Butzel Long Chairman Richard E. Rassel is the recipient of the Detroit Regional Chamber's Inaugural Business Leadership in Education and Equity Award. The Chamber presented the award virtually during the second annual State of Education program on February 3.

Rassel was recognized for his years of service and unwavering commitment to the mission of Detroit Drives Degrees, a collective impact initiative to improve the pipeline in the Detroit region with three areas of focus: advancing access to postsecondary opportunities; boosting student success; and, retaining local talent and attracting new talent. Detroit Drives Degrees' goal is to boost post-secondary degree or certificate attainment in the Detroit region to 60 percent by 2030.

He currently serves as co-chair of Detroit Drives Degrees and as vice chairman of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's Foundation Board.

Rassel has been with Butzel Long for 52 years. He practices primarily in the area of complex business litigation and arbitration with a special concentration in media law. He also is secretary and a director of the Detroit Legal News.

Over the years, Rassel's professional skills have earned him listings in Chambers, The Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, as well as a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent rating. In addition, he was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers from 1989 to 2013. He served on the initial Board of Directors of Lex Mundi.

Rassel also is active in the community. He is a past board chair of Detroit Public Television where he was honored with the 2011 Community Leadership Award, past chairman of the board of the Holy Cross Foundation, past director of the Michigan Strategic Fund, former chairman and founding trustee of the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, former chairman of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, and a member of the Dean's Advisory Council of University of Michigan Law School.

He has been honored with the Community Service Award and the Leadership Award by the Birmingham Community House, where he is a past president. He is a trustee of William Beaumont Hospital System; an ambassador of the College of Arts and Sciences of Oakland University; and a member of the Board of Advisors for the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. In 2020, Rassel was named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly's Hall of Fame.

Rassel earned a B.A. from University of Notre Dame and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. He served in the U.S. Navy and is a Certified Judge Advocate. He also is a graduate of the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution.

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Potestivo & Associates PC announced the hiring of Melissa Z. Prantzalos as the supervising litigation attorney in the Rochester office of the firm.

A native Michigander, Prantzalos brings tangible expertise in real estate and title law litigation with more than 13 years of experience representing loan servicers, banks, and other financial institutions. She is licensed in the state of Michigan and admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan.

Prantzalos is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and its Real Property Law Section. In 2018, She was a speaker at the Michigan Court Officer, Deputy Sheriff, and Process Servers Association Training Seminar. In 2019, she had articles published in both the Default Servicing News and Michigan Real Property Review.

While at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, she worked at the United States Attorney's Office as a legal support staff assistant, and completed an externship as a judicial clerk to Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Richard L. Caretti.

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Ven Johnson Law PLC recently named Paul F. Doherty managing partner of its Detroit office, located at 535 Griswold Street, in the Buhl Building. Doherty joined the firm in 2017 and has handled some of the firm's largest cases and helped secure more than $23 million in settlements over the past three years.

Doherty has nearly four decades of legal experience in injury litigation, focusing on catastrophic injuries caused by medical malpractice, product liability, trucking accidents, toxic torts and other related areas. He continuously holds an "AV" rating by Martindale-Hubbell and has been named a "Michigan Super Lawyer" by his peers for the past 14 years.

"Paul has a brilliant legal mind and will tackle the most complex litigation matters," said Ven Johnson, president of Ven Johnson Law. "His calm leadership skills will serve him well to assist the firm in supervising the robust Detroit legal staff. He's a true fighter"

Doherty was a member of the 1999 Plaintiffs' Steering Committee for the State of Michigan Silicone Gel Breast Implant Litigation and was the plaintiff representative for the state of Michigan to the federal multidistrict litigation, In Re Silicone Gel Breast Implants, MDL 926. He is also the author of the Jurisdiction and Venue chapter in the Michigan Civil Procedure, The Institute of Continuing Legal Education. He is a member of the Michigan Association for Justice and the American Association for Justice.

Doherty graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 1984. He received his Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University in 1981.

