Legal People

Collins, Einhorn, Farrell
Collins, Einhorn, Farrell PC is pleased to announce that the following five attorneys have been elected partners in the firm: Geoffrey M. Brown, Trent B. Collier, Katherine A. Crowley, Melissa E. Graves, and Julie E. Nichols.

Geoffrey M. Brown is a partner in the firm’s appellate group, focusing his practice primarily on defense of medical malpractice and legal malpractice cases at the appellate level and at the Summary Judgment/Disposition stage. Brown also handles a variety of professional liability, commercial liability and general liability appeals, as well as insurance coverage work. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan’s Appellate Practice Section and Insurance and Indemnity Law Section, and the Oakland County Bar Association.

Brown has been listed in Super Lawyers™ every year since 2008 when he was included on its Michigan Rising Stars™ list from 2008-2012 and more recently on the listing of Michigan Super Lawyers since 2013. Brown has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the Top Lawyers 2012 and 2013 issues of DBusiness® for his work in appellate law.
Brown was chosen as one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 20 “Up and Coming Lawyers” in 2010. He is the information officer and past president for the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Greater Northville.

Trent B. Collier is also a partner in the firm’s appellate group. His practice focuses on civil appeals, professional-liability defense, and commercial litigation. He is well-versed in bankruptcy law, and is a great resource when the firm’s clients must defend adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court. Collier is a co-chair of the Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of Michigan’s Appellate Practice Section. He is also a member of the Oakland County Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan’s Appellate Practice Section, and the American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects (SCRIBES).

Collier was selected as a Michigan Super Lawyers “Rising Star” in 2012, 2013 and 2014. He attended Ohio Wesleyan University, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Michigan Law School. Before joining Collins Einhorn, Collier was a partner at another major Detroit-area law firm. He also served as a judicial clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. He is a frequent author, writing on areas including appellate practice, judicial philosophy, evidentiary issues, constitutional matters, and developments in insolvency law. Collier has successfully defended clients in federal, state, and bankruptcy courts, and at both the trial and appellate levels. 

Katherine A. Crowley is a partner in the firm’s nationally recognized mass-tort defense group. Her practice centers on the defense of asbestos personal-injury cases, as well as other toxic tort matters. In addition to defending claims in Michigan, Crowley spends much of her time assisting in the defense of asbestos personal-injury cases nationwide. She focuses on developing discovery and deposition strategies for her clients.

Crowley is a member of the American Bar Association, the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, the American Defense Trial Counsel, the Oakland County Bar Association and the Defense Research Institute. In 2014, Crowley was named one of Michigan’s “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Melissa E. Graves is a partner in the Professional Liability and General Liability groups within the firm. She focuses her practice on the defense of professional liability claims and has represented a wide array of professionals, including attorneys, real estate agents, insurance agents, and health care professionals. Graves is also involved in the defense of judicial disciplinary matters.  In the general liability arena, she defends claims arising out of auto and trucking accidents. Her experience includes representing clients from the pre-suit phase through trial and she has been successful in obtaining favorable rulings in a number of appellate matters.

Graves is a past president of the Women’s Bar Association, Oakland County Region of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (2013-2014), and is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association. She was selected as a Michigan Super Lawyer in 2013 and 2014 and a “Rising Star” in 2010 and 2012. She was also selected by her peers for inclusion in the Top Lawyers 2012 issue of DBusiness for her work in legal malpractice law.

Julie E. Nichols is a partner in the Insurance Coverage group within the firm. Her practice focuses on a broad range of general liability, construction, automobile, homeowners, professional liability, umbrella/excess and other specialty coverage matters. Nichols’ practice also has included a wide variety of civil matters, including premises liability, the Michigan No-Fault Act, employment defense, and general negligence cases.

Nichols has successfully defended substantial claims on summary judgment, in trial, and on appeal, and has substantial experience in various forms of alternate dispute resolution.


Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, P.C.
Eric D. Novetsky has been named partner at Southfield-based Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss PC. Jaffe CEO Bill Sider made the announcement.

Novetsky joined Jaffe in 2008 and is a member of the firm’s Finance and Insolvency & Reorganization practice groups, specializing in the representation of lenders and borrowers in commercial loan transactions and litigation, as well as the representation of creditors, creditors’ committees and corporate debtors in bankruptcy proceedings. He also represents property owners, managers and lessees before the Michigan Tax Tribunal and State Tax Commission in commercial property tax appeals.

