Milan attorney/mayor helps community heal during coronavirus crisis


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

For a small-town mayor, attorney Dominic Hamden has suddenly found himself in the national spotlight, after starting “Milan Moments” in the City of Milan, a few miles south of Ann Arbor. Residents come outside at 7 p.m. each day to wave and interact with one another for 15 minutes, while maintaining the required distance of at least 6 feet apart. The simple but extremely effective idea has caught the imagination of a nation caught in the coronavirus crisis and the challenges of ‘social distancing.’

“Right now we’re all missing each other. We miss going to each other's house for dinner. We miss going to the movies with each other,” Hamden says.  “Milan Moments is an opportunity for each of us to just socialize while observing the Governor's social distancing order.  In a small way, we’re filling a gap that’s in our lives. The idea was given to me by Erin Held, a Milan resident on the north side of the city.  And, it’s a good one.

“I love serving this community,” he adds. “During this particular time, I’m so unbelievably proud of the Milan residents. Every day they are finding a new way to pick each other up and encourage one another.”  

When Hamden earned his undergrad degree in government and political science from the University of Michigan, he could never have dreamed of working in local government under today’s challenges.

But he has always believed in serving others and serving the community.  “It’s something my father pressed on me from when I was very young,” he says.

“When I received my acceptance letter from U of M, there wasn't a whole lot of discussion with my parents on where I would be attending college. I’m the proud son of a factory worker and a restaurant manager.
My dad bleeds blue and they were both unbelievably proud when my letter came. And, there was no discussion on going anywhere else after the letter came.”

His next career step was Cooley Law School.

“I attended the Lansing campus and I enjoyed most of my professors—they were engaged and I enjoyed intellectually sparring with them,” he says.

Being a member of the Law Review was hard, he says. “But I very much enjoyed my last two semesters on Law Review when I worked as a professor's aid in the scholarly writing course,” he adds.

After graduation, Hamden worked for Kitch Drutchas in Detroit, then for Reed Law in Ann Arbor; then hung out his own shingle shortly after his second son was born.

His areas of practice include bankruptcy, business law, commercial law, criminal defense, criminal law, estate planning, family law, landlord/tenant, probate, and real estate law, and he also serves as general counsel for Prudential Security, Inc.

“I very much enjoyed working for Steven Reed. I learned a lot,” he says.  “I opened up my own office shortly after Alexander was born and fell in love with it after a few months. The flexibility that comes with working for yourself is priceless. Don't get me wrong, I work much harder as a solo attorney. But I know I’ve done more and seen more than I would had I worked for another lawyer.”

Hamden’s passion for the law is because he enjoys helping people. “Some of the most rewarding moments in my life have been when my clients have left my office for the last time and I can see the relief on their faces,” he says.  “I know I’ve touched someone's life and that their burden has been, at least partially, lifted.”

Hamden is a member of the Washtenaw County Bar Association. “I enjoy talking shop with the other lawyers,” he says. “We have great stories and I love all the lawyers that can get a good belly laugh out of me.” 

Hamden ran for City Council 8 years ago after Mayor Kym Muckler approached him and asked him to do so.  He ran for mayor in 2017, and was re-elected unopposed last Fall. His term ends 1/1/2022.

“My wife and I fell in love with this city only a few months after we moved here.  It is, in short, our home—I am graced with the opportunity to serve it,” he says.

“As mayor, I enjoy getting things done. I love when the department heads come to me with new ideas and I love when they look at me after something is finished and ask me ‘what's next?’  This community is accomplishing wonderful things and I’m honored to be a small part of it.”

Hamden also serves as vice chair of the Milan Area Fire Board; and is a member of the Milan Main Street Board; the Dexter Street Corridor Improvement Authority; and Milan Area Chamber of Commerce.

Hamden and his wife Laura, members of the First Presbyterian Church in Milan, have two sons: Ethan, 15, and Alexander, 12, both students at Milan Area Schools.

In his leisure time, Hamden enjoys collecting antique coins and vacationing with his family in the Caribbean. 

“The best is when I get to shop for antique coins in the Caribbean,” he says. “I actually have a few coins from shipwrecked salvage.”


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