Two attorneys wed, highlight public museum, host legal community


By Cynthia Price

Legal News

Last week, a beautiful wedding in an extraordinary setting marked the beginning of a lifetime union between two local attorneys.

A significant number of other attorneys, judges, and political figures came to help Christopher Wirth and the former Amanda Van Essen celebrate.

Particularly satisfying to the couple was the presence at their Grand Rapids Public Museum event of Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge Kent Engle, who performed their wedding ceremony. The Wirths regard Judge Engle as instrumental in their meeting.

Amanda Van Essen Wirth is the chair of the Ottawa County Republican Party and in that role chaired its annual Lincoln Day fundraiser in 2015, held at her family’s horse farm.

Judge Engle suggested not only that Wirth, who has a high profile in Ottawa County through attorney Guardian Ad Litem work in the courts there, and is on the executive committee of the Ottawa County Bar Association, attend the event, but also that he should be sure to introduce himself to Van Essen.

Wirth took the judge’s advice and went to the fundraiser. “Then I saw Amanda walk out to open the event, and thought, ‘Who is this beautiful, intelligent woman and why don’t I know her?’ And I didn’t waste too much time asking her to lunch. Lunch turned into dinners, dinners turned into dating, and dating turned into a proposal,” Wirth explains.

Designated a Super Lawyer Rising Star in Business Law for the past three years, Wirth is the founder of Core Legal in Grand Rapids.  After getting his BA from Hope College, his MBA from Grand Valley State University and his JD, cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University, Wirth spent five years at Dykema Gossett. He was then at Rhoades McKee before starting Core Legal in 2013, where he is often joined by one or two other associates or subcontract attorneys.

Christopher Wirth’s practice is almost exclusively litigation, in commercial and construction law, criminal defense, and family law. “It’s funny. In the early days at Dykema, I went four years without ever being in the courthouse to now this past year, I tallied it up last week, and I did over 850 hearings or trials,” he says.

Amanda Van Essen Wirth also stays very busy, with her own solo practice concentrating on guardianships through Kent County Adult Protective Services, and an appointment as a Special Assistant Attorney General; Army National Guard Service, including as Special Victim Counsel representing victims of sexual assault and being in the JAG Corps with the 63rd Troop Command in Michigan, resulting in “a slew” of legal issues; and running an equine therapy program for veterans through her family’s farm.
The Grand Valley State University and Cooley Law School graduate  ran for Ottawa County’s state representative in 2014, losing by a narrow margin, and is now in the prestigious Republican Party leadership position. “I’m so excited to be the chair,” she says.
Why the Grand Rapids Public Museum? “I have a four-and-a-half-year-old son, and it’s his favorite place,” Christopher Wirth explains. “It’s also a beautiful venue, but we thought it was a great way to have him participate.”

Guests could ride on the carousel and avail themselves of all the museum’s exhibits. The guest list included such luminaries as Court of Appeals Judges Markey and Boonstra, Ottawa County Probate Court Judge Mark Feyen, 63rd District Court Judge Jeff O’Hara, U.S. Attorney Pat Miles, and a number of elected officials, plus  Congressional Rep. Bill Huizenga’s wife, who attended and whose daughter made refreshments for the occasion.

Chris Wirth shares his wife’s enthusiasm for public service, and intends to run for the Ottawa County judgeship to be vacated by Judge Ed Post.
The wedding was chosen as one of ten in the Huffington Post “Who Got Married This Weekend” feature.