Prior to joining the firm, Novetsky held various positions with several Fortune 500 companies, including DaimlerChrysler, Eaton Corporation and John Deere, where he specialized in the fields of procurement, international logistics, foreign trade, customs and materials management.

Novetsky is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School. He earned his MBA from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.


Dickinson Wright PLLC

Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce the election of Kimberly M. Slaven to the firm’s offices in Troy effective January 1, 2015.

Slaven is a Member in the firm’s Troy office where she focuses her practice on intellectual property law, particularly in the area of patents. She has experience in the chemical arts, especially material science and metallurgy, as well as the mechanical and electrical arts, particularly inventions related to the automotive industry.

On behalf of the firm’s clients, she handles patent application preparation and prosecution, including original filings, responses, appeals, oppositions, reexaminations, and reissue applications. She also conducts patentability and clearance searches; provides patentability, infringement, and clearance opinions; prepares patent licensing agreements and non-disclosure agreements; and provides intellectual property litigation support and patent portfolio management.

Slaven is a member of the State Bar of Michigan’s Annual Meeting Committee, the Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association, the Society of Women Engineers of Detroit, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Detroit. 

She received her B.S. from the University of Notre Dame and her law degree from the Michigan State University College of Law.


Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer & Garin P.C.
The Theresa Law Center, an elder law, special needs advocacy and estate planning law firm, is pleased to announce that they have merged with Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer, & Garin PC. 

“This merger is a result of the shared approach to business practiced at both firms by highly motivated attorneys with extensive experience serving clients and their families,” said Theresa Law Center founder Mary T. Schmitt Smith. “Our mission is to be the preeminent Estate and Special Needs Planning, Elder Care and Probate law practice in Michigan. The merger creates a practice team that is unrivaled in experience and expertise in these very specialized areas of the law.”

Steven Malach, leader of the Estate Planning and Probate law practice at Lipson Neilson and founder of the Center for Estate Planning said, “We are confident this merger will benefit clients of both firms, and the synergy will help attract new clients. Mary is known nationwide for her expertise and her commitment to our profession.  She is Michigan’s first Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), and she actually invented a concept called the Interceptor Trust to protect assets of individuals with disabilities. This concept became so popular that the U.S. Congress adopted it as federal law, and these trusts are now used by attorneys throughout the USA to protect the assets of people with special needs. These are just a couple examples of why we are excited to be working alongside Mary and the staff of Theresa Law Center.”

Schmitt Smith established the Theresa Law Center PC to continue over a twenty plus year tradition of providing legal advocacy for clients with a passion for protection. The center advises clients about estate planning, tax and probate options, with a distinct focus on drafting and administration of Special Needs Trusts. Schmitt Smith has maintained an AV-rating by Martindale Hubbell every year since 1999. She has served on the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and was recognized as a Fellow in the Academy in 2003. Also during 2003, she became the 9th recipient of the national Theresa Foundation Award, in recognition of her community service for people with disabilities. She is a charter member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national network of lawyers dedicated to Disability and Public Benefits Law;

Schmitt Smith has presented on probate, tax, estate planning and special needs trust topics for Bar Associations and law schools in Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas and New Jersey, as well as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She is admitted to practice before the U. S. Tax Court, and the U. S. Court of Appeals (6th Circuit), where she successfully appealed a federal trial court decision interpreting Medicaid law in favor of a client with a Special Needs Trust in 2005. Schmitt Smith has been designated as a Super Lawyer for the last 8 years (2007-2014) in Elder Law, Estate Planning & Probate, Trust & Estate Litigation as reported on

Founded in 1985, Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer, & Garin PC has offices in Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, and Las Vegas. The firm’s Estate Planning law practice group is recognized throughout Michigan for its ability to represent clients and manage complex cases involving probate litigation, trusts and contested wills.


State Appellate Defender Office (SADO)
The State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) is pleased to announce the promotion of Michael L. Mittlestat to the position of SADO deputy director and the hiring of Brad Hall as administrator of the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS).

