Legal legacy: Attorney heads Jackson's oldest firm

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Phil Curtis, managing attorney of Curtis & Curtis in Jackson, followed in the family footsteps and heads up the oldest law firm in the city, founded in 1901 by his grandfather, former probate judge George H. Curtis.

"Although there was never any family pressure for me to become a lawyer, the fact that my family had been in the profession for many years played a large role," he says. "My grandfather died when I was fairly young, but I remember him as a kind and gentle man who survived the raising of four boys."

The firm, located for the past 50 years on the 15th floor of the historic Jackson County Tower Building downtown, has grown from a sole practitioner to a full service legal organization. Curtis is joined by his partner Brad Brelinski, a support staff of three, and his son, Philip C. Curtis, serving Of Counsel.

A Jackson native and graduate of Jackson High School, Curtis has practiced law at the family law firm since 1970, after earning a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Michigan, and his juris doctorate from Wayne State University Law School.

Concentrating his practice on a broad spectrum of legal areas, Curtis represents many businesses in Jackson and throughout mid-Michigan, with an emphasis on transactions, including mergers and acquisitions; sales of businesses; business reorganizations; succession planning; complex real estate transactions; estate planning and employee benefits.

"I've most enjoyed the relationships I've been able to establish over the years with clients, other professionals and friends," he says. "The size of this community and the friendly atmosphere makes such relationships easy to establish.

"Jackson is a great place to work and raise a family. Few people from outside the area realize what a beautiful area we live in with all of the lakes, golf courses, recreational areas, and parks plus all of the arts within Jackson and the surrounding areas."

Curtis is also an investor in Classic Turning Inc., headquartered in Leoni Township outside Jackson. The company, in business for over three decades, provides CAD/CAM design and specialty CNC machining for the aerospace, high performance automotive, industrial and medical industries.

"Our company has grown significantly in the last few years under the leadership of our president, Alex Webster, and we've been able to add many new jobs for Jackson in the last few years," Curtis says.

In his leisure time, Curtis enjoys boating, swimming, golf, and other sports activities. His main passion is supporting the arts both financially and through service on various boards, including the Jackson Symphony Orchestra (JSO) and Jackson School of the Arts.

"I have a great passion for the arts," he says. "I've always enjoyed theater since attending performances presented by the Clarklake Players when I was young, and became interested in classical music when I was a student at the U of M."

He has served on the board of the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea for the past decade, and as board chair for the last few years.

"That opportunity has allowed me to meet and become friends with many people from outside the Jackson community who have greatly broadened my horizons in the arts and other areas, not the least of whom was (actor and theater founder) Jeff Daniels."

Curtis is one of two trustees of the Philip C. Curtis Charitable Trust for the Encouragement of Art, a charitable trust started by his late uncle, Philip C. Curtis, a leading American surrealist artist.

"My uncle and namesake was one of the foremost American painters who lived and worked in Arizona. I was fortunate to have a close relationship with him and he greatly increased my interest in the arts.

"The purpose of the trust is twofold - to continue to educate the art community about my uncle's work, and to provide funding for worthwhile projects related to the arts both in this area and in Arizona. Locally, we've made significant contributions to the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson School of the Arts, the Ella Sharp Museum, the Art Department at Albion College, and The Purple Rose Theatre."

Published: Thu, Jul 5, 2012

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