Attorney enjoys the challenges of commercial litigation practice


A partner and litigator at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn in Detroit, Nick Gorga launched the Hatch Detroit project in 2011.

by Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

When an investor client faced millions of dollars in exposure in a dispute arising out of the purchase of a business, attorney Nicholas Gorga and his colleagues litigated the case as aggressively as possible after the other side refused to resolve the matter without a multimillion dollar payment by the investor.

“In the type of moment that only happens in the movies, we elicited a shocking admission from the other side that caused the mouths of all ten lawyers in the room to drop – and resulted within a few weeks in a com-
plete 180-degree turn and the other side paying our client a large settlement,” says Gorga, a partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn in Detroit.   

That’s the sort of challenge Gorga relishes. Vice Chair of Honigman’s Litigation Department and leader of the Private Equity Litigation Practice Group, he focuses on securities litigation, government investigations, and class action defense.

“The work we do in the litigation department for our private equity clients and their portfolio companies represents a unique intersection between business advice and traditional litigation,” he says. “Resolving these disputes requires understanding our client’s ideal outcome from the outset and managing the litigation to get to that result.

“We have a fantastic litigation department and a long line of great leaders in the department. I’m honored and privileged to be able to help lead the department and to come up with creative ways to deliver solutions to our clients as the business of litigation and dispute resolution continues to evolve. It sounds cliché, but I’ve always wanted to be a problem solver,” he adds. “My practice presents me every day with complex factual and legal issues for which there rarely is an easy answer – finding a path to those tricky solutions is what motivates me every day.

“I’ve always been on the absolute extreme end of the competitiveness scale.

Working as hard as possible to achieve the best possible result for our clients—to get wins for our clients in an environment where we always are keeping score—feeds that competitive fire.”

That fire has ignited several kudos; Gorga has been named to “Brooks’ Elite 40 Under 40” Class of 2013 by Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson; Crain’s “40 under 40 by Crain’s Detroit Business; a “Rising Star” 2009-2012 by Michigan Super Lawyers, and has been named among Michigan Super Lawyers for the past six years. A past pro bono chair for Honigman, the Federal Bar Association Eastern District of Michigan Chapter honored him in 2014 with a Pro Bono Certificate of Appreciation.

As the firm’s Recruitment and Retention partner, Gorga, a Troy native, sings the praises of the Detroit area.

“Detroit at this very moment offers an unprecedented opportunity for ambitious young lawyers with the desire to make an immediate impact in both the law and the community at large,” he says. “If you want early responsibility in your career, and a chance to play a firsthand role in the revitalization of one of America’s great cities, there is nowhere better to be than Detroit.”

Gorga himself made that move in 2008, moving back to the Motor City from Chicago.

“Moving back to Detroit was the best move I’ve ever made,” he says. “I vowed when I made that decision that I would do everything within my power to help with the revitalization of the city I love. It’s been amazing to watch the efforts made by so many individuals, corporations, nonprofits, and political leaders to invigorate the city and region.

“With so many talented and committed people swimming in the same direction, it’s hardly a surprise that Detroit is on an upward trajectory.”

Gorga is a cum laude alumnus of the University of Michigan Law School – and his firm often interviews legal Wolverines.

“Michigan Law encourages a diverse range of viewpoints and fosters an atmosphere where students can push each other intellectually to think about legal principles in new ways,” he says. “As Honigman’s hiring partner for the last five years, I’ve been privileged to see those qualities exhibited year after year in the students I meet.”

Gorga and his wife Shanna, daughter Ava, 11, and son Mason, 8, live in Birmingham, where Gorga is an avid golfer and runner, active in a number of nonprofits both large and small, and a tireless coach of as many of his kids’ sports as possible.

He also pours his entrepreneurial passion into Hatch Detroit, the nonprofit he launched in 2011 to “champion and support independent retail businesses in Detroit through funding, exposure, education, and mentoring.”   
Hatch Detroit has directly funded and launched five highly-successful retail businesses, including the home goods store “Hugh,” the Spanish restaurant “La Feria,” Batch Brewing Company, and Sister Pie, and assisted in the opening of another ten of its “alumni” businesses.

The latest success is Live Cycle Detroit, winner of a $50,000 grant in the 2015 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest. Other alums include 1701 Bespoke, Anthology Coffee, Bumbos, Busted Bra Shop, Detroit Design Center, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Detroit River Sports, Detroit Vegan Soul, and Rock City Eatery. Twelve “Alumni” operated as “pop-ups” on their way to opening brick and mortar stores.

Collectively, Hatch Detroit businesses have invested more than $2.4 million in Detroit and Hamtramck, and provided jobs for more than 70 employees.

Hatch Detroit has invested more than $200,000 through the Neighborhood Initiative in partnership with the Detroit Lions and Lions alumni Lomas Brown and Herman Moore, to enhance existing retail districts in neigh-
borhoods such as the West Village and the Livernois Corridor. The late Lions tight end Charlie Sanders was heavily involved, as were players Rob Sims, Cliff Avril and Mel Farr.

“Hatch Detroit has gone from a cool, upstart non-profit to a full-fledged retail business incubator,” Gorga says.