Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien has been elected president of the Michigan Judges Association.  O’Brien’s term will begin on December 1, 2014, and will run until December 1, 2015.  O’Brien, who is the presiding judge of the Circuit Court’s Civil/ Criminal Division, was sworn in as president in August by the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court at the Association’s annual conference which was held in Traverse City. 

The association, which was founded in 1927, has a membership that includes the state’s circuit court and court of appeals judges.  O’Brien has been a member of the organization since 1998 when she took the bench.

As explained by O’Brien, “I am honored to be leading this 88-year-old organization which is comprised of hard working and dedicated judges from around our state.  Our mission is to have a cooperative effort to improve the administration of justice.  I look forward to working with the Supreme Court, State Court Administrator’s Office and the other judicial organizations to improve the legal system in our state.”

O’Brien has also served as the presiding judge of the female Adult Treatment Court for the past 14 years and is a past-president of the Oakland County Women’s Bar Association.  She was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Indigent Defense Advisory Commission and has served as a member of the Advisor Board to Crossroads for Youth since 1999.  A longtime member of the Oakland County Bar Association, O’Brien was honored in 2011 with the Distinguished Public Servant Award. 

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Caroline A. Grech-Clapper of Secrest Wardle was recently recognized as one of 30 outstanding women in Michigan’s legal community as 2014 Women in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.  Members of the Women of the Law Class of 2014 were recognized at an award ceremony followed by a luncheon on September 11 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy. 

Grech-Clapper received her law degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. She received her bachelor of science degree from Madonna University.

Grech-Clapper is a vice-president of the Women Officials Network Foundation.  She has also served in a director position with WON Foundation. 

Grech-Clapper has appeared as a featured speaker at the Troy Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Forum, “Top of Troy: Women of Influence.”

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Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP is pleased to announce that Mitra Jafary-Hariri, an attorney in its Litigation Department, has earned the Detroit Young Professionals’ Vanguard Award. This honor recognizes the outstanding talent of the region’s young professionals and entrepreneurs who are making a difference in our community.

At Honigman, Jafary-Hariri assists with commercial litigation matters. In the community, she is a member of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s Programming Committee and co-chair of its Riviere28 Auxiliary Group. She also co-chairs the Wolverine Bar Association’s Judicial Externship Program which seeks to promote diversity in the legal profession.

Before joining Honigman, Jafary-Hariri served as a senior law clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, Sixth Circuit, and served as a judicial clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Tarnow, Eastern District of Michigan.

Jafary-Hariri earned a law degree from Howard University School of Law.  She also earned an M.S. in education from Pace University and a B.A. in education from Wayne State University.

Honigman is also pleased to announce that four of its attorneys were honored by the Federal Bar Association Eastern District of Michigan Chapter for their pro bono contributions to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The attorneys are:

• Charles W. Duncan Jr., Intellectual Property Litigation attorney.

• Nicholas B. Gorga, Litigation partner.

• Mitra Jafary-Hariri, Litigation attorney.

• James E. Stewart, Intellectual Property Litigation partner.

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The law firm of Miller Canfield announces that Gerald J. Gleeson II, a principal in the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution (Troy office), has been elected as a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. Gleeson was inducted as a Fellow before an audience of approximately 855 persons during the recent 2014 Annual Meeting of the College in London, England.

Founded in 1950, the College is composed of the best of the trial bar from the United States and Canada. Fellowship in the College is extended by invitation only to those experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy, and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality. Lawyers must have a minimum of fifteen years trial experience before they can be considered for Fellowship.

At Miller Canfield, Gleeson is an experienced trial lawyer knowledgeable in complex business, white-collar criminal law, and family law litigation. His business litigation and arbitration experience includes successful representation of public and private companies and individuals in a variety of complex matters, including unlawful and unfair business practices, strike suits, non-competes, shareholder oppression, breach of contract, malpractice and fraud cases. He also handles internal investigations on behalf of companies and their audit committees. His family law experience includes resolving the divorces of numerous high-net-worth individuals including several cases tried to verdict.

Gleeson has tried nearly 200 jury trials to verdict. His non-jury trial experience includes bench trials, administrative proceedings and a number of facilitations before retired judges.

He is a member of the board of directors of the Oakland County Bar Association. He received his law degree (1995) from Wayne State University Law School and a B.A. (1992) from Kalamazoo College.

In addition, Jeffrey A. Crapko has joined Miller Canfield as an associate in the Troy office in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group.

