Published September 04, 2013
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Gov. Matt Mead has named Peter Michael, a veteran lawyer, to serve as Wyoming attorney general.
Michael, 57, has been working as interim attorney general this summer following the U.S. Senate confirmation of former AG Greg Phillips as a federal judge. Michael had worked as a deputy attorney general for Phillips.
Mead announced his choice of Michael to the permanent attorney general post Wednesday at a news conference in Cheyenne.
"He's an outstanding attorney, and outstanding individual," Mead said of Michael. "It's been a pleasure to work with him the past two and a half years and it will be a pleasure to have him as Wyoming's next attorney general."
Mead said he's known Michael since they were both at the University of Wyoming law school. The governor said both Phillips and Michael deserve credit for improving the attorney general's office's performance in recent years.
Michael, a graduate of Yale University, worked 20 years in private practice in Wyoming after graduating from UW law school. He came to the AG's office seven years ago.
Michael has been the state's lead lawyer in an ongoing lawsuit in which Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill is challenging the recent state law that stripped her office of many of its previous responsibilities.
Michael said he's excited by the prospect of working as AG, but said he's also humbled when he sees photographs in the office of his predecessors, including many who have gone on to judgeships and other high posts.
"Going forward, it's a job that requires a lot of dexterity, a lot of flexibility," Michael said. "Because the state of Wyoming faces almost every possible kind of legal issue. And, being a massive energy producer for the United States and for the world, those issues. And all the other stuff that attorneys general's offices do around the state really makes it a big job.
Michael said he believes strongly that Wyoming is well-served by having the attorney general's position appointed by the governor. Many other western states have elected AGs.
"There's a joke that goes around that the National Association of Attorneys General is the National Association of Aspiring Governors," Michael said.
He said appointed AGs are free to concentrate on their legal work, rather than worrying about political fundraising or other distractions.
Michael said the most important thing for lawyers, as he sees it, is ethics. He said he's currently the chairman of the Character and Fitness Committee for the state bar, which looks at whether prospective new lawyers have any issues that might prevent them from being admitted to practice law.
"The rest of it really comes down to hard work, creativity," Michael said of the legal profession.
Michael said his wife Cindy Schmid is a school music teacher in Cheyenne and plays the French horn professionally in symphony orchestras. He said they have two sons, one a chemical engineer in Colorado and the other a farmer in Idaho. He said his hobbies include hunting and gardening.