Attorney to accept award on behalf of his father

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Ed Drukis says his father learned about the award in his final days

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Just days before he died last fall of pancreatic cancer, Charles Drukis learned he had won the Washtenaw County Bar Association's Professionalism and Civility in the Practice of Law Award.

Tonight his widow and two sons will accept the award on his behalf.

"It feels like he's still here, which is a neat feeling," said Ed Drukis, 29, an attorney who shared office space with his father and three other attorneys in Ypsilanti Township. "I come into work, and I still sort of think he's in the office, or I think he'll be coming home. Everything's so surreal."

Charles Drukis died about three months after his diagnosis, and didn't talk about his failing health with a whole lot of people, his son said.

"He held it in," said Drukis. "He worked until he didn't have strength to come to his office--about five weeks (before his death in hospice)."

Charles Drukis would have been 62 on April 1. The Chicago Cubs won their opener that day, and Drukis said that would have been a great present for his dad, a huge Cubs fan.

Drukis said he's wanted to be a lawyer most of his life, ever since the days he would help his father in his office which was then located on Washtenaw Avenue near Hewitt in Ypsilanti Township.

The office later moved to and is now located at the corner of Golfside and Packard.

Drukis grew up in Dexter, and recalls how his father worked long hours, but also made time for his three sons, coaching their sports teams.

After graduating from Eastern Michigan University, Drukis attended Cooley Law School in Lansing.

"I loved law school, which is sort of interesting, because my dad hated law school," said Drukis. "He went to Michigan for undergrad, and then he went to Detroit College of Law, but then Michigan State bought out the name and tried to send him a diploma saying he graduated from Michigan State Law School and he didn't want that. He hated Michigan State!"

Drukis got the highest grade in his Law Office Management class, where his class project was creating a business plan for his first year of working with his father.

He graduated from law school in May of 2011 and passed the bar that summer.

In January of 2012, he moved into an office across the hall from his father.

It's been a busy 15 months since then for the general practitioner, who said he likes family law best of all. Drukis has retained nearly all of his father's clients. At the end of his life, Charles Drukis went through all his files, leaving notes to his son about each one.

Drukis also started 101 of his own cases last year, as well.

Drukis is trying to decide whether to move into his father's larger office across the hall, or rent it out to another attorney. (His mother co-owns the building.)

Bankruptcy attorney Rob Reizner has rented office space from Charles Drukis for several years, and says he and the others miss him and his sense of humor. Reizer also said he's impressed with the work of Ed Drukis.

"He's a smart man, and he knows when to ask for help," Reizner said. "I'm happy he's across the hall from me. This is a good thing."

Drukis said he's relied a lot on his father's secretary, Susan Smith, who is still there, helping him with the transition.

"I'm appreciative of everyone helping out," he said. "No one teaches how to actually practice law in law school, so it's helpful to be able to go up to people and ask, 'How do I do this? How do I do that?'"

Drukis is no stranger to loss. When he was a senior in high school, his older brother, Charlie, was killed in a car accident at the age of 21. He says his brother's death in a way helped prepare him for the loss of his father.

"As difficult as it is to lose someone, you sort of understand that things go on," he said.

Drukis and his younger brother, Ian, along with their mother, Monica, will accept the award for their father.

"He sort of just smiled," Drukis said, of his dad's reaction to the WCBA award when he was in his final days. "But he never took awards or anything too seriously. He didn't care much about prestige."

"I miss him. He's always in my mind."

Published: Thu, Apr 11, 2013

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