Prior to joining Miller Canfield, he served as law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Robert H. Cleland, Eastern District of Michigan, as well as law clerk to U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Helene N. White, Sixth Circuit.

He is admitted to practice in Michigan and Illinois. He received his law degree (2011) from the University of Chicago Law School and his B.A. (2008) from Kalamazoo College.

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Attorney Neil Rockind, founder of Neil Rockind PC, a criminal defense law firm in Southfield, participated in a scientific forensics course held by the American Chemical Society in Chicago from October 14-17.

The hands-on class, the majority of which was conducted in a lab with participants working with their own Gas Chromatograph – Flame Ionization Detector machines, educated attending attorneys on the use of blood testing instruments and the science behind forensics chromatography, a method used to separate organic and inorganic compounds in both liquid and gas.  After separating the compounds, police, FBI and other authorities can then analyze the chemicals, such as drugs or alcohol, that are present in breath, blood and urine.

Only 200 attorneys in the U.S. have completed this coursework and are qualified to explain the science of gas chromatography in DUI ethanol-based cases. Completion of the course now allows Rockind to test blood from the lab and verify or challenge the court’s experts.

“This course has given me not only the theory behind chromatography, but provided knowledge and perspective that will enable to me to better defend and serve my clients,” Rockind said.

Trial attorneys attending the class also gained critical advocacy skills to help judges and juries discern which evidential science is valid and what professed science should be rejected.

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Michelle C. Harrell and Brian A. Nettleingham, shareholders at Maddin, Hauser, Roth & Heller PC, have been appointed to the Board of Directors of Living Arts.

Living Arts is a non-profit organization that exists to strengthen the urban neighborhoods of Southwest Detroit by cultivating an environment that sparks the imagination and fosters ingenuity through the arts and community development initiatives.

Harrell manages Maddin Hauser’s Complex and General Litigation Practice Group and concentrates her practice in the areas of complex commercial, real estate, cyber law, receiverships and family law litigation. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Detroit and her law degree from Wayne State University Law School.

Harrell serves on the Planning Commission for the City of Grosse Pointe Woods and is also a co-organizer of the One Million Cups program, an entrepreneurial crowdsourcing initiative, in Detroit for the Kauffman Foundation.

Nettleingham works in the firm’s Complex & General Litigation, Regulatory Compliance, and Real Property Practice Groups, where he serves a range of clients on issues relating to mortgage lending and servicing practices, technology, shareholder disputes, employment, and intellectual property.

Recently, Nettleingham worked with federal regulators assisting in one of the nation’s largest mortgage servicer audits regarding foreclosure practices. He regularly consults with clients regarding the development, sale, and use of software and computer, network, cyber security and internet issues, including consulting on a broad range of electronic discovery issues.

Nettleingham graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1998 and was named a 2012 Top DBusiness Lawyer for Metro Detroit in the area

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Bodman PLC Chairman Ralph E. McDowell participated as a faculty member at the Second Annual Midwestern Law Firm Leaders Forum hosted by Thomson Reuters at The Standard Club in Chicago on October 8.

McDowell, who chairs Bodman’s executive management committee, was the only leader of a Michigan-based firm to participate on the faculty. He served as a panelist for a managing partner roundtable on legal industry trends and developments, offering his insight on emerging issues that will affect midsize law firms in 2015 and beyond.

In his legal practice McDowell assists clients primarily in the areas of commercial bankruptcy, debtors’ and creditors’ rights, and workouts. He has represented the interests of banks and other financial institutions in pre-bankruptcy workout situations, commercial bankruptcy cases, and troubled credit situations. His work with banks and financial institutions includes representation in court proceedings, sale of debt transactions, foreclosures, liquidation of assets, and forbearance arrangements.  He also represents numerous clients in the automotive manufacturing industry in bankruptcy and troubled supplier situations.

McDowell is listed as 2015 Detroit “Lawyer of the Year” for Litigation-Bankruptcy by The Best Lawyers in America.  He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2015 (for twelve years) under Bankruptcy and Debtor Creditor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law and Litigation-Bankruptcy. He is listed in Chambers USA 2014 under Banking & Finance: Bankruptcy in Band 1 (the highest level possible). He is also listed in Michigan Super Lawyers 2007-2015 under Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights and as one of the 100 most highly-rated attorneys in Michigan.

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 Plunkett Cooney recently added to its growing Transportation Law Practice Group with the arrival of local attorney Benjamin M. Glazebrook.