The SADO deputy position will become vacant at the end of January, 2015, when Jonathan Sacks assumes the leadership of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) as its executive director. Sacks served for seven years as SADO’s deputy, managing numerous innovative projects and a legal staff of approximately two dozen staff attorneys. The MIDC oversees Michigan’s county-funded system for delivery of trial-level criminal defense services.

Mittlestat has served as an assistant defender at SADO since 2005, following federal court clerkships and seven years at the Washington Appellate Project.  Recently, he has taught SADO’s Criminal Appellate Practice Clinic at Wayne State University Law School. He is a co-author of SADO’s Defender Trial Book, and frequent lecturer for the Criminal Defense Resource Center.

Mittlestat received the 2013 Outstanding SADO Advocate Award, presented by the Appellate Defender Commission, recognizing his work in several landmark appellate cases. That work included outstanding legal advocacy on behalf of clients Rayfield Clary, Denzel Hardy, Ashanti Locket, Anthony Brooks, DeCarlos Hureskin, and Anthony Little, as well as his inspired writing of a position supporting retroactivity of the U. S. Supreme Court’s Miller v Alabama decision.

Hall has been hired as administrator of the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS), and began work on January 5. MAACS oversees the private assigned counsel roster providing approximately 70% of appellate representation, as a counterpart to the cases assigned to the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO).

Hall will work with MAACS staff from an office in Lansing. MAACS was recently consolidated with SADO for management purposes, pursuant to Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2014-18.

A graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, Hall clerked for the Cook County Public Defender Office, Southern Center for Human Rights, and following graduation, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, Eastern District of Michigan. For eight years, Hall has worked as a staff attorney at the Detroit Federal Defender Office, handling trials, appeals, and habeas corpus cases in federal court. An acknowledged habeas expert, he has written the “Defender Habeas Book” for several years. As an amicus author for the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM), he has briefed and argued two cases in the Michigan Supreme Court.

Hall recently received Cooley Law School’s Distinguished Brief Award, and he has trained Michigan lawyers on many criminal law topics, presenting at numerous CDAM conferences.
Hall’s interest in justice has included law reform efforts including advocacy to draft legislation requiring the videotaping of custodial interrogations. He is committed to seeking reforms in the appellate assigned counsel system, through an inclusive process.


Dykema recently announced that its executive board has elected new members to the firm effective January 1. Dykema’s local new members, and descriptions of their practices, are listed below:

Danielle M. Graceffa is a Detroit-based attorney in Dykema’s Real Estate Practice Group. She regularly works for a variety of real estate clients including banks, lenders, national retailers, developers, telecommunication companies and corporate users, focusing primarily on commercial leasing for telecommunication companies, national retailers, and industrial and office owners, the acquisition and disposition of various real estate assets, specifically industrial plants, and financing transactions involving New Markets Tax Credits and Federal and State Historic Rehabilitation Credits.

Graceffa earned a law degree from Wayne State University, and a B.A. from the University of Detroit Mercy. She was recognized in Michigan Super Lawyers® as a Rising Star for Real Estate in 2013.

Robert M. Horwitz is a Detroit-based attorney in Dykema’s Financial Services Litigation Practice Group. His practice focuses on consumer finance law, particularly in the areas of compliance, regulatory and class actions. Horwitz has extensive experience representing and counseling companies on issues involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). He is frequently requested to speak at trade association conference on existing and emerging compliance and litigation issues under those federal statutes.

Horwitz earned a law degree from Wayne State University, and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Todd C. Schebor is a Detroit-based attorney in Dykema’s Environmental Practice Group. He handles a wide range of matters before both state and federal courts as well as administrative and municipal tribunals involving both environmental and real estate related disputes. He regularly advises and represents businesses and property owners concerning environmental permitting, compliance, and enforcement, as well as negotiating, allocating, and resolving environmental risk in commercial and real estate transactions.
Furthermore, he has experience advising clients on property rights and redevelopment issues, including easements, restrictive covenants, groundwater ordinances, zoning, condemnation/eminent domain, and utility projects.

Schebor earned law degrees from Case Western Reserve University and the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College, and a B.S. with a concentration in Environmental Policy from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. He was recognized in Michigan Super Lawyers® as a Rising Star for Environmental and Environmental Litigation in 2010, 2013-2014.