you Lea Ann for everything you have done for me and my family
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Posted by Hans. | May 31, 2015
Out of state child custody
My son's mother left Georgia to help her brother in Michigan, but after 6 months set up residency and filed for divorce. Ms. Sterling educated me about my legal rights in Michigan ( every state is different ), which required a lot of knowledge and patience on her part. She is highly organized and was always well prepared in court. Child custody cases can be very emotional, but her professionalism resulted in my son returning home to live with me in Georgia.
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Posted by anonymous | May 29, 2015
Business Legal Services
Lea Ann provided legal assistance in re-drafting a comprehensive set of by-laws and covenants/restrictions for my real estate development as well as establishing two Limited Liability Companies with full documentation for me. Her work was performed in a timely fashion and her experience/knowledge base eliminated hours of research...keeping fees under control. She also helped to identify some potential tax issues and provided referrals to specialists she felt comfortable in providing counsel to me. I continue referring friends to her when they need the services of an attorney.
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  • Free Consultation 15 minutes
  • Hourly Rates $ 190-275 per hour
  • Pro bono 1 %
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card


AVVO RATING 9.0 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Founding Attorney
  • Sterling Law Office
  • 2001 - Present
  • Zoning Administrator
  • Village of Empire, Michigan
  • 1999 - 2005
  • Staff Attorney
  • Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Ohio
  • 1986 - 1997
  • Associate Attorney
  • Spater, Gittes & Terzian
  • 1981 - 1986
View all work experience


  • Ohio State University
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 1980
  • Ball State University
  • BS - Bachelor of Science
  • 1976

Sample of Legal Cases

  • Stevens & Beaverson v. Breyers
  • The parental rights of the other party were eventually terminated.
  • Baldwin v. Baldwin
  • Our client was permitted to move with his child from Michigan to Idaho.
  • Albright v. Donaldson
  • Our client the father was awarded primary residential custody of son.
View all legal cases


  • Stonewall Bar Association
  • Member
  • 2015 - Present
  • American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM)
  • Northern Michigan Affiliate
  • 2008 - Present
  • Institute for Continuing Legal Education
  • Member
  • 2001 - Present
  • State Bar of Michigan
  • Representative Assembly
  • 1998 - Present
  • Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association
  • SBM Representative Assembly Delegate
  • 1998 - Present
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Member
  • 2004 - 2008
  • Michigan Association for Justice
  • Member
  • 2004 - 2009
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Northwestern Michigan Chapter Board Member
  • 2003 - 2008
  • Women Lawyers of Franklin County (Ohio)
  • Chair, Community Service Committee
  • 1990 - 1991
  • Columbus Bar Association
  • Member
  • 1986 - 1998
  • The Federation of Ohio River Cooperatives
  • World Food Hunger Committee, Corporate President, Legal Counsel
  • 1977 - 1985
  • U.N. World Population Conference, Bucharest, Romania
  • Press Corps
  • 1974 - 1974
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English

Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2021
  • Distinguished
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2020
  • BV
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2016
  • Best Books of 2001
  • Governor of Michigan
  • 2001
  • Public Education and Awareness Award
  • Ohio Historical Society
  • 2000
  • Honoree
  • Ohioana Library
  • 2000
  • Civil Liberties Award
  • Ohio American Civil Liberties Union
  • 1996
  • summa cum laude
  • Ball State University
  • 1976
View all awards


  • Paternity Action Team Pamphlet
  • Children Have a Right to Time with Both Parents, Married or Unmarried
  • 2013
  • GTLA Bar Association Newsletter
  • "Unmarried Dads DIY Custody Complaint"
  • 2012
  • Families First
  • "Unmarried Dads"
  • 2011
  • SBM Bar Journal
  • "Practice Management Up North"
  • 2011
  • GTLA Bar Association Newsletter
  • "Local Citizens Spur MSC Election Reform"
  • 2008
  • Historic Cottages of Mackinac Island
  • Historic Cottages of Mackinac Island
  • 2001
  • Historic Homes of Olde Towne East
  • Historic Homes of Olde Towne East
  • 1999
View all publications

Speaking Engagements

  • Worksite Enforcement: I-9 Compliance Seminars
  • Immigration
  • 2008
  • The Immigration Debate: The Northwest Michigan Experience
  • Immigration
  • 2008

Attorney endorsements

Received (5)
Given (2)
Endorse Lea Ann
Family Attorney | Dec 30
Relationship: Co-worker
"I endorse this lawyer. Lea Ann embodies the best of an attorney with 34 years of experience. She has outstanding analytical skills and is able to think of reasonable solutions when problems or unique situations arise. She has extensive knowledge of litigation procedures at the trial-court level. She not only stays on top of developments in the legal field, she participates in making changes at the legislative level. She is always dedicated to her work and willing to put in the time it takes to get the job done. As a supervising attorney she has developed systems and procedures that ensure that time, effort, and resources are allocated efficiently, appropriately and timely. Her wonderful personality and interpersonal skills allow her to develop trusting relationships with everyone she works with. She can clearly, concisely and compassionately explain complex information to clients. Most importantly she loves to help people in need and to make a positive difference in their lives."
Family Attorney | Dec 29
Relationship: Worked for lawyer
"I endorse this lawyer. Lea Ann is easily able to make sense of a large volume of information, cutting directly to the chase to determine the best course of action to help clients to best achieve their legal goals. Lea Ann's knowledge of the law allows her to think creatively to find solutions to unique problems and unexpected curveballs. Lea Ann has excellent communication with her clients, responding to all client contacts as soon as possible, and she communicates with her clients in such a way that they understand the complexities of the law and their options and potential outcomes. Lea Ann also holds herself, her firm, and the rest of the legal community to a high ethical standard."
Family Attorney | Jul 28
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Lea Ann is a multi-talented attorney who is passionate about the legal profession and compassionate toward her clients and their needs."
Family Attorney | Jul 27
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. Lea Ann is a hard-working, smart, caring attorney. I would feel confident recommending her to anyone."
Family Attorney | Jul 24
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Lea Ann Sterling is an outstanding Northern Michigan attorney. She is the consummate professional who always treats everyone, including court personnel, staff, clients, and others, with courtesy, dignity, and respect. She is highly respected for her very successful representation of clients concerning domestic relations, employment, and immigration matters. In addition, she is active with Bar Association and other activities, including being a member of the State Bar's Representative Assembly."
Traverse City Family Lawyer Lea Ann Sterling
Lea Ann Sterling
Family Attorney
Traverse City, MI
Licensed for 42 years
Free Consultation