Another set of three attorneys with fewer than 10 years practice honored by GR Bar




by Cynthia Price
Legal News

At a collegial annual meeting held in May at CityFlats Hotel, the Grand Rapids Bar Association (GRBA) continued its new tradition of honoring three lawyers in practice less than ten years.

In 2016, the First Year Attorney Committee decided to give special recognition to some newer attorneys who might not yet have established a high-profile track record that could earn them some of the GRBA’s other awards.

The three attorneys so honored have followed very different career paths, but GRBA judges felt each has “demonstrated outstanding professional achievement, exceptional public service, and significant contributions to the legal profession.”

The 2017 winners were Laura Genovich, a municipal and bankruptcy attorney at Foster Swift; Linsey Gleason, who does estate planning/administration and related legal work at Varnum; and Ryan McKnight, a corporate attorney specializing in international logistics.

Genovich splits her practice between advising a variety of municipalities, including attending meetings, and serving as a bankruptcy trustee, while occasional representing creditors. She says she has administered thousands of cases since she began in 2011, and she writes for the Foster Swift bankruptcy blog.

“I will take pro bono cases representing debtors,” Genovich says. “I’ve had a couple of those in the last few months.”

Originally from the Northern lower peninsula, she attended Ohio University (a private university), and received her J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School summa cum laude.

In addition to being a member of Grand Rapids Young Professional and Inforum, she is on the Caledonia Education Foundation board, the Justice Foundation for West Michigan, and, formerly, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus Board of Directors. Genovich also sang with that chorus.

About the award, Genovich comments, “It really was a tremendous honor, and it was great to have so many members of the bar at the ceremony. I think it’s so important to get involved with a bar association. It was a great experience, and I’m very humbled.”

Linsey Gleason is no stranger to these pages, having been profiled when she won the 40 Under Forty award and the Create GReat Award from the Center for Community Leadership.

With both her undergraduate and law degrees received summa cum laude from Michigan State University, Gleason comments about the meeting where she received the award, “It was a nice, fast-paced, fun event. As an estate planning attorney, I don’t always have interaction with a lot of other attorneys, so it’s always nice to go to events like this. It’s good to hear what other people are doing.”

Gleason’s community involvements are so numerous it would be difficult to include them all, but Senior Neighbors, Gilda's Club, the Public Museum, Laughfest, Heart of West Michigan United Way, and several professional organizations have all benefited from her contributions.

She says she found out at the event that she was nominated by her colleague at Varnum, Joy Fossel, who is also the incoming President of GRBA — part of the annual meeting was to introduce new officers and trustees.

“Joy and I joked that this is for young lawyers who’ve been in practice less than 10 years – and I’ve been in practice 9 years,” Gleason said.

“This is the first award I’ve ever gotten that was a recognition by my profession,” she added, “so it was

really a great honor.”

The third honoree, Ryan McKnight, is not only internal counsel for Avasure, but also serves as a project manager for the medical manufacturing company, whose specialty is a “telesitter” system to help medical facilities efficiently monitor patients at risk for falls.

McKnight also received his law degree (cum laude) from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. After getting a degree and working for an international logistics/supply chain firm, the Holland native decided that law school would serve him well.

He interned with Bryan D. Vincent PLC, and when he was admitted became an associate there, at which time the firm was renamed The Vincent Legal Group, where his duties ran the gamut from business litigation to family law to attorney grievance defense.

Then the opportunity at Avasure allowed him to return to the logistics field, assisting the young company with its expansion into international markets. Although Avasure became too busy with domestic production to pursue that as a first priority, the management still plans to do so. In the meantime, McKnight has a diverse and fascinating job.

He has been the chair of the GRBA Young Lawyers section for two years, and says he would not have missed the experience for the world. “I’m just trying to help out. The best thing about the whole process is meeting people, building a legal community.”

As far as the award, McKnight — who had to miss the ceremony because of a conflict, comments, “I was very excited to hear I’d won, I was not expecting that at all. It was a huge honor that they would even think about me in that light when there are so many people doing great things.”



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