Hilger Hammond turns ten years old and invites the community in to celebrate


by Cynthia Price
Legal News

First there was Hilger – Stephen Hilger left Rhoades McKee in September 2008 to start his own firm.

Ben Hammond joined him by the end of 2008, moving from Smith Haughey to a partnership that has lasted ten years.

And Aileen Leipprandt, who had most recently been at Miller Johnson, joined shortly thereafter. (Leipprandt was profiled in 2012 the Legal News; see legalnews.com/grandrapids/1270240.)

The three have developed a highly-respected firm that, if not unique, is certainly close to unique, by concentrating on construction law.

To celebrate their ten-year anniversary, the firm invited members of the legal community to a lovely reception at City Flats Hotel. Many took them up on the invitation, not exclusively fellow lawyers but also people from the construction industry they serve.

As Hilger Hammond’s national reputation grows, they have branched out somewhat to help their clients in business and real estate, but construction is their forte.
“One of the things we say is ‘We’re all writers and we’re all fighters,’” says Ben Hammond. “Any one of the attorneys here can write the contracts, do the transactional work, but we’re all willing to fight for our clients if litigation can’t be avoided.”

Hilger Hammond has added three attorneys. Mark Rysberg came on fairly early, in 2010; he is a licensed contractor whose undergraduate degree from Michigan State University was in building construction management.

Dan Hatch, a summa cum laude graduate of Michigan State University College of Law, followed three years ago. Hatch is active in the Young Lawyers Section of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, following in the footsteps of Ben Hammond; at the beginning of October, Hatch shared his new-lawyer experiences with WMU-Cooley Law School students.

Attorney Chris Nyenhuis joined recently. He had previous experience in construction law in Milwaukee.

Hammond, who has continued to be very active with the Grand Rapids Bar Association, is originally from the Detroit area. He attended Cornerstone University, where he met his wife. When it came time to settle somewhere after graduation from Michigan State University College of Law, Hammond says, “It was a pretty easy decision. I?knew where I’d prefer to see myself, and fortunately I got a job.”

Hilger too was a transplant. Much of his original experience was gained in Florida, where he returned after he got his J.D. from Case Western Reserve, building up a successful construction law practice. Hilger also does mediation and arbitration.

And, interestingly, he is an accomplished singer/songwriter. The Steve Hilger Jazz Quintet – without him – entertained at the reception.