Rhoades McKee's lakeshore office transitions from affiliate status



by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The lakeshore expansion of law firm Rhoades McKee is following a path some might consider a little easier than the norm: it involves developing a satellite office from a long-time affiliate.

And it is no coincidence that the name of the new shareholder staffing the office is Peter D. Rhoades.

Rhoades is indeed one of the four children of firm co-founder Dale Rhoades, and the story of Rhoades McKee’s lakeshore office is in large part his story.

The youngest of the siblings, Peter Rhoades went to Holland originally to get his undergraduate degree from Hope College, and never looked back. “The only time I’ve left was to attend law school,” he says.

After receiving his J.D. from Valparaiso University, Rhoades started his own practice in 1993 right there in Holland. His practice very quickly honed in on financial institution services.

“My very first client was a bank which today is a different bank, but it’s still my client,” Rhoades says. “I’ve handled hundreds and in many cases thousands of matters for the financial institutions who started with me back in 1993, and most of them are still my clients.”

However, it became clear to Rhoades early on that he would need resources to do his best job for those institutions.”I really had two choices in 1994: I could go work for a larger firm, or I could partner with a firm in a less traditional method,” he explains.

So began an affiliation agreement with Rhoades McKee, then in the Waters Building, which offered the Holland attorney access to lawyers and support staff to work with his clients, without his being part of the firm structure.

Fast forward to 2014. “We did that for 17 years,” Rhoades comments, “and it quite frankly worked well. But it was becoming more and more obvious that as things get more and more specialized it was going to be much more efficient through a more traditional arrangement.”

The expansion recognizes the growing need for legal services along the lakeshore. Comments Paul A. McCarthy, Rhoades McKee President, “Holland continues to develop and expand its nationwide appeal.  Recognized as the ‘All America City’ from National Civic League and ‘One of the Top Five Places to Retire’ from Money Magazine, [Holland’s] business and development opportunities will only continue to develop, and we are excited to actively engage at the lakeshore.”

Rhoades says, “The clear intention is to utilize this location to benefit clients all along the lakeshore, which I think of as an area that spans from Muskegon County down to St. Joseph, providing added convenience for them.”

It will also be more convenient for Rhoades McKee attorneys with existing lakeshore clients. The plan is to renovate the front third of the existing building to accommodate both Rhoades and his legal assistant, as well as open offices for Grand Rapids attorneys. Eventually — “probably yet this year,” Rhoades says — additional attorneys will be hired or moved there permanently.

Though much of the remainder of the building is in use by another tenant, there is room for Rhoades McKee to expand beyond its current space.

As far as renovations, the major change will be to knock out a wall and make a much larger conference room. This reflects what happened when the Grand Rapids offices moved to 55 Campau, the thinking being that so much of contemporary legal practice requires more collaborative spaces.

Rhoades himself comments, “Having been in the old offices, including as a child, I?don’t think I appreciated how nice the new space could be.”

Rhoades says that at the time his father would take him to the former offices, he was too young to remember much about it. He does recall the period when the firm was on the first floor of the Waters Building, before expansion necessitated the move to the sixth floor.

Of course, sister Mary Jane Rhoades has long been a distinguished member of Rhoades McKee, concentrating in real estate development with an emphasis on “developing property with environmental challenges,” as well as environmental law in general.

Another brother is a software engineer, and yet another retired as a third grade teacher and is very involved in the Holland community. Indeed, Mary Jane Rhoades preceded her brother Peter in attending Hope College (and Valparaiso University School of Law as well).

Peter Rhoades lives on the south side of Holland with wife Jill and three children who attend Holland Christian schools — one a senior, one a freshman, and one in fifth grade. He is active in and a past chair of Boys and Girls Club of Holland.

Rhoades assists his financial institution clients with transactions, restructuring or workouts, as well as some bankruptcy work, involving a lot of case-by-case negotiations and agreements with the bank’s or lenders’ clients. He is also a litigator when that is needed.

Rhoades says he is very pleased with the way the expansion has worked out. “The clients I’ve spoken to have expressed lots of support. I feel as if the level of services is going to expand and the availability of additional resources is even closer than it was before.”

Of course, Rhoades McKee has a lot to gain as well. As Paul McCarthy says, “We look forward to providing comprehensive services to Holland and other lakeshore area businesses as well as having our clients benefit from the addition of Peter to our legal team.”

The Holland office is located at 11377 James Street.