Glazebrook is an attorney in Plunkett Cooney’s Detroit office who focuses his practice in the areas of first- and third-party motor vehicle liability claims.

Glazebrook has expertise conducting investigations of alleged fraud and suspicious claims involving insurance policyholders and medical providers. He represents several national insurance companies and has successfully resolved numerous fraud cases, resulting in the recovery of overpaid and ill-gotten benefits.

Glazebrook is a 2006 graduate of Wayne State University Law School. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 2002.

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Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Thomas A. Kabel has been admitted as a Fellow of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys (ACMA), which represents more than 400 lawyers in North America who are experts in the mortgage law industry.

ACMA Fellows have distinguished themselves as practitioners in the field of real estate mortgages by engaging in bar association activities, lecturing, authoring articles and program materials, participating in the legislative process, and writing briefs and/or arguing cases that are significant to mortgage transactions.

Based in Butzel Long’s Bloomfield Hills office, Kabel is currently the chair for the corporate and real estate departments. He concentrates his practice in the area of commercial real estate and real estate related finance. He has been involved in all facets of acquisition, disposition, leasing, financing and development of real property throughout his career.

He has experience representing commercial lenders in conventional financing and also has served as bank and bond counsel on numerous industrial revenue and other tax-exempt financings. He has also represented Michigan colleges and community colleges in various financing transactions, including tax-exempt bonds, tax anticipation notes, financing under Michigan’s New Jobs Training Program and financing with the Michigan State Building Authority.

Kabel is certified by the National Association of Development Companies (a trade association of companies that have been certified by the Small Business Administration to provide funding for small businesses) to close SBA loans under the SBA’s 504 Loan program, and for the past eight years has devoted a portion of his practice to representing Oakland County Business Finance Corporation in connection with their SBA 504 Loan program.

During his career, Kabel has been an integral part of several major development projects in Michigan, including serving as part of the bond team representing Oakland County in connection with the financing of the Michigan Motion Picture Studio in Pontiac; serving as part of the team representing the developer in its $190,000,000 renovation of the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit; and representing the City of Detroit Housing Commission in its major renovation of the Jeffries Housing project in Detroit. 

Kabel is a member of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, current chair of the Section’s Continuing Legal Education Standing Committee and co-chair of the section’s Special Committee on Commercial Leasing. Kabel also was named to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks’ Patterson’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2014.

He is the author of “Equitable Subrogation: Why the Refinance Lender’s Security Interest May Not be as Secure as it Thinks (Michigan Real Property Review)” and has participated as a speaker and/or author in numerous seminars and other continuing legal education programs throughout the past several years.  He is a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association. 

Kabel is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School (1999) and Grand Valley State University (B.S. 1995).

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Wayne State University Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson, an expert on civil rights law, will be the newest member of the Southern Poverty Law Center Board of Directors.

Founded in 1971 by civil rights attorneys Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr., the center is internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups and for launching lawsuits to fight hate and bigotry and seek justice for the most vulnerable members of society. The center also provides educators with free resources to teach children to embrace diversity.

Benson was chosen for the appointment by the center’s leadership in consultation with the board, which votes on new members.

The recent appointment, which is for a three-year term that is renewable twice, brings Benson full circle.

“She first came here straight out of college as an unpaid intern, and then worked for us,” said Penny Weaver, longtime public affairs coordinator with the center, which is in Montgomery, Ala.

Benson worked as a waitress to support herself so she could continue to volunteer at the center, Weaver said. “I’ve known her ever since then,” Weaver said. “She begged us to let her volunteer.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, Benson moved to Alabama to work full time for the center, investigating hate groups and hate crimes. It was the work of the center that inspired her to go to law school in the first place, she said, so she could make more of a difference in the nation’s civil rights issues about which she was – and still is – so passionate.

Benson clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, Sixth Circuit, and that experience, too, helped fuel her passion for civil rights law.

Prior to serving as dean at Wayne Law, she was an associate professor of law and associate director of the law school’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. In that capacity she created the Michigan Allies Project, an effort designed to track hate incidents throughout Michigan and provide legal support for victims.

Her areas of expertise include civil rights law, education law and election law. She is widely quoted on those subjects in local, regional, national and international media.

Benson also is founder and executive director of the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law, which hosts projects that support transparency and integrity in elections. In addition, she is founder and president of Military Spouses of Michigan.

She earned a master of philosophy degree from Oxford University and law degree from Harvard Law School.