Attorney returns to private practice after 16 years as in-house counsel

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In his leisure time, Foster Swift attorney Scott Forbush enjoys deep sea-sport fishing and is pictured on a trip to Aruba.

Photo courtesy of Scott Forbush

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Growing up around the automotive industry, Scott Forbush planned to follow in the footsteps of his father, who spent his career with the Cadillac Division of General Motors.

With that as his lodestar, Forbush pursued a business degree at Michigan State University; and after graduation, was offered a position with GM in its finance division. But wanting to learn the retail side of the automotive business, he instead relocated to Alabama to work in a Cadillac dealer network. Seven months later, he decided to return to the Motor City and apply to law school.

“My father earned his law degree while he started his career at GM and had impressed upon me how helpful that degree was in business or any other endeavor,” Forbush says.

The reputation of the University of Detroit and its downtown location drew Forbush to the school. He also, in his 1L year, was able to connect with a law firm in the Penobscot Building and the proximity of the law school allowed him to easily go back and forth between classes and work.

The University of Detroit was also well known for its Urban Law Clinic, providing 3L students the opportunity to handle court-appointed cases through the District Court in Harper Woods. This clinic work introduced Forbush to the courtroom where he appeared on a weekly basis to represent clients facing real legal issues.

“The judge provided invaluable direction on the range of courtroom practices and procedures—the kind of direction and insight we simply could not get in a classroom, especially on the handling of evidence,” he says.

By graduation, Forbush knew the courtroom was calling—and sought a position as an assistant prosecutor as the best opportunity to get into the courts and start gaining real trial experience.

“I was in a jury trial within the first week,” he says. “From there, we spent four out of every five days a week in and around the courtrooms. I enjoyed building the legal network in the process with defense bar, the bench and other practitioners. It was all of the courtroom and trial experience gained in that position that created the opportunities that came next in my career.”

Forbush then spent 12 years as a trial lawyer for Foster Swift in Lansing.

“First and foremost, I appreciated the opportunity to join a firm with such a great reputation in the legal community,” he says. “Foster Swift represented the gold standard to me and it was a privilege to join the litigation practice group where I was allowed very early on to run with a variety of cases. I eventually grew my own practice with the help of the attorneys across the firm who were genuinely interested in developing young lawyers and their practice areas.”

Another opportunity came calling when in 2005 he was recruited to join Jackson, a leading annuity and insurance provider. In that time, Forbush held two parallel positions: Assistant Vice President: Investigations, Regulatory Enforcement and Litigation; and Vice President for National Planning Holdings, a sister company to Jackson where he was deputy general counsel for their independent securities broker-dealer network consisting of four firms and over 3200 financial advisers.

He collaborated with senior management and numerous teams across the network, including compliance, product due diligence, governance, audit and surveillance. Additionally, he consulted on day-to-day developments creating potential risk/exposure and offered strategies for addressing escalated matters sensitive to business operations.

“I was interested in taking on a new challenge as in-house litigation counsel for a company that has become a leader in the financial services industry,” he says. “Unlike Foster Swift, where I was engaged in a statewide practice, the work with Jackson involved cases in venues across the country; everything from securities arbitration to class action litigation. It involved a good amount of travel but presented opportunities to work with attorneys and law firms from all over. I enjoyed developing that network and I expect that same network will have an impact on my work going forward.”

But in 2021, Forbush returned to Foster Swift, where he had still maintained a number of close relationships, personally and professionally.

“I felt that if there ever was an opportunity to rejoin private practice, that Foster Swift would be at the top of the list and that is mainly because of the people,” he says. “It’s also been great to reconnect with a lot of folks I’ve not seen since leaving years ago.”

Among other activities at the firm, he focuses on alternative dispute resolution concentrated primarily in the financial services industry.

“I’ve handled hundreds of securities cases—mostly customer driven—over the years and the ADR system employed in that area of dispute is more cost efficient, streamlined and effective,” he says. “I think that favors all parties, but especially the investors who are bringing the claims into a less burdensome process.

“Of course, there have been cases where I would have preferred to be in the courts, with more litigation tools available, but I grew over the years to appreciate the Dispute Resolution forum sponsored by FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.”

Forbush, who currently calls East Lansing home, is a native Detroiter who was raised mostly in northern New Jersey. His daughter Sloane, a University of Michigan alumna, is in law school in New York City; son Zach graduated from MSU with a degree in natural sciences, and son Troy is currently a junior at MSU School of Music. Forbush’s significant other, Lisa, works in the financial services industry.

In his leisure time, Forbush enjoys boating, skiing and cooking; and spent many years coaching football, basketball and baseball youth sports.


 

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