The Michigan State Bar Foundation is pleased to announce its 2019 Award Recipients. The Founders Award recognizes lawyers who exemplify professional excellence and outstanding community contributions. The Access to Justice Award honors persons who significantly advanced access to justice for the poor in Michigan. The awards will be presented during the Michigan State Bar Foundation's Fellows Reception being held Sept. 11th at the Hall of Justice in Lansing.

The Founders Award will be presented to retired Judge Alfred M. Butzbaugh. As a former president of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, Butzbaugh has provided leadership to ensure that everyone, regardless of income, receives access to justice. Butzbaugh served on the Foundation's Board of Trustees for almost 20 years. His contributions go even further because his vision and leadership have been central to numerous innovations in services supported by the Foundation and in Michigan's justice system. His depth of knowledge and understanding about access to justice is widely respected, and his leadership for change is remarkably effective. Many leaders in Michigan credit Butzbaugh as their mentor on leading access to justice initiatives. He has participated in groups and activities to advance access to justice. Examples of efforts made possible through his work at the Foundation, as a State Bar leader and in other capacities are expanded pro bono, telephone hotlines, immigration law services, foreclosure prevention projects, coordinated statewide fundraising for legal aid and assistance for self-represented litigants.

Butzbaugh exemplifies the Founders Award criteria of professional excellence and outstanding community contributions.

The Access to Justice Award will be presented to Bradley M. Gayton. Ford Motor Company's General Counsel office, under the leadership of Gayton, is extremely committed to supporting access to justice. Gayton is group vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel at Ford. His leadership and support to pro bono and other access to justice efforts has significantly advanced access to justice for the poor in Michigan and nationally. Gayton encourages all attorneys at Ford Motor Company to commit at least 30 hours to pro bono work annually, and his goal is 100 percent participation. Gayton himself provides pro bono representation through the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center to help immigrant victims of crime.

Ford Motor Company is also supportive of the Access to Justice Campaign to increase resources for civil legal aid in Michigan. Attorneys from Ford participate on civil legal aid boards, serve on the Access to Justice Campaign Steering Committee and Fundraising Committees, and participate in ABA Day to advocate for increased federal funding for civil legal aid. Ford's extraordinary involvement and leadership helps ensure access to justice for the poor.

The Michigan State Bar Foundation provides leadership and grants to improve access for all in the justice system, including support for civil legal aid to the poor, law-related education, and conflict resolution. For additional information, visit

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Butzel Long attorney Mitchell Zajac received the Detroit Bar Association's "One to Watch" Award during the 2019 Summer Breeze event at the Detroit Shipping Company on July 24.

Based in Butzel Long's Detroit office, Zajac is an associate and registered patent attorney, focusing his practice in the areas of automotive, intellectual property (IP), compliance, and international trade.

Before joining Butzel Long as a summer associate in May 2017, while attending law school full time, Zajac was an engineer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). He moved quickly through the ranks at FCA. He was responsible for multiple ground-breaking development projects, led the international engineering team producing the Ram ProMaster City, and had a leading role in FCA's corporate audit group with responsibilities in safety/regulatory compliance, quality and purchasing.

In less than a year as a licensed lawyer, Zajac has practiced in six federal courts, the U.S. Patent Office, and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Zajac's career as an attorney builds on his strengths and experiences he gained while at FCA and has helped him to grow his practice beyond the automotive industry. Zajac already has helped several clients manage and craft IP portfolios in other unique industries, like medicine, light-weighting, and industrial manufacturing. His experience is in complex patent, trade secret and commercial litigation cases. He recently helped a client achieve hundreds of thousands of dollars working with customs agents and import brokers to exclude tariffs on millions of dollars of imports exercising exceptions to President Trump's Section 232 tariffs.

