Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced the reappointments of Keith Castora, Jane Colombo, and David Williams to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Magistrates.

Housed within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Michigan Administrative Hearing System, the 17-member board chairs hearings on workers’ compensation cases statewide.

Castora worked as an attorney with the Foster, Swift, Collins, & Smith law firm and has more than 25 years of experience as a workers’ compensation attorney.

Castora earned a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a law degree from the Michigan State University Detroit College of Law.

Colombo has worked in her own private practice as well as the law firm Evans, Pletkovic, & Rhodes PC. She also served on the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. Colombo earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Eastern Michigan University and a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Williams worked as an attorney and a partner in Kluczynski, Girtz, Zamler, & McCubbrey PC. He has more than 34 years of experience in workers’ compensation law. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University and a law degree from Wayne State University Law School.

Members will serve 4 year terms expiring Jan. 26, 2021. Their appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate.

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Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2013-13, 21 attorneys and judges have been appointed to serve on the Committee on Model Criminal Jury Instructions for terms beginning January 1, 2017, and ending December 31, 2019.

The committee is composed of attorneys and judges whose duty it is to ensure that the criminal jury instructions accurately and understandably inform jurors about the legal process in which they will participate and the law that they are to apply. The instructions are intended to describe trial procedures and duties in a manner that makes the legal process comprehensible to jurors, and to correctly state the law so that the jurors can apply it to the facts as they determine them to be.

Members represent prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges and include:

Prosecutors: Timothy Baughman, Michael Frezza, John Hunt, Charles Justian, Laura Moody, and Melissa Powell.

Defense Attorneys: Stacia Buchanan, Michael McCarthy, John Minock, Michael Mittlestat, Stephen Rabaut, Jerome Sabbota, and Lisa Kirsch Satawa.

Judges: Committee Chair Timothy Hicks, Kathleen Brickley, Paul Cusick, Joyce Draganchuk, Hala Jarbou, David Law, Alexander Lipsey, and Kurt Wilder.

In September 2011, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted a comprehensive package of jury reform court rule amendments. Before adopting the rules, the court conducted a two-year pilot project in which 12 judges tested proposed reforms in actual trials and reported on their experiences. The court also surveyed jurors, who strongly favored the reforms in both civil and criminal cases.

In 2012, the court was honored by the National Center for State Courts and received the G. Thomas Munsterman Award for comprehensive jury reforms to recognize significant improvements or innovations. Changes included permitting jurors to take notes, submit questions for witnesses, and discuss the evidence among themselves before final deliberations.

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Clark Hill is pleased to announce the following local attorneys have been elected to membership in the firm:

Bret S. Wacker in the Government & Public Affairs Practice Group.

Anne-Marie Vercruysse Welch in the Labor & Employment Practice Group.

Wacker is a Member of Clark Hill PLC’s Government & Public Affairs Practice Group in the Detroit office. His practice focuses on counseling clients in all areas of federal government procurement and market development, including reviewing solicitations; drafting proposals; drafting contracts and subcontracts; assisting with contract negotiations; and performing government contract due diligence for mergers and acquisitions.

He also works with clients in the assessment, development and implementation of federal procurement compliance programs, as well as counseling contractors during government audits and investigations and dispute resolution proceedings.

Welch is a Member in Clark Hill’s Labor & Employment Practice Group in the Birmingham office. Welch defends employers in state and federal lawsuits and administrative proceedings against wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation and related statutory and tort claims. She also prosecutes and defends claims pertaining to confidentiality, non-competition and non-solicitation agreements.

In addition to her employment litigation practice, to prevent lawsuits and promote positive workplaces, Welch routinely counsels management regarding labor and employment best practices, including: recruiting; employment and independent contractor agreements; wage and hour matters; recordkeeping; handbooks; union negotiations; leave administration; employee counseling, discipline, terminations and grievances; and, reductions in force. She also serves as a corporate trainer and investigator for many private and public sector employers.

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National law firm Weitz & Luxenberg recently announced it has opened a new office in Detroit in an expansion of its Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit. The new branch will be led by managing attorney Paul Novak.

Novak joins Weitz & Luxenberg from Milberg LLP, where he was a partner focusing on antitrust, securities and consumer protection class actions. Prior to this role, Novak served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan and as the city attorney of Lansing, working on antitrust, environmental and regulatory matters.

“We are excited to open this new office and will immediately begin fighting for our clients,” said Novak. “This firm has demonstrated time and again its ability to stand up for consumers who have been hurt by corporate greed and negligence, and my team and I are dedicated to building on this reputation in Detroit and the Midwest as a whole.”

Weitz & Luxenberg and its attorneys are frequently recognized with industry awards that reflect their legal expertise and tireless commitment to clients, and in 2016 U.S. News & World Report and the peer-review publication Best Lawyers named Weitz & Luxenberg the national Law Firm of the Year in the category of Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Plaintiffs. Additionally, Best Lawyers recognized seven attorneys from the firm in its annual Best Lawyers in America list for 2017.

