Grand Rapids Bar introduces board, awards newer lawyers

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LEGAL NEWS PHOTOS BY CYNTHIA PRICE              

by Cynthia Price
Legal News

As usually happens at a Grand Rapids Bar Association get-together, there was a convivial and fun-filled atmosphere at the annual meeting last week, despite the serious intent of introducing incoming board members and thanking the old, and starting a tradition of new awards to a special group of attorneys.

The 3 in 10 Awards recognized three attorneys who had been in practice for less than ten years, for outstanding professional achievement, exceptional public service or pro bono work, and significant contribution to the bar or legal profession.

But there was also delicious food and drink, a photo booth with wild apparel props that new and old board members were not hesitant to don, and a lot of social time — so much so that speakers had to use the sound board in the BOB’s Eve event space to blast sirens in order to get people’s attention.

Newly-elected board members include Charissa Huang of Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge, Bradley Fowler of Mika Meyers (profiled in Grand Rapids Legal News May 11, 2016), and Michael Adams from the Law Office of Michael David Adams (also profiled, in the March 6, 2015 issue).

Randall Velzen of Velzen Johnsen and Wikander was recently elected Vice President, the first step in

succeeding to the presidency. Elizabeth “Joy” Fossel of Varnum moves up into the President-Elect position as 17th Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates prepares to take over for current President Patrick Geary, also of Smith Haughey.

The new 3 in 10 Awards were developed by the GRBA First Year Attorney Committee, which also judged the nominees to determine the final awardees.

The First Year Attorney Committee sees to the needs of and supplies resources for the newly admitted attorney members after their admission ceremony, and reaches out to new lawyers “as they transition into the practice of law in Grand Rapids,” according to www.grbar.org.

Chairing the committee and spearheading the 3 in 10 process is Thomas Sinas of Sinas Dramis Law Firm, which also was the evening’s major sponsor. Sinas spoke briefly about the award winners Wafa Adib Lobo, Amanda Narvaes, and Ayda Rezaian-Nojani. He presented, along with Geary, awards to Adib Lobo and Narvaes; Rezaian-Nojani could not be present.

Adib Lobo was new to the Grand Rapids area when she moved here in 2005 to attend Thomas M. Cooley Law School, from which she graduated in 2009. She had two children during that time period so needed to learn life-work balance skills early. She did an externship at the Kent County Office of the Public Defender and then practiced at Wardrop and Wardrop PC before starting her own firm, Safe Harbor Legal, which specializes in consumer bankruptcy.

She is also an adjunct professor at Davenport’s Paralegal Program and a former instructor at WMU-Cooley.

Chair of the GRBA Solo and Small Firm Section, Adib Logo also belongs to the Debtor’s Bar of Western Michigan, the Federal Bar Association, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore, serving on the board of the last two. She volunteers for the Justice For Our Neighbors immigration non-profit.

Narvaes, who is a commercial litigation attorney at Drew, Cooper and Anding, complex commercial litigation, lender liability, copyright litigation, and consumer protection, is the current president of the West Michigan Region Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan. She graduated magna cum laude from Thomas M. Cooley Law School; her community service has included ACLU, Progressive Womens Alliance, various clinics at WMU-Cooley, and a variety of other involvements.

“I know that someone at my law firm nominated me and that all the others wrote a letter in support,” Narvaes says. “Even if I hadn’t won, that would make me feel really good.”

She also served as an administrative assistant for the GRBA for over three years.

WMU-Cooley Law School provided both the Juris Doctor (and Master of Laws in Collateral Consequences and Re-Entry) and recent employment for Ayda Rezaian-Nojani. She is currently staff attorney at the Cooley Innocence Project, after serving at the Grand Rapids Campus Access to Justice Clinic for about a year and a half.

Before that, Rezaian-Nojani was Supervising Attorney for Grand Rapids Urban League Tenant Law Project, Eaton County Court Eviction Diversion Program, and Cooley’s Non-Profit Incorporation Project.

She comments, “It is a great honor to be recognized by the [GRBA] and to be along side two other amazing Cooley grads. Thank you to the WMU- Cooley Law School Access to Justice Clinic, Jubilee Jobs, and Davenport University for the nomination and the Grand Rapids Bar Association for their support. Without these organizations I would not be able to do what I love everyday.”