Golden anniversary: Foster Swift attorney celebrates 50 years of practicing law

While growing up in Battle Creek during the 1940s, Allan Claypool’s uncle urged him to become a farmer. Even as a child, Claypool exhibited the common sense, intellectual curiosity, and work ethic necessary to nurture and cultivate fields, although the path he chose led him to a career nurturing and cultivating clients.

Foster Swift, and the firm’s clients around the world who rely on Claypool for sophisticated trusts and estates counsel, are grateful for his decision to pursue a career in the law rather than agriculture. 2019 marks Claypool’s 50-year anniversary as a practicing lawyer. What makes this milestone even more remarkable is that he has spent his entire career at one firm—Foster Swift—at a time when many lawyers hop from firm to firm in search of greener pastures.

Hard work and service have been common threads throughout Claypool’s career. Growing up in a modest household, Claypool used a paper route and other odd jobs to scrape together the $200 he needed for admittance to the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy. Upon graduation, he began active duty with the U.S. Navy, sailed around the world on various deployments, and left the Navy with the rank of lieutenant.

His career in the law began after his graduation from the University of Michigan Law School in 1969. He interviewed at only one law firm, Foster Swift, and settled down with his wife Cathy in the Lansing area where they raised two children, Lisa and Alex.

Claypool has focused his legal practice on the area of trusts and estates law, including tax planning, trusts and estates litigation, and long-term business succession planning. His practice extends beyond Michigan, as he serves clients, including high net worth individuals and business owners, throughout the country and around the world.

Foster Swift President Mike Sanders observed that over the years, Claypool has been just as dedicated to the “little guy” as to the affluent. He noted “Al is service-oriented, loyal and full of integrity—no matter who the client is.”

At a recent Foster Swift dinner celebrating Claypool’s anniversary, Claypool identified “integrity” as the primary reason he has remained with Foster Swift throughout his career. “You need to be with a firm where people have integrity, where people have values and high standards,” Claypool said.

Claypool’s accomplishments have been recognized by peers and respected publications, alike, over the course of his career. He was elected into the prestigious American Counsel of Trust and Estate Lawyers. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since its inception and the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register for Preeminent Lawyers with Highest Possible Peer Review Rating in both Legal Ability and Ethical Standards since 1983.

Claypool has been active and held key leadership positions in many legal, business and community organizations, including as chairman of the Estates and Trusts Committee, Legislative Committee of the Probate and Estate Planning Section for the State Bar of Michigan. He also completed terms as Director and past president of the Ingham County Bar Association. Additionally, Claypool is a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, a former chairman of the Ingham County Bar Estate and Trusts Committee and a former President and Director of the Greater Lansing Estate Planning Council. He is also a member of the International Bar Association and the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law.

While only time will tell how long Claypool will continue to practice law, he shows no signs of slowing down. “Al is not only one of the best lawyers I’ve ever worked with, he’s also one of the best people I’ve had the privilege of knowing,” said Sanders. “While 50 years is indeed a major milestone, all of us at Foster Swift anticipate celebrating another significant anniversary with Al, given his enthusiasm, work ethic, and dedication to the firm and our clients.” Sanders concluded by saying “It is hard to imagine our firm without Al and his wife Cathy—to whom Al extends much of the credit for his success.”