In the forecast: Litigation attorney knows the bounds of 'uncertainty'

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A high school graduation ceremony was cause for celebration for the Rossman family (left to right) Mark, Alana, Grace, Owen, and Connor.

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

As an admitted "one small step at a time guy," attorney Mark Rossman took the proverbial leap of faith in 2015 when he founded his own law office in Troy after spending nearly 14 years with a prominent business litigation firm in metro Detroit.

In a sense, it was a gamble with no assurance of a payoff, much in line with what Rossman advises clients when they contact him about pursuing a possible litigation matter.

"I tell them that there are three certainties in litigation," Rossman said. "First, it's going to cost a lot. Secondly, it will take a lot of time. And finally, the outcome is entirely uncertain."

Uncertainty, regrettably, has taken on a whole new meaning in 2020, a year unlike any other in modern times, according to Rossman.

"The pandemic is peeling back the fiction of economic stability for businesses, individuals, and families," said Rossman. "As we head into 2021, it's likely that we are going to see an economic pandemic with collateral damage that will make the viral pandemic look like child's play."

He already is seeing the initial fallout in terms of an uptick in business dissolution and partnership separation cases.

"Lawsuits, in many respects, are driven by economics, and when times are tough we generally see a lot of dissolutions, whether in breakups of businesses or in marriages where the stakes are high," Rossman indicated. "As a result, we have been busy and that figures to continue in the year ahead."

Especially when "lenders start calling in loans and landlords start evicting tenants," Rossman predicted.

"Those legal remedies have been on pause because of the pandemic, but when the government ordered moratoria end, it will make a lawyer's job a very busy one," said Rossman.

A University of Michigan alum, Rossman isn't bashful in describing himself as a "jack of nearly all trades and a master of most," a claim backed up by being recognized as a "Top Lawyer" by DBusiness Magazine in both corporate and family law and in the Michigan listing of Top 100 "Super Lawyers." Rossman, who earned his juris doctor from Wayne State University Law School in 2001, said he has "litigated cases up and down the appellate ladder, to the Supreme Courts of both the United States and Michigan."

Over the past three years, he has served as host and has been among the presenters at the State Bar of Michigan's Symposium on Corporate Oppression held alternately in Grand Rapids and Detroit. The two-day program annually attracts a panel of speakers that features prominent members of the bench and bar.

"I started the program for the State Bar three years ago, and this year's program was our largest in terms of speakers and registration, and was a great success notwithstanding the pandemic," said Rossman.

An avid writer, Rossman displayed his talent for the field while working for the high school newspaper at Grosse Pointe South, winning an award from The Detroit Free Press in a student competition. His award-winning story focused on one of the school's alums who was gay and had suffered various slings and arrows because of his sexual orientation.

"Homophobia was a pretty edgy subject at the time for a high school newspaper, but the story attracted a lot of attention and helped heighten awareness about the challenges of being gay in a straight world," said Rossman, who honed his writing skills at U-M, where he was awarded a bachelor's degree with honors in English.

He has continued his passion for the subject through his Detroit-based publishing company, "publishing313," which serves as an outlet for those "in love with the lyric and the noun and the verb," said Rossman.

He undoubtedly gained an appreciation for the writing craft from his father, Chris, a longtime attorney with Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, & Cohn in Detroit. On Saturdays as a child, Rossman would go the office with his dad, roaming the halls while his father "dictated letters, marked up hard copy contracts (no computers back then), and reviewed the new supplements to health care regulations."

In hindsight, Rossman said, he was struck by "how seriously the attorneys in there, on the weekend, took their job," inspiring him to mirror that "very same high caliber law practice" when he founded his own firm in 2015.

Now, as the managing partner of a firm of eight attorneys, Rossman said he has assembled a legal group that is "the best I've ever worked with" in terms of intelligence, dedication, and work ethic.

"I've worked with a lot of great lawyers, so I don't want to diminish that, but as a group, as a team, running a docket of extraordinary cases of high import, this group is second to none," Rossman said.

