Oppenhuizen's elegant new space will be available to other attorneys



by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The building at 25 South Division is already home to a number of attorneys, but if James Oppenhuizen of Oppenhuizen Law Firm has his way, there will be many more.

Not only does Oppenhuizen feel that he has found a practice area that will result in continued expansion of his own firm, he also intends to offer space in his new fifth-floor office suite to other attorneys.

“I hope to find some lawyers who are kind of complementary, and I think this building is awesome for that. It provides a really great opportunity with other attorneys of divergent practice areas to build an ecosystem where we can transfer expertise back and forth among a much larger and more diverse group than solo and small firms can normally access,” he says.

Oppenhuizen spent the first ten years of his career with Keller and Almassian, which similarly offers space in its building to other attorneys, before starting his own firm two and a half years ago.

A Calvin College philosophy major, he received his J.D., cum laude, from Valparaiso University School of Law. He was the associate editor of the Valparaiso University Law Review.

The former chair of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Young Lawyers Section (2012) who also participated in an early Just Lips lip sync performance, Oppenhuizen was named a Michigan Rising Star lawyer every year from 2011 to 2016.

His career began with a focus on bankruptcy law, and he still does corporate bankruptcy. The firm’s website, www.oppenhuizenlaw.com, has an informative section about corporate bankruptcy options. (It should be noted that there is also another law firm in Grand Rapids named Oppenhuizen Law, which specializes in IP, and that firm’s website is oppenhuizen.com, without the “law” in the domain name.)

But Oppenhuizen’s focus has expanded to fill a niche that he feels will be of great benefit to the West Michigan area as its participation in the global marketplace increases — working in EB-5 immigration and investment law.

“The genesis of that had to do with some pro bono work I’ve been doing in Honduras,” Oppenhuizen says. “Through that, I got very engaged in doing more international work and more entrepreneurship work.

“For me, getting started in the EB-5 practice means intensive learning. I’ve spent a ton of money on travel going to conferences, where the participants are industry-wide: brokers, dealers, securities lawyers and immigration lawyers. It’s very complex, so I’ve had to learn a whole lot,” he continues.

Often called the Immigrant Investor Program, under the EB-5 Visa, “...entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they... [m]ake the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and [p]lan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website.

Since the visa itself is linked to the success of the business invested in, there is a need for “exhaustive due diligence,” as Oppenhuizen’s website puts it. Intending to help with assessing investment opportunities for the foreign investor as well as  coordinate the timelines so that distressed U.S. businesses can take advantage, he believes that his skills will help those in both the U.S. and foreign countries.

His work in the Honduras has been primarily focused on streamlining  land title procedures with the government, but its intent is to help entrepreneurs gain access to collateral which will help them obtain loans. Watch for more about this project in a future issue of the Grand Rapids Legal News.

One of the legal fields immigration investment work touches on is securities, and Oppenhuizen?Law Firm has already added an expert, Jordan Hoyer. She has had a great deal of success in commercial and asset-backed securities litigation and securities arbitration.

Oppenhuizen’s concept of what to do with the rest of the beautiful new space — which, he notes, was where the fraudulent Barton Watson conducted business before his crimes were discovered and he took his own life — is a work in progress. He has spoken with a court reporter about co-locating so that depositions could be conducted in the conference room there, but nothing is set in stone yet. And he does intend to continue redecorating to update the look of the suite.

Those interested should contact Oppenhuizen at 616-730-1861 or james@oppenhuizenlaw.com