Legal People (April 19)

Plunkett Cooney

At the recent annual business meeting of Plunkett Cooney three partners were elected to the board of directors.

Thomas P. Vincent and Mary Massaron Ross each won re-election to the board while Douglas C. Bernstein was elected to his first term. All will serve for three years.

Bernstein is a member of the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office and serves as Plunkett Cooney’s Banking, Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group Leader. He concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, commercial loan restructuring and workouts, commercial loan documentation, bankruptcy, banking-related litigation and appeals.

A Michigan “Super Lawyer” in Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights, according to “Michigan Super Lawyers” magazine, Bernstein earned his law degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1982 and his undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in 1978. He is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Vincent is a partner in Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office and is one of the firm’s trial attorneys with expertise in the areas of employment, commercial and general litigation. He has served as a member of the firm’s board of directors since 1999.

Vincent has been named a top lawyer in business and employment for the past two years by DBusiness magazine. He earned his law degree from Michigan State University College of Law in 1981 and his undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in 1977. Vincent is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan, the American Bar Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Massaron Ross currently serves as the firm’s Appellate Law Practice Group Leader. A former law clerk to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Patricia J. Boyle, she has handled appeals resulting in over 50 published opinions.

A graduate of Wayne State University Law School in 1990, Massaron Ross has undertaken leadership roles in several professional organizations, including recent election as second vice-president of the Defense Research Institute (DRI) and chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, a division of the Appellate Judges Conference.

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, served as chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Michigan and currently serves as co-chair the Michigan Appellate Bench Bar Conference Foundation. Massaron Ross earned her undergraduate degree from Marygrove College in 1982.

Secrest Wardle

Secrest, Wardle, Lynch, Hampton, Truex, & Morley PC is pleased to announce that Kristin Bricker Kolb, a partner in its Farmington Hills office, was recently awarded a Certificate  of  Completion in the areas of probate and estate planning from the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

During this 3-year course of intensive study, taught by regional and national experts in this field of specialty, Kolb acquired the most up-to-date techniques for managing pre-death and post-death assets.

With 11 years of experience as a practicing attorney, she is qualified to assist with probate and estate planning needs, including:

• Powers of Attorney-General.
• Powers of Attorney-Healthcare.
• Preparation of Last Wills and Testaments.
• Probating of decedent’s estates/probate litigation.
• Representation of interested parties in decedent’s estates.
• Trusts-marital, family, credit shelter and special needs.
• Guardianships.
• Conservatorships.
• Protective Orders regarding settlement approvals.

In addition to practicing in the areas of Probate and Estate Planning, Kolb is also a member of Secrest Wardle’s Real Estate and Municipal Practice Groups. She was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1999.

Potestivo & Associates P.C.

Potestivo & Associates P.C., a legal services provider to the default servicing industry, is pleased to announce the hiring of new Supervising Attorney Kenneth A. VanNorwick. Brian A. Potestivo, president and founder, made the announcement. VanNorwick joins the firm’s Rochester Hills group of attorneys and will represent clients in the Bankruptcy department.

“We are pleased to have Ken join our team as supervising attorney,” said Potestivo. “We look forward to the knowledge and experience Ken will bring to the firm.”

VanNorwick earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, where he majored in Political Science and minored in History. He then went on earn his law degree from DePaul University, College of Law.

Prior to joining Potestivo & Associates, he worked in several law firms furthering his knowledge in Creditor Rights Law, with a concentration in Bankruptcy.

Potestivo & Associates is also pleased to announce the hiring of new associate attorney, Anna Kahriman. Brian A. Potestivo made the announcement. Kahriman joins the firm’s Chicago group of attorneys and will represent clients in the Foreclosure department.

“We are pleased to have Anna join our Chicago team”, said Potestivo. “We look forward to the experience that Anna brings to our firm.”

Kahriman earned her Bachelor of Arts from Alma College, where she majored in Political Science and Philosophy and held an internship with the National Organization for Women. She then went on to earn her law degree from DePaul University College of Law where she also interned with the Cook County Public Defender’s office. Kahriman is also an active member of the District Advisory Community for Educational Excellence (DACEE) of South Berwyn District 100.

Prior to joining Potestivo & Associates, she gained experience in consumer bankruptcy, and real estate.

Zausmer, Kaufman, August, Caldwell & Tayler, P.C.

Julie I. Fershtman spoke at the Property Loss Research Bureau (PLRB) National Claims Conference in San Antonio, Texas, on March 22 and 23. The PLRB is the largest educational conference for insurance industry claims professionals. Fershtman’s presentations focused on Insurance Law and Liability issues.