Zajac has built a book of business that includes automotive and transportation companies developing IP portfolios, multiple start-up companies with $4M+ capitalization developing strategic national partners, and multi-million-dollar global automotive clients navigating international trade issues. Between trials and hearings in Detroit Washington, D.C. on behalf of Detroit auto suppliers, sitting first-chair and taking depositions across the U.S. and around the world (including London, Singapore, and Taiwan), Zajac also spends time presenting across the country as a thought leader in remanufacturing, automotive IP, and automotive contracting and supply agreements.

Zajac attended Western Michigan University Cooley Law School after graduating from Western Michigan University with Bachelors' degrees in Mechanical Engineering and German (2012) and a Master's in Mechanical Engineering (2013). Zajac is currently completing his Master's degree in Corporate Law and Finance.

He also is an advocate for continuous education and public service. He's the president of the Association for Child Development (ACD), a non-profit organization facilitating ~$30M/annum through the USDA CACF Program providing healthy meals to children across the Midwest. He has helped this organization achieve financial stability, organizational structure, and leads strategic expansion of ACD programs to more children and to provide education to more families.

Moreover, Zajac dedicates hundreds of hours each year coaching high school football in Howell. Zajac is an adjunct professor and curriculum coordinator for the engineering project management graduate programs at Trine University; serves on the WMU Lee Honors College Board; and, volunteers as a challenge master for Destination Imagination a creative problem-solving program for kids around the world.

In addition, Butzel Long immigration law attorney Reginald A. Pacis will be a featured speaker during Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) Immigration General Information Educational Seminar on Saturday, Aug. 24, in Grand Rapids.

Pacis focuses his practice in immigration law and has handled a variety of immigration matters including H-1B specialty occupation cases, L-1 Intracompany transfers, Labor Certification matters, Immigrant Visa Petitions/Adjustment of Status applications and interviews, TN Free trade cases, H-1B Department of Labor Investigations, I-9 employer verification compliance, and U.S. Port of Entry airport and land port interviews.

Pacis was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as a commissioner to the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC), which helps address the needs and concerns of the Asian Pacific American (APA) communities in Michigan.

He was named Immigration Lawyer of the Year 2013 in the field of Immigration Law by The Best Lawyers in America and has been listed in Best Lawyers for several years. Pacis is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Samahang Pilipino Ng Oakland Filipino organization. He served two consecutive one-year terms from 2003 to 2005 as chairperson of the Michigan Chapter of AILA and was a member of the AILA National Board of Governors for those terms. Pacis previously served as secretary (2001 to 2003) and membership chairperson of the Michigan Chapter of AILA (1998 to 2003).

Pacis earned a law degree from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University in 1996 and a B.A. from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1992. He joined the State Bar of Michigan in 1997.

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Shelly Lee Griffin, executive partner at Secrest Wardle's Troy location, has been named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly Class of 2019 "Women in the Law." A luncheon celebrating the Class of 2019 will be held on Sept, 5 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy.

For more than 20 years, Griffin has specialized in insurance defense litigation with an emphasis on fraud investigations. She has successfully tried and won numerous jury trials in state and federal courts, handled appeals, written appellate briefs, and argued before the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on insurance matters. Her areas of expertise include first and third-party property-casualty insurance matters, coverage disputes, and fraud and arson investigations. Griffin has also handled multi-party complex litigation, construction litigation, employment litigation and gas explosion cases.

She strives to develop greater awareness of the issue of insurance fraud through her presentations. Griffin educates claims representatives and insurance adjusters on the latest concerns challenging insurance fraud investigators and arms them with methods to detect duplicitous activity. She also ensures her clients remain apprised of all legislative and case law developments across her areas of practice. Griffin is an active member of the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, International Association of Special Investigations Units, and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

Griffin joined Secrest Wardle as an executive partner in 2018. She is a member of the Property, Fire and Casualty, Insurance Coverage, Premises Liability, and General Negligence Practice Groups. Griffin earned her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University. She is licensed to practice law in state and federal courts in Michigan and Illinois.

