‘Up & Coming Lawyers’ for 2011 announced

The 20 honorees for Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2011 Up & Coming Lawyers have been selected.

These attorneys have practiced law for 10 years or less, yet have already distinguished themselves in the practice of law, and appear poised for even greater things. They were chosen for their noteworthy cases, unique practice areas, and interesting community or bar association efforts.

In this annual salute to the rising stars of the bar, the honorees will be acknowledged at Lawyers Weekly’s Up & Coming Lawyers luncheon Dec. 8 at the Detroit Marriott Troy. They also will be recognized in a special section Nov. 21, in which we will feature profiles of each.

Our 2011 honorees are:

• Heather J. Atnip, Romanzi Atnip, P.C.

• Hilary A. Ballentine, Plunkett Cooney

• Darryl G. Bressack, Fink + Associates Law

• Katherine (Katie) Donohue, Butzel Long

• Paul R. Hage, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, P.C.

• Sarah Riley Howard, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

• Thomas W. James, Michigan Auto Law

• Kaveh Kashef, Clark Hill PLC

• Russell A. Kavalhuna, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District

• Channelle Kizy-White, Channelle Kizy, PLLC

• Caralyce M. Lassner, Caralyce M. Lassner, JD, PC

• Susan Lumetta, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C.

• Maureen M. McGinnis, Donald E. McGinnis Jr., P.C.

• Rajesh K. Prasad, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office

• Kristen E. Ray, Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge

• Christyn M. Scott, Dykema Gossett PLLC

• Benjamin C. Stasa, Brooks Kushman P.C.

• Melonie L. McKenzie Stothers, Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker, P.L.L.C.

• Zana Tomich, Dalton & Tomich, PLC

• Erin L. Toomey, Foley & Lardner LLP

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Dickinson Wright relocates to Troy business corridor

Of the top 10 largest law firms in Michigan, four have had branch offices in or around the Woodward Avenue-Long Lake Road intersection of Bloomfield Hills.

Come the end of this week, there will be one fewer, as Dickinson Wright PLLC will move its Woodward-Lone Pine office to the Bank of America Building in Troy.

“The main motivating factor for the move to Troy was growth of our Oakland County office,” said Dickinson Wright CEO William T. Burgess in a statement, adding that “this growth could not be fully accommodated in our existing Bloomfield Hills space.”

More than one-third of the firm’s 218 Michigan attorneys are based in its Oakland County office, which also includes the firm’s Intellectual Property Academy internship program and a “sizeable proportion” of the firm’s administrative staff.

The Bank of America Building is at 2600 W. Big Beaver Road, Suite 300.

Dickinson Wright was ranked No. 4 in Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2011 list of “Largest Law Firms.”

The other three top 10 largest firms with branch offices still in the Woodward-Long Lake area are Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP (No. 2); Dykema Gossett PLLC (No. 5); and Butzel Long (No. 9). No. 8-ranked Plunkett Cooney has its main office across the street from Dickinson Wright’s soon-to-be former Bloomfield Hills branch.

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2011 ‘Largest Law Firms’ directory message: Proceed with caution

Coming off a painful, economically challenging 2009, there were beacons of hope for many of the state’s largest law firms at the end of 2010.

There were positive shifts in work among once-cool practice sectors, such as real estate transactions, commercial contracts and loan originations. And there weren’t any layoffs or practice group dissolutions.

But several managing partners told Michigan Lawyers Weekly in its 2011 edition of “Michigan’s Largest Law Firms” directory, which publishes June 20, that sitting in the driver’s seat still meant impulsively scanning for potholes.

“[T]he last three years in the U.S. has shown it’s a tricky business,” said Michael W. Hartmann of No. 1-ranked Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. (279 attorneys). “In this world, things change pretty quickly, and you have to adapt pretty quickly.

“Law firms have concluded that; I don’t think you can assume what you did two years ago will work two years from now. Law firms have to adapt like clients do — and clients don’t get [much time] to adapt.”

Among the findings in the directory, which chronicles activity from Jan. 1, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2011, among 63 Michigan firms that have 20 or more attorneys:

Alternative billing methods and more-focused client budgets were widespread: As Henry B. Cooney of No. 8-ranked Plunkett Cooney (150 attorneys) explained, “Five, 10 years ago, the idea of having a litigation or transactional budget didn’t exist, at least not very much. It certainly exists today, and we see that quite a bit.”

They also were problematic: “I think most CEOs and general counsel would tell you, people are still trying to figure out alternative fees,” said David Foltyn of No. 2-ranked Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP (228 attorneys). “Clients are still trying to figure out how it works, and lawyers are still far behind in project managing and predictability.”

Lateral recruitment was frequent: And it was advantageous, the principal reason being “you can react to market conditions more quickly,” noted Douglas E. Wagner of No. 3-ranked Warner Norcross & Judd LLP (219 attorneys). “When you’re hiring a law student, you’re projecting out two or three years as to what your needs are going to be, but in a lateral market, you can fill a need within a few months.”

Value still is everything: Coming up with what’s expected from the firm isn’t always what the firm itself expects. Lawrence J. Murphy at No. 7-ranked Varnum LLP (153 attorneys) said one thing that’s been apparent in the past few years “is that clients are increasingly demanding that their law firms provide value as defined by the clients, not as defined by their lawyers.”

Rounding out the 10-largest firms list are Dickinson Wright PLLC (No. 4 with 218 attorneys); Dykema Gossett PLLC (No. 5 with 180); Clark Hill PLC (No. 6 with 166); Butzel Long (No. 9 with 143); and Bodman PLC (No. 10 with 138).

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Former Butzel Long chair picked to lead Dallas firm’s expansion

We recently reported on some power moves into and out of law firms and law schools. Now there’s another to add to the list.

Philip J. Kessler, Butzel Long’s former chairman and member of its board of directors, was selected to direct Thompson & Knight LLP’s expanding operations in New York City and lead a new metro Detroit office.

The metro Detroit office will open this spring 2011, and will be the 11th Thompson & Knight office, but only the second in the U.S. outside of Texas.

Firm Managing Partner Jeffrey A. Zlotky said that Kessler’s “distinguished reputation, market knowledge, and insights will be great assets as we seek opportunities to support new and existing clients in New York, Michigan, and elsewhere.”

Kessler, who stepped down as Butzel Long chair last September, specializes in business disputes on behalf of individuals and partnerships as well as public and private corporations.

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