Litigation Vocation: Varnum attorney enjoys the challenges and complexities of the business world

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Varnum attorney Ziyad Hermiz recalls representing a Chinese automotive company that filed a lawsuit in federal court. The suit was against a Michigan company that had breached several contracts requiring it to dismantle, pack, and transport two large pieces of automotive manufacturing equipment to China. 

“The client’s representatives did not speak English so it required the use of a Chinese interpreter to litigate the case over the course of a couple years including the use of document translation services in order to read the relevant documents,” Hermiz says.  “Before and during the two-week trial, we had to prepare and question all of our witnesses via interpreter.

“Despite the challenges, the jury returned a trial verdict and judgment in our client’s favor in the amount of $1.2 million which was later upheld despite appeals.”

His practice area of business and commercial litigation has allowed Hermiz, who works in the firm’s Birmingham office, to do the two things that hold the most appeal: litigate and continue to learn about the business world and its various industries. 

“It’s also complex and challenging. Every case is different than the last so it’s always interesting,” he says. “I love the problem solving aspect of the job and the detective-like work that is done to get there. There is nothing more satisfying than when the light bulb goes off and you come up with a breakthrough that helps you win the case for your client.”   

Hermiz, whose litigation work is usually in the pre-suit or pre-trial phases of a case, also enjoys advising start-ups, that he notes typically present interesting and unique business concepts.

“It’s also an honor to advise these companies early on in their business and ‘be along for the ride’ in the hopes they will grow to be successful companies over time,” he says.

He has shared his legal knowledge as an adjunct professor at Baker College in Auburn Hills, teaching legal courses on Advanced Legal Technology and Software; and Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis.

A graduate of Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Hermiz didn’t originally seek a legal career: he started undergrad studies as a pre-med major at Michigan State University but quickly switched to the business school to satisfy his entrepreneurial spirit, and earned his degree in finance, with honors.

Towards the end of his Spartan studies, he took classes that introduced him to business law—and knew he had found his niche. His passion for litigation followed later.

“I initially went into law school because I believed having a legal education would help me start or grow a successful business in the future,” he says. “I would later grow to love litigation when I took a trial practice class in law school, interned for a federal judge, and started working as a summer associate for a large law firm.”

Clearly the law was the right choice: Hermiz has been named to DBusiness Top Lawyers – Commercial Litigation (2018 and 2020) and Franchise (2020); and named a Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Star, Business Litigation (2012-present).

Hermiz is an alumnus of Detroit Mercy Law, where he was an executive editor on Law Review, and a member of the Justice Frank Murphy Honor Society by graduating in the top 10 percent of his class.

He appreciated the school’s focus on practical teaching—“Teaching you how the practice of law looks and feels like – through law firm program courses, clinics, and externships - instead of focusing on learning just through books,” he says. 

“Law Review also helped build skills that lawyers utilize daily. It made the transition from school to practice easier. Serving on the law review editorial board greatly enhanced my legal research, writing and editing skills.”

His internship for Judge Avern Cohn in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan revealed the day-to-day operations of a courtroom.

“I learned you should always be prepared when in front of the judge even with respect to the minor issues of a case,” he says. “I prepared bench memoranda, opinions, orders and case summaries.  In one instance, I drafted an opinion on a case and the judge adopted my analysis entirely and incorporated it into his written opinion.”  

“I was always fascinated by how much Judge Cohn loved to learn. He often would have me research things out of his own intellectual curiosity.” 

Hermiz, who lives in West Bloomfield with his wife Amanda and children: Charlotte, 10, Violet, 8, and 4-year-old Henry, enjoys playing and watching sports, poker, and traveling; and he and his wife recently started training to lead marriage preparation classes conducted by their community church.

He also spent two years as vice president of the Chaldean American Bar Association (CABA), a special purpose bar association that brings attorneys and law students together in the Chaldean community through various events held throughout the year.

“I served on the board with some other close friends so it was not only fun but a great way of networking and keeping in touch with other members of the business and legal community,” he says.




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