Legal People, June 13

American Title Agency
American Title Agency announces the opening of a new Grosse Pointe office at 702 Notre Dame, Suite 103, Grosse Pointe, 48230.

Real estate attorney and now CEO and general counsel for American Title Agency, Anthony J. Viviani, leads the expansion of its five other Michigan offices.

“Our focus is to provide complete real estate and insurance services in a comfortable setting that will exceeed the expectations of our clients,” said Viviani.

American Title Agency is part of the American Title and Insuracne Group which is dedicated to providing title insurance, settlement services, and a wide range of insurance products.

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Collins, Einhorn, Farrell  & Ulanoff PC
Southfield-based Collins, Einhorn, Farrell, & Ulanoff PC announced that attorney Julie Nichols has joined the firm’s Insurance Coverage Practice Group.

Nichols devotes a significant portion of her practice to insurance coverage matters and provides advice to clients with respect to coverage opinions, coverage analysis, and the litigation of declaratory actions involving issues of insurance coverage with respect to commercial liability, automobile, homeowners, and employment policies.

She also has represented clients on a wide variety of civil matters, including premises liability, contractual indemnity, no-fault, employment defense, construction and general negligence cases.

The Rochester resident is admitted to practice in Michigan, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Oakland County Bar Association, and the Women’s Bar Association.

Nichols earned her law degree from Wayne State University Law School.  She also earned a master’s degree in English and American Literature from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan.  She also occasionally teaches English at local community colleges.

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The Sam Bernstein Law Firm
Attorney Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm was recently honored with the Robert W. Egnor Jr. Outstanding Attorney Award by the Washtenaw Association for Justice.

The award is given to an attorney who makes significant contributions in the advocacy of the individual rights. Bernstein was selected for his advocacy work with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

Bernstein was appointed the chairman of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in January 2004. Under his chairmanship, the commission issued a declaration determining certain practices by insurance companies as gender discrimination, which has aided more than five million women. Also under Bernstein’s leadership, the commission was one of the only government entities willing to investigate the Michigan Civil Rights initiative (or Proposal 2) regarding widespread and systematic racially-targeted fraud in its petition campaign to secure ballot access in 2006.

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Rader, Fishman & Grauer
Great Lakes Angels is pleased to announce that the Intellectual Property law firm of Rader, Fishman & Grauer  has become a sponsor for Great Lakes Angels.

In any early stage company investment, having some barriers to entry and hopefully some patents awarded or in process is important to not only the investors but also the company seeking to compete on a global basis. 

GLA was pleased to find Rader, Fishman, & Grauer willing to be active in this entrepreneurial space and be there for the companies needing assistance and advice.  In addition, Rader, Fishman, & Grauer  offers due diligence assistance to investors on IP issues.

GLA is a nonprofit corporation. Its mission is to organize and mentor angels and provide a forum for them to grow in knowledge and wealth and foster more of the same—to help invest in entrepreneurial companies in the region.

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Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss PC
Peter M. Alter, a partner in the Southfield office of Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer, & Weiss PC, has been installed as the president of the Oakland County Bar Association. Jaffe CEO Richard Zussman made the announcement.

Alter is a member of the firm’s litigation practice group, focusing his practice in complex commercial litigation matters, including banking, restructuring, real estate, partnership, insurance, and shareholder and royalty disputes, and various types of alternate dispute resolution.

Alter has been consecutively listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” and “Michigan Super Lawyers Magazine” since 2007, in addition to recognition in previous years. He was named to the “Michigan Super Lawyers” Top 100 list in 2009 and 2010 and has been recognized as a top lawyer by dBusiness magazine. He is a graduate of Brandeis University and earned his law degree from Columbia Law School.

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Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn LLP
Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP is pleased to announce that its Partner Richard A. Barr has been appointed to serve on the Environmental Advisory Rules Committee of the Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR).  Barr is one of two attorneys to be appointed to the 13-member, state-wide committee. 