The new Detroit branch adds to Weitz & Luxenberg’s existing offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Cherry Hill, NJ.

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Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy, & Sadler PLC, a full-service business law firm providing the expertise of a large firm with the flexibility and care of a boutique firm, recently announced that 20 of the firm’s attorneys have been recognized by DBusiness as 2017 Top Lawyers in their respected legal practice areas. Managing Member Ed Dawda made the announcement.

“DBusiness Top Lawyers is a prominent local award recognizing attorneys across southeast Michigan who go above and beyond in their distinct practice areas,” said Dawda. “We are honored to once again receive significant positive peer reviews, resulting in 20 attorneys at Dawda Mann included for 2017.”

The following Dawda Mann attorneys were included in the 2017 Top Lawyers:

• Brian R. Balow: Intellectual Property and Patent Law.
• Randal R. Cole: Labor and Employment Law.
• Edward C. Dawda: Corporate Law, Real Estate Law.
• Daniel M. Halprin: Real Estate Law.
• Theresa C. Joswick: Employee Benefits Law.
• Joseph M. Judge: Real Estate Law.
• Adam B. Kutinsky: Insurance Law, Litigation – Real Estate.
• David A. Mollicone: Litigation – Banking and Finance.
• Jeffrey D. Moss: Tax Law.
• John Mucha III: Commercial Law, Land Use & Zoning, Litigation - Commercial.
• Michael D. Mulcahy: Real Estate Law.
• William L. Rosin: Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisitions.
• Glenn G. Ross: Trusts and Estates.
• Susan J. Sadler: Environmental Law.
• Marc K. Salach: Corporate Law.
• Todd A. Schafer: Real Estate Law.
• Leon M. Schurgin: Litigation – Real Estate, Real Estate Law.
• Wayne S. Segal: Banking& Financial Service Law.
• Tyler D. Tennent: Environmental Law, Land Use & Zoning.
• Robert A. Wright III: Banking & Financial Service Law.

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Bodman PLC is pleased to announce that Rebecca D’Arcy O’Reilly has joined the firm as a member in the Detroit office, co?chair of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice Group, and a leader of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan service team.

An established employee benefits lawyer with a multi?disciplinary approach to complex benefits issues, O’Reilly focuses her practice on prohibited transaction issues, plan fiduciary and service provider counseling, and government investigations and corrective actions.  She has represented employers, boards, plan administrators, and large carriers in transactions implicating complex ERISA issues, ERISA class action litigation, and various matters involving the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service, including prohibited transaction exemptions, investigations, and voluntary corrective actions.

O’Reilly has been honored by several of the leading publications that evaluate business attorneys, including recognition as a “Top Lawyer” by DBusiness magazine, as a “Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers, and as a “Future Star” by Benchmark Litigation.

O’Reilly began her career practicing employee benefits law for a firm in Washington, D.C. before clerking for  U.S. District Court Judge John D. Rainey, Southern District of Texas. In 2006, she returned to her native Michigan and joined Bodman where she practiced until establishing her own employee benefits boutique firm in Detroit in 2015.

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With more than 25 years of experience in the legal industry, Joseph J. Melnick has joined the law firm of Warner, Norcross, & Judd LLP as director of marketing and business development.

In his new role, Melnick will oversee the firm’s marketing, business development and communications initiatives. He and his team will be responsible for developing and implementing a strategic blueprint for growth that will support 230-plus attorneys working in 32 industry groups and practice areas in eight offices across the state. Melnick will split his time between Southfield and Grand Rapids, as well as spending time in the firm’s other regional offices.

Prior to joining Warner Norcross, Melnick served as both an independent consultant and an in-house director for national and regional law firms. Most recently, he served as president and managing director of KNC Strategies LLC in Detroit, a consulting firm that provided business development, strategy and marketing services to legal and other professional services firms, as well as nonprofits.

Melnick also led business development initiatives for Honigman and Butzel Long, working in the Detroit offices of both of these AmLaw 200 firms. In these roles, he led expansion efforts into new geographic markets and practice areas, instituted branding and positioning initiatives, coached pitch teams and established numerous programs to enhance individual skills and firm visibility.

Melnick has authored and presented dozens of marketing and strategic planning articles and seminars for professional journals and conferences, including the 2015 National Legal Marketing Association Conference.

Active professionally, Melnick is a member of the Legal Marketing Association and the Marketing and Sales Executives of Detroit and has been involved in leadership roles with numerous Detroit area organizations. He currently sits on the International Advisory Board of the Automation Alley Technology Consortium and the International Business Attraction Committee for the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership. He also serves on the Michigan community advisory board and was state advocacy chair for the American Diabetes Association.

Melnick earned a bachelor of arts from New College of Florida in Sarasota and a master’s degree in business administration from Tulane University.