Get to Know Doug Dozeman

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Remember that wisecracking Chihuahua from Taco Bell ads in the late 1990s? Wayne State University Law School alumnus Douglas Dozeman is the attorney who won a substantial verdict forcing the fast food giant to pay his clients for creating that dog.

Earlier this year, Dozeman, named managing partner for Warner Norcross & Judd, considers the Chihuahua case as one of the most noteworthy he’s ever tried.

Dozeman, who majored in political science at Calvin College, had an eye toward litigation from the start of law school.

He has been awarded many times throughout his career, including being named every year since 2007 on as one of the Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers and being named as a fellow by the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation and Chambers USA. Michigan Lawyers Weekly named Dozeman its Lawyer of the Year in 2003.

By Wayne Law School

What law school experiences stand out in your mind as most memorable? Working on the Wayne Law Review was a very enjoyable aspect of my time in law school. I made some of my best friends on the law review and still remember our offices in the basement, complete with a dartboard and refrigerator, which were both conducive to our writing.

What advice can you offer beginning law students interested in litigation, business and intellectual property law? To be a good litigator, you need to be intellectually curious. It’s important to know the relevant law, but it’s equally important to understand the context of the cases you are litigating. You need to know about the particular industry, what makes it tick and how it operates, to put the particular legal issue into context. You need to get beyond the four corners of the patent, the contract or whatever you’re litigating over and understand the context and why it’s important. Unless you are able to do that, you will miss things.

What was your very first job? My first job was working on the family farm. My first paying job outside the farm was stocking shelves at a grocery store. Between that job and graduating from law school, I probably worked at every minimum wage job you can think of. When I got my first summer clerk job at $500 a week, I thought somebody must have made a mistake.

What accomplishments or honors are you most proud of and why?
I was very honored to have been selected for the American College of Trial Lawyers. It was gratifying to be acknowledged by my peers in the legal profession as a trial lawyer rather than just a litigator. I was also very honored to have been selected as managing partner by my partners at Warner Norcross. I appreciate their confidence in my ability to lead the firm and to help guide our continued growth.

Who are some of your role models or inspirations and why? I have been fortunate to have many wonderful mentors and role models among the litigators I have worked with over the years at Warner Norcross, from Tom McNamara to Bill Holmes to Hal Sawyer, just to name a few. Each of them brought something different to the table, and it was interesting to watch them operate. Tom had a flamboyant style and over-the-top charm that allowed him to hold a room spellbound. He was an exceptional storyteller. By contrast, Bill was quiet, but incredibly methodical and whip smart. He could dissect a case into its component pieces and build a compelling case. Hal knew how to take a complicated set of facts and find the one that everything hinged on. The truly great thing about being a trial lawyer at Warner Norcross was the opportunity to work with a whole range of people with different styles and approaches. I was able to take a bit from each of them.

What are some of your favorite books and movies?
When it comes to reading, I prefer biographies and historical fiction. When it comes to movies, I like a little bit of everything, ranging from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Pulp Fiction.”

If not law, what profession might engage your energy and interest? I can’t imagine being anything but a lawyer. I haven’t given an alternative career much consideration, but I would likely have gotten involved in politics in one way or another.
 

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