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The commercial litigation firm Altior Law has announced that Matt Smith has joined its shareholder group. With more than a decade of commercial and securities litigation experience, Smith is a SuperLawyers Rising Star.

Smith has represented clients in all stages of litigation through trial and appeal across a variety of matters in state and federal court. Frequent areas of his practice have included contract, fraud, state and federal securities litigation/arbitration, and business litigation, including intra-company disputes between owners, officers, and directors.

"I love working at Altior the culture is collaborative and high-performing, and we're constantly solving interesting business and legal challenges," said Smith. "I see a lot of potential for growth for myself and the firm."

Smith joins Neuman, Jennifer Grieco, and Steve McKenney as Altior shareholders.

Smith also has experience in litigating claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act, actions to enforce non-competition and non- solicitation agreements, and trade secret litigation, among others. In addition to his litigation practice, Smith serves as a case evaluator and is a trained civil court mediator.

Altior Law is a boutique firm based in Birmingham. In addition to its core commercial litigation and mediation practice, the firm is the founding sponsor of Peak Law, an organization that supports projects aimed at using law to improve society.

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Attorney Kerry Cahill became a partner at Bloomfield Hills-based employment law firm Sue Ellen Eisenberg & Associates PC effective January 1.

Cahill joined Sue Ellen Eisenberg & Associates PC in 2013 and specializes in wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment, civil rights disputes, as well as the negotiation of executive contracts and separation agreements. Cahill also distinguishes herself with a commitment to management-side clients.

The firm is recognized for its creation of innovative policies, state-of-the-art handbooks, and the provision of harassment training for a variety of organizations, including transgender transition/anti-harassment training in compliance with the evolving legal landscape and the need for diversity and inclusion efforts in all employment sectors.

Cahill received her law degree from Wayne State University Law School and her B.A. from the University of Michigan. She is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association, the National Employment Lawyers Association, a Life Fellow with the Oakland County Bar Foundation, and a former board member of the Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers. She was honored as a member of the Michigan Lawyers Weekly Women in the Law Class of 2016. Cahill was also recognized twice by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for her pro bono service.

Cahill has published numerous articles in law journals and popular legal publications, most recently in the Summer 2020 issue of Labor and Employment Lawnotes where she discussed a landmark SCOTUS victory for LGBTQ+ equality. Along with Eisenberg, Cahill authored a chapter of Bloomberg BNA's Workplace Harassment Law treatise.

Prior to joining Sue Ellen Eisenberg & Associates PC, Cahill served as a senior attorney at Bloomfield Hills-based Dykema Gossett PLLC.

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Garan Lucow Miller PC is pleased to announce that Paul M. Kittinger has joined the firm as a Shareholder in its Detroit office.

Kittinger received his law degree from Wayne State University Law School and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.

His practice areas are: Construction Law, Fire, Property, Subrogation and Indemnification Law, Insurance Defense & Coverage Analysis, No-Fault and Automobile Negligence.

Kittinger is also licensed in the State of Illinois.

Garan Lucow Miller is a full-service law firm founded in 1948 with offices throughout Michigan and Merrillville, Indiana.

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Bodman PLC is pleased to announce that Jay B. Long, Noel J. Ravenscroft, and Erica J. Shell have been admitted as members of the firm.

Long, Ravenscroft, and Shell were previously senior associates with Bodman.

Long practices in Bodman's Detroit office and is a member of the Tax, High Net Worth, and Exempt Organizations and Impact Investing practice groups. He represents individual clients on estate planning and on gift and income tax matters and advises them on corporate and transactional matters in connection with their closely-held businesses.

Before joining Bodman, Long worked for two major accounting and consulting firms as a senior associate advising multinational corporations on complex corporate transactions and domestic and international tax planning issues. He also worked as a director of client services and senior tax attorney for a tax controversy firm where he prepared corporate and individual tax returns, resolved tax debts with federal and/or state tax authorities, and defended clients in IRS audits.

