GRBA combines business with fun, announces 3 in 10 award winners

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by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The winners of the 3 in 10 award from the Grand Rapids Bar Association have more in common than might be obvious at first glance.

Brad Fowler is a litigator who focuses on municipal matters at Mika Meyers; Clark Hill’s Kara Rozin practices in education law; and Peter Kulas-Dominguez last year joined Warner Norcross + Judd to continue his family law career.

But all three were leaders in the GRBA Young Lawyers Section in the early years of their careers in the 2010-2014 time frame.

When the award was given at the Bar’s Annual Meeting May 17, all three said they enjoyed the opportunity to catch up. A December 2011 article in the Grand Rapids Legal News, titled “Young Lawyers section jump-starts members on paths to success, service,” shows Fowler and Rozin on the executive committee (treasurer and secretary respectively); Kulas-Dominguez was the president in 2014.

“It was great to see them. It was like a mini-reunion,” says Rozin, laughing.

“Yes, I and the two other recipients served on the Young Lawyers Section board together,” commented Fowler. “It was nice to mingle with them, and with everybody.

“It’s such a close-knit community,” he added.

The 3 in 10 Award, which recognizes exceptional attorneys who have been in practice less than ten years, is only in its third year. It is a project of the First Year Attorney Committee, which is currently chaired by Charissa Huang of Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge.

The 3 in 10 awards were not all that was on the schedule for the busy annual meeting, which had an island theme and offered karaoke afterwards.

President Joy Fossel welcomed everyone, and convened the business meeting, during which a bylaws change to the elections process passed.

The 50-years-in-practice attorneys were acknowledged, though not very many were present. Fossel also led the group in recognizing the winners of the 2018 President’s award, Michael Adams and William Azkoul, and of the Donald R. Worsfold Award, all given at the May 1 Law Day Luncheon.

Three judges won the Worsfold Award, Judge Janet Neff of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan; Judge Paul Sullivan; and Judge William Kelly of the 62B District Court. Because Judge Neff had not been available on May 1, she gave a speech which all of the 3 in 10 award winners agreed was inspiring.

“Judge Neff has always been one of my people I look up to,” said Rozin. “To be recognized at the same meeting she was recognized at was a big moment for me.”

It was actually Kulas-Dominguez who nominated Rozin, she said. Both received their juris doctorates from WMU-Cooley Law School, Rozin in 2008 and Kulas-Dominguez in 2009.

After her graduation, Rozin worked for the firm Kluczynski, Girtz & Vogelzang, where she was a litigator. After her move to Clark Hill in Sept. 2016. There, she cut back on litigation and counsels school districts across the state on labor and employment and compliance. This includes training for school district personnel. “What I do now could be thought of as prevention for litigation,” she says. “It’s the other side of the coin.”

Since her involvement with the Young Lawyers Section, Rozin’s life has taken a turn that means she has cut way back on Grand Rapids Bar activities.

Both her husband and her sister have battled cancer in the last couple of years, coinciding with her starting at Clark Hill. Her sister is in remission, but though she says you would never know it to look at him, her husband is still in the middle of the fight.

“Trust me, I’ve learned you take life day by day,” Rozin says.

She remains active in the Humane Society of West Michigan. “Animals are near and dear to my heart, to everyone’s heart I guess,” she says. “I actually got Peter involved too.”

Kulas-Dominguez, who says he understands that he was nominated by WMU-Cooley Prof. Chris Hastings, who is on the GRBA Board, had a solo career before joining Warner Norcross. Currently, his litigation and counseling family law practice involves divorce, child custody, LGBT family issues, and non-marital domestic relationships. His community involvements include American Inns of Court and the ACLU.

For his part, Kulas-Dominguez says he really enjoyed the annual meeting. “Meeting new people and seeing old friends was amazing. We’re all here to do a job but the job doesn’t define us, and it’s really all about building those relationships with colleagues,” he said.

Brad Fowler has remained very much involved with the Bar Association, and is currently serving on its board. The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law 2010 graduate says, “I’m deeply honored that I was selected to receive the award.”

Fowler, who clerked for Judge James Redford and worked at Law Weathers before starting his municipal law and civil litigation career at Mika Meyers, has enjoyed frequent article publications and serves on the board of Catholic Charities West Michigan.

 

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