Kulas-Dominguez moves from solo practice to Warner Norcross

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by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Peter M. Kulas-Dominguez has found a new home in Grand Rapids, both literally and figuratively.

As a child who moved around a lot,   Kulas-Dominguez spent a lot of his early life in Arizona, but says, “My dad was in the military for 20 years, so I have lived all over — in Germany, in Jersey, in Texas, and different cities in  Arizona.”

He went to Arizona State University and received a B.A. in English Literature, graduating in three years cum laude. He then worked for a law firm in Phoenix, which convinced him he wanted to go to law school.

When Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School (then Thomas M. Cooley Law School) offered him a scholarship, he decided to come to Grand Rapids.

He has been here ever since, and plans to stay.

After his graduation, Kulas-Dominguez hung out his own shingle, specializing in family law, including litigation. At the same time, he remained active in the professional community, first serving on the board of, and chairing, the Young Lawyers Section of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and then with the American Inns of Court Gerald R. Ford Chapter.

But perhaps most fortuitous for Kulas-Dominguez was his taking advantage of the GRBA mentoring program. “I’m thankful and blessed the Grand Rapids Bar partnered me up with Ric Roane,” he says, referring to the well-known Warner Norcross and Judd family law attorney who is now his colleague.

As Kulas-Dominguez’s practice grew over the seven years of its existence, he began to consider letting go of the business end of lawyering and joining a larger firm. As of April, the result has been Kulas-Dominguez finding a new home at Warner Norcross, and he could not be happier about the decision.

“Everybody’s been great,” he says. “There’s genuine camaraderie at the firm, and they’ve been so welcoming.”

As an example, he notes that he held three contracts with the family court when he was on his own, and Warner Norcross has allowed him to continue working on some ongoing cases with his “tiny little clients.”

He explains, “I ceased my abuse and neglect and delinquency contracts, but I’ll still be able to work on some of Neglect and Abuse cases. It impressed me with Warner they allowed me to keep working on this, that they understood. These kids have so much other change and discord in their lives; but at least their attorney will be the same.”

Kulas-Dominguez joins Warner’s Family Law Group, and will continue doing litigation as well as advising on such matters as divorce, LGBT family issues,  spousal support, custody, child abuse and neglect, complex business valuation and nuptial agreements.

Kulas-Dominguez admits that one of the most difficult transitions for him has been to having others to help him.

“The biggest change is that before I didn’t have a legal assistant or para-

legal. Here I have someone who can help me out with X Y and Z, and it’s different. I still have to work on figuring that out — what can be delegated, who can best do it. I certainly don’t want to say that’s been a negative adjustment though,” he says, laughing.

If he could give one piece of advice to lawyers just starting out, it would be to do as much networking as possible.

“We don’t get where we are by ourselves, whether it’s through family, spouses, friends, colleagues, people we meet along the way, whatever the case may be. When I talk to fledgling attorneys, I always tell them to get involved and network as much as they can, and make sure that they’re always on their A game,” he says.

In addition to the GRBA Young Lawyers Section, of which he is an enthusiastic supporter, Kulas-Dominguez got involved right out of the gate with the Justice Foundation of West Michigan lip-sync fund-raiser “Just Lips.”  The talented performer has been a fox, one of the undead, and a member of the Rhythm Nation, and loved every minute of it — both for the fun it provided and for its networking potential.

He is also on the council of the State Bar’s Family Law and new LGBTQA sections. Currently, both those sections are collaborating on a journal, and Kulas-Dominguez is working with a 2L from Ohio on a major article as well as co-editing.

He credits his husband, Carlos, with pushing him to be more social in order to continue to benefit his career. The two married in 2013, but even before that, he says, Carlos urged him to keep making connections — including through Facebook, where Peter says Carlos has a great presence.

“He’s definitely more social than I am,” Kulas-Dominguez says. The couple makes their home in Grand Rapids.

 He also credits his time at WMU-Cooley for making him comfortable with the networking process.

“I was very actively involved at Cooley,” he says, “with the student bar association, the LGBTQA group, I was the Westlaw representative, I led a study group. I always tell young students and attorneys it’s important to make sure people know who you are.”

His path through law school was not always easy. While at WMU-Cooley, following advice based on observations by the caring staff, he found out he had undiagnosed ADHD. “Here I was, 27, meeting with the academic resource advisor who asked me if I’d ever been tested, and that was the first time I’d even considered it. I explored that option, and was diagnosed with it, so they made accommodations such as allowing me to take tests in a room by myself. If you have ADHD, every small thing can be a distraction to take away from doing your best,” he said.

Kulas-Dominguez will continue to do pro bono legal work, as he has in the past for domestic violence victims through the YWCA West Central Michigan.

But mainly he will focus on his family law career at Warner Norcross. “I think I’m going to see some more challenging cases now that I’m really able to focus and not deal with some of the ancillary duties of running a business, due to the wonderful staff I have here.?I’ll be able to handle more cases than I was before,” he says.

 

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