Koral Fritz, Andrea Snyder bring impressive skills to Rhoades McKee

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by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Two dynamic young women have joined the firm of Rhoades McKee, bringing with them unique experiences in their areas of interest.

Koral Fritz has a broad background in environmental, food and agricultural law. She attended Vermont Law School specifically because it had a program in food and agriculture, and was the first Vermont Law School graduate to receive both a Juris Doctor and a Masters of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy.

Part of Rhoades McKee’s Real Estate and Environmental Law Team, Fritz says, “Right now, I’m getting a little bit of a flavor for everything, but they were hiring specifically for an environmental associate. I think my studies and work experiences were a factor in their hiring me – they saw an opportunity to bring someone on board who could expand their presence in the food field.

“Rhoades McKee already has an agriculture practice group, but I think it’s the focus on environmental and agricultural law that made it a mutual draw. Wherever I end up here, I want to bring a more food law focus, meaning working with either farmers or manufacturers, anyone in the production chain, on issues like food labeling and food safety.”

Fritz’s interest in the food system began when she was a cross country runner at Mona Shores High School in Muskegon concerned about health and its connection to eating. When she would go grocery shopping, she would look at the labels from a health perspective. Eventually, she embarked on a project to encourage teachers at Mona Shores to show the film Food Inc., and developed a feedback questionnaire that was used in at least five or six cases.

She continued to follow up on those interests while at University of Michigan majoring in political science and Spanish. Because she had enjoyed debate, among other reasons, Fritz had long known she wanted to be a lawyer, but as she continued to explore such food writers as Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle, she came to the conclusion that she could marry her two interests.

“I think you’re only going to be good at a career if it’s something you really care about, though of course I care very much about helping people through the law in general,” she says. “But Vermont Law School had a very robust program in food and agriculture. I started taking food regulation classes, exploring the connections between food and water, and food and public health, working on some of the migrant worker issues.” She co-chaired the Food and Agricultural Law Society at Vermont, and was the executive producer for Food Talk Radio for  one semester.

She had the opportunity through law school to work in Washington D.C. on food issues, joining first Food and Water Watch and then the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Those internships led to opportunities to work on drafting legislation to revamp poultry litter management programs to make water quality improvements in Chesapeake Bay, and writing a petition for CSPI requesting that the Food and Drug Administration delist the use of carcinogenic dyes.

Moreover, she participated in developing a farmer toolkit for Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems. Though the center has since released a toolkit for farmers’ markets with great fanfare, Fritz says she worked primarily on a previous toolkit providing resources to help farmers develop succession plans. She has written a soon-to-be-published blog for Rhoades McKee on that subject.
Following law school, Fritz worked about six months as a law clerk for four judges in the Kalamazoo 9th Circuit Criminal and Civil Trial Division when the Rhoades McKee position opened up.

In her first month, she has done work on environmental disclosures during real estate sales, restrictive covenants and easements. She is also working on a “goat share” agreement; in order to have access to raw milk legally, consumers must purchase a share in the herd or a specific animal. She has a strong interest in working with food and farm businesses to help them improve their products. “In this day and age consumers are hyper aware and people are becoming more engaged with what they eat, so that’s putting pressure and demand on companies to deal with consumer concerns,” she says.

Despite seeing that growing demand, Fritz says she does not want to put too much emphasis on the food and agriculture field, and trusts Rhoades McKee to help her find her niche.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have found a  great firm in the place where I’m from, and one that seems very flexible and exciting,” she comments.

The other new associate, Andrea Snyder, just started Feb. 5. Her last day as a law clerk for 17th Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates was Feb. 2.

Her work in business and corporate law, to which she is chiefly drawn, will be enhanced by the time she spent working with Judge Yates on the specialized business docket. As she states it in her Rhoades McKee profile, the experience “has made me more mindful of the legal implications of business decisions and better able to anticipate beneficial solutions.”

She comments, “It was an amazing experience. It helped me get to know the attorneys and the law firms. Judge Yates has a firm belief that law clerks should be temporary, so once you learn what you can from him you branch out, and we can have a greater impact that way.”

As with Fritz, Rhoades McKee encourages her to experience a broad spectrum of focus areas. “Rhoades McKee has a philosophy with associates, to let them work in different areas,  so I can really navigate towards what I love,” she says.

The other areas of practice she will experience are human resources and employment, and estate planning and administration. All of these will benefit from two of her other clerkships, one working for Federal Judge Janet Neff, and one working for Judge James Redford in 2014, before he left the bench on an eventual path to his current position as Director of the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency.

Snyder also interned at Rhoades McKee for half a summer during law school, following attorney Jonathan Siebers there from Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge.

All of this was accomplished while she was in law school at Michigan State University College of Law. Raised in Caledonia and Grand Rapids, Snyder was a high school tennis star and played all four years she was at Indiana Wesleyan University for her undergraduate degree in business management and business administration.

She participated in a program called DecAid, which helped an island off of Haiti.  A “wonderful professor” at Indiana Wesleyan, Dr. Rhetts, encouraged her to become a lawyer. It was during the tennis nationals competition that she found out she had been accepted at Michigan State.

Snyder is very excited to be working with Rhoades McKee and have as colleagues the firm’s esteemed attorneys. “I’m looking forward to working with family businesses in a lot of ways here,” she says. “West Michigan has so many family businesses and great nonprofits. It’s a very generous community, whether the business is large or small.”

Another passion of Snyder’s is the Woman Lawyers Association Western Michigan Region. She has joined the board and is considering pursuing a leadership position. “I really think there’s kind of a need that hasn’t been met in supporting female attorneys. I’ve actually heard from others that women are coming to law firms and asking that women attorneys help them.

“Rhoades McKee does a really good job of reaching out when they interview, with the mindset of creating a more inviting environment for both men and women,” Snyder says.
 

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