Get to Know Bryan Cermak

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Bryan Cermak joined Foster Swift Collins & Smith’s litigation practice group in April, in the Southfield office, bringing more than 40 years of litigation experience and with more than two decades in private practice as well as serving as general counsel. He assists individuals and organizations with legal needs including small companies attempting to grow their business, including mid to large corporations with complex legal matters.

Cermak earned his B.S. from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio and his JD from the University of Toledo College of Law. In winning the law school’s annual Fornoff (moot court) competition he had the chance to argue in front of then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Cermak has served as national trial counsel for various companies, trying numerous cases to verdict in several states. For almost 20 years, he was employed by a German publicly traded company to serve as General Counsel for the Americas. 

What would surprise people about your job? Less time is spent in court than people think. 

Why did you become a lawyer?  I couldn’t get into medical school. Law school was Plan B!

What’s your favorite law-related TV show, movie, and/or book?  Growing up I loved watching Perry Mason (what a cross-examiner). Although legally inaccurate in several respects, I do enjoy reading John Grisham novels.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school? Think about it very carefully and talk to some attorneys about what being a lawyer entails. You may be surprised on the various types of law there are and how the practice varies depending on the type of law you choose. How the legal profession is portrayed on television and movies is far different than what is actually involved in practicing law. There are a number of lawyers out there and just getting your law degree doesn’t mean you will find a job as an attorney. The competition is fierce, so if aren’t 100% sure you want to be an attorney (or if there is any doubt) do something else for a living! 

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? Trying a six-week product liability trial in Burbank California and obtaining a verdict for my client (the defendant) on Christmas Eve!

Who would you trade places with for a day? I think it would be pretty cool to trade places with any golfer that was leading the Masters golf tournament on the last day of the tournament. Of course, since we are talking about a fantasy, in this trade of places, I’d be able to play like a pro (rather than my normal game).

What do you do to relax? Paint, golf and play the piano.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  You are going to make a number of mistakes during your life. Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t worry about them, but make sure you learn a lesson from every mistake you make.

Favorite local hangouts: Any golf course.

Favorite websites: Facebook.

Favorite app: Flipboard.

Favorite music: Any type of jazz. 

What is your happiest childhood memory? Going to Euclid Beach Park every summer for the Illuminating Company Annual Summer Picnic.

What is your most treasured material possession? A letter written to me by my father before he passed away.

What has been your favorite year so far? Last year, when my first grandson was born.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve been? Camp 2 at Mount Everest.

What superpower would you like? To heal any physical illness.

What’s one thing you’d like to learn to do? I’d like to learn how to write an app for a mobile phone.

What is something most people don't know about you? I have been a worship leader in church for over 30 years. Currently, I play in an orchestra every Sunday at my church’s 8:30 am service. 

If you could have dinner with three people, past or present, who would they be? Jesus Christ, Ben Franklin, Vincent Van Gogh

What’s the best advice you ever received? You have two ears and one mouth, so you should spend twice the amount of time listening than speaking.

Favorite place to spend money: Apple Store 

What is your motto? Good, better, best… never let it rest…till the good is better…and the better best!

Who do you most admire? My 94-year-old mother

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Being married for 43 years, having two wonderful daughters and one grandson.     

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