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Bodman PLC is pleased to announce that the firm has been ranked as "Highly Recommended" for Trademark Law by the internationally-recognized journal Managing Intellectual Property.

Bodman is one of only three Michigan law firms to be ranked as "Highly Recommended" for Trademark Law, the highest level possible.

The journal also recognized Bodman's Susan M. Kornfield as a "Trademark Star" for her work in intellectual property. Kornfield is chair of Bodman's Intellectual Property Practice Group and leader of the firm's IP Brand Protection Team.

Kornfield is also listed as a distinguished IP practitioner in Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, and DBusiness magazine's "Top Lawyers." She is the Best Lawyers in America 2019 Trademark "Lawyer of the Year" for the Ann Arbor area.

Kornfield handles both transactional and litigation matters and has been selected as an expert witness, mediator, and arbitrator in intellectual property disputes.

In addition, Bodman is pleased to announce that Melissa Benton Moore has joined the firm as a senior attorney.

Moore is a member of Bodman's Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group and is based in the firm's Troy office. She represents clients in complex commercial litigation matters throughout the country. She has a particular focus in representing clients in lender liability, debtor-creditor rights, collection, and other workout matters. She also defends financial institutions against quiet title actions, wrongful foreclosure claims, and other real property disputes.

She began her legal career at Bodman in 2009 and rejoined the firm after serving for three years as a research attorney for Oakland County Circuit Court Chief Judge Shalina Kumar.

Moore is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association and is active in its Inns of Court Program and its New Lawyers Committee. In law school, she served as publicity director for the Public Interest Law Foundation and as associate editor of the Ohio State Law Journal. She was a recipient of the Cali Award for Excellence in Legal Research, the Cali Award for Excellence in Legal Writing, and the Cali Award for Excellence in Legislation. She also received the John Bowsher Scholarship, the Merit Award, and the Academic Promise Award while in law school.

Bodman is also pleased to announce that Damali A. Sahu, a member of the firm based in the Detroit office, has been named to the 2019 "Nation's Best" list by Lawyers of Color, a publication dedicated to promoting diversity in law firms and corporate legal departments.

Sahu is one of only 100 attorneys in the Midwestern region of the United States to be chosen for this honor. Lawyers of Color selected attorneys for the Nation's Best list based on their history of noteworthy accomplishments and a commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

As a founding member and co-chair of Bodman's Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Sahu has led the planning and implementation of numerous firm efforts to recruit and retain diverse attorneys and promote an inclusive work environment. She has addressed national and local groups on topics related to the advancement of women in law firm leadership and has led Bodman's recruitment efforts at the University of Michigan Law School for more than a decade. She is also a member of Bodman's Executive Committee, which manages the firm's day to day business affairs, and a long-time member of the Associate Evaluation and Compensation Committee.

Sahu is an active community volunteer. She is vice president and treasurer of the board of directors of New Paradigm College Prep Academy, a Detroit-based charter school, and a board director and Development Committee member of Gleaner's Food Bank. She mentors students at Detroit's Spain Elementary and Middle School through VIP Mentoring and is a former board member and officer of University YES Academy in Detroit.

Sahu represents banks in commercial loan transactions with a focus on lending to venture capital-backed companies in the technology, energy, and life sciences industries. She has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Rising Stars as one of Michigan's leading banking attorneys and is a member of the Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2018 Class of "Women in Law."

Lawyers of Color is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit devoted to promoting diversity in the legal profession and advancing democracy and equality in marginalized communities. The organization produces events, conferences and publications and conducts research on the intersection of the legal profession and social justice.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently appointed Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller to the Wayne County Circuit Court.

