Transaction satisfaction: Area attorney appreciates problem-solving approach

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Prior to joining Howard & Howard 15 years ago, attorney John Logan was a client.

“In hindsight, that experience has served me well,” he said. “To this day, I not only draw on technical skills I learned while in-house, but also have a better perspective of the issues sometimes facing clients, which are not always apparent to the private practitioner.”     

After graduating from Detroit College of Law (now Michigan State University College of Law), Logan landed a position as Associate General Counsel at Enthone Inc., a global chemical company with a strong technology base specializing in proprietary electrochemical plating applications used in the computer, telecommunications, automotive and functional/decorative industries.     

“Working in house was a great experience,” he noted, adding that not only was he exposed to the ordinary, day to day, type of transactions that affect most corporations — such as corporate organization and governance, labor and employment, real estate and supply chain matters — but in particular also a high volume of technology related transactions, including patent, trademark, and copyright licensing, joint development arrangements, technology exchanges and joint venturing.   

Transactional work was a good career fit.

“I enjoyed being on the front end of a deal, and always preferred working on matters where the relationship with the other party was cooperative rather than adversarial,” he said. 

Logan said he also had “the wonderful good fortune of working under the direction of Enthone’s then-General Counsel, Richard Mueller.”

“Dick was a very generous and patient patent lawyer who spent a great deal of time teaching me the finer points of contract drafting and negotiation,” Logan said. “He always approached each transaction with the basic philosophy that it should be fair to both parties.  I always respected him for that, and try never to lose sight of that in any transaction I’m working on today.”     

In 2000, Enthone’s parent company ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Co.) sold the business to the London-based Cookson Group, PLLC. .The then-general vounsel at Cookson recognized that while Cookson didn’t need two legal departments, it couldn’t absorb all the work that Enthone and its affiliated companies still needed done.

“So those of us in house at Enthone migrated to private practice with the benefit of having a corporate client to represent,” Logan said.   

For Logan, joining Howard & Howard in 2000 was a logical choice; Enthone had used the law firm occasionally for litigation and transactional support and he was familiar with the firm. In addition, a close friend and law school classmate, Lee Sartori, was a partner at the firm, and at that same time the two were working on a significant real estate transaction for Enthone. 

“That particular transaction required several areas of expertise, including environmental, business, and tax. I liked the people I had met at the firm, enjoyed working with them, and appreciated their pragmatic problem-solving approach,” Logan said.     

While the transition to private practice was easy, it wasn’t until the first or second year at Howard & Howard that Logan realized how unique his experience in-house had been.     

“Like many things in life, we gravitate to those things which interest us and for which there is a need,” he said. “I was surprised to learn how few non-patent transactional attorneys in private practice have experience with technology-related transactions. Suddenly I found myself drafting and negotiating a variety of different technology based transactions for
companies in the automotive, gaming, manufacturing, and specialty chemical industries.”     

And while many of these transactions sometimes include high dollar amounts and can take months, or even years to conclude, Logan noted that it’s not the amount of money at stake that makes a transaction satisfying, but  the practical solutions and cost containment that bring value to a client. 

“I’ve found that sometimes the smaller transactions can be the most satisfying — particularly in cases where individuals, as opposed to corporations, have their future at stake,” he said.    

According to Logan, entering the legal field was a logical choice that stems from his Jesuit education at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School & Academy, and later at Loyola University in Chicago, where he received a B.A. in history and English, and was a member of the Phi Alpha Theta Honors Society.     

“My early education emphasized strong critical thinking, and writing skills, with an obligation to serve others for the ‘greater good,’” he said. “As a profession, the law satisfies a sense of civic responsibility, contribution and willingness to help others.”

Logan said he also wanted “to be challenged in my career to problem solve, and to help others.  Private practice has, in many ways, satisfied these goals.”     

Born in Cleveland, Logan moved to Michigan at a very young age and grew up in Bloomfield Hills. He currently makes his home in Rochester Hills with his wife of 18 years (also an
attorney who practices in-house) and their three sons.     

In his leisure time, he enjoys outdoor activities and is an avid waterfowl/upland bird hunter.

Logan also enjoys fly-fishing, canoeing and refurbishing wooden boats, and he’s an active member of Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and passionate about outdoor conservation. 

At the same time, Logan is a  sponsor of Think Detroit/PAL, a nonprofit organization that organizes youth football, basketball, baseball, track, soccer and many other recreational sport leagues around Detroit; and the Warming Center, an urban soup kitchen at the historic Sts. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church on St. Antoine Street, next to the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law and across the street from the GM Renaissance Center.

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