Trifecta: Attorney specializes in three key areas


 By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News
Jean-Vierre Adams, senior counsel for Miller Canfield in Detroit, offers a trifecta of legal specialties: corporate practice, public law, and real estate.
“I enjoy resolving complex issues and developing solutions for clients that have a long term impact on their businesses,” she says. “In corporate law, I like working with finances. Public law provides both an opportunity to connect to the community and a sense of giving back to the people served by the public entities I represent. With my practice in real estate, I particularly like working with developers who want to bring about economic change in Detroit.”
In two major cases, she led the development project for a health care corporation in the construction of its new headquarters in midtown Detroit, and she has represented a public school system in its school construction and renovation capital improvement program.
Adams has a strong financial background in banking and securities, having served as corporate counsel for the investment banking division of Comerica; and prior to practicing law, worked at a major investment firm in product marketing, institutional sales and as operations and compliance manager for two of its New York offices. She spent 10 years working in banking and investment in Philadelphia and New York, and draws on that experience to represent clients in securities arbitration matters. 
“To paraphrase Jimmy Fallon—who doesn’t like money?” she says with a smile. “I enjoyed the sophistication of the work and the people who live and work in New York City, as well as the access to financial markets and the diversity of its population.”
She became interested in public and business law while studying public policy along with economics in her undergrad degree from the University of Michigan. She earned her law degree as a Wade McCree scholar from Wayne State University Law School—“a great school for practical legal education, with a diversity of the student body in terms of age, life experiences and cultural experiences,” she says.
Adams, who clerked for Warner Norcross in Grand Rapids through the Skinner Bar Association and at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, joined Miller Canfield in 2007and says the firm has provided her with an opportunity to diversify her practice in the three areas in which she finds the most satisfaction. 
“Its reputation as an international business firm has allowed me to work on transactions that have included the laws of 15 to 20 countries. Through this, I’ve gotten to know and work closely with counsel in those countries—so not only are you exposed to the law, you become aware of cultural differences that are so important in conducting global business. .  
“I also admire the depth of knowledge of my colleagues here and am able to draw on that to assist my clients in all types of matters.”
She has assisted Tier 1 automotive suppliers with commercial transactions and mergers and acquisitions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and several EU nations. Where once she racked up passport stamps, now she can do the work via the Internet. 
“Fortunately, with technology, extensive travel is no longer necessary,” she says. “I’m able to be here with my family and still work with local counsel in those countries to get transactions completed in timely and cost-efficient manner.” 
Adams, who serves as counsel for Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, was a moderator for a panel on franchise opportunities at the International Detroit Black Expo, Buy Black Weekend, Midwest Franchise Fair hosted by Miller Canfield in 2008. She even put her acting skills to work, taking part last year with three other Miller Canfield attorneys in a four-part franchise “play” presented in Detroit to the Women’s Franchise Network (WFN) of Southeast Michigan. 
Adams was previously general counsel for Detroit Public Schools.
“The work was very exciting—there were new and novel issues that would arise each day,” she says. “In that job you’re constantly challenged and must be able to quickly learn new subject areas so you can rapidly respond to needs of the school community.
“It also provided me with a sense of personal satisfaction from helping parents and students and removing barriers to obtaining an education.”
While working for DPS, she got involved in the Friends of Detroit Public Library Foundation, through some joint programs between DPS and DPL. Then a former colleague from Honigman suggested she consider joining the board and recommended her for a board position.  
“It gives me so much personal satisfaction to sit on the board of an institution that is vital to educating a society and that provides so many services to the community. As a child, I would get lost in the library for hours exploring, reading and learning. Even through college and law school, the library was essential to my studies. I would encourage everyone in the Detroit legal community to become a friend to the public libraries.”
Although she enjoyed her time working on the east coast, the Flint native was happy to return to the Great Lakes State.
“It’s home—my family and many of my closest friends are here,” she says. “It’s an exciting time to be in Detroit and to contribute to changes taking place in the business community, the schools and the city.”
She and her husband Jonathan, a clinical pharmacist at Sinai Grace Hospital, have a daughter, Surya, a sophomore at Cranbrook/Kingswood. In her leisure time, Adams enjoys travel, skiing, and reading crime novels and biographies.
“I love to cook, and to shop—my family calls me ‘the queen of the bargain.’”