Ex-Detroit deputy mayor Green back at Miller Canfield

Apparently, Saul Green’s 2012 resolution is to go back into the law firm setting.

The former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and ex-deputy mayor of the city of Detroit has announced he’ll be serving of counsel in the Litigation and Trial Group at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.

Up until June 2011, Green was Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s deputy mayor and executive over public safety (he was appointed in 2008 by then-Mayor Kenneth Cockrel).

He has a wide history of Detroit- and Wayne County-related involvement, having served as the county’s corporation counsel; chief counsel of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the Detroit Field Office; and assistant U.S. attorney.

In 2007, Green, along with fellow Miller Canfield partner Thomas Cranmer, was named one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Lawyers of the Year.”

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SBM executive director gets Lawyers Weekly’s top honor as 2011 Woman of the Year

Janet K. Welch, executive director of the State Bar of Michigan, was named Woman of the Year at Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2011 Women in the Law event. (See her blog post here)

At the Sept. 26 luncheon at the Detroit Marriott in Troy, Lawyers Weekly Publisher Don Stemmermann remarked that Welch “is the proverbial ‘lawyer’s lawyer,’ an attorney whose judgment and opinions are sought after — and respected — by her colleagues. And she is a leader of her colleagues as well — more than 41,000 of them.

“I believe each of you will see a little of yourself in her.”

In her acceptance speech, which followed personal recognition of 19 other honorees (see below), Welch said “that description is accurate, in that every one of my amazing colleagues in the group of lawyers who were honored today does share so many characteristics with me.

“They are amazing lawyers, and they are women, which means that all the achievements you heard about … we had to sort of do a lot of what we did in high heels and backwards,” referencing Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire. “So I think it’s more impressive to be in a group of women lawyers than in just a group of 20 lawyers being honored.”

At the event, it was noted that Welch worked as a legislative analyst in both the Michigan House and Senate. This led her to law school, then a distinguished career of government service, first with the Michigan Supreme Court, then the State Bar.

Recently, Welch was hands-on with State Bar’s Judicial Crossroads Task Force, which generated a much-needed blueprint for court-system reform. The judiciary is solidly behind it, and favorable legislative action is anticipated.

In closing, Welch said, “Thank you to Lawyers Weekly, and to the lawyers in Michigan who are working to make the profession better. We’ve still got work to do, and we’re going to do it.”

The other 19 honorees recognized at the event are:

• Natalie Alane, Alane & Chartier, PLC

• Hon. Dorene S. Allen, Midland County Probate Court

• D. Jennifer Andreou, Plunkett Cooney

• Mary V. Bauman, Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey, PLC

• Elizabeth K. Bransdorfer, Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones PLC

• Hon. Diane M. Druzinski, Macomb Circuit Court

• Elizabeth J. Fossel, Varnum LLP

• Lisa Sommers Gretchko, Howard & Howard Attorneys, PLLC

• Jennifer M. Grieco, Neuman Anderson, P.C.

• Eileen K. Husband, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C.

• Nancy L. Little, Bernick, Radner & Ouellette, P.C.

• Andrea L. Moody, Bowman and Brooke LLP

• Kary L. Moss, American Civil Liberties Union

• Kathryn L. Ossian, Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.

• Linda Paullin-Hebden, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

• Abby L. Pendleton, The Health Law Partners

• Tonya Schuitmaker, Schuitmaker Cooper Schuitmaker Cypher & Knotek, P.C.

• Tricia A. Sherick, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

• Zena D. Zumeta, Mediation Training & Consultation Institute

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Women in the Law 2011 selected

After receiving numerous nominations for Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Women in the Law for 2011, 20 honorees have been chosen.

The honorees will be recognized in a special section to be published Sept. 12, and at the second annual Women in the Law luncheon Sept. 26 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy. The 2011 Woman of the Year, chosen from the 20, also will be named at the event

A Lawyers Weekly editorial panel selected the 20, and considered a number of criteria, including how the nominees:

• Commit to excellence in the practice of law;

• Serve as inspiring and accomplished leaders in the profession;

• Are mentors to other women; and

• Contribute significant time and effort to volunteerism and/or pro bono.

“We received so many great nominations, it really shows the breadth and depth of women in the legal community in Michigan,” said Publisher Donald Stemmermann. “There were difficult decisions to be made, but in our view, all of the nominees are winners. With so many great candidates comes a great opportunity for us to showcase the best of the best with these honorees.”