“This Advisory Rules Committee will help identify onerous rules that are hurting job creation, while not providing much social benefit,” said Steve Hilfinger, Michigan’s chief regulatory officer and director of the ORR. “This committee has many diverse perspectives—we have representatives from utilities, environmental groups, and manufacturers, as well as environmental lawyers and local officials. This is a highly talented group that I am confident will make strong recommendations to make Michigan’s regulatory system more efficient and effective.”

A member of Honigman’s Environmental Department and co-chair of the firm’s Investment Incentives and Tax Savings Practice Group, Barr’s practice focuses on environmental, real estate and business law.  He is an authority on the redevelopment of contaminated sites including the use of federal, state and local incentives for Brownfield redevelopment.

Barr served on the Part 201 Advisory Group of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from 2006 to 2007, which recommended many changes to Michigan’s primary environmental protection law at that time.  He also has spoken at numerous conferences on the issues of tax incentives and Brownfield redevelopment.

Barr earned a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Michigan.

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Warner, Norcross & Judd LLP
In the face of sweeping changes to the way Michigan oversees the finances of local units of government and school districts, the law firm of Warner, Norcross & Judd LLP has created the Emergency Manager Law Team and developed an online news and analysis resource.

Warner Norcross has tapped into the collective expertise of attorneys, including a current and a former mayor, to establish the team, which includes specialists in government affairs, municipal law, bankruptcy, financial services, litigation, labor and other related areas.  The law firm has also launched a microsite, http://emergencymanagers.wnj.com/, which will serve as a clearinghouse of information from state government, news reports and editorials, think tanks, research councils and other sources to provide up-to-date details on the law and its effectiveness.

In March, Michigan’s legislature significantly expanded the authority of government-appointed emergency managers under Public Act 4, which is also known as the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act.  The law provides new procedures for the state to monitor the fiscal health of local government and to intervene if there is financial distress.

In some cases, the state will enter into a consent agreement with the local governmental unit to address financial problems and restore financial stability. In cases of financial emergency, the governor may place the local governmental unit in receivership and appoint an EM to manage virtually all aspects of the local unit of government.

“We are working to help cities, school districts, businesses and others stay on top of this groundbreaking and complex issue,” said Tim Horner, a partner and member of the Warner Norcross team. “The pace of change in this area is incredibly fast.  Warner Norcross is out front on this issue and can be a resource.”

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OCBA ‘Distinguished Public Servant Award’
The Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA) presented its 2011 “Distinguished Public Servant Award” to Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Colleen A. O’Brien.  The award is designed to recognize an individual employed in the public sector that has provided exceptional voluntary service and dedication to the OCBA, the legal community, and the general public.

The award was presented to O’Brien at the Marriott at Centerpoint in Pontiac on Thursday, June 2.  The award acknowledges O’Brien’s numerous leadership responsibilities (past and present), countless volunteer roles, and sound judicial temperament.

O’Brien has served as a judge in the Oakland County Circuit Court since 1998.  She currently serves on the Circuit Court Criminal/Civil Division.  She also served on the Circuit Court Family Division from 1999 to 2001.

O’Brien was born and raised in Pontiac.  She attended Pontiac Catholic High School.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and went on to attend and graduate from the Detroit College of Law. 

Before her election to the bench, O’Brien was an attorney in private practice for 17 years.  Her clients included municipalities, corporations, and individuals. She also has experience in family law, probate and criminal defense. As a practicing attorney, she received the Oakland County Bar Association Pro Bono Award.

She served as a circuit court mediator in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties and was a hearing panel member of the Attorney Discipline Board.

She also served on the Rochester Hills Zoning Board of Appeals.

Since 1983, O’Brien has been a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM).  She was a member of the Board of Directors of WLAM in 1992 and 1993.  She served as President of the Oakland County Women’s Bar Association in 1993 and 1994.  She is a fellow of Michigan State Bar and Oakland County Bar Association.

