Legal People in the News

Miller Canfield attorney in Ann Arbor receives pro bono award

David O’Brien, a principal in Miller Canfield’s Ann Arbor office, is one of two winners of the 2018 Richard J. Seryak Award, in recognition of outstanding pro bono service.

O’Brien has worked tirelessly to help clients who were sentenced as juveniles to mandatory life without parole. After the Supreme Court ruled that such sentences were unconstitutional, O’Brien began work on two complicated resentencing cases.

One of his clients, Bosie Smith, had spent more than two decades in prison when O’Brien met him in 2013. O’Brien spent hundreds of hours on the case, and today, Smith is a free man who is enrolled in college, works two jobs, and donates his time to a Detroit-based nonprofit that assists young adults who have sustained acute intentional violent trauma.

O’Brien continues to work on behalf of his second client, Kevin Boyd, who was just resentenced this month to a term of years that renders him immediately eligible for parole.

The other winner, Conor Fitzpatrick from the Detroit office, represents a client who claims the Michigan Department of Corrections retaliated against him when, after being elected by fellow inmates to serve as their representative to the facility’s Warden’s Forum, he drafted and sent a peaceful letter to prison officials complaining about deficient unit conditions. Fitzpatrick prevailed in the district court, the court ruling that the First Amendment protects a prisoner’s right to petition prison officials in writing outside of the formal grievance process. Though the ruling has been appealed, the case has the potential to produce a landmark decision in the area of prisoner-rights litigation.

The annual award was first given in 2015, in memory of Richard Seryak, who during his 40-year legal career at Miller Canfield exemplified the standard of pro bono service. Seryak’s widow, Dr. Helene Dombrowski, and children, Elizabeth Seryak and Dr. Kaitlin Seryak, established the award to recognize attorneys who continue Seryak’s legacy; and provide a stipend for winners to donate to the legal service organization of his or her choice.

Bodman receives top rankings for Banking and M&A Law in IFLR1000

The prestigious journal IFLR1000 has ranked Bodman PLC at the highest level for Banking and for M&A work in Michigan and has ranked seven Bodman Banking and M&A attorneys as “Highly Regarded Practitioners,” including Timothy R. Damschroder (M&A) and Carrie Leahy (M&A) from the firm’s Ann Arbor office.

Bodman is the sole Michigan law firm to have received the most favorable rating from IFLR1000 for both Banking and M&A, which are only practice areas it currently evaluates in the state. Bodman also has more individual attorneys listed in IFLR1000 than any other Michigan firm.

In the newly released 2019 rankings, IFLR1000 placed Bodman in “Tier 1” for Banking and in the “Recommended” class for M&A. I

In addition to Damschroder and Leahy, the five other individual Bodman lawyers recognized as leaders, with area of legal specialty, are: Laurence B. Deitch (M&A), Robert J. Diehl, Jr. (Banking, Restructuring), Kathleen O’Callaghan Hickey (Banking), and Larry R. Shulman (Banking), all from Bodman’s Detroit office; and Wendy L. Zabriskie (Banking) from the Troy office.


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