Legal People (April 12)

Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker PLLC

Detroit law firm Barris, Sott, Denn, & Driker PLLC is pleased to announce that two of its members, Rebecca Simkins and Elizabeth A. Carrie presented before entrepreneurs at TechTown in Detroit for the FastTrac New Venture Program on March 30. The topic of the program was “Legal Structures and Management Teams.” Carrie spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of various legal forms of doing business and key factors influencing the decision of which legal form to use.

Simkins discussed the selection of professional advisors and their legal responsibilities to the company.

Simkins is an employment lawyer who represents businesses in civil litigation and drafts employment policies and contracts. She is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Law.

Carrie practices in the areas of taxation, corporate, partnership and limited liability company law, estate planning and administration. She has been involved in tax and non-tax related planning for business relationships of all types, with a particular emphasis on partnership and limited liability company issues. She is a graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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 associate attorney, Ashley K. Rasmussen. Brian A. Potestivo, president and founder, made the announcement. Rasmussen joins the firm’s Rochester Hills group of attorneys and will represent clients in the landlord/tenant department.

“We are pleased to have Ashley join our team as an associate attorney,” said Potestivo. “We look forward to Ashley joining our growing landlord/tenant department.”

Rasmussen earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University, where she majored in General Business and minored in English and Economics. She then went on earn her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law with a concentration in Litigation.

Prior to joining Potestivo & Associates, Ashley worked on debtor side bankruptcy for a law firm in Grayling, Michigan.

Clark Hill PLC

Clark Hill is proud to announce it has become a community partner of the Southeast Michigan program of LEAVE A LEGACY®. Through their partnership, Clark Hill maintains its commitment to the community by supporting and promoting the need for individuals to support their favorite charities through a charitable bequest in their wills or estate plans.

Frank, Haron, Weiner, and Navarro

The Troy law firm of Frank, Haron, Weiner, and Navarro is proud to announce that David L. Haron has been selected as a 2010 “Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Haron is a principal in the law firm and represents whistleblowers in cases in federal and state “QuiTam” lawsuits in connection with false claims filed with the federal and state governments. Haron has assisted the United States as well as individual states in the recovery of nearly another $100 million.

Haron is also an arbitrator and mediator for the American Arbitration Association and represents numerous businesses and individuals in real estate and commercial transactions, business planning, and litigation. Haron graduated in 1969 from the University of Michigan Law School.

Haron has written and spoken regarding provider fraud against Medicare and Medicaid. He has been active in the State Bar of Michigan and the Oakland County Bar Association, and is a past chairman of the Professionalism committees of both associations.

Haron is a member of the boards of C.A.T.C.H., Sparky Anderson’s Charity for Children, and J.A.R.C., as well as the former chairman of the Farmington Hills Planning Commission, and the past president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation.

Kelly Cawthorne

Kelley Cawthorne, a government relations law firm in Michigan, recently announced the formation of a new Healthcare Regulatory Practice Group. Leading this effort in an of-counsel capacity are attorney Carrie Linderoth and consultant Brett H. Henderson. Linderoth and Henderson between them have more than 25 years experience in the areas of healthcare policy, regulation, and finance.

“As demonstrated by the reform debate in Washington, healthcare is quickly becoming a major issue for all of our clients,” said firm co-founder and former Michigan Attorney General Frank J. Kelley.

“Our new healthcare regulatory group will help both public and private sector clients advance their interests in this vital area,”  added Kelley, the longest-serving state attorney general in U.S. history.

“I can’t think of anything more important to our country than the need to expand healthcare access while at the same time holding the line on runaway medical inflation. Our new healthcare regulatory group will help clients responsibly balance these sometimes competing concerns.”

Since its founding in 1999 by Kelley and former Michigan House Republican Leader Dennis O. Cawthorne the firm has been at the leading edge of the evolving nature of government relations.

“Term Limits has changed everything in Michigan,”  added Kelley. “Due to the relative weakening of the legislative branch, clients interested in affecting healthcare policy must pay more attention to key executive branch agencies such as the Department of Community Health and the Certificate of Need Commission.”

Henderson previously served as chief-of-staff in the Michigan State Senate where he helped oversee Michigan’s largest and most complex budget – the Department of Community Health. He also worked in marketing and as a multi-client lobbyist.

An experienced attorney, Linderoth has represented hospitals and health care providers for over a decade in the crucial area of expanding access to healthcare via Michigan’s Certificate of Need process.

Nawrocki Center for Elder & Family Law, PLLC

Nancy C. Nawrocki of the Nawrocki Center for Elder & Family Law, PLLC has joined the National Care Planning Council in educating veterans about the Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit.

She specializes in helping veterans, members of a veteran's family, or the surviving spouse of a veteran understand how to obtain long term care benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Most veterans are not aware of the benefits available through veteran’s health care, through state veteran’s homes, home renovation grants, or for two disability income programs called Compensation and Pension.