The honorees are:

Natalie Alane, Alane & Chartier, PLC

Hon. Dorene S. Allen, Midland County Probate Court

D. Jennifer Andreou, Plunkett Cooney

Mary V. Bauman, Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey, PLC

Elizabeth K. Bransdorfer, Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones PLC

Hon. Diane M. Druzinski, Macomb Circuit Court

Elizabeth J. Fossel, Varnum LLP

Lisa Sommers Gretchko, Howard & Howard Attorneys, PLLC

Jennifer M. Grieco, Neuman Anderson, P.C.

Eileen K. Husband, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C.

Nancy L. Little, Bernick, Radner & Ouellette, P.C.

Andrea L. Moody, Bowman and Brooke LLP

Kary L. Moss, American Civil Liberties Union

Kathryn L. Ossian, Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.

Linda Paullin-Hebden, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

Abby L. Pendleton, The Health Law Partners

Tonya Schuitmaker, Schuitmaker Cooper Schuitmaker Cypher & Knotek, P.C.

Tricia A. Sherick, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

Janet K. Welch, State Bar of Michigan

Zena D. Zumeta, Mediation Training & Consultation Institute

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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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Big firms put crisis management on their practice rosters

Three of Michigan’s larger law firms recently launched crisis management teams, to help handle financial stresses in municipalities and school districts, in addition to maintaining corporate reputations.

First, Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C. is using the political, public relations and legal expertise of Daniel Cherrin in its Crisis Management, Litigation and Strategic Communications practice group.

The former communications director for the City of Detroit, Cherrin will lead a team of public policy attorneys and lobbyists in helping clients address major legislative challenges at local, state and federal levels.

In addition, he said, “We are equipped to assist clients in every aspect of a corporate crisis, from avoiding crises in the first place, to the initial response and serving as the onsite spokesperson, to assisting the company with any ongoing investigations and, if necessary, litigation or regulatory and legislative support.”

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has started an Emergency Manager Law Team, with an online news and analysis resource to supplement it.

This comes in the wake of the state Legislature’s expansion of authority for government-appointed emergency managers under the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act.

Specialists in government affairs, municipal law, bankruptcy, financial services, litigation, labor and other related areas make up the team. A microsite, http://emergencymanagers.wnj.com, will serve as a clearinghouse of information from state government, news reports and editorials, think tanks, research councils and other sources to provide up-to-date details on the law and its effectiveness.

The newest venture at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. is a Sustainable Government Initiative, to focus on helping municipalities and school districts address fiscal challenges and fundamental change, while capitalizing on opportunities for increased efficiencies and innovation.

“With the State moving quickly to impose new requirements, we can help clients develop strategic direction and find opportunities that may not be obvious,” said group member Amanda Van Dusen.

The group will offer assistance with consent, intergovernmental and shared services agreements; pension, benefit reviews, restructuring; litigation audits; and property transfers and alternative uses.

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Attorneys, professors land new jobs

There’s been some recent movement into and out of colleges, courts and the Capitol.

First James B. Thelen has left as principal in Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.’s labor and employment group to become associate dean for legal affairs and general counsel at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

He takes over the spot from James Robb, who has been named associate dean for development and alumni relations. (Lawyers Weekly readers will recognize Robb as one of our 2008 In-House Leaders in the Law.)

This isn’t Thelen’s first time in the college arena, having served as assistant general counsel and assistant vice president for legislative affairs at Western Michigan University.

Over at Strobl & Sharp, P.C., Mark Solomon has joined of counsel role in its taxation and estate planning practice areas. He comes to the firm after 30 years of serving as chairman of the taxation and business law department and director of the masters of science taxation program at Walsh College in Troy.

In what could be the last of the Granholm administration landing a job, Steven Liedel, the former governor’s legal counsel, is now at Dykema Gossett PLLC’s regulated industries department. (Ex-Attorney General Mike Cox joined the same firm two months ago.)

And with former partner Kathryn Viviano now on the Macomb County Circuit Court bench, Mount Clemens-based Viviano Law has changed its formal name from Viviano & Viviano, PLLC to Viviano, Pagano & Howlett PLLC.

The name change took place when Jake Howlett, former president of real estate company Crown Enterprises, Inc. and former Bodman PLC business lawyer, was named as partner of the firm.

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