Admittedly, Rossman has "come a long way" since those somewhat uncertain beginnings five years ago, when he raided his 401(k) and borrowed some dough from relatives to finance the opening of his firm, jokingly telling his wife Alana that "we're good for at least the next three weeks."

She and he knew better, of course, as he confidently set out to build a law practice that specializes in business litigation, corporate structuring, business transactions, estate planning, and family law.

All the while, he has been mindful of his goal of "being the best husband and father that I can be."

Rossman got married the summer before he started law school, and the couple welcomed their first child during his final year of legal studies at Wayne State University Law School. That boy, Owen, is 20 years old now and is a student in product design at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He has two siblings, Connor (18) and Grace (15), both students at Grosse Pointe North.

Rossman has pictorial reminders of his wife and children scattered around his office, including a framed front page from a July 2010 edition of The Detroit News. In that treasured memento, Rossman is pictured in plaid shorts on a summer day, hitting fly balls to his kids at the site of the old Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. The outing was captured in all its essence by the late Terry Foster, a sports columnist with The Detroit News.

"Of course, we just went down there to have some summer fun and to pay homage to all the baseball greats who played at Tiger Stadium," said Rossman. "It was a huge surprise to be part of a front-page story on what had become of Tiger Stadium since it was torn down."

He could only remember how that hallowed baseball ground literally shook 26 years earlier when the Tigers clinched the 1984 World Series title with a game five win over the San Diego Padres, thanks to the hitting heroics of slugger Kirk Gibson.

"I was there that day," Rossman said, remembering the title-clincher that he attended with his dad and brother as if it was yesterday. "It was magical. What a year it was to be a Tiger fan."

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Attorney helped diffuse a road rage altercation

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

For an attorney who considers himself a "legal fighter" for his clients, Mark Rossman did his best to be a peacemaker last February during a road rage incident in Troy that had the potential to be a deadly confrontation.

At the tail end of his morning commute to work in Troy on February 11, 2020, Rossman was driving along Crooks Road near his office when he came upon two vehicles stopped on the busy north-south thoroughfare sandwiched between Big Beaver and Maple roads.

"I wasn't sure what triggered it, but by the time I came upon the scene it was clear that the men in the two vehicles were in a very heated argument, shouting at each other in the middle of the street," Rossman said. "Next thing I know, the driver who got out of the pickup truck slugged the man who had gotten out of his car, dropping him like a bag of rocks onto the street. He just decked him."

At that point, Rossman decided it was time to intervene in an attempt to prevent the altercation from escalating further.

"In retrospect, it probably wasn't the smartest thing for me to do, considering the open-carry law in this state, but I just couldn't sit there and do nothing," Rossman said of his decision to help break up the fight.

So, after leaving his own car, Rossman shouted at the pickup driver to get back in his vehicle, a plea that wasn't answered initially.

"I then demanded a second time that he get back in his vehicle, hoping that he would come to his senses to avoid making a bad situation even worse," Rossman indicated.

By that time, another nearby motorist was recording the unfolding drama on a cell phone in a video that was about to take an alarming turn.

"The guy did get back in his truck, but then he drove over the victim's foot in a rush to get out of there," Rossman said. "It was shocking. I could hear the crunch of bones when the truck ran over the man's foot. It was sickening."

Rossman then helped the victim make his way to the safety of the sidewalk, where within minutes he received aid from police and emergency medical personnel who were summoned to the scene.

"Since most of the incident was on video, I understand that police were able to track down the pickup truck driver, but I never heard whether he was arrested or faced any charges related to the fight," Rossman said.

What Rossman does recall, however, is that the road rage victim already was dealing with his own set of health challenges before having his foot broken in the middle of Crooks Road.

"He told me that he was on the way to a chemo treatment when the whole thing happened," Rossman reported. "Talk about the ultimate 'bad day.' It doesn't get much worse than that."

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