Monday Profile: Bob Stevenson

A 1976 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Bob Stevenson is founder of Stevenson Keppelman Associates in Ann Arbor, one of the first boutique employee benefits law firms in the U.S. It now has a national and international clientele.

Stevenson has been listed in Best Lawyers In America for more than 25 years, is active in the ABA Tax Section Employee Benefits Committee, and is past chair of that same committee of The State Bar of Michigan.

He and his wife, Sharon Buslepp, a nurse practitioner, are the parents of two daughters: Ruth, an in-house attorney at USPS in Washington and a Michigan Law graduate, and Kate, a recent graduate of the University of Colorado and a legal assistant at Elevation Law Group in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

An avid skier, Stevenson played varsity lacrosse at Michigan State University, where he was men's varsity coach and women's club coach, with two national championship tournament appearances. He is the former president of U.S. Lacrosse, Michigan chapter.

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Residence: Ann Arbor.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Today was pretty good, skiing deep powder snow with my wife and daughter.

What is your greatest fear? Screwing up.

Which living person do you most admire? My wife, Sharon. She is kind, honest, loving, generous and funny.

What is the trait you hate most in yourself? That's between me and me. But believe me, I try not to put up with it.

What is the trait you hate most in others? I think I'm more forgiving of others than I am of myself. So I wouldn't want to throw any stones.

If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it? I already have that room. It's a half court gym.

What was your most memorable meal? A tie: (1) the chicken cacciatore Sharon made for one of our first dates and (2) the amazing, carefully specified and sumptuous feast my friend Sante Basili threw for his son Francesco's college graduation, at Mediterrano. The meal lasted for hours, and the variety of food never ended.

If you could take back one thing you did... More than one. All involving unkindnesses to others, I'm sure.

What is your most treasured material possession? Sports stuff: skis, lacrosse sticks, bikes.

If you could do one thing professionally... I would like to simplify the parts of the Internal Revenue Code dealing with employee benefits. (ERISA is not so bad, but the Code is a mess.)

What are your favorite websites? Opensnow.com, newyorktimes.com, freepress.com, benefitslink.com.

If you could have any car in the world, what would you drive? My visceral reaction is a 63 Corvette Sting Ray. But I gotta think a Shelby Cobra, if push really came to shove.

Where have you been that you will never return--if you can help it? Las Vegas. (But I gotta go there for a wedding in March, so I can't help it!)

Your proudest moment(s) as a lawyer? The end of Stevenson Keppelman Associates' first year as a law firm (it was called ''Law Offices of Robert B. Stevenson'' then.) We were on our way!

It's 7 a.m. Monday. How are you feeling? Asleep. I don't get up that early. I work really late, though.

What would surprise people about your job? How much humor we find in employee benefits law. I think the people I work with can make anything fun. But it's actually easy with benefits law. It's a good discipline for scholars, I think. A combination of analysis, math, actuarial concepts, writing, persuasion.

Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Chastity, which is its own punishment, of course.

When and where were you happiest? Now and here. Really.

What's your greatest achievement: I think that one's ''greatest achievements'' in fact are not difficult to achieve, because in order to put in the effort to achieve greatly, one must be inclined toward the achievement itself. So I could not choose among academic, athletic, professional, family or other achievements. If pressed, I guess I'm pretty glad to have been part of a wonderful family.

What's the oddest thing you ever bought? The first thing I ever purchased with my own savings was a cuckoo clock. I still have it.

What would be your ideal job? I've had that at SKA. Interesting work, great colleagues.

Where would you like to be when you're 90? If I can't be skiing, I'd like my ashes to be scattered on my favorite ski spots.

Favorite joke: A family is on a car-trip, touring historical areas of the eastern U.S. They stop in a historical graveyard. The daughter asks the father ''Daddy, in olden days, did they bury two people in one grave?'' ''I don't think so,'' answers the Dad. ''Why do you ask?'' The daughter replies: ''because this gravestone says 'here lies a lawyer and an honest man.'''

What one habit do you wish you could break? Worrying.

What is something most people don't know about you? I can play tunes on my head, by rapping on it.

What do you wish more people understood? The game of lacrosse. It combines the best of basketball, hockey, football, soccer, and is the best team sport I've played or coached.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? My parents (both deceased) and my wife. Boring answer, but it would be a nice visit, and I'm sure the food would be great.

Who is your favorite character of fiction? The Dude.

Favorite movie: "Casablanca" or "The Big Lebowski." Can't choose.

What's one thing you can do now that you couldn't do 20 years ago? Ski trees in deep powder snow at relatively high rates of speed. (Things were slower then; I think the equipment has improved a lot, and I've improved some.)

Favorite place to spend money: A bike or ski shop.

What is your motto? There's no point in worrying, because there's always something else to worry about. And you don't need to worry about that, if you have a plan.

What was your most embarrassing moment? Junior year of college at Michigan State University. I was moving off campus to a house with my lacrosse teammates. Previously, I had lived in Shaw Hall, which is on a boulevard, with a parking structure in the middle of the east-west lanes. To go east (as to my new house) one went through the structure, which I had done for two years at Shaw. I had rented a truck in Detroit to take my stuff and my girlfriend's stuff ''back to school.'' I dropped her stuff at Shaw first, then headed to my new house.

My friends were all watching as I drove away. As per habit, I attempted to drive through the structure, which turned out to have about 10 feet of clearance. The truck was 12 feet high. It stopped amazingly quickly when I hit the structure. My face took longer to stop, hitting the steering wheel, busting it (my face) up pretty well. The next day's MSU ID card photo is shown at right. The fat lip in that photo became permanent, and exists under a moustache at this time.

Published: Mon, Feb 25, 2013

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