In 'Just Lips,' attorneys display their inner rock stars for justice fund


By Cynthia Price

Legal News
Every couple of years, Grand Rapids attorneys give ample evidence of their willingness to put it all out there to raise funds for the West Michigan Justice Foundation at the Just Lips Celebrity Lip Sync event.

For some, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime, while others are just willing to get up there and have fun.

Although no one actually has to sing or play an instrument, many of them have to be able to dance. And more than able they were last Thursday night, with legs and arms flying and torsos swiveling all over the Wealthy Theatre stage, and beyond.

The Grand Rapids Bar Association presented Just Lips in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012 and now in 2014, moving from a late November date to February.

Judge Sara Smolenski of the 63rd District Court (shown on page 2, bottom right) has been the emcee so many years that the jokes just seem to roll off her tongue.

Performers included:
—TJ Ackert and Matt Vicari of Miller Johnson reprising their crowd-pleasing rendition of “Soul Man” as the Blues Brothers (shown at right, top);

—Judge Christopher Yates channeled Mick Jagger and Ven Johnson (of Johnson Law) Keith Richards, as Sal Pirrotta and Dick Hillary II of Miller Johnson and Judge William Kelly joined them in complaining of no “Satisfaction” (second from top);

—Ross Plont of Gruel Mills Nims and Pylman, Chuck Kierpiec of McShane and Bowie, Stephanie Newton of Newton Law Office, Andy VanRyn of Stuart Law, and Cooley student Ellie Roy do‘’N Sync “Bye Bye Bye” (shown left to right in second photo from bottom);

—In bottom photo, Cooley student Zaneta Adams, Cooley Assistant Dean Tracey Brame, Cooley student Salina Choice, Peter Kulas of Kulas Law Office and Yvonne Briley-Wilson tear it up to Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.” The same group, less Kulas, performed a diva medley as (respectively), Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner;

—Elizabeth Welch Lykins (Welch Law), Ginny Mikita (Mikita Kruse), Aileen Leipprandt (Hilger Hammond), Colleen Healy and Jessica Wood (Miller Canfield), and Jennifer Jordan (Goodwill Industries), played some of Chicago’s criminal dames in “Cell Block Tango” (most shown on page 2, top);

—Pat Geary and Jon Vander Ploeg of Smith Haughey, Mike Homier, Foster Swift Collins and Smith, Joy Fossel of Varnum, Rick Gaffin of Koernke and Crampton, Ingrid Jensen of Clark Hill, and Dick Hillary II in “Born to be Wild” (page 2, second from top), during which Jensen and Fossel did a well-coordinated slide step to the front of the stage and a motorcycle delivered the “lead singer;”

—Peter Kulas of Kulas Law Firm led the Young Lawyer Section including Ryan McKnight from Vincent Legal Group, Erin Doyle of Worsfold Macfarlane McDonald, Laura Joyce of Domorsky and Wright, Jessica Kuipers from Rodenhouse Kuipers and Christopher Birgman from the Law Office of Constance L. Brigman PC, plus Kristin Vanden Berg, in the rather silly viral sensation, “What Does the Fox Say?” (Shown in center photo at right);

—Shown fourth from top: “Come on Eileen” brought out the flapper in Kristin Vanden Berg, GRBA President (front), and Tara Lindquist, Penny Roman, Sherrie Coke, Lyndsay Israel, and Brooke Hubbard;

—At bottom left, Randy Velzen of Velzen Johnson and Wikander, sings Kenny Rogers and Jayne Dykema, Dykema Law Offices, was an over-the-top Dolly Parton for “Islands in the Stream;”
Acts not shown include:

—Tom Saxe and Kevan Ventura (Rhoades McKee), Suanne Watt-Stay (Law Weathers), Courtney Quist (Quist Hansen), David Sarnacki (Sarnacki Law Firm), and Ken Sanders (Kenneth J. Sanders, PLC) in some wild costumes as Sly and the Family Stone;

—Barnes and Thornburg’s Melinda Rogers, Scott Murphy and Don Lawless, plus Tina Beveridge of Law Weathers and Brad Bayink of Cintas, lip-synching Fleetwood Mac; 

—Gruel Mills Nims and Pylman folks, including Tom Behm, William Azkoul, Winnie Borgman, Diane Dalman, Danielle Galla, Amanda Guest, Carol Hancock Scott Melton, Benjamin Mills, Shari Nyenhuis, Ross Plont, Teresa Stewart, and Sandra Williams, tossing beach balls into the audience while performing “Pontoon” by Little Big Town, 

—Barnes and Thornburg attorneys doing “Livin’ on a Prayer” including Laura Kane as a female Bonjovi, Michael Campbell, Ted Boersma, and Mel Porter;

—Callista Gloss of Grand Rapids Legal Advocates, Lacy Cook, Legal Aid of West Michigan, and Glenna Momany of Lambert Edwards shaking it up on Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R.”

The packed house roared, rhythm-clapped, screamed and shouted their approval.
Major sponsors of the evening were, at the Platinum level, Gruel Mills Nims and Pylman, Law Weathers, Miller Johnson, and Varnum LLP; and at the Gold Level, Mika Meyers Beckett and Jones, Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge, and Warner Norcross and Judd LLP.