Taxable Value Attorney's career offers plenty of book material


 By Tom Kirvan

Legal News
Before settling on a career in the law, Kerr, Russell and Weber attorney Bob Forrest had some less than savory jobs, several of which must have prepared him well for the oftentimes rough-and-tumble world of civil and criminal tax litigation.
He was a bus boy at a seafood restaurant. He worked rides at an amusement park. He even had a stint, albeit mercifully short, shoveling chicken manure.
With such a rich and varied work background, Forrest says he may have been destined to become a tax attorney, where the legal menu can border at times on all of the above.
Several of his more noteworthy cases, framed within a 35-year legal career on both sides of prosecution and defense, will serve as the basis of a book he is writing. It will be his first literary effort and he is well into the initial draft in what figures to be a compelling work of legal-based fiction. As of now, it is untitled work, but the book will boast a story line that likely will resonate with readers of all legal persuasions.
“The book will be a combination of two cases, one of which involved money laundering and conspiracy,” Forrest says. “That case had a bit of everything – sex, money, and organized religion. If it hadn’t been real, it would be hard to believe in some respects.”
Which should make for good reading, especially for those with an abiding interest in all things legal. Forrest’s father, Henry, who died in 2002, would have been intrigued. The same can be said for his mother, Jane, now 86 and a resident of Key West, Fla. 
His father made a name for himself as an electrical engineer in the infancy of the computer industry, serving in a leadership role with Control Data Corp., the mainframe firm founded in the late ‘50s.
“He had an incredible, very analytical mind,” Forrest says of his father. “He was ahead of his time.”
Forrest enrolled at Northwestern University, graduating from the school in 1971 with a degree in political science. From there, he was accepted to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., serving as editor of the law review his second and third years. While there he worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a lengthy prosecution of gamblers and the police officers to whom protection money was paid.
Upon graduation from Georgetown, Forrest served as a judicial clerk to federal Judge June Green, a member of the U.S. District Court bench for the District of Columbia. From there, more governmental service was in store for Forrest.
“In 1975, I joined the Department of Justice as a trial attorney, in the Criminal Section of the Tax Division,” Forrest relates. “I was involved in reviewing criminal tax cases across the country, and prosecuting those where the U.S. Attorney’s Office sought assistance.”
The work brought him to Flint in 1978, where he served as first chair in the successful prosecution of prominent personal injury attorney Robert Grimes on two counts of tax evasion. The case, according to Forrest, would have far reaching implications for attorneys tangled up in tax skirting schemes. 
In a column he wrote for the Oakland County Bar Association monthly magazine in April 2000, Forrest said, “Grimes’ conviction also energized the then-new head of the Attorney Grievance Commission to press for tougher sanctions and seek the reversal of the Attorney Discipline Board’s imposition of minor discipline. The appeal persuaded the Supreme Court to impose permanent disbarment as a future sanction for attorneys convicted of felonies.”
A year later, in 1979, Forrest would receive his own acclaim, earning the “Outstanding Attorney Award” from the Justice Department’s Tax Division. It would be a legal feather in his cap that he could wear proudly, even after he began a career in private practice in 1981, thereby switching his legal allegiance to those facing civil or criminal tax problems with the IRS.
“Obviously, my experience with the Justice Department has been beneficial during my years representing clients involved in serious tax matters with the IRS,” Forrest says. “It certainly helps to know how the system operates, its nuances and its complexities.”
In 1983, Forrest represented a number of service station operators of Arabic heritage charged with state sales tax evasion, eventually securing the dismissal of charges in 23 of 29 cases on the basis of what Judge Jackson in the Recorder’s Court found was ethnic discrimination. 
His career in private practice has meshed with his involvement in various bar associations. He is a past president of the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter, and currently serves as a trustee on the Federal Bar Foundation. For nearly two decades, Forrest was an adjunct professor of taxation at the University of Detroit School of Law, teaching a practice and procedure course to third year students.
Of late, Forrest has been more focused outside the legal arena on his work as board chair of the Academy of Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills, a school that once stood where the Renaissance Center towers above the Detroit River today. A member of the board for the past seven years, Forrest has served as its chair for the last three, helping guide the oldest independent school in Michigan.
“It can be a full time job in many respects,” Forrest says of his responsibilities as chair of the Academy that is part of a network of 21 Sacred Heart schools across the U.S. “The challenge of staying true to our mission in a difficult economic climate has made the work of everyone associated with Sacred Heart even more important.”
In 2006, Forrest was instrumental in helping merge Sacred Heart with the Kensington Academy, handling much of the legal work involved in bringing the two Catholic prep schools together. Now, Sacred Heart sports an enrollment of more than 500 students for girls pre-K through 12th grade and for boys pre-K through eighth grade.
Forrest and his wife of 31 years, Deirdre, met while she was working in pre-trial services at the U.S. District Court. 
“Our first date was taken in a government car with a police radio,” Forrest recalls with a smile.
She grew up in Royal Oak, graduated from Eastern Michigan University, and formerly worked in newspapering before raising a family.
Their daughter, Caitlin, is a graduate of Sacred Heart and currently is a junior studying speech pathology at her father’s alma mater, Northwestern. She is a member of the dean’s list there. 
Son John, 23, graduated from Georgia Tech and is a research engineer for its power supply testing laboratory in Atlanta.
The couple’s oldest, 26-year-old Matthew, recently passed the state bar and is assisting at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Understandably, it was a particularly proud moment when Forrest welcomed his son into the legal profession during a November 2009 ceremony.
“It was a special occasion, I must admit,” Forrest says of his son’s swearing in ceremony. “As parents, my wife and I couldn’t have been more proud of his accomplishment. It’s nice to have another lawyer in the family.”