Fershtman is currently vice president of the State Bar of Michigan, past officer of the Oakland County Bar Association, and a vice chair of a committee of the ABA. She is also a Trustee of the Michigan State Bar Foundation.  She has tried cases in four states and is the author of three books and more than 200 published articles.

Fershtman focuses her law practice on commercial litigation, insurance law, and equine law.  She is currently Of Counsel to the law firm of Zausmer, Kaufman, August, Caldwell, & Tayler, P.C. A member of the State Bar of Michigan since 1986, she earned her undergraduate and law degrees from Emory University.

Foster, Swift, Collins, & Smith, P.C.

Michigan law firm Foster, Swift, Collins, & Smith P.C. is pleased to announce that they have elected company shareholder Paul J. Millenbach to serve on the firm’s Executive Committee.

Millenbach completed his undergraduate education at Northern Michigan University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1984 and he earned his law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1989.

He was an administrative law specialist with the Michigan Public Service Commission prior to joining Foster Swift in 1991. He became affiliated with a southeast Michigan law firm in 1995 and returned to Foster Swift in 1998. Millenbach practices from the firm’s Farmington Hills and Detroit locations. He is a general litigation group leader and focuses in the areas of litigation, insurance defense, transportation, mass tort defense and health care.

Millenbach is admitted to practice law in the state of Michigan , the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is an active member of the State Bar of Michigan, the American Bar Association, the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association and is a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation.

Millenbach is also involved in the Transportation Lawyers Association and the Defense Research Institute. Additionally, he is on the Board of Directors for the Northern Michigan University Alumni Association and is a former adjunct professor of Business Law at Baker College. He is also a lecturer of Constitutional Law and the Transportation Industry at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith also announces that it has started the practice area of Parent-Child Law. Parent-Child Law includes the following challenging cases:

• Representing adults who are accused of child abuse or neglect in either criminal or termination of parental rights proceedings.

• Representing children in some cases, such as children whose parents are divorcing and children whose parents are engaged in a custody dispute.

• Collaborative divorce, where a husband and wife each retain a specially trained attorney and sign a commitment to settle without going to court, enabling them to work out issues directly with one another in a structured and safe environment.

Joseph Kozely will be one of three lawyers working on this practice area. Kozely, of the firm’s Farmington Hills office, has a Master of Social Work degree, practiced in child and family therapy before becoming an attorney and has years of experience representing adults and children  in child abuse/neglect cases.

Kozely commented that, “Today’s family faces unique changes and this collaborative group is serving their needs.”

According to a Child Protective Services report, the state of Michigan has seen a steady increase in child abuse/ neglect cases and complaints from 1999-2008, showing a growing demand for this type of law practice across the state. There has also been an increase in the number of divorces in the state according to the Department of Community Health, displaying yet another reason for this type of practice area to be needed in Michigan.

Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth, & Heller P.C.

John P. Gonway, a shareholder at Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth, & Heller P.C., a Southfield-based, law firm, has been appointed to the Snowmobile and Trails Advisory Council by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Recently created under an executive order by Governor Granholm, the Council advises the governor and state Department of Natural Resources and Environment on state trails. His ultimate goal is to make an impact on the responsible expansion of access for non-motorized trail users, which includes bikers, hikers and equestrians. Gonway’s term expires on January 17, 2014.

Gonway was recently elected to the position of Director of Advocacy of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association. Additionally, he is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and its Real Property, Business Law and Taxation sections, and is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association.

He concentrates his practice on complex real estate and commercial transactions. His experience includes the acquisition, financing, construction, development and leasing of all types of commercial real estate, as well as the representation of clients in all aspects of corporate law, commercial law, mergers and acquisitions and commercial transactions.

Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth, & Heller PC is also pleased to announce that George V. Cassar Jr., shareholder, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Miracle League of Plymouth. He will serve on the planning committee.

The Miracle League of Plymouth removes the barriers that keep children with mental and physical disabilities off of the baseball field and allows them to experience the sport, build self-esteem and make new friends. 

There are more than 200 organized Miracle Leagues throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

The field in Plymouth, which will include a custom-designed, rubberized turf to accommodate wheelchairs and other devices, is slated to break ground in late April.

“Baseball has always been part of my life,” said Cassar, “The Miracle League is such an important organization because no child should miss out on this great American pastime because of a disability. They should have the same opportunities as any other child.”

