GETTING TO KNOW: Goldie Greenstein


Oak Park native Goldie Greenstein graduated from Berkley High School and went on to Oberlin College in Ohio. 

From there she lived abroad, including the Ukraine and Germany, before returning to the U.S. for stops in California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, then back home to Michigan.

A Bloomfield Township resident, Greenstein attended law school at Temple University in Philadelphia, graduating in 2011.

She passed the bar in Virginia and California and will be taking the Michigan bar this summer. 

She currently works as an associate at Ayar Law in Southfield, where her legal practice focuses on tax law and tax controversies.

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

What would surprise people about your job? How nice and reasonable most IRS agents are. The agency has a threatening reputation but most of the people there are just regular people trying to do their job. Many of them have interesting stories to tell while you wait for their antiquated computer systems to bring up client information.

Why did you become a lawyer? I have always felt a need to improve upon our world. I looked locally and determined my skills best suited me to becoming a lawyer.

What’s your favorite law-related movie? Fritz Lang’s (1936 movie) “Fury.” It isn’t a film about the law but about the nature of justice and the purpose of a legal system.

Who are your law role models – real and/or fictional? Earl Warren, Lincoln, and LBJ.

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? RuPaul. If I only get one day, let it be a really interesting day.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school? Lawyers are counselors by design. No matter how erudite you are, or how fascinating you find the intricacies of logic, the job will always come down to counseling people. Lawyers must know the law but the difficult part is helping people to understand how those laws will impact them personally. People often have very unrealistic expectations of our profession and when they cannot get “justice” (as they define it) then you must have a very strong stomach and understanding nature.  

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? I helped a woman who was struggling to get out from under the debts of her abusive husband. The administrative process was not difficult given the facts, but I could see how much it helped her to have someone counsel her through the process and explain that her life in future would not have to be defined by the actions of her former husband.

What do you do to relax? I enjoy gardening when the space is available. There is something about digging in the earth that makes me feel whole.

What other career path might you have chosen? I might have become a biologist focusing on funghi and lichen.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Adolescence is nearly over. It all gets better from hereon out. Just wait until you get to college — it will be fabulous!

Favorite local hangouts? Public library. What can I say, it is a geek’s sanctuary.

Favorite websites? NYTimes, Treehugger, PBS.

Favorite app? Shazam (still blows my mind).

Favorite music? Electronic.

What is your happiest childhood memory? Making a robot with my sister out of household detritus — toilet paper tubes, boxes, whatever was left lying around and could be spared. It looked a bit like a robot but didn’t really do much else.

What is your most treasured material possession? My glasses. Without them, I am unable to drive, read, see much of anything.

What do you wish someone would invent? Matter to energy transport. Just port yourself from one point to another.

What has been your favorite year so far and why? 1999, the year I met my husband.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? Coastal California. The redwood forests feel so primeval.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Teleportation. It would be lovely to avoid air travel completely.

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do? Play the cello.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I enjoy electronic music: dubstep, house, ambient, you name it.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? Hanah Arendt, Queen Elizabeth I, Ursula K. LeGuin.

What’s the best advice you ever received? Fake it till you make it.

Favorite place to spend money? Costco.

What is your motto? The truly paranoid are never surprised.

Which living person do you most admire? Bernie Sanders.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Keeping my sense of humor after the last election season.

What is the most unusual thing you have done? Possibly joining the Peace Corps, but quite a lot of people do that.