Following suit-- Wayne State alum to receive Stephen H. Schulman Award

By Mike Scott

Legal News

Alex DeYonker not only knew Wayne State University Law Professor Stephen Schulman, but as a student DeYonker took every class of Schulman's that he could.

During portions of his second and third years in law school, DeYonker also worked for Schulman as a student assistant, helping with research on the Michigan Business Corporation Act. Schulman was one of the authors who wrote the first book ever published on the legislation. The book is considered by many business lawyers throughout Michigan as an indispensable legal guide.

"He was a real leader in understanding and defining the business law issues in the state of Michigan," DeYonker said. "Every student wanted to take his classes and every student wanted to work with him."

Now a few decades later, DeYonker and Schulman are linked again. DeYonker has been named the recipient of the 2010 Stephen H. Schulman Award by the State Bar of Michigan Business Law Section. It marks the fifth year that the award has been given.

DeYonker, a Detroit native and long-time Grand Rapids area resident, now is the executive vice president and general counsel at Spartan Stores, Inc. with responsibilities for the chain of supermarkets located around the state. He previously worked for more than 25 years at Warner, Norcross and Judd, in Grand Rapids, but is well known throughout the state as a leading proponent of business law issues in Michigan.

DeYonker will be presented with the award at the Section's Annual Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23, in Novi.

The Grand Rapids native has had a long history with the Business Law Section, serving as chair from 1994-1995. He also has been the chair of the Securities Law Committee of the Section, as mid-year meeting chairman for three years, and as a council member for six years.

"The Section has done yeoman's work on business related statutes, but I really am proud of the business law educational programs that its leaders have developed," DeYonker said. "I also believe the Business Law Section Journal we produce offers high quality, practical analysis. I am proud to have been a part of a section that has such a major influence on business law issues throughout the state."

DeYonker matches the profile of a Schulman Award winner perfectly, said Eric Lark, former chair of the Section and senior partner at Kerr, Russell, and Weber in Detroit.

"Alex perfectly exemplifies everything the award is about," Lark said. "He is an outstanding practitioner, a true gentleman, and has contributed vastly to the Section and the business bar of the state."

DeYonker was gratified to learn of his recognition. He has a great admiration for the late Schulman.

"Together with (Wayne Law) Professor (Alan) Schenk, Professor Schulman taught a year-long course on business planning that was a tremendous review on such topics as course securities, corporate, and tax law," DeYonker said. "It is a great honor to have worked under Professor Schulman and to be honored with the award that bears his name is truly humbling."

Schenk is pleased to have heard that DeYonker is this year's recipient and plans to speak at the Schulman Award ceremony.

"(Knowing that DeYonker) was awarded this year would have been particularly gratifying to (Schulman)," Schenk said. "We took great pride in our alums, especially one who has done as well as Alex."

Past recipients of the Schulman Award include Cy Moscow, Martin Oetting, Hugh Makens and James Bruno in 2006; Charlie McCallum and Verne Hampton in 2007; G. Ann Baker in 2008; and Justin Klimko in 2009.

"It's not something I expected and came as a total shock," DeYonker said. "But it did bring me back and made me think about the times I spent with Professor Schulman. I had many mentors and he was one of them. I hope I have been able to mentor other lawyers in a similar way."

DeYonker currently remains Of Counsel at Warner, Norcross, and Judd. During his career there he has specialized in corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and securities law. He has regularly been listed as a Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyer. DeYonker graduated from Wayne State University Law School and has a B.A. in psychology from Michigan State University.

The Business Law Section established the Stephen H. Schulman Outstanding Business Lawyer Award in 2006 to be presented annually. The award honors Michigan business lawyers who consistently exemplify the characteristics the section seeks to foster and facilitate: the highest quality of professionalism; the highest quality of practice; and an unwavering dedication to service, ethical conduct, and collegiality within the practice of law.

Published: Wed, Sep 15, 2010