By Sheila Pursglove
Receivership, family law, judgment enforcement and litigation can be contentious arenas, notes attorney Erica Ehrlichman, a member of the Insolvency Group at Findling Law in Royal Oak.
“I’ve witnessed people who have worked their entire lives to build a business suddenly lose it to receivership – it’s an emotionally traumatic event for them,” she says.
Ehrlichman’s law practice focuses primarily on commercial and family law receiverships, assignments for the benefit of creditors, judgment enforcement and creditor work in bankruptcy; as well as matters that require knowledge of both bankruptcy and family law.
She often works with people in post-judgment of divorce and support enforcement.
“Most people are still hurting, and the issues are quite personal,” she says. “I’ve learned that while this work is not for the faint of heart, it’s important to still have a heart to proceed with dignity.”
One challenging case required the receiver to collect nearly $500,000 from the party who defaulted on property settlement and support payments; recovery was finally obtained after an investigation uncovered
the location of assets.
Findling’s Insolvency Group operates and sells on-going business concerns under receivership, winds up operations when appropriate, manages and liquidates real and personal property, addresses tax and lien issues, navigates family law and post-judgment enforcement matters, and litigates in state, federal and bankruptcy courts.
“We have a boutique practice, not many people do what we do,” Ehrlichman explains. “I like that it requires many skill sets.”
Regularly responsible for the administration and sale of multiple businesses and properties, including hotels, apartment buildings, strip malls, office buildings, condominium complexes, restaurants, bars, and doctor’s offices, one the large cases Ehrlichman handled was Flagstar v. Kappa Enterprises, in which the receiver managed, operated, and administered a Hawthorn Suites Hotel in Southfield.
“The hotel staff was retained and the property remained open for business during the marketing process, allowing for maximum return for the creditor,” she says.
In the case of a failed construction project in Grand Haven, she addressed construction lien issues and administration of the condominium association; and oversaw the management of the 190-unit condominium and apartment complex, as well as the marketing of the property.
“I love what I do,” she says. “The human aspect demonstrated to me while at Wayne Law, as well as experiences from my own life, have well-equipped me for this work.”
Those past experiences include an undergrad degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University, where she found the emphasis on research and well-organized writing under a deadline to be an excellent foundation for law.
The Ohio native moved to Michigan in 1992, and followed her childhood dreams by entering Wayne State University Law School in 1999 at age 33, and a newly single mom of four young children.
“I was a ’70s kid – ‘The Paper Chase’ and ‘Perry Mason’ depicted law as rigorous, competitive and requiring logical thought and strategy, and I knew law was a good fit for me by the time I was in fourth grade,” she says.
She enjoyed the camaraderie of the student body and the supportive faculty and administration.
“I think it’s well known that the people at Wayne Law are incredibly well-qualified, but more importantly, I found them to be incredibly good humans too. That facilitated my success,” she says.
Ehrlichman met her second husband during her law school years, sadly losing him to a heart attack in 2012. She has three daughters and two sons, ranging in age from 26 to 10, and has called Grosse Pointe Woods home since 2003.
A triathlete, she competed in her first triathlon in 1999, after being coached into it by triathlete Todd Briggs, who knew Ehrlichman was a runner and persuaded her to try triathlon. Finding the sport to be a healthy outlet from her law school studies, she has been hooked ever since.
“I enjoy the training, the healthy lifestyle it requires, the competition and the opportunities to meet like-minded people,” she says. “It provides balance and challenge, and I like that I’m demonstrating to my children how to be an active, fit and happy adult.”
She recently registered for her fourth Ironman triathlon, featuring a swim 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile-run. Previous Ironman races include Florida in 2000, Louisville in 2010 and Texas in 2014. Competing in all triathlon distances, later this summer she will do her second Half-Ironman distance race of the 2014 season.
She also will return to the Detroit International Marathon this fall, having run it last year, in 4:07, with a broken rib acquired in an adventure race two weeks previously.
“I’m hoping to remain injury free and improve upon that time this year – knock on wood,” she says.
She has been competing in adventure races since 2001, using orienteering, rock climbing, paddling and mountain biking skills.
“The woods and the open water are peaceful environments with often humbling beauty,” she says. “Being removed from the bustle of the world provides perspective.”
On August 7, she served as a support kayaker for Sarah Colegrove, an attorney who completed a 21-mile swim of Lake St. Clair.
“I saw it as both an opportunity to help my friend achieve her goals, as well as an opportunity to spend time on the open water,” she says.
Although she had planned to switch out the kayaking with Briggs, who drove the support boat, she kayaked the entire distance.
“Todd asked if I wanted a break three hours into it, but it was so enjoyable I didn’t want to stop – and after we reached the half-way point, I knew I would just keep going,” she says.
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