New attorneys have different backgrounds, similar attitude


by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Two newly hired attorneys at Miller Johnson have backgrounds that seem miles apart politically and philosophically, but when all is said and done their similarities may be more important than their differences.

Both worked in D.C. for prominent politicians, but on different sides of the political spectrum: Neil Marchand was an intern for Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Stephanie Cebulski was a longer-term employee for Vice President Dick Cheney and for his wife Lynne.

Both regard their experiences as preparing them more fully for a life in the legal profession.

Marchand was very young when he interned in first the Lansing office and then in Washington for Sen. Stabenow. “It was a great experience,” he says enthusiastically, “but the two were quite different.”

In Lansing he worked primarily on constituent services, following up on specific requests from Michigan citizens. These could be anything from wanting more information about a pending bill to investigating the feasibility of special requests. He also served as Stabenow’s scheduler.

The high point of his 19-year-old summer was researching and drafting a support letter for a railroad society seeking historic status, which the senator signed enthusiastically.
The following spring and summer, in 2004, Marchand worked in Stabenow’s Washington office, and that, he said, was all about policy.

He prepared briefing packets for hearings and investigating issues in-depth. His focus areas were labor and education.

And there is another resonance with Cebulski’s work inside the Beltway, which started out in 1997 just after she graduated magna cum laude from Wheaton College with a Political Science degree. She interviewed at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) where Lynne Cheney was, and continues to be, a fellow.
Cebulski worked at AEI off and on, in addition to serving as Lynne Cheney’s personal aide, at a time when Cheney hosted the television show Crossfire and was broadening her expertise on the subject of education.

When Dick Cheney ran for Vice President, Cebulski was back working for Lynne Cheney, in the thick of things, which she regards as invaluable, but, she says,“I’m glad it was only three months.” She stayed on as Lynne Cheney’s chief of staff.

She then filled an opening as Special Assistant to the Vice President for Domestic Policy, with a focus on education policy.

Referring to those years as “a fantastic experience,” Cebulski says that nearly everyone in DC is a lawyer, but there are two groups: those who regret having gone to law school, and those who love the law. She was fortunate to mentor under the vice presidential advisor David Addington, who fell into the second category. She applied to Harvard Law School and was accepted.

Neil Marchand’s education was a bit more straightforward, but one of the high points for him was a year at Pembroke College, part of Oxford in England. He too worked on a political campaign while there, particularly on the compliance aspects of the campaign, which was, in fact, what confirmed for him that he wanted to pursue the law.

Though George Washington University has no actual study-abroad program, they facilitated his application there and accepted all of the credits he earned at Pembroke.

Marchand was originally seeking a double major, in International Affairs and Mathematics. The math discipline eventually became his minor, and he went on to law school at George Washington as well. He was a Thurgood Marshall Scholar and graduated with honors.

Marchand spent 2009 to 2010 clerking for Judge Gordon Quist at the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. About working with Judge Quist, he says, “It was the best experience I could’ve asked for.  I could go on for hours, but to be able to have the opportunity to work with someone of his stature and his knowledge, and to be in an environment where your opinion is respected, was incredible.” Marchand says that Quist would sit with him and talk issues through, really listening to what Marchand had to say.

Marchand is from a small Michigan town named Ray, which is in northern Macomb County, about a half hour outside of Port Huron. Or, more accurately, he is from an even smaller sub-community called Davis.

He never really intended to practice in Michigan, but after observing the “openness” of the Grand Rapids legal community, Marchand decided he wanted to practice here.

Stephanie Cebulski is a native of Grand Rapids, and graduated from Grand Rapids Baptist Academy, now North Point High School. Though after her Harvard graduation she worked for a year at a firm in Ohio (Columbus’s Dinsmore and Shohl LLC), she was drawn back here, particularly when her brother relocated to Grand Rapids after training for the Olympics decathlon.

Cebulski has determined that she wants to practice in the areas of employment and labor. She spent a summer interning at Miller Johnson, concentrating in that area, and “fell in love with it.”

She grew up familiar with the law governing employment and labor, because her mother was a Human Resources director. She also found a lot of overlap with labor issues as she explored education policy during her Washington years. “It’s a nice combination of litigating and the corporate-type counseling, not pure litigation,” she says.

Cebulski is admitted to practice in Ohio and for the Federal Court Western District, but will take the Michigan bar exam in February.

Marchand is starting out in the Litigation Department, and says most of what he is currently doing is commercial litigation. It also involves arbitration, for which his International Affairs degree, with its emphasis on conflict resolution, is very helpful.

Marchand is working on a personal project to help start-up sustainability companies financially, which he hopes to debut soon. Meanwhile, he is looking for funding.

It is clear that their differently-hued political backgrounds will stand both Marchand and Cebulski in good stead in their practices for years to come.

Miller Johnson has also recently hired Christopher J. (CJ) Schneider, who will also start out in litigation. Seasoned attorneys Jeffrey Fraser and Anthony Comden also joined the firm’s Employment and Labor Section, collectively bringing over 38 years of experience to the firm.