IN TRANSACTION: Attorney appreciated experiences of high profile acquisition cases

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

One of attorney Tim Wittebort’s favorite transactions involved acting as local counsel for the acquisition of the Detroit Pistons, the Palace and DTE Theatre. 

“Being involved in such a high profile and complicated transaction was a wonderful experience both professionally and personally,” he says.

An attorney with Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC in Royal Oak who specializes in corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, transportation and logistics, commercial lending, creditors’ rights, and real estate transactions, Wittebort also represented the Pontiac Silverdome in its dispute with the Detroit Lions, and assisted the Silverdome Board with its first attempt at selling the facility.

“It made me appreciate how important an asset funded by local tax dollars could be for the future viability of a community. Unfortunately, the City of Pontiac was not able to maximize its investment return on the Silverdome,” says Wittebort.

The Silverdome transaction led to then-Governor Jennifer Granholm appointing Wittebort to the Financial Review Board for the City of Pontiac in 2008, prior to her appointment of the city’s first emergency financial manager.

“My participation allowed me to become quite knowledgeable on emergency manager law and its evolution,” he says. “I still follow current news involving emergency financial manager issues.”

A frequent author and lecturer, and named among Michigan Leading Lawyers, Michigan Super Lawyers, DBusiness Top Lawyers, and with an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, Wittebort was initially attracted to the competitive nature of practicing law. 

“I thoroughly enjoy the strategizing and thinking on your feet aspects of law,” he says.

After receiving his undergrad degree from Western Michigan University, he earned his J.D. from Wayne State University Law School, where he was assistant editor of the Wayne Law Review and participated in moot court.

“Law school can build camaraderie that hopefully provide benefits to your practice when you deal with a former classmate,” he says. “It’s always nice to bump into former classmates I’ve not seen in a long time.”

Wittebort started his legal career in litigation.

“However, I soon realized I didn’t appreciate or enjoy all of the unnecessary and inefficient gamesmanship,” he says. “I quickly learned that I enjoyed transactional law, especially matters involving real estate and the financing of real estate.”

He then developed his practice into other types of business transactions, including negotiating and documenting matters involving manufacturing – and he especially enjoys resolving disputes between customers and suppliers.

One of his first transactions early in his career involved the privatization of the North Oakland Medical Center formerly owned by the City of Pontiac.

“I was fortunate to have worked under a partner that was very knowledgeable with similar types of public divestiture transactions,” Wittebort says.  A portion of revenue from the project helped fund residential development through a non-profit we formed, including projects with Habitat for Humanity and the Unity Park Project. “That transaction closed in 1993. Until three years ago, I was still involved in various aspects of the transaction.”

Wittebort, who serves on the Pontiac Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation Board of Directors, grew up in Royal Oak prior to moving to Pontiac for high school. “With our office now located in Royal Oak, I have sort of come full circle,” he says.

He and his wife of 20 years make their home in Clarkston, with their children, ages 19, 16 and 13. Wittebort enjoys golfing, traveling with his family, and attending his children’s sporting events.

“I coached each of my kids at one time or another in various sports,” he says. “Unfortunately, their skill levels eventually surpassed my coaching abilities.”

Wittebort served on the board of directors of the Pontiac Boys & Girls Club for 15 years including three terms as president – and met his wife through this volunteer work.

“I’ve always had a passion for working with less privileged children,” he says.  “I’m also active with the Oakland County Downtown Mainstreet Program; and lately, I’ve become more interested in assisting our returning veterans. As a country, I do not believe we do enough for our veterans, especially when you consider how much they have sacrificed for us.”

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