Forty-Year honorees posed for a group photo at the Annual Meeting of the OCBA on June 4. “You are the exemplars of the value of hard work and practice and persistence,” outgoing OCBA President Tom Howlett told the honorees.

Photo by John Meiu

Forty-year bar members earn a royal OCBA salute

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

A contingent of 51 lawyers comprised the “Class of 1975” honorees at the Annual Meeting of the Oakland County Bar Association earlier this month at Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield.

The group of 40-Year Honorees was recognized during an awards ceremony that preceded the 81st Annual Meeting of the OCBA, and included distinguished members of the bench and bar.

Tom Howlett, outgoing president of the OCBA, set the stage for the ceremony by stepping back in time, reminding those gathered that in 1975 “A lawyer from Michigan was occupying the White House . . . The Vietnam War was ending . . . New York City staved off bankruptcy thanks to a $2.3 billion loan from the federal government . . . Jimmy Hoffa disappeared following lunch at a restaurant not far from here . . . The inflation rate was 9.2 percent . . . And a gallon of gas cost about 44 cents . . .

“And a new class of idealistic young lawyers was entering the profession throughout the country, including here in Oakland County,” Howlett noted.
“These lawyers had come of age during a formative and turbulent period of American history,” Howlett said.

Now, according to Howlett, “we are graced today by a group of Oakland County lawyers who have become leaders in the bar and in the community . . . credits to the profession and to the public.”

The 2015 class of honorees, he noted, includes a former State Bar president, a former OCBA president, “at least two attorneys who have argued before the U.S. Supreme Court,” as well as “another attorney who has argued many times before the Michigan Supreme Court.”

The group features a “number of superb trial lawyers” and “numerous transactional attorneys of high caliber and high character,” said Howlett.

“We have an honoree who led the way in the creation of grandparents’ rights in family law . . . and another attorney who handled Michigan’s main case on the right to die . . . and still another who has been instrumental in development of environmental law,” Howlett said. “All of these were areas of law that weren’t really even in the course offerings covered in law school in the mid-1970s.”

In many respects, Howlett said, the class of honorees has helped “blaze trails” in the law.

The honorees include: William B. Acker, Phillip G. Alber, Gerard J. Andree, Kathleen L. Bogas, Thomas L. Boyer, Jeffrey Butler, Thomas W. Cranmer, Joseph W. Cunningham, Sue Ellen Eisenberg, Philip R. Fabrizio, Armin G. Fischer, and Fred H. Freeman.

Other 40-year honorees: Donald J. Gasiorek, Deborah L. Gray, Robert E. Graziani, Gilbert Gugni, Jeffrey K. Haynes, Maurice Herskovic, Jack H. Holmes, Stephen J. Hopkins, Thomas L. Imbrunone, Robert G. Isgrigg Jr., Thomas E. Keenan, Karen Smith Kienbaum, Gregory M. Kopacz, and Richard E. Kroopnick.

Also saluted at the ceremony were Bryan H. Levy, Douglas J. Maskin, Neil A. Miller, Morton L. Noveck, Michael G. Nowakowski, Gerald V. Padilla, the Hon. David H. Paruch, Lawrence S. Pepper, Richard B. Poling Jr., the Hon. Dennis N. Powers, James C. Rose, David M. Rosenberger, and Harriet B. Rotter.

Others in the 40-Year spotlight were Michael D. Schloff, Michael F. Schmidt, Douglas J. Schroeder, Mary P. Sclawy, Marc E. Thomas, James K. Thome, Stuart Trager, B.A. Tyler, Donald A. Van Suilichem, Richard S. Victor, Arthur Jay Weiss, and Marc G. Whitefield.