Legal People

Michigan Indigent Defense ­Commission

Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced the appointment of Kristina Robinson to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.

The commission was created as a result of efforts to improve legal representation for low-income criminal defendants. In October 2011, Snyder issued Executive Order 2011-12 establishing the initial Indigent Defense Advisory Commission responsible for recommending improvements to the state’s legal system. These recommendations served as the basis for legislation to address this need as well as called for the 15-member Indigent Defense Commission the governor signed into law in July 2013.

Robinson is general counsel for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and previously served as the director of legal research and analysis. She is a member of the Major County Sheriffs of America legal affairs committee, the legal officers section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and is a board member for Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan.

Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a law degree form the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. She will serve as the nominee of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Kevin Offner.

Robinson will serve the remainder of a four-year term expiring April 1, 2019.


American Board of  Trial Advocates

The Michigan Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is pleased to announce its new slate of officers for Calendar Year 2018.

ABOTA is a national organization of trial lawyers with more than 7,500 members, whose primary mission is the preservation of the right to a civil jury trial as guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Membership in ABOTA is granted on an invitation only basis with criteria being predicated upon the invitee having demonstrated excellent trial skills, as well as integrity and civility in the conduct of his or her practice.

Those newly named officers are:

• President: Wilson A. Copeland, II.

• President Elect: Thomas W. Waun.

• Treasurer: Robert F. Riley.

• Membership Chair: Thomas R. Behm.

• Secretary: Lawrence T. Garcia.


Law Offices of Kurt A Olsen PC

Attorney Kurt Olson recently was elected to the Probate and Estate Planning Council of the State Bar of Michigan. The Council is comprised of 23 of the state’s top probate and estate planning attorneys and is the governing body for the probate matters in the state.

“We are often asked by legislatures to pipe in when they want to propose legislation that is relevant to our areas of law,” says Olson. “A lot of times, we will also provide testimony to the legislatures on pending bills.”
Olson owns the Law Office of Kurt A Olson PC, located in Plymouth, a law firm that specializes in estate planning, elder care, and business succession issues.

“Much of my practice is devoted to planning for business owners or families so they can live a full and vital life and pass a legacy on to others,” says Olson. “I want to help them protect and preserve their assets, their businesses, their resources, and their legacies. I help people plan for the continuation of their life as well as how they want to distribute their property upon their death.”

Olson grew up in Plymouth, where his father worked as a librarian and his mother a counselor. Olson attended the University of Michigan, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He worked for General Motors for several years before returning to school to study law. He earned his law degree from Wayne State University Law School.

Prior to establishing his law office, Olson served as the assistant prosecuting attorney for the city of River Rouge. He also served as the city prosecuting attorney for the Building Department in the City of Ecorse.

Olson lives in Canton with his family, and is involved with the Rotary Club and other volunteer organizations.


Resnick Law PC

The National Advocates is pleased to announce that Julie Trepeck Harris of Resnick Law PC in Bloomfield Hills has been selected for inclusion into its Top 100 attorneys in Michigan for Bankruptcy Law, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers as recognition of their superior skills and qualifications in the field. The selection for this list is limited to only 100 attorneys in each state who have demonstrated their extraordinary abilities with superior results, a high level of peer respect, and client satisfaction.

The National Advocates is a professional organization comprised of lawyers from across the country who have demonstrated exceptional qualifications in their area of the law, including Matrimonial and Family Law, Employment Law, Social Security Disability Law, Immigration Law, Bankruptcy Law and Estates, Wills and Trusts.

With the selection for membership by The National Advocates, Harris has exemplified superior qualifications, leadership skills, and case results as a legal professional. The selection process for this honor is based on a multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third party research.


Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

Officials with Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP recently announced that the firm served as counsel on more than 265 corporate transactions that closed in 2017, once again topping the previous year’s total and setting a firm record.

The total value of transactions came in at more than $15.8 billion, with the number of transactions growing 12 percent over 2016. Honigman’s Corporate Department has grown rapidly over the past five years, with transaction values more than tripling, and the overall number of closed transactions nearly doubling.

“Honigman’s outstanding group of corporate attorneys, supported by talented and dedicated specialists in various legal disciplines, handles deals for a wide range of prominent corporations and private equity funds and sponsors, which drives the firm’s national reputation in mergers and acquisitions,” said Donald J. Kunz, chair of Honigman’s Corporate Department. “Our commitment to the highest client service standards makes Honigman a top choice for middle market sale and investment transactions.”

In 2017, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business once again ranked Honigman’s Corporate/M&A practice as number one in Michigan. Honigman has stood alone in Michigan’s Band 1 ranking nearly every year for the past 15 years.

In addition to this recognition, Pitchbook, which provides comprehensive data regarding corporate transactions, ranked the firm 11th in the U.S. for private equity deals and 21st globally. Honigman was also ranked 18th in the U.S. and 28th globally for mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, Pitchbook ranked the firm 28th for venture capital transactions in the U.S.

