Legal People

Warner, Norcross, & Judd LLP
Warner, Norcross, & Judd LLP recently announced that three attorneys in its Southeastern Michigan offices have been named partners.

Frank E. Henke, Jay A. Kennedy and Jennifer A. Watkins are among 11 attorneys who have been named partners – the largest class in the history of the law firm. The new partners practice in a variety of areas, from real estate and intellectual property law to employee benefits and corporate law. They serve clients across the state and around the world from the law firm’s offices in Southfield and Sterling Heights.

Henke focuses his practice on complex estate and trust planning, tax and business planning and business and corporate law. He earned an undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University and law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Kennedy concentrates his practice in corporate tax planning. He has been named a Michigan Super Lawyer and a top lawyer by DBusiness. He earned an undergraduate degree and his law degree from the University of Michigan.

Watkins concentrates her practice in employee benefits law with an emphasis on health care reform and executive compensation. She earned an undergraduate degree and her law degree from the University of Toledo.

In addition, Warner Norcross has been recognized for the fourth time as a national leader in client services among law firms.

The recent survey, conducted by The BTI Client Service A-Team, evaluates individual law firm performance through the eyes of the client. Law firms are judged on 17 activities that fall into four categories concerning financial benefits, client loyalty, quality of service and going above and beyond for the client.

Based on unprompted feedback from corporate counsel, Warner Norcross earned a spot on The BTI Client Service A-Team, the definitive list of law firms. More than 330 firms nationwide have differentiated themselves from competition through excellent client service in 2010.

“We are pleased to be recognized by our clients and by BTI Consulting as a member of the ‘Client Service A-Team,’” said Douglas E. Wagner, managing partner of Warner Norcross. “Providing superior client service is a primary goal for all of us at the law firm. Our clients expect focus, commitment, problem solving, communication and innovation from our attorneys, among other things. It is gratifying to be recognized as a leader in our profession for providing these services.”


Beier Howlett
After serving for more than four decades on the bench of the Oakland County Probate Court, newly retired judge Eugene Arthur Moore will return to the firm where his career began in 1961. Beier Howlett PC of Bloomfield Hills recently announced that Moore will return to the firm as an attorney of counsel.

After beginning his law career with Beier Howlett in the early 1960s, Moore practiced with the firm for five years before being elected probate judge for Oakland County in 1966.

He was later re-elected for six consecutive terms, three of which he served as chief judge.

“Beier Howlett is pleased to have Judge Moore continue his distinguished career where it began,” said firm CEO Tim Currier. “His expertise in matters of probate law, coupled with his extensive experience in matters of juvenile justice and family court, will bring even greater resources to our firm. We welcome him back to our practice.”

Moore has served as president of the Michigan Probate Judges Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. He is a trustee emeritus of the Cranbrook Educational Community, chairman emeritus of the Cranbrook Schools, chairperson of the STARR Commonwealth and a director of the National Center on Juvenile Justice. For 20 years, he taught probate law and juvenile law at the Detroit College of Law.

Moore graduated from the University of Michigan School of Business Administration in 1957 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1960.


Pepper Hamilton LLP
Pepper Hamilton LLP announced that Todd C. Fracassi has been elected to the partnership. Fracassi is a member of the Environmental Practice Group, resident in the firm’s Detroit office. He also is a member of the firm’s Sustainability, CleanTech and Climate Change Team. Fracassi is engaged primarily in matters of environmental litigation and regulatory affairs, and corporate environmental counseling.

Fracassi is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School (2000), the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in association with Syracuse University (M.S., environmental policy, 1995) and the University of Michigan (B.A., 1993).


Miller Canfield
The law firm of Miller Canfield was recently awarded two MarCom Gold Awards by the international Association for Marketing and Communications Professionals for the firm’s marketing campaign for the “2010 Annual Employment Law Seminar” and for its “Hot Points” newsletter.

The MarCom Awards recognizes work in the industry and aims to honor achievement and service to the communication profession. The Gold MarCom Awards are presented to entries judged to be among the most outstanding and exceeding industry norms.

Held each spring, Miller Canfield’s Annual Employment Law Seminar updates attendees on the latest labor and employment law matters. The 2010 theme, “HR Spring Training,” included an underlying baseball theme in all seminar marketing materials – direct mail and electronic save the dates, brochure invitations, online, print and radio ads, news coverage and even baseball trading cards.

The Hot Points newsletter, which underwent a design update in 2009, is entering its 17th year and has won several awards throughout its history. It is distributed to firm clients and friends around the world.

Both entries were designed by Harrington Communications of Grosse Pointe.

Additionally, Miller Canfield, known for 159 years of legal leadership, is proud to be the highest-ranking among Detroit area firms, 68 nationally out of 333, in an annual survey ranking superior client service, the 2011 BTI Client Service A-Team Report: Survey of Law Firm Client Service Performance by Wellesley, Mass.-based BTI Consulting Group, Inc.

The ranking is based on criteria including client focus and ability to keep clients informed, value for the legal dollar, ability to meet scope and budget, adaptability to unexpected changes, breadth of services, ability to leverage national resources as well as other factors. The firm was ranked by corporate responses from more than 300 corporate counsel at Fortune 1000 companies between June and September 2010.

“It’s a priority of ours to understand clients’ industries and business, anticipate needs, and put together the right legal strategy and resources. It’s an honor to be recognized nationally, and at the top in metro Detroit, for our client service commitment,” said Michael W. Hartmann, CEO of Miller Canfield.

