Two attorneys share coveted OCBA honor

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By Barry Malone
Legal News

The Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA) recently recognized two practitioners for their distinguished service this year. Victoria B. King and Karen H. Safran received the Distinguished Service Award at the OCBA Annual Meeting in June.

The award, the OCBA’s most prestigious honor, is presented to recipients demonstrating superior dedication to the OCBA, the legal community, and the general public.
When she isn’t volunteering at the OCBA, King is the judicial staff attorney for Judge Leo Bowman at Oakland County Circuit Court.

“First and foremost, Victoria is an extraordinary person,” said Judge Bowman. “She has a commitment to service. Additionally, she is an extraordinary lawyer. She’s a funny person and has a great sense of humor.”

Passionate about inclusion, King, the current OCBA New Lawyers Committee (NLC) chair, is making networking opportunities the focus of her time leading the committee.
“I really want to give the new lawyers a chance to network and find where they belong,” said King. “We are really trying to do joint programs with other committees.
Many committees have aging members and they are looking for new attorneys to fill the future void.”

In addition to the NLC, King is active in many OCBA committees including those focused on diversity in the profession and the association’s membership.

“I think I was nominated because I’m not willing just to have my name on a roster,” said King. “I think the leaders of the committee know I will step up.”

A childhood interest in investigating led King to the practice of law.

“As a young kid, I loved Nancy Drew and I told my middle school counselor that I wanted to be a detective and she told me that I didn’t need to go to college to be a detective and that I should go to law school,” said King.  

As for Safran, a partner at Carson Fischer, PLC, she was raised in the law.

“I jokingly say I was raised by a pack of wild lawyers,” said Safran. “My maternal grandfather was a highly respected Detroit area lawyer. Not to say that I necessarily wanted to follow in his footsteps, but I always saw the law as something positive and something to aspire to.”

Safran’s mother worked at her grandfather’s law firm. According to Safran, during school breaks, she and her sister would go to work with her mom. They’d spend their days in the law library.

Safran, a member of the OCBA board of directors, serves the bar in many capacities. Among other things, she served as a moderator for judicial candidate forums, co-chair for the annual Probate and Circuit Court Bench Bar Conference, and wrote guidelines for the OCBA’s volunteer discovery mediator program.

Safran’s Bench Bar Conference co-chair, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, said, “As is sometimes the case when you are co-chairs with a judge the lawyer does a lot of the work.”

This year, the conference had the largest attendance in history.

“From our first phone call, we wanted to open the conference to anyone that wanted to register and get away from the old way where people were invited,” said Judge Brennan. “We wanted it to be inclusive with young voices so that people who wanted to get involved would be able to.”

Discussing her volunteerism, Safran said, “Service to the bar helps us to elevate the profession, better serve the public, and be better lawyers. It elevates the discourse and level of professionalism.”

When she isn’t working or volunteering, Safran is an avid skier.

“I’m so passionate about [skiing] because it offers a complete sense of freedom,” said Safran. “Skiing well requires you to live in the moment. It’s a nice way to clear your head.” 

Kaveh Kashef, a partner at Clark Hill and fellow OCBA board member, has called Safran both a trusted colleague and teammate as part of the OCBA Inns of Court program. He describes Safran as affable and fun to be around. Safran is “one of the most dedicated individuals to the OCBA, toward the best interests of the bar,” according to Kashef.

Those sentiments were echoed by Thomas Howlett, a partner with the Googasian Law Firm and the immediate past OCBA president. In his nominating letter, Howlett said, “Karen’s brilliant, good-natured, and when appropriate, hilarious touch is evident in so many aspects of what is great about the OCBA.”

Both King and Safran describe receiving the award as a tremendous honor and a surprise.

“It never donned on me that I would get nominated for an award, let alone that award,” said King.