Get to Know Brian J. McKeen

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Brian McKeen is the founder and managing partner of McKeen & Associates, located in the Penobscot Building in Detroit and with a satellite office in Kalamazoo.

McKeen, who began practicing law in 1982, has become a powerful advocate for clients and has tried cases throughout the United States. He is considered one of the foremost medical malpractice attorneys in the Midwest.

McKeen currently sits on the executive boards of the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ), where he serves as president, and the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice (AAJ). He has served as chair of the AAJ Professional Negligence Section, Medical Negligence Exchange Group and Birth Trauma Litigation Group. He was inducted into The Inner Circle of Advocates in 2009.

McKeen routinely represents victims of some of the world’s worst physician practices including Farid Fata; Yasser Awaad; John Verbovsky; and Larry Nassar.

McKeen & Associates has generated many of the top verdicts in Michigan history, including securing the state’s largest medical malpractice verdict on record in 2001, when jury rendered a verdict award of $55 million in the case of Hall v Henry Ford Health System. McKeen & Associates also topped all Michigan verdict awards in 2002, with an award of $22.5 million; in 2006, with an award of $16 million; in 2007, with an award of $35 million; and in 2016, with an award of $19 million.

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

What would surprise people about your job? How many cases we look at and how hard we try to help clients whose cases we must decline because of lack of merit.

Why did you become a lawyer? I wanted to help other people who had suffered severe injuries or lost loved ones and I thought I had a skill set to accomplish that goal.

What’s your favorite law-related movie? “The Verdict” with Paul Newman.

Who are your law role models – real and/or fictional? I was privileged to watch a lot of very good, and a few great, trial lawyers during law school, when I clerked in Oakland County Circuit Court. I tried to emulate lawyers like Bob Zeff, Elbert Hatchett and others. I’ve more recently been privileged to spend time around some of America’s very best trial lawyers, like Tom Kline, Brian Panish, Tom Demetrio and many others. I try to take a little bit from all of them.

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? Jack Nicklaus the day he won his last major championship at The Masters in 1986.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
Work hard but don’t just immerse yourself in book learning. Go out and get some real world experience.

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? I’m proud of every case I’ve ever won but I’d have to say the day I was inducted into The Inner Circle of Advocates in Philadelphia.

What do you do to relax? Practice golf. An occasional night out, a nice dinner and bottle of wine with my beautiful wife, Brenda.

What other career path might you have chosen?
Possibly something involving sports. Possibly coaching.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
You’re in for a very interesting and rewarding life so relax and enjoy the ride.

What is your most treasured material possession? I try not to be too materialistic but I’ve collected some nice art.

Favorite local hangouts: My house. Does that count? Everywhere around here seems so crowded and loud, so time hanging out at home is very cherished.

Favorite music: I’ve got pretty eclectic tastes in music and love almost everything from jazz to rock and even some country. Favorites include Allman Brothers Band, Van Morrison and Astrud Gilberto.

What is your happiest childhood memory? There were so many. How about The Detroit Tigers winning the World Series in 1968.

What do you wish someone would invent? A time machine to take us back to before the destruction of the tort system with damage caps.

What has been your favorite year so far and why?
It sounds trite but honestly, my life with my family just keeps getting better.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? Yosemite Valley.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Hit every green in regulation.

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do? Play guitar.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt and Sophia Loren.

What’s the best advice you ever received? “Work your ass off.”

Favorite place to spend money: Any great golf course/clubhouse.
 
What is your motto?
Brenda told me to say “Happy wife, happy life!” If I had to pick one I’d say: “Give it your best shot.”
 
Which living person do you most admire? Barack Obama.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Putting together a very close and loving family.

What is the most unusual thing you have done?
Playing a golf course in a driving rain and gale force winds in a remote corner of Scotland so I could check it off my bucket list.
 

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