Miller Canfield attorney is youngest to receive local Notre Dame award


Miller Canfield attorney Andrew Blum


by Cynthia Price
Legal News

It is hard to talk about Andrew Blum, a litigator at Miller Canfield, without talking about Notre Dame University.

Not only did he attended Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree in government and English, receive his Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School, serve on the Notre Dame Presidential Advisory Council from 2004 to 2016, and meet his wife there, he has also just been honored by the Grand Rapids Notre Dame Club with its Person of the Year Award — the youngest ever to receive it.

“It’s for service to Notre Dame and to the local club, and to the community. Traditionally it’s a lifetime achievement award. The former winners select the current winner, and it’s a diverse group, including bishops and industry leaders.

“I was the Notre Dame Club President in my thirties, so that’s probably a part of it,” he says modestly.

In fact, talking about himself clearly makes Blum uncomfortable. He prefers to talk about what various groups with which he is involved have accomplished, including many groups which contain the name “Notre Dame.”

One of the initiatives which makes Blum most proud came as part of this service to the university itself. In 1999, he and two others developed the Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare Festival, and he has served as the chair of the Executive Committee ever since.

“The premise is, it’s trying to provide students at Notre Dame and Indiana University Northwest [in Gary] and St. Mary’s a unique experience where they interact with professional actors. So they have a teaching element in the classroom, and learning by doing,” Blum says. “I’m a Shakespeare fan but we felt it was also something that Notre Dame needed. It fit the mission of the University because the plays are so historical — there are so many themes that carry over to everyday life.”

The program says on its website, “With a local focus and international reach, we are advancing ways to explore [Shakespeare’s] enduring importance through interdisciplinary exploration of ‘Shakespeare in performance.’” Blum adds that it also gives quieter students an opportunity to blossom while learning transferable skills.

Blum comes by his passion for Notre Dame honestly, since his father was in the administration there, focusing on development, for 35 years.

“Notre Dame was what I grew up with, it was like home,” he says.

His initial involvement was with the university’s strategic planning process, but at the same time he has lent his expertise to a variety of related local activities, over and above his long service to the Notre Dame Club.

He was on the development committees for St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church and is currently on the Diocese of Grand Rapids School Development Committee. He also served the Diocese on a school feasibility study committee recently, as well as joining the Grand Rapids' Diocesan-wide School Board in 2017.

He was an officer and on the board of directors for the Conductive Learning Center, which serves “children birth to age 26 with motor disorders related to complications of prematurity, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida or brain injury,” from 2001 to 2010. “Right out of law school, I for involved with the Conductive Learning Center, and when Aquinas spun it off I was part of the board that moved it forward,” he says.

A member of the St. Adelbert Basilica in Grand Rapids, he has a broad and deep knowledge about all things Catholic. Visiting the Vatican during the papal installation mass three years ago was a high point for both Blum and his wife.

“Her old parish priest is an arch cardinal who had some chance at being pope, so she wanted to go see it, but then it turned out to be a chance to learn a lot about the church that most people don’t see. We’ve been back since due to the wonderful people we met there,” Blum says.

In addition, Blum works with his son’s school. The couple’s son, Tom, is six, and his sister Maggie is only 20 months.

All of this is not to imply that Blum has neglected his legal career. His successful litigation has led to an important decision by the Michigan Supreme Court. The MSC’s opinion in ACEMCO?Incorporated v. Ryerson Tull Coil Processing clarified the circumstances under which a material supplier may increase prices to Michigan automotive parts suppliers when a contract is in place.

Previous unpublished opinions had held that only if the “quantity” portion of the supply contract was very specific could the purchaser insist on delivery at the agreed-upon prices, but MSC ruled that it is permissible to use a “fixed quantity range contract” in order to account for market fluctuations. (ACEMCO’s contract with Ryerson had read “33,950,000 pounds +/- 20%.”)

Blum is an expert in laches law, and has written authoritative guides on the subject for Lexis Nexis. He was also asked to bring his expertise to bear on the Universal Commercial Code on its fiftieth anniversary by the State Bar of Michigan. “Making Sense of the U.C.C.” appeared in the Michigan Bar Journal   in 2014.

A large portion of his practice concerns eminent domain, and he represents both condemning authorities and landowners.

“My work on eminent domain started right after I got out of law school. Notre Dame required us to take property law which at that time was unusual — and now it would be very unusual. So I had a lot of experience with the takings clause issue, and right off the bat I had a case in Portage,” Blum says.

“But that’s just part of what I do as a litigator. I do different things on different days, which is what I love about it. I get to learn a lot about different industries,” he adds.

Blum also loves working at Miller Canfield, where he started immediately upon graduation. “I’ve had a wonderful experience here. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve worked with locally. They’ve always been good pitching in when my family has had problems, and the firm does a lot of pro bono work, and work in the community.”

Recently, Blum joined others in Miller Canfield as well as the ACLU of Michigan and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, in successfully asking the courts to delay deportation of many Iraqi nationals, most of whom were Chaldean Christians. Though his conservative beliefs make defending Iraqi immigrants a bit “out of the ordinary,” he notes that what they are asking for is a delay so the courts can consider the possibly life-threatening  risks of sending people back on a case-by-case basis, “and I don’t think that’s an outlandish request,” he says.

The Grand Rapids office has also helped political refugees from Africa to obtain citizenship, and Blum happily participated. “As part of our community outreach, we helped 19 people from Bhutan start the process. It’s been wonderful — frankly, I think for anyone who is qualified for citizenship and wants it, we should do everything in our power to help them. It’s so moving seeing the pride of the new citizens at the swearing in, especially when you have somebody you’ve helped,” Blum says.