Firm's belief translates into long term success


 By Tom Kirvan

Legal News
“Transparency” is an oft-used business and governmental buzzword that some in the corporate world pay mere lip service to when given the choice.
The term, at the Birmingham law firm of Williams Williams Rattner & Plunkett (WWRP), generates an altogether different sort of buzz, the kind that partially explains the success the mid-sized firm has enjoyed over the past 40 years.
“From the formation of the firm, we have promoted a sense of openness that leads to accountability for everyone who works here,” said Rick Williams, managing partner of the 22-attorney firm based on Old Woodward in downtown Birmingham. “It’s a business culture that we believe in and is one that continues to pay dividends for us.”
The firm’s commitment to transparency extends to its overall financial operation, where the profit picture and financial structure are “shared from A to Z,” according to Tom Plunkett, one of the principal partners and a former prosecuting attorney in Oakland County.
“Our monthly financials go to all professionals at the firm, from the partners to the newest associate,” Plunkett said. “It’s the way we’ve always operated and keeps everyone abreast of how we are doing. We believe that it has engendered loyalty, and is a major reason there is such camaraderie and teamwork throughout the firm.”
In September, WWRP marked its 40th anniversary in a decidedly different way, using the milestone as a launch pad for “giving back to the community,” donating $40,000 to four nonprofit organizations in the metro Detroit area.
“We’ve had an incredible run with a lot of growth and success over these past four decades and we thought the best way to celebrate it is to give back to the community,” said Williams. “Our partners and associates volunteer their services at a variety of non-for-profit organizations and together we felt each of these four community-based organizations represent extraordinarily worthwhile recipients.”
Collectively, the donations serve as a testament to the firm’s resolve to “do good” in the community, Williams indicated.
A product of Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Williams seemed destined for a career on Wall Street after earning his bachelor’s degree from Ivy League Princeton and his law degree from the University of Michigan.
“I’ve always had great interest in business and finance, and initially didn’t have that same kind of passion for the law,” Williams admitted.
His business background was developed at an early age, due in large part to the influence of his father, a U-M engineering alum who rose through the executive ranks to eventually become president of what is now Lear Corp., the automotive supplier and Fortune 500 company based in Southfield.
Plunkett, a past president of the Oakland County Bar Association and a longtime board member of the State Bar of Michigan, also has an impressive record of community service, serving on the board of Cranbrook, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Oakland County, and the Oakland County Chamber of Commerce. His journey to becoming a partner with the Birmingham firm seemed fitting enough. 
“When I was the chief assistant prosecutor for Oakland County in 1967, I did all the hiring for our staff,” Plunkett related. “One of the young attorneys I hired back then was Jim Williams.”
Twenty years later, the former county hire would return the favor, luring Plunkett to the firm that Williams co-founded.
“If there is such a thing as destiny, I guess that would be it,” Plunkett said of the career move.
As fate would have it, Plunkett has made a name for himself since he was awarded a coveted scholarship to attend University of Detroit School of Law in 1960. He became an editor of the Law Journal there, earning a prized clerkship with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Thomas M. Kavanagh after graduation. 
Upon joining the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office two years later, Plunkett continued his rapid rise, becoming Chief Assistant Prosecutor at the tender age of 26. 
In 1968, Plunkett was the choice of voters for the top post, at the time reportedly becoming the youngest elected prosecuting attorney in a major metropolitan area in the U.S. 
His younger son, David, a U-M Law School grad, also is a key member of the WWRP firm. It is a source of pride for the elder Plunkett.
“Even if I’m a bit prejudiced, David has been a great addition to our firm,” Plunkett said of his son, who spent the first nine years of his legal career working in Chicago and Washington, D.C. “He is part of the next generation of the firm that will continue to make it strong and successful.”


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