In addition, Miller Canfield announces that Brandon C. Griffith has joined the firm as an associate in the Real Estate Group in the Troy office. 

Prior to joining the firm, Griffith spent the last seven years at Delphi Corporation as a senior buyer and global cost and commodity leader specializing in implementing sourcing strategies, supplier contract negotiations and overall supply management. He is an active member of the State Bar of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame Alumni Club of Detroit.

Griffith earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and B.S. from the University of Notre Dame.


Howard & Howard
Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC is pleased to announce that Stephen P. Dunn, Michael O. Fawaz and Melanie T. Frazier have become shareholders in the firm. They all practice out of the firm’s Royal Oak office.

Dunn is a trial attorney. He prosecutes and defends commercial disputes on behalf of financial institutions, physician groups, construction companies, franchisors, automotive suppliers, real estate development companies, computer software and digital media firms, and businesses in a wide variety of other industries.

Dunn served as an assistant prosecuting attorney for the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office prior to joining Howard & Howard. He is also a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve JAG Corps, where he has served as a prosecutor and military magistrate for an extended period on active duty. As a civilian and military prosecutor, Dunn was lead trial counsel on dozens of jury and bench trials, attaining convictions in the great majority.

Dunn earned his law degree from Wayne State University Law School and his B.A. from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY. He studied in Ireland at University College Cork.

Fawaz concentrates his practice in commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, and appeals in state and federal courts. Fawaz has successfully represented automotive suppliers, real estate firms, construction companies, and businesses across a wide spectrum in trial and appellate courts.

Fawaz earned his B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2002 and his law degree from Michigan State University College of Law in 2005. Prior to joining Howard & Howard, Fawaz worked as an appellate and litigation attorney for a mid-sized Oakland county firm.

Fawaz is licensed in the states of Michigan and Illinois. He is also admitted to the Federal District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, as well as the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Fawaz is a member of the Federal Bar Association, the Oakland County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. He is fluent in Arabic and Spanish.

Frazier’s practice focuses on litigation in the areas of trademarks, trade secrets, unfair competition, copyright infringement, patent infringement and related contact claims. She has been the sole or lead trial attorney in more than one hundred trials. She is also active in trademark prosecution, including proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Frazier earned her law degrees from Michigan State University College of Law in 1986 and from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2008. She also earned her B.S. from Davenport University f/k/a Detroit College of Business in 1982.

Frazier is admitted to the State Bar of Michigan, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals Federal Circuit. She is a member of the Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of Michigan, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association, International Trademark Association and Inforum. Frazier frequently serves as a case evaluator for the Wayne County Circuit Court.


Potestivo & Associates P.C.
Potestivo & Associates P.C. is pleased to announce the promotion of supervising attorney Neil F. Narut to assistant vice president – managing attorney of the Chicago, IL office. The new position was effective on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

“We are pleased to give Neil this new title and are confident in the managing he will do for our growing Chicago office,” said Brian Potestivo, founder and president, Potestivo & Associates, “Neil is an asset to the firm and this promotion is a great step in the right direction.”

Narut has been with the firm for more than two years and has been active and involved with various industry related conferences and efforts. He has served on several panels as speaker and moderator, has lectured for continuing legal education courses and has been published in industry journals.

Narut works with all aspects of default servicing including foreclosures, bankruptcies, landlord/tenant, title resolution, loss mitigation/home retention, REO disposition and litigation. Narut is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and The John Marshall Law School.


Wolfson Bolton PLLC
Wolfson Bolton PLLC is pleased to announce that attorney Adam L. Kochenderfer has joined the law firm. He will concentrate his practice on commercial litigation issues. The announcement was made by Scott Wolfson, member, Wolfson Bolton PLLC.

Previously, Kochenderfer was a partner at Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP. 

He is a member of the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan, and the Oakland County Bar Association. He earned his law degree in 2004 from the University of Michigan, , and earned his B.A. in Political Science and English from Oakland University in 2002.


Dickinson Wright PLLC
North American law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC recently announced that it has expanded its existing Ontario affiliate, Dickinson Wright LLP, through a combination with the established Toronto firm Aylesworth LLP. The combination was effective Jan. 1.

“The Aylesworth firm, like Dickinson Wright, brings more than a century of professional excellence, and we are thrilled to have the Aylesworth lawyers join our existing team of accomplished lawyers in Ontario. We are highly aligned in our commitment to superior client service, professionalism, and broadening the areas of expertise that we offer to our expanding client base”, says William Burgess, chief executive officer of Dickinson Wright PLLC.

“Dickinson Wright provides comprehensive legal services to a broad range of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, new ventures, individuals and governmental units. We are a growing firm, and this expansion of our Ontario affiliate is part of a very deliberate strategy to cement our leadership position in an increasingly competitive North American legal marketplace. This combination helps strengthen our resources to compete and the culture to differentiate” adds Burgess.

“This is an exciting move for all of us,” says Eric Kay, managing partner, Aylesworth LLP. “Our office location on Bay Street in Toronto will not change but we will now have the ability to offer our clients the services of Dickinson Wright PLLC, which has offices in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas, Nashville, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.”

Burgess commented, “Adding the Aylesworth professionals gives a full-service component to our affiliate in Ontario and strengthens our service capabilities in the region. The Aylesworth team brings in-depth knowledge in a number of practice areas and industry sectors and we are thrilled to be adding their experience and strengths to our own.”