Warner Norcross attorney, 2010 Leader in the Law honoree dies at 56

Michael Cruse died of cancer Aug. 3, 2012. He was 56.

Cruse

Born Sept. 15, 1955, in Highland Park, Mr. Cruse, a Rochester resident, was a partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP’s Southfield branch, where he specialized in business reorganization, bankruptcy and debtor-creditor relations, commercial law and litigation.

He graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 1985.

Prior to his legal career, Mr. Cruse served nearly 10 years as a police officer for Bloomfield Township, and stayed as a volunteer reserve officer with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department while a lawyer.

In 2010, Mr. Cruse was named one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 25 “Leaders in the Law.”

Outside of law, he founded the Embrace the Day Foundation, an organization to raise awareness and funds for the cure to pancreatic cancer. He also enjoyed long cruises on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Mr. Cruse is survived by his wife, Jane; two children, Aaron and Natalie; his mother, Mary; two brothers, Walter and Jeffrey; one sister, Elena Borrie; and extended family.

A memorial service was held Aug. 8 at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Rochester.

Memorial gifts may be directed to: Embrace the Day Foundation, 756 Loggers Circle, Rochester, MI 48307.

‘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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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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Veteran litigator/ADR expert, ex-SBM president Muth named Lawyer of the Year

On March 15, Jon R. Muth, the 60th State Bar of Michigan president and Grand Rapids-based litigator and mediator, was named Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2011 Lawyer of the Year.

At the “2011 Leaders in the Law” luncheon and awards ceremony at the Detroit Marriott in Troy, Lawyers Weekly Publisher Don Stemmermann said that Muth “stood out as someone who we believe represents everything that we would expect a Michigan legal leader to be.”

The event saluted 25 lawyers recognized by Lawyers Weekly for outstanding service to their profession and communities.

Muth said he was “humbled” by the honor, but told the audience of more than 300 attendees that he’d be remise if he didn’t remark “that none of us 25 honored here today, and none of the 25 honored in the prior year ever got here by ourselves.”

He added, “I stand here today on the shoulders of a great, great many people who have helped me get here, and I hope that when you consider your own career, you look back and recognize those who assisted you.”

Besides acknowledging his parents and wife, Muth mentioned Art Snell and John Cummiskey, the founding partners at Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey, P.L.C., where he’s practiced for 40 years; as well as Jim Robinson, George Googasian, Victoria Roberts, Tom Cranmer and Tom Kienbaum, who worked with Muth leading up to and during his 1994-95 presidency.

The 24 other “Leaders in the Law” honorees were:

• Lawrence G. Almeda, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, Ann Arbor

• George W. Ash, Foley & Lardner LLP, Detroit

• Gary August, Zausmer, Kaufman, August, Caldwell & Tayler, P.C., Farmington Hills

• Timothy A. Baughman, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Detroit

• Mark R. Bendure, Bendure & Thomas, Detroit

• Michael Cavanaugh, Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C., Lansing

• Hon. Maura D. Corrigan, Michigan Department of Human Services, Lansing

• Stephen R. Drew, Drew, Cooper & Anding, P.C., Grand Rapids

• Michael Fabian, Fabian, Sklar & King PC, Farmington Hills

• Clayton F. Farrell, Collins, Einhorn, Farrell & Ulanoff, P.C., Southfield

• James P. Feeney, Dykema Gossett PLLC, Bloomfield Hills

• David H. Fink, Fink & Associates Law, Bloomfield Hills

• Kenneth Gross, Thav, Gross, Steinway & Bennett, P.C., Bingham Farms

• Hon. Milton L. Mack Jr., Wayne County Probate Court, Detroit

• Lawrence C. Mann, Bowman and Brooke LLP, Troy

• Paul A. McCarthy, Rhoades McKee PC, Grand Rapids

• Lawrence D. McLaughlin, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, Detroit

• Megan P. Norris, Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C., Detroit

• Tom R. Pabst, Tom R. Pabst P.C., Flint

• Gregory J. Parry, Eagle Risk Management Law Firm PLC, Beverly Hills

• T. Joseph Seward, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C., Livonia

• Patrick G. Seyferth, Bush Seyferth & Paige PLLC, Troy

• Norman D. Tucker, Sommers Schwartz, P.C., Southfield

• Douglas E. Wagner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, Grand Rapids

Look for a two-page photo story of the Leaders in the Law event in the March 28 edition of Lawyers Weekly.

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