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Steven Stapleton
Slapshot

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney Steven Stapleton brings the same grit and tenacity to his legal work as he does to his favorite sport of hockey — and enjoys nothing better than putting trial opponents in the penalty box.

“Hockey and the art of litigation are not so different — both require a great deal of preparation and sometimes require you to make quick decisions,” he says.

Stapleton, active in the hockey community both locally and on a national level, is senior counsel in the Litigation and Trial Group in the Grand Rapids office of Miller Canfield.

“I enjoy the practice of law and especially commercial litigation,” he says. “I’m an aggressive commercial litigator and I’ve had the opportunity to represent national, regional and local companies and local municipalities in a variety of challenging lawsuits.”

His goal — no pun intended — is to understand clients’ businesses and work with them to obtain the most favorable result.

Stapleton, named a Rising Star in 2009, has enjoyed an 18-year career with extensive experience in commercial litigation, including complex breach of contract claims, business disputes, municipal litigation, condemnation actions and employment litigation. He has tried cases before state and federal courts and successfully argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court. He also represents clients in arbitrations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Stapleton, who joined Miller Canfield in April, enjoys getting an “assist” from colleagues.

“The resources at Miller Canfield are incredible and allow me to make sure my clients get the necessary advice or assistance from the most capable attorneys,” he says.

A member of the Sports Lawyers Association, Stapleton manages to combine his love of hockey with legal work. For the past six years he has served as general counsel to the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association and is a member of the USA Hockey Legal Council. This year, he became a member of three USA Hockey committees: SafeSport Screening Appeal Committee, Legal Council Affiliate Agreement Compliance and Audit Committee, and Legal Council League Sanctioning Committee.

He previously served on the Board of Directors of the Grand Rapids Amateur Hockey Association, and as commissioner of the Griffins Amateur Hockey League. 

He also spent two years as president of the Kentwood Hockey & Skating Association, while his sons were playing hockey. A former East Kentwood High School athlete, in football, wrestling and track, Stapleton was asked by the former varsity coach to help lead the youth association, which has more than 300 youngsters playing from ages 3 up to the high school junior varsity-midget level.

“East Kentwood is a traditionally strong hockey program,” Stapleton says.  “One son graduated from East Kentwood in 2012 and served as the captain of the varsity hockey team and my other son is just starting his high school hockey career.”

Stapleton has counseled several hockey and non-hockey related sports entities in governance issues and contract matters, and has helped in implementing and monitoring background screening programs for amateur sports entities and helping investigate alleged violations of an organization’s abuse and ethics policies.

After attending Valencia Community College in Orlando, Fla., Stapleton went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in political science from Grand Valley State University and his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

“I jumped at the opportunity to come back to West Michigan after graduation,” he says. “I grew up in West Michigan and I’ve been actively involved in the community, serving on the board of Kentwood Public Schools and on a local planning commission.”

He served as city attorney for a local community and has practiced extensively throughout West Michigan, including the Lakeshore, where he was a member of Williams, Hughes & Stapleton in Muskegon. He has represented numerous Lakeshore communities including Muskegon County and the Cities of Norton Shores and Muskegon Heights.

Although partial to hockey and the Detroit Red Wings, Stapleton also enjoys college football and Major League baseball, as well as watching his two daughters play travel soccer and softball. He and his wife, Amy, enjoy traveling, visiting historical landmarks and museums.

“We particularly enjoy Savannah, and Charleston, South Carolina — where we were married in a 250-year-old house,” he says.

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