O’Brien is currently an advisor to the Board of Directors: Crossroads for Youth.  She is a member of the Oakland County Criminal Assignment Committee and served several years as the liaison to the Oakland County Circuit Court Committee.  O’Brien also serves as a member of the Michigan Judges Association Executive Board and is the chair of the Corrections Committee.

O’Brien is the Presiding Judge of Oakland County’s Adult Treatment Court (Female Division). The Adult Treatment Court is a comprehensive program that provides a therapeutic approach to drug offenders. 

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Dykema Gossett PLLC
Dykema Gossett PLLC is pleased to announce that it has been ranked a 2011 “Top 100 Law Firm for Diversity” by MultiCultural Law Magazine, a distinction Dykema has earned every year since the inception of the publication. The 2011 results also include two rankings in the publication’s specialized lists: “The Top 100 Law Firms for Women” and “The Top 100 Law Firms for Native-Americans.” 

The recognition complements Dykema’s commitment to diversity and its mission to develop, maintain and promote an inclusive environment reflective of all backgrounds. The firm believes that a diverse workforce contributes to the quality of its work product, and helps its attorneys and staff better understand each other, the firm’s clients and the communities within they work. 

“We believe that as corporate citizens, it is our responsibility to lead and educate our peers in matters of diversity,” said Rex E. Schlaybaugh Jr., chairman and chief executive officer.  “Making a positive impact is a focal point of our diversity initiative. Our attorneys and staff regularly champion diversity through Dykema’s scholarship and mentoring programs-as well as their involvement in many professional organizations devoted to fostering diversity and inclusion in the legal community.”

MultiCultural Law Magazine is dedicated to workplace diversity and the roles that minorities and women play in today’s business world. The publication’s listing of the “Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity” is compiled annually through an employee survey of law firms with 100 or more attorneys. 

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Secrest Wardle
Secrest Wardle is proud to announce that its Human Resources Manager Lois Martin has been appointed as the 2011 president of the Association of Legal Admnistrator (ALA) Metropolitan Detroit Chapter.  Martin began her career with the firm as a legal assistant.  She was promoted to support staff manager in 2006 and to human resources manager in 2010.

The ALA was founded in 1971 to provide support to professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments and government legal agencies. 

Martin has contributed to the ALA since becoming a member in 2006 through her roles as Community Challenge chairperson, chapter vice-president, president-elect education officer, and newsletter editor.  She recently attended the ALA Annual Conference and Exposition which was held in Orlando from May 22-25. 

She obtained her Business Degree from Lansing Business University, recently attended Oakland Community College, and continues her education by attending ALA National and Regional Conferences.

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Bodman PLC
William C. Hoops and Katherine Razdolsky Rothstein have joined Bodman PLC as associate attorneys.  Hoops is a member of the Real Estate Practice Group.  Rothstein is a member of the Enterprise Procurement Practice Group.  Both are based in the firm’s Troy office.

Before joining Bodman, Hoops served as corporate counsel at Macquarie Equipment Finance, LLC, a subsidiary of Macquarie Bank.  There, he drafted and negotiated equipment lease agreements and provided legal advice in connection with equipment lease transactions. 

He spent several years in the real estate department of Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius LLP in Washington, D.C.  There he represented lenders and servicers in commercial real estate loan originations, represented developers and borrowers in general real estate and leasing transactions, and negotiated a variety of agreements including construction, purchase and sale, and secured and unsecured loan agreements.

Hoops received his law degrees from the University of Miami School of Law.  He is admitted to practice in Washington, D.C. and Florida. Hoops is proficient in German.  

As a member of the Enterprise Procurement Group, Rothstein represents business clients in the drafting and negotiation of a broad range of commercial contracts, including supply arrangements and vendor service agreements.  Prior to Bodman, Rothstein was associate general counsel of Assets International LLC where she drafted, reviewed and edited contracts, litigated breach of contract actions, and assisted individuals and businesses to recover lost assets. 

Rothstein is a 2007 graduate of Wayne State University Law School.  Rothstein is fluent in Spanish and Russian and proficient in French.