Reeves brings rich, varied experience to Warner Norcross as new associate


By Cynthia Price
Legal News

The first thing you notice about Tamara M. Reeves is her enthusiasm, but close behind that is an appreciation of her empathy and caring for the people whose lives she has touched through her varied legal experiences.

The new Warner Norcross & Judd associate feels that will stand her in good stead as she pursues a litigation career there — and the people at Warner Norcross seem to agree.

“There’s a large emotional aspect in practicing law,” Reeves says. “I’m really proud of all the work I’ve done ... all my experiences really enriched me and I think they’ll aid me in the private sector. I know how to work with a diverse group of people and deal with the emotional component of being caught up in a court proceeding, but I also  understand how to employ a practical approach when the strategy for helping requires thinking outside of the box.”

She comes to Warner Norcross directly from a position as an assistant prosecutor in Kalamazoo County, which ended April 6 with her starting day at Warner April 9. But prior to that and a stint with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, she worked primarily with a variety of programs to help people keep their homes during the foreclosure crisis.

The Detroit native went to the Residential College at University of Michigan, which bills itself as “combining the vibrant intellectual atmosphere of a small college with the resources of a large research university.” The prestigious school, well-known for its excellent educational opportunities, also helped allay some of her misgivings about being away from home, she says.

Reeves was immersed in Spanish and received a broad liberal arts education, majoring in social sciences with a minor in history. 

Though there was no pre-law course, Reeves was able to take a variety of law classes. “Dean Bollinger’s constitutional law class was great because the last day of that class was a reception, and it was great to meet Dean Bollinger,” she says, referring to the former president of the University.

Reeves had wanted to be a lawyer, she says, since she was in Girl Scouts, where for a career day badge she chose to give a mock legal argument that was so successful people urged her to become an attorney.

So she continued at University of Michigan, following up her RC days with attendance at the law school. There, she was an associate editor of The University of Michigan Journal of Race and Law.

She also had the opportunity to intern after her 1L year with  Judge Victoria Roberts of the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, an experience she treasures. “It was a fantastic experience, and she’s a wonderful human being,” Reeves says.  “I was able to sit in chambers when she had attorney conferences and see the inner workings. I’m the first person in my family to even get a four-year college degree, so it was a wonderful experience for someone not coming from a legal family.

“I really worked a lot with her on legal writing. I’m a nerd, I’ve always loved to read and write. but I was really able to hone in on legal writing during that time. As attorneys we don’t need a lot of flowery language, we need to get to the point of how the law supports or does not support our points in the case. I reviewed the briefs law firms submitted and researched the points of law for her to review,” Reeves adds.

She was also able to intern abroad in South Africa, working for the Commission on Gender Equality in Johannesburg. “A lot of things that I saw there were disturbing. I went to shanty town and I saw face-to-face abject poverty. It was an eye-opening experience. I saw the diversity of cultures, but I also see how similar we all are at the end of the day,” she says.

After receiving her J.D., Reeves took a position at Legal Aid of Western Ohio, where she stayed for seven years. After focusing on “helping people preserve homeownership” there during the foreclosure crisis, Reeves was offered an opportunity to manage the statewide Keep Your Home New Mexico program. She worked out of Santa Fe and assisted people with avoiding foreclosure as well as representing them in the process, and supervised individuals in  cities across New Mexico.

She then worked on similar matters in Detroit, before joining first the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) and then the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office, sharpening her litigation skills. “In Kalamazoo County, I was in court nearly every day. I prosecuted child abuse and neglect cases, and  also juvenile criminal cases,” she says.

Wanting to make her move to private practice, Reeves says she did thorough research which resulted in her desire to join Warner Norcross.

“I talked to attorneys and people that I trusted really held Warner in high esteem. I wanted to work in an office that not only says they’re collegial but really has a collegial work environment,” Reeves says.

Reeves is in the process of moving from Portage to Grand Rapids. She loves the Grand Rapids community, visiting ArtPrize with friends when she was in Kalamazoo, discovering the wide variety of restaurants that offer vegan options. “My five-year ‘veganversary’ is in May,” she says.

“I always wanted to be associated with the best, and making the transition I wanted to work with the best,” Reeves says. “I know I took a unique path to get to Warner, but I pride myself on excellent client service and was looking for other people who provide excellent client service. Here I found my home.”