By Sheila Pursglove
Early in his career, attorney Brandon Wilson represented a receiver in a case involving a judgment debtor who ran a mixed martial arts league. One Friday night Wilson showed up at an MMA event with a court order and the police.
“We took all the money they had collected at the gate and concessions stands,” he says. “When we took the beer money, the debtor decided to stop selling beer. I was the most hated man in the arena—I was glad I had police officers with me that night.”
Angry MMA fans and beer drinkers notwithstanding, Wilson—now an attorney with Howard & Howard in Royal Oak—has enjoyed his career in the law, launched with an undergrad degree from Michigan State University and a J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, where he enjoyed the moot court and trial practice programs.
“My professors were accomplished litigators who seemed passionate about their work,” he says. “I really enjoyed the pressure of arguing cases.”
His early legal practice was heavily focused on insolvency, including bankruptcy litigation and receiverships. He recalls when his boss at the time was appointed bankruptcy trustee in the case of a former professional basketball player. Wilson was tasked with marshaling the assets and figuring out how to sell them.
“I sold cars, pianos, fur coats and jewelry to people all across the country—it was quite an experience,” he says.
“My litigation practice is much more diverse now, due in large part, to the diverse clients we serve at Howard & Howard. I continue to represent financial institutions, contractors, suppliers and business owners in complex litigation here locally and across the country.
“The best part about being a litigator is the contrast it offers,” he adds. “One day you are on your feet arguing in court and the next writing briefs—there’s never a dull moment.”
His first case at Howard & Howard involved a client’s specialty vehicle that was completely destroyed by fire within a day of the client taking delivery. Wilson, who had never litigated a negligence case before, filed the case in federal court in Indiana.
“Years later, the case was dismissed on summary judgment only a few days before trial—I was devastated,” he says. “But I appealed the case to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, argued the case, and won. It was quite a thrill.”
Wilson also has a niche maritime practice, representing almost every marine salvage company on the Great Lakes.
“Under federal admiralty law, suits are often filed in federal court against the vessel that my client provided services for,” he explains. “Our client rescued a former America’s Cup sailing vessel named ‘Stars & Stripes’ after it ran aground in Lake Michigan—when the owner didn’t pay the bill for my client’s services, we had the boat arrested and sold by the U.S. Marshal’s Service.”
A native of Royal Oak, Wilson lives a few blocks from where he grew up, and within walking distance of his office. Married with two daughters, he enjoys cooking, watching cable news, and playing sports during his leisure time. He also is passionate about life in the greater Detroit area.
“I was recently riding a chairlift in Utah with a gentlemen from Houston. When I told him I was from Detroit, he thought I was crazy. I told him it’s a great place to live,” he says. “For people who aren’t from Detroit, it’s hard to explain how truly diverse and fun the city is. And Northern Michigan and the U.P. are only a few hours away.
“Detroit is also a very underrated legal market. There are some great lawyers in Detroit, many of whom are my partners, and I believe we have one of the best federal courts in the country here in the Eastern District.”
Contrasts: Attorney enjoys diversity of his litigation practice
By Sheila Pursglove