In his position, Cassar will be assisting the Miracle League with raising public awareness, fundraising and planning needs.

Cassar focuses his practice in the areas of estate and business succession planning, taxation and probate.

Miller Canfield

The law firm of Miller Canfield announces that it again ranks first among Michigan bond counsel law firms in the 2009 Bond Counsel Rankings by Thomson Financial, recognizing the law firm for 103 long term new bond issues totaling $3.851 billion. The firm has been the number one-ranking bond counsel in Michigan every year in the ranking’s 30-year history. Nationally, the firm was recognized for 116 long term new bond issues totaling $3.956 billion.

Miller Canfield’s public finance practice consists of nearly 30 lawyers, specializing in capital projects and infrastructure improvements, economic development projects, municipal securities representations, environmental response projects, government and regulatory affairs, hospitals, housing, and local, state and federal tax. 

Miller Canfield wrote opinions in 2009 on municipal bonds and notes in Michigan for purposes that included:

Wachler & Associates PC

Andrew B. Wachler appeared with three other experts on Medicare appeals at the American Health Lawyers Association’s Institute on Medicare and Medicaid Payment Issues in Baltimore, Maryland, March 25. The workshop, titled “Medicare Claims Appeals Advanced Workshop,” educated attendees about remedies for Recovery Audit Contractor claim denials, appeal strategies, evidence and hearing presentation techniques, and related issues.

AHLA’s Institute on Medicare and Medicaid Payment Issues featured breakout sessions on more than 50 topics presented by leading experts, including many CMS officials.
Wachler is the principal of the Royal Oak-based Wachler & Associates PC. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1974. He graduated from Wayne State University Law School in 1978.

Wachler has been practicing healthcare law for more than 25 years. He counsels healthcare providers and organizations nationwide in a variety of healthcare legal matters. In addition, he writes and speaks nationally to professional organizations and other entities on healthcare law topics such as Medicare appeals, Stark and fraud and abuse, HIPAA, and other topics.

Butzel Long

Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Beth S. Gotthelf will be a featured speaker during the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF) 2010 Washington Forum April 27-29 in Washington, D.C.

Gotthelf will participate in a panel discussion on “Enforcement and the New National Emphasis Program for Compliance: with Chrome Limits What’s Ahead for Surface Finishing?” with Nancy Hauter, director, Office of Health Enforcement, OSHA U.S. Department of Labor.

Based in Butzel Long’s Bloomfield Hills office, Gotthelf heads up the environmental, energy and land use practice. She represents and counsels a diverse mix of clients in numerous matters throughout the country.

She is president of the Great Lakes Guardian for water protection, general counsel to the Michigan Association of Metal Finishers, Chair of the Birmingham Brownfield Authority, and former general counsel to the Wayne County Brownfield Authority. 

She has been active in the State Bar of Michigan, Environmental Law Section, including serving as past chair of the Section. She is co chair of the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, Teleconference Committee, vice chair of an upcoming Water Conference, and vice chair of the Water Quality and Wetlands Committee. She is past chair of the Environmental Law Committee of the Oakland County Bar Association and is a past member of the State Bar Representative Assembly on behalf of Oakland County. 

Gotthelf is a 1985 graduate of the University of Detroit Law School, and Oakland University (B.S. Public Administration and Public Policy, 1980). In 2009, Gotthelf received an Oakland University Distinguished Alumni Award.

Butzel Long also announces that attorney and shareholder Max J. Newman will be featured during a webinar presented by the Institute of Management & Administration on Thursday, April 22. The title of the webinar is: “How to Spot Bankruptcy Signs in Your Customers & Suppliers: What Every Credit Manager Needs to Know.”

Based in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office, Newman concentrates his practice in the representation of debtors, creditors committees, creditors and customers in all aspects of Chapter 11 Reorganizations. He has pursued appeals from Bankruptcy Court to the Sixth Circuit and Federal District Court and also has handled cases in the Michigan Appellate Courts. Newman has handled bankruptcy matters throughout the country, including New York, Delaware, Texas, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.

He is listed in Michigan Super Lawyers for 2007, 2008, and 2009. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and is active with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.

Newman earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. His undergraduate degree also is from the University of Michigan (A.B., 1990).


Varnum, in a recent expansion effort, has welcomed Anthony W. Devine, to its offices.

Devine joins Varnum as counsel and practices in Varnum’s Novi office. He works with financial institutions on loan origination transactions, loan work-outs, lender collateral file review and branch acquisitions and divestitures. He also represents clients in commercial real estate transactions.