Long is a member of the Wolverine Bar Association, the National Association of Black Accountants, and the State Bar of Michigan Taxation Section. He is an adjunct assistant professor at Walsh College and serves on the board of directors of the Ruth Ellis Center.

Ravenscroft practices in Bodman's Detroit office and is a member of the Banking and Bankruptcy and Debtor-Creditor Rights Practice Groups. He represents financial institutions and other secured and unsecured creditors in connection with commercial bankruptcy issues and disputes.

He also has experience representing corporate clients in a wide range of commercial and business law matters involving breach of contract, commercial collections, complex business transactions, foreclosures, and various other transactions and disputes. He has also represented financial institutions, mortgage lenders and servicers, and various municipal entities in connection with real estate law matters and related litigation. Ravenscroft is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Shell practices in Bodman's Detroit office and is a member of the Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution and Environmental practice groups. Her litigation practice is focused on issues that arise during real property acquisition and development, including environmental enforcement and compliance, remediation, corrective action, environmental due diligence, and tax incentives and financing. She has also represented municipal clients in a variety of matters and served for two years as the assistant city attorney for the City of Grosse Pointe Park.

Shell is president of the Detroit Bar Association Barristers Board. She is a member of the Federal Bar Association and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Energy & Environment Committee. She is an active volunteer with several Detroit-based charities, including service as a mentor with VIP Mentoring, as a member of the Angel Tree Committee for Matrix Human Services, and as a member of the Young Donor Committee for Loyola High School.

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Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Myles Baker has been named to Lawyers of Color Hot List 2020.

Baker is an associate in the firm's Detroit office. He practices in the areas of complex business litigation, labor and employment, and regulatory cannabis.

Baker is the co-chair of the Commercial Litigation Section for the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, a member of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education's Young Lawyers Advisory Board, a member of the Wolverine Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan's Business Law Section. He received his law degree from Michigan State University College of Law.

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced the appointment of Paul F. Novak to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority.

Novak is the managing attorney of the Detroit office of the national law firm Weitz & Luxenberg PC. He previously worked as a partner at Milberg LLP in Detroit, senior counsel at Clark Hill PLC in Lansing, and chief legal counsel for the City of Lansing. Novak also served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan for 15 years.

Novak earned a Bachelor of Arts in Socioeconomic Policy Problems and Master of Arts in Economics, both from Michigan State University, and a law degree from Emory University School of Law.

Novak is appointed to represent Democrats for a term commencing February 10, 2021 and expiring December 12, 2024. He succeeds James R. Richardson who has resigned.

The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) oversees the construction and operation of a tunnel in the bedrock beneath the waters of the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel will house a replacement segment for the Line 5 petroleum pipelines that currently sit on the bottom of the Straits and will accommodate other utilities to improve infrastructure connections between the peninsulas. MSCA will own the tunnel after its construction and provide independent oversight throughout its life.

This appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

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Mark Wisniewski, who has served as Kitch, Drutchas, Wagner, Valitutti, & Sherbrook's chair and chief executive officer since 2014, has been re-elected by the shareholders of the firm to an additional two year term.

"I want to thank the shareholders for their show of confidence in allowing me to serve this great law firm for two more years," Wisniewski said. "This last year has been difficult for many law firms and many of our clients. The good news is that, with the help of our management team, we were able to quickly make decisions and continue to represent our clients without missing a beat. COVID has forced us to change how we practice law. Fortunately, we were already ahead of the curve before COVID, in adopting new technology and strategies to efficiently and economically help our clients. I look forward to leading our organization into a post-COVID world."

Further bolstering the firm's strength in leadership, the shareholders elected Mark Sesi to a three-year term on the Executive Committee. Sesi will join the other Executive members, Patrick Fishman and Jenna Wright Greenman, on the committee.

Sesi is a leader of the firm's No-Fault practice, focusing on No-Fault defense, including First-Party and Third-Party Auto Negligence. He is also the practice group leader of the Firm's Food and Beverage Industry and Workers' Compensation defense practices.
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