Miller is a judge with the Wayne County 36th District Court in Detroit, where she hears cases on all of the court's dockets as the court's auxiliary judge. Miller is also the founding and presiding judge over Street Outreach Court Detroit, a specialty court program, which provides homeless citizens the opportunity to resolve certain civil infractions and misdemeanors. Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Miller to the Michigan Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Before her judgeship, she served as the director of the Detroit Workforce Development Department, and as an associate attorney with Lewis & Munday PC and Dykema law firm in Detroit. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Outstanding Judicial Leadership Award from Neighborhood Legal Services and a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Miller is an adjunct professor of criminal justice and humanities at Baker College of Allen Park and Baker College of Jackson, and is a Golden Heritage Life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Miller earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Wayne State University and law degree from the Michigan State University College of Law.

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which expires at noon on January 1, 2021, after Judge Daniel Hathaway stepped down. If Miller wishes to seek a full six-year term, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2020.

This appointment is not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

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Lakeshore Legal Aid announced that William R. Knight Jr., the organization's executive director will step down effective July 31. Knight has more than 35 years of litigation experience and more than 25 years with Lakeshore, advocating for the most vulnerable members of our communities to ensure their legal rights are protected.

"Lakeshore's goal is to improve the legal standing of each person who seek our help, and to remove the barriers and obstacles they face as they struggle to remove themselves and their families from poverty. I am grateful to have been a part of such an impactful organization, supported by the many compassionate and hard-working staff," said Knight.

In a recent statement, Lakeshore's board chair and chairman emeritus of Miller Canfield, Thomas Linn, said, "Bill's dedication to civil legal aid, commitment to Lakeshore's mission, and contributions to the larger legal aid community have been outstanding. Under Bill's leadership Lakeshore has become the largest civil legal aid organization in Michigan serving thousands of clients annually. I want to thank Bill for his demonstrated integrity, exemplary work ethic, and valued leadership as Lakeshore's Executive Director and wish him well on the next phase of his life."

During his legal career, Knight trained attorneys at the state and national levels on the benefits of providing client-centered, holistic civil legal services to clients.

Knight 's many achievements while leading Lakeshore include: leading the design and implementation of the Counsel & Advocacy Law Line (CALL) telephone intake and advice hotline to handle thousands of telephone requests for legal assistance annually; creating a collaborative law student clinic with the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School to provide free legal assistance to low-income family law clients; establishing a collaboration with the Free Legal Aid Clinic at Wayne State University Law School to provide free legal assistance to low- income family law clients in an urban setting; and co-authoring the state pilot plan for Family to Family, Team Decision Making, which garnered national recognition from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Ashley Lowe, Lakeshore's current chief executive officer will take over the leadership role commencing Aug. 1. After Lakeshore received a grant in 2016 from Legal Services Corporation, Lowe joined Lakeshore, playing an integral part in its successful three-year expansion. Lowe serves as a tireless advocate, extending empathy and attention to the communities Lakeshore serves.

Prior to coming to Lakeshore, Lowe was the associate director of Clinical Education at Wayne State University Law School. Lowe also taught at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, where she founded and directed the Family Law Assistance Project, which provides free family law services to low-income people in Oakland County.

Earlier in her career, Lowe was the director of Legal Services at the Women's Survival Center in Pontiac, associate director at Oakland Livingston Legal Aid, and worked in private practice. Active in the State Bar of Michigan, Lowe chairs the Access to Justice Committee and co-chairs the Domestic Violence Committee. She is also active in the Oakland County Bar Association's Family Court and Veterans Committees.

Lowe speaks frequently about family law and domestic violence. She has spoken about trauma-informed practice at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education Family Law Institute. Lowe earned her law degree and Master of Business Administration degree at Georgetown University.

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McKeen & Associates, Detroit-based law firm, welcomes Melissa Clark as its new firm administrator.

Clark brings 17 years of legal field experience and has worked in both the civil servant and private sectors dealing with complex and sensitive workloads. She is director of business partner relations for the Association of Legal Administrators-Metro Detroit where she also served as past president.

Outside of her profession, Clark serves as Secretary for the Brandon Township School District and started a family club for law enforcement family members where she is active in helping, advocating and supporting first responders.

Published: Mon, Jul 29, 2019