Miller Canfield

The law firm of Miller Canfield announces that principal Leonard D. Givens has been appointed Diversity Director. He will oversee implementation of the firm’s expanded commitment to develop and maintain a multicultural workforce.

“Respect and inclusion are core values of our firm,” said Givens, former CEO, former leader of the firm’s Labor and Employment Group and a Miller Canfield lawyer for 39 years. “We also want to better mirror the global clients we represent.”

In addition to recruiting and retaining talent, Miller Canfield’s diversity plan includes providing continuous in-house training for all members of its legal team and expanding internal affinity groups and relationships with external organizations.

Givens was recently honored by the State Bar of Michigan’s Labor and Employment Section with the 2010 Distinguished Service Award. The award was presented to Givens by Megan P. Norris, Miller Canfield principal and leader of the Labor and Employment Group, on January 22 at a sold-out dinner with family, friends and colleagues at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Givens earned his law degree from Howard University School of Law and his B.S. from Mansfield State College.

Giarmarco, Mullins, & Horton, P.C.

Giarmarco, Mullins, & Horton, P.C. is pleased to welcome Jennifer M. Savel. Savel concentrates her practice in the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration, and related tax matters.

Her experience extends from the drafting of simple wills and the probate of estates for pro bono clients to complex trust drafting, succession planning and administration of multi-million dollar trusts and estates.

Savel is well-versed in the preparation of federal estate tax returns and has negotiated federal estate tax audits with the Internal Revenue Service. She also represents clients in probate and trust contests, as well as guardianship and conservatorship matters.

Savel is a co-author of “Administering Decedents’ Estates,” ICLE’s Michigan Basic Practice Handbook. 

Savel earned her undergraduate degree from Hillsdale College and her law degree from University of Toledo. She is a member of the American Bar Association and the Oakland County Bar Association.

Neuman Anderson P.C.

Jennifer M. Grieco has joined Southfield-based Neuman Anderson P.C. as partner. Neuman Anderson Managing Partner Kenneth Neuman made the announcement.

Grieco focuses her practice in complex commercial litigation. Her experience encompasses a broad range of commercial disputes with a particular emphasis on business tort claims including professional malpractice, contract claims, shareholder disputes and construction litigation.

Prior to joining Neuman Anderson, Grieco served as a shareholder with Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth, & Heller PC and Sommers Schwartz PC.

She is a 1993 graduate of the University of Toledo and a 1997 graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law.

A frequent speaker and published author, Grieco currently serves as the president-elect of the Oakland County Bar Association. She also serves as a trustee of the Oakland County Bar Foundation and as a member of the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Council, American Bar Association and Michigan Association for Justice.

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP is pleased to announce that Rebecca L. Donnini, a partner in the firm’s Trusts and Estates Department, was elected to the Board of Directors for HAVEN, Oakland County’s center for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence and assault.

Donnini’s law practice focuses on counseling and advising high net-worth individuals in their personal legal matters, including tax and estate planning, charitable giving, real estate and business succession issues. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, New York and California and assists clients with multi-jurisdictional assets. In 2008 and 2009, she was recognized as a “Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers.

In addition to her volunteer work with HAVEN, Donnini serves on the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) Founders Junior Council Board of Directors, is a member of the DIA’s Robert H. Tannahil Society and a member of the Duke University Alumni Association.

Donnini earned her law degrees from Duke University School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan.

Additionally, the firm is also pleased to announce that Denise J. Lewis, a partner in the firm’s Real Estate Department, was elected to the Board of Trustees for the McGregor Fund, a private foundation headquartered in Detroit, which was created “to relieve the misfortunes and promote the well-being of mankind.” She also serves on Honigman’s Board of Directors and is the firm’s Diversity Partner.

Lewis’ law practice focuses on counseling and advising national and regional developers in complex transactions, including public-private partnerships, urban redevelopment and mixed-use development. She also assists clients with multi-tiered transactions involving shopping centers, office buildings, restaurants, hospitals, apartment complexes and industrial facilities. In addition, Lewis assists businesses in securing state and local development incentives and represents corporate borrowers, institutional lenders and major developers in loan transactions related to construction financing, bridge loans, permanent/end loans and loan workouts.

She has received recognition as one of Michigan’s leading real estate attorneys in “Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” from 2005 to 2009, in “Best Lawyer in America” in 2010 and in “Michigan Super Lawyers” from 2006 to 2009. Lewis earned the “Powerful Women in the Legal Field,”Award from the Rhonda Walker Foundation in 2008 and in the same year received the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Top Ten Michigan Business Woman Award.

Lewis serves a number of nonprofit organizations and is on the Board of Sinai Grace Hospital and the Detroit Zoological Society, as well as serves on the Finance and Investment Committee for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the Investment Committee for the Detroit Investment Fund.

Lewis earned her law degree from the University of Michigan, an M.A. from Wayne State University and a B.A. from Columbia University.

