READ ALL ABOUT IT: Attorney has a fascination for headline-making events

It may seem unusual for a business attorney to have a framed newspaper story about the 1929 Wall Street Crash on his office wall, but Richard Roth has a penchant for collecting headline-grabbing material.

His wall of fame includes the 1944 Allied D-Day invasion in Normandy, the 1969 moon landing, the 1937 Hindenburg explosion, the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, Roosevelts death in 1945, Nixons resignation in 1974, Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarins 1961 voyage as the first human in outer space, and the infamous headline in the 1948 Chicago Tribune touting, Dewey Defeats Truman, a gaffe that was printed in 14 different editions.

One client particularly was intrigued by the 1927 headline about Lindbergh flying from New York to Paris in 33 hours, a monumental feat in which the aviator caught a cat-nap along the way while flying through storms.

My client remembered reading the article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle when he was a boy, says Roth, a shareholder with Maddin Hauser in Southfield. Viewing the headlines is always of interest to my clients. While I started collecting headlines as a child, over the years I traded with others who share this same hobby. You can buy newspapers just like any collectible. There are all kinds of people that buy, sell, and trade old newspapers.

A headline in The Miami Herald relays news of Kennedys assassination.

It would be worth a lot more if the newspaper was from Dallas, Roth says of the story about that fateful day in 1963. So when Obama was elected, my daughter obtained the headline from The Chicago Tribune. I dont collect these for the value, but getting it from the city in which the event occurred is special.

Roths son Matthew, an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit, has the 1934 newspaper headline G-Men Get Dillinger in his office.

Its always a topic of conversation, Roth says. They dont use the term G-Men anymore, but that was from the original newspaper when Dillinger was gunned down in Chicago in front of a movie theater.

Roths own career would make great headlines. He graduated from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After two years in a junior executive training program at Chrysler, he changed course and earned a law degree from the University of Michigan, graduating cum laude.

But he didnt stray far from the automotive world. Today, he counts top automotive executives and suppliers among his clients.

Were talking about individuals with airplanes, jets, helicopters, and homes around the world, he says of his clientele. The estate planning is just fascinating. I love working with the clients and getting to know them on, literally, an intimate basis. Its just very, very rewarding.

Estate planning has been the cornerstone of his practice.

I would start with estate planning with clients and, before you knew it, I was representing their company or their real estate business and doing much of their legal work. I tell people that one-third of my work is estate planning, one-third is real estate, and one-third corporate law.

With less real estate work in the current economy, his workload is now more of a 50-50 split of corporate and estate planning.Roth has handled the legal work for the development and construction of numerous shopping centers.

I love the whole concept of buying vacant land, working with architects and contractors on the plans from a legal point of view, doing the leases for the shopping center, working with the agents, and seeing the end result. You start from nothing and you literally create a large shopping center. Doing this has always been thrilling to me.

Roth co-authored the statute exempting from Michigan sales tax the purchase of high-tech computers used in computer integrated manufacturing and CAD-CAM. Twenty years ago, design engineering firms were landing contracts from automotive companies, but needed specialized computers. The sales tax, single business tax, and income tax were eating into profits leaving Michigan companies unable to compete with similar businesses in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio that did not pay sales tax for computers used in computer integrated manufacturing. Fortunately, the bill became an act and helped Michigan businesses.

Roth approached then-Governor James Blanchard about changing the single business tax for those in computer integrated manufacturing. At that time, one client in Detroit was designing an Iraqi truck plant. Blanchard agreed to change the law after the election.

But he lost that election and Engler threw me out of his office and wouldnt consider it, Roth says. And an industry that we had here design engineers with 15,000 people working in metropolitan Detroit, in good, professional jobs doesnt exist anymore. The companies are no longer in business. They simply couldnt afford it in our tax climate.

Aside from his professional responsibilities, Roth has displayed a special volunteer spirit throughout his career, formerly serving on the Board of Trustees of Sinai Hospital, Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, the Anti-Defamation League, Temple Beth Jacob and Knollwood Country Club, and as president of the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation and the Sinai Health Care Foundation. He currently serves on the advisory board of Project Chessed, providing medical benefits to impoverished Jewish families, with more than 450 doctors offering free medical care.

We have arrangements with drug companies and hospitals for these patients prescriptions and hospital care its just a wonderful thing, he says.

He also was one of the founders of and served on the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Fund, created after Sinai Hospital was sold to the Detroit Medical Center, with approximately $65 million in proceeds. A separate fund was set up as a 501(c)(3) organization to disburse money in charitable grants for health care purposes for the city of Detroit and the metropolitan area.

The Jewish Fund gives out millions of dollars per year, not just to Jewish causes, but to any health care cause that they believe can make a difference, he
says. It really has made a difference in many cases.

By Sheila Pursglove

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