Johnson Law founder is enthused about West Michigan opportunities


 By Cynthia Price

Legal News
Michigan attorneys more high-profile than Ven Johnson are few and far between.

Many people are familiar with his trademark red boxing gloves from the ads and billboards he runs, and his very successful career pursuing personal injury complaints means he is well-known to potential plaintiffs. Most associate him with the east side of the state, where he has had a very successful practice since May 2011, working out of a historic building in?downtown Detroit.

Now Johnson has opened up shop in Grand Rapids. He says this is something he has always wanted to do.

“I was born in Southwest Michigan, in the Three Rivers/Centervillle area. My whole family went to Western Michigan University, and I went to Kalamazoo College, so I always had very strong West Michigan roots,” Johnson explains.
“Grand Rapids has always been a thriving community. Let’s be honest, in the last five to seven years, it’s just gone through the roof. And there’s such a great sense of community within and outside the legal profession. I wanted to be a part of that,” he adds.

The lobby of his posh new office at 99 Monroe N.W., in the same building as Miller Canfield and other law firms and above Panera Bread, carries out the “fighting” theme with red boxing gloves on display in the lobby along with a painting of the same nearby.

Black and red are the colors of the entire office. The sleek counters and desks and trim are all a black-appearing very dark wood, with chrome trim throughout. The filing/copy room has black cabinets and lacquered red chairs and accent pieces, and even Ven Johnson’s suit and tie match the theme. 

There are lots of large windows, and those nearest the cubicles where support staff works cover nearly the whole outside wall. “I wanted the windows to be big so that everyone can share in the light, not just have small ones in the attorney’s offices,” he says.

Johnson feels the office is in keeping with the beautiful building that houses it. “I looked all over Grand Rapids, but I knew I wanted to be downtown. And this is absolutely an amazing facility.”

Johnson obtained his law degree from the University of Detroit School of Law, then clerked at a sports and entertainment law firm in Detroit, and interned for Court of Appeals Judge John Shephard.

Over his career assisting clients in personal injury, accident, negligence,  medical malpractice, product liability, police misconduct, civil rights and disability-related cases, Johnson has won over $100 million in jury verdicts, and settled cases to the tune of $300 million.

He also is active in the community.   mostly in southeastern Michigan, as a member of everything from the RESTORE Foundation, a juvenile and adult drug court, to the board of the Parashakthi Temple.

His most visible contribution in Kent County so far was a very credible rendition of Keith Richard for the bar’s annual Just Lips event, but the community can expect to see more of him since he has recently purchased a condo downtown.

Another reason for Johnson’s fame in the legal world is his “divorce” from former partner Geoffrey Fieger, who certainly has a great deal of visibility of his own. Johnson famously left Fieger Law at the same time as several other attorneys, founded Johnson Law, and began an aggressive campaign to make his own services easily accessible to potential clients.
Though he said recently, “I used to work with some guy named Geoff Fieger – but let’s not talk about that anymore,” he was long a staunch defender of Fieger’s abilities and the way he fought for his clients.

At the time of his departure from Fieger Law, Detroit Legal News, a sister publication of the Grand Rapid Legal News, quoted him as saying, “Geoffrey Fieger... is an excellent trial lawyer, plain and simple. So did it bother me to be associated with him? No. I was proud to be associated with him because he helped the little guy. And that’s what I do.”

However, Johnson adds,  “I always knew I wanted to work in West Michigan, and I tried to convince Geoffrey of this very thing.” Once established, he wasted little time in setting up a Johnson Law practice here.

Among the first things he did was hire attorney Victoria L. Marks, whom he calls “brilliant.” She interned for Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber after graduating magna cum laude from Michigan State University in Political Science and Pre-Law, and receiving her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School.

Marks started out at a personal injury law firm, but then practiced at a defense firm with insurance companies as clients. “I had a case where she was a defense lawyer against me, and I told her she was on the wrong side,” Johnson says with a grin. “So we kept talking, and I asked her to work at the new office.”

Johnson hopes to hire another attorney by the end of the year; he says Johnson Law is here to stay.

“In any thriving large city, you have to have core people who preserve and maintain its assets and sense of history. Grand Rapids has always had that, particularly in the legal community,” he says. “I’m honored and privileged to be a part of that.”