Miller Johnson continues to expand multi-service family law practice

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Left to right, Joe Doele, Connie Thacker, and Mike Quinn of Miller Johnson’s Family Law Practice Group

LEGAL NEWS PHOTO BY CYNTHIA PRICE

by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Connie Thacker — current chair of the State Bar of Michigan Family Law Council, fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), multiply-honored by rating services such as Best Lawyers and Avvo, author on guardian ad litem and other family law matters — has joined an already-impressive team of attorneys in Miller Johnson’s family law practice.

Thacker’s addition to the practice group is a result of strategic expansion. Michael Quinn, who has been with Miller Johnson’s family law practice group for seven years, comments, “When we’re able to pick up one of the best family lawyers in the state of Michigan, there’s just no downside.”

Miller Johnson received the peer-reviewed U.S. News and World Report Best Lawyer first-tier rankings in 2010 for Family Law in both Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
Comments Thacker herself, “This is a sophisticated group, and the opportunities are endless. I’m glad I’m here.”

The Miller Johnson group she is joining includes, in addition to Quinn: Members Joseph Doele, Jack Keiser, who chairs the practice group, and Julie Sullivan; Associates Melissa Neckers and Saraphoena Boudrie Koffron; and Paralegals Julie Cosgrove, Lucy Osenga and Rhonda Williams.

Keiser and Quinn join Thacker as AAML fellows, an honor extended to select family lawyers in the U.S.

Doele, Quinn, and Thacker say that there are services a larger law firm can offer that smooth the way for clients, particularly in complex cases.

“Also, we all get together every morning and sort of bullpen our cases,” says Quinn. “I’ve got these  great people to bounce things off of, and I also have backup I know I can use. That’s hard to put a quantitative measure on, but it’s bound to help our clients.”

Another advantage Miller Johnson will be able to offer is a new one: the group has just started a blog.

Doele, who Quinn says was “the driving force” behind the move, has kicked off the blog with its first entry, a “welcome” dated Oct. 10. The intention is to post something new on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, highlighting general family law issues and topics in Michigan and recent cases in the news.

Such topics as adoption, alimony/spousal support, child custody and visitation, child support, civil union/gay marriage, education expense, domestic violence, financial planning and tax issues, property, health and retirement benefits, and collaborative law will be  the substance of the posts, to be written by all members of the practice group.

The blog is available at www.michigan-divorcelawyers.com or through www.millerjohnson.com’s family law page.

“Our main method of attracting new clients is just the traditional word of mouth,” Doele comments. “But I do think potential clients now go and check lawyers out on the Internet. So the blog is an added something we can provide to make them feel confident in choosing us.”

The group will also “tweet” when something new is posted.

Another benefit of Thacker’s joining the firm is her expertise in mediation, although Miller Johnson attorneys were already recognized in that area. Quinn, a former chair of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Family Law Section for which Thacker is chair-elect, devotes much of his career to mediation and ADR, as does Keiser in Kalamazoo. Both are listed in “Best Lawyers” for Family Law and Family Law Mediation.

“We’ve had more exposure with cases along the lakeshore and northern counties, and the Kalamazoo office with counties all the way to the Indiana border. Not only do we see an increase in divorce cases in general, but also a rise in mediation for lawyers in those areas,” Quinn says.

Thacker expands that expertise, which will assist the Miller Johnson team in extending mediation services to both clients and the attorneys at small and solo firms in a wide swathe of counties.

As Thacker, who currently serves on the boards of ACLU of Michigan as well as the Behavioral Resources and Institute for Neuropsychological Services (BRAINS) Foundation, puts it, “If you think about it, 52% of marriages end in divorce, and that’s a huge population. Add business to it and the K-1s and income info, and business valuations, forensic accounting — and then add the emotional piece individuals are going through. If, through mediation or any other way, you can help people get through a difficult emotional
process, then that’s our mission, all of ours.”

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