Miller Canfield

Now in its 96th year of ensuring “No Kiddie Without a Christmas,” the Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit has elected new officers and board members.

Among the recently elected: Mike Coakley was elected first vice president. He has been a member since 1987. Coakley is senior principal and leader of the Commercial Litigation Practice group at Miller Canfield.

Also elected were Ted Kedzierski and Magistrate Robert K.Costello. A Goodfellow member since 1994. Kedzierski is a self-employed certified public accountant and tax attorney. Costello has been with the Wayne County 36th District Court since 1989.

Last year, Detroit Goodfellows raised $1.33 million and distributed 36,000 holiday gift boxes to children in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, containing warm clothes, books, and toys. The Goodfellows’ goals for 2010 are to distribute 35,000 gift boxes and raise $1.3 million.

Founded in 1914, the Detroit Goodfellows is the original and oldest Goodfellow organization, and is not affiliated with any other Goodfellow group. It also sponsors an emergency dental program for children, awards scholarships through Wayne State University, provides free shoes to children in need, and helps send hundreds of needy children to camp each summer.

Assets International LLC

Assets International LLC has been recognized as one of the 2010 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” an awards program sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation and presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

The Southfield-based assets location company, a global leader in locating missing heirs and with reuniting individuals and companies with non-real estate cash assets, will be honored at an awards ceremony during the sixth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event, April 29 in Lansing.

Assets International is a licensed private investigation agency and industry leader in locating assets and their rightful owners, as well as missing heirs, all over the world. Using proven investigative techniques combined with an individualized approach to customer service, Assets International has successfully recovered millions of dollars for corporations and individuals and located many missing and unknown heirs on behalf of families and estates.

“To be chosen as one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch is an honor and testament to the hard work of everyone in our company,” said Assets International attorney and President Michael Zwick. “This recognition means we have been able to follow through in our promise to clients that we can assist unknown and missing heirs recover inheritances that are rightfully theirs.”

Companies making it to the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list are a group of second-stage companies, defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants.

Winners were selected by Michigan-based judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities.

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch is presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

 Information about the 2010 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch program can be found at For information about Michigan Celebrates Small Business, visit

Bodman LLP

Bodman LLP has established an affiliate office in Dallas with two attorneys experienced in real estate and banking transactions.

“We are expanding into Texas because we are following our clients that have operations there” said Bodman’s Chairman Ralph E. McDowell. “Many clients  with national operations prefer to assign us out-of-state work whenever possible because we provide top flight service and quality at rates that are below those of leading firms in many markets.

“Having attorneys based in Texas will open many new opportunities,” McDowell added. “The opportunities won’t just lead to work in Texas, they will create more work for our Michigan-based lawyers, as well.”

Staci Strong Heuvel and Misty Willcox, partners in Dallas-based real estate and banking boutique Strong & Willcox LLP, have joined Bodman as Of Counsel and will work on transactions that require a local presence in Texas or are governed by Texas law.

It is the first time in its 83-year history that Bodman will have attorneys based full-time outside of Michigan. In addition to its Detroit headquarters, Bodman maintains offices in Troy, Ann Arbor, and Cheboygan.

While Bodman will have attorneys based outside of the state for the first time, McDowell noted that the firm has represented clients in matters outside of Michigan for years.

“For example, we have attorneys who are admitted in California,” McDowell said. “They represent banks on loan transactions governed by California law on a daily basis. Those lawyers are in Detroit and bill at Michigan rates which provides our clients with real value compared to California firms.”

Bodman will initially focus its Texas practice on serving banks. Bodman’s Banking Practice Group is the largest of any Michigan-based law firm with 46 members and more than 80 financial institution clients.

In addition to their work with Bodman, Heuvel and Willcox will continue to serve certain clients separately as Strong & Willcox LLP. Heuvel and Willcox represent financial institutions and real estate owners and developers in a range of real estate-related transactions, including loan originations and workouts, acquisitions, dispositions, and construction projects.

Heuvel is a 2002 graduate of the University of Alabama Law School. Texas Monthly named her a “Rising Star” in real estate in 2010.

Willcox is a 2004 graduate of the Texas Tech School of Law where she was a Regents Scholar and a member of the Board of Barristers.

Before forming Strong & Willcox both Heuvel and Willcox practiced in the Real Estate and Banking practice at Thompson & Knight, one of the largest Texas-based business law firms with more than 350 attorneys in eleven offices.

Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy, & Sadler PLC

Richard T. Hewlett of Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy, & Sadler PLC will be a featured speaker at the “Sports Law: Recent Developments in Careers and Practice” conference presented on April 16, at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Ann Arbor. Hewlett will be speaking on “Drafting and Negotiating Coaching and Licensing Contracts” and “Sports Law and Networking.”

Hewlett concentrates his practice in areas of sports law, construction law, and business litigation. He represents professional athletes and coaches in a wide variety of matters, including employment contracts, marketing contracts, book deals and licensing matters.


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