Notably, Pitchbook ranked Honigman third in the number of private equity deals in 2017 in the Great Lakes region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

One of the more significant national transactions for Honigman in 2017 was the firm’s representation of tronc Inc., the parent company of The Chicago Tribune and other significant media outlets, in its acquisition of The New York Daily News.

Honigman’s representation of North American Bancard LLC, headquartered in Troy, in its acquisition of Total Merchant Services Inc., located in Woodland Hills, Calif., was one of the firm’s most significant Michigan-based transactions.

Honigman is a business law firm that serves clients in North America, Europe, Asia and other business centers around the world. Headquartered in Detroit, the firm has offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing.


Secrest Wardle

Secrest Wardle Executive Partner Margaret Scott was recently appointed to the State Bar of Michigan’s Representative Assembly.

The Representative Assembly was formed to increase meaningful contact between members of the bar and the Board. Their mission is to improve the proportion of members who may actively participate in bar policy-making. The Board of Commissioners implements policy adopted by the Assembly and establishes policy for the State Bar between Assembly meetings not inconsistent with prior action of the Assembly.

Scott is a member of Secrest Wardle’s Motor Vehicle Litigation, Municipal and Property, Fire and Casualty Practice Groups. Scott served as an Oakland County assistant prosecuting attorney from 1988 to 2008. The majority of her career was spent as a special prosecutor of the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office where she was elevated to the office of chief of the Auto Theft Unit in 1996. As a felony trial prosecutor, Scott prosecuted crimes involving insurance fraud, identity theft, embezzlement and arson of insured property. During her time with the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, she successfully prosecuted nearly 100% of the cases assigned to the Auto Theft Unit.

Scott was named to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly Class of 2015 “Women in the Law.”  She is a member of the North Central Regional Chapter-International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, Michigan Chapter-International Association of Arson Investigators and Michigan Help Eliminate Auto Theft Committee.  Scott is past chair of the Michigan Anti-Car Theft Campaign Committee. She has also served as chair of the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee’s Governmental Resource Committee. During her years of service to the people of the State of Michigan, Scott testified before the Michigan State Senate and House on various proposed legislation involving auto theft and insurance fraud.  She currently serves on the Women Officials Network (WON) Board of Directors. WON envisions more women in leadership positions at all levels of government.
Scott has practiced insurance defense litigation since 2009 as private counsel for various companies. During this time, she defended claims involving automobile and structure arson fires, No-Fault PIP, third party, and uninsured motorists.

In addition, the Secrest Wardle Executive Committee is pleased to announce that effective January 1, 2018, Troy attorneys Paul Shkreli and Javon R. David were promoted to the position of partner.


Bowman and Brooke LLP

Bowman and Brooke is pleased to announce that Carmen M. Bickerdt has been named partner in the firm’s Detroit office, effective January 1, 2018.

Bickerdt represents both national and international clients in product liability, toxic tort and warranty litigation often involving claims of personal injury, negligence and premises liability. She received her law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.


Plunkett Cooney

Claudia D. Orr, a senior attorney in the Detroit office of Plunkett Cooney, was recently elected to the board of directors of the Detroit Society of Human Resource Management (Detroit SHRM).

Orr, who has served as chair of the association’s legal affairs committee since 2014, was elected to serve as secretary during her two-year term, which began on Jan. 1.

For more than 15 years, Orr has been a member of Detroit SHRM, which was previously known as the Human Resources Association of Greater Detroit. Starting in 2002, she began serving as chair of the organization’s Legal Affairs Committee and held this position until she was elected to the board of directors from 2009 to 2012, during which time she served as vice president of Legal Affairs.

Established in 1988, Detroit SHRM is the largest Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)-affiliated chapter in Michigan with members representing diverse companies located in Southeast Michigan.
Membership includes practitioners in all HR disciplines and professional levels, ranging from senior human resources officers to mid-level managers and specialists to students.

Orr focuses her practice primarily in the area of labor and employment law. Her clients have included Fortune 500 companies, local governments, tier-one automotive suppliers, nationwide distributors of pharmaceutical products, churches, nonprofit agencies, restaurants, and wholesale food distributors.

As a counselor, Orr advises clients on employment/labor matters, including hiring, complex ADA/Family and Medical Leave Act/STD-LTD/Worker’s Disability Compensation Act issues, discipline/discharge and labor grievances/arbitration matters. She also defends employers in litigation and arbitration hearings involving allegations of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, FMLA violations, wage/benefit issues, whistleblower retaliation, public policy discharge, unpaid commissions, and pension and other ERISA claims, etc.

A regular contributor to Plunkett Cooney’s Sophisticated Employer blog, Orr has received numerous honors, including Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating-AV Preeminent™ Peer Review rating (Judicial Edition) and inclusion among the Best Lawyers in America® for Employment Law - Management and Litigation for many years. Orr is a member of the Master Lawyers and Employment and Labor Law sections of the State Bar of Michigan, and she regularly serves as a mediator and employment arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.