Legal People

Trott Law, a Farmington Hills-based real estate finance law firm, announced that Managing Partner Marcy Ford has been named an honoree of the inaugural Career Mastered: Women’s Leadership in Action award.

Dedicated to celebrating and recognizing women’s history, the Career Mastered: Women’s Leadership in Action Award highlights the many contributions women have made in history, business and the community.  Ford, along with her fellow honorees, was recognized at the 2015 Inside Career Success Women’s History Month Awards Programs and Reception on Monday, March 30, at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit.

In addition to her role as managing partner of Trott Law, Ford also serves as chair of the firm’s Executive Committee and is the immediate past president of USFN, a 50-state trade association servicing the mortgage banking industry. Ford is a graduate of Western Michigan University, where she earned her master’s degree. She is also a graduate of Wayne State University Law School.

The Career Mastered: Women’s Leadership in Action Award was founded by Dr. Lisa Wicker. An internationally recognized human resource expert, Wicker serves as the chief executive officer of Linkwick & Associates, a Detroit-based global human resources consulting firm.

Trott Law also announced that Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Roy Sexton has been selected to participate in a panel on legal marketing at the 2015 Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Annual Conference. The conference will take place on April 13-15 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in San Diego.

As the authority for legal marketing that brings together marketing and business development professionals from firms across the Unites States, LMA invited Sexton to sit on a four-person panel, titled “Collaboration and Coexistence among Barristers and ‘Baristas.’” Sexton and his fellow panelists will focus their discussion on practical advice on effectively communicating with lawyers, leveraging generational commonalities, delivering results that will build credibility and establishing a career network.

Sexton earned his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in 1995 and is a 1997 graduate of Ohio State University, where he earned his master’s degree in theatre. In 2007, he graduated with his MBA from the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Leadership Detroit, a governor-appointed member of the Michigan Council of Labor and Economic Growth, and was appointed to the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association Board of Governors in 2012. Currently. Sexton is an active participant in the Leadership Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti program.

Additionally, Sexton has been involved in a number of nonprofit boards and committees, including First Step, Michigan Quality Council, National MS Society, ASPCA, Wabash College Southeast Michigan Alumni Association, Penny Seats Theatre Company and the Spotlight Players. He recently published two books, “Reel Roy Reviews, Volumes 1 & 2,” collections of essays on film, theatre, and culture.

Prior to joining Trott Law, Sexton spent 10 years in various planning and communications roles at Oakwood Healthcare System, serving as the corporate director of strategic communications and planning. In this role he led a staff of 20 marketing professionals and developed the strategic direction for the $1 billion health care system.

For more information on the LMA conference, please visit

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Southfield-based Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer, & Weiss PC has appointed partner Marko J. Belej as practice group coordinator of the firm’s Tax Practice Group. Jaffe CEO Bill Sider made the announcement.

As coordinator of the firm’s Tax Practice Group, Belej will be responsible for the strategic development, growth and day-to-day management of the group.

His practice focuses on domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, recapitalizations, debt and equity offerings and business entity formations.

Belej joined Jaffe in 2004 and has been recognized as a Top Lawyer by DBusiness in 2014 and a Super Lawyers Michigan Rising Star from 2008 to 2012. He is a graduate of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

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Matthew R. VanWasshnova,
a partner in the Corporate Department of Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP, has been named to the board of directors for the nonprofit writing and tutoring center 826michigan in Ann Arbor. The nonprofit assists students ages 6-18 with free creative writing and tutoring services across Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit.

In his legal practice, VanWasshnova counsels publicly and privately held companies and investors in business formation, mergers, acquisitions, financing, securities, corporate governance and compliance matters, as well as other general corporate matters.  He has been recognized as a
“Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers from 2013 through 2014. 

VanWasshnova earned a law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He received a B.A. in economics and political science from the University of Michigan.

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The law firm of Miller Canfield announces that Maria Baldysz has joined the firm as an associate in the Corporate Group in the Troy office. Her practice includes federal taxation, state and local taxation, and employee benefits matters.

Prior to joining the firm, she served as a law clerk at the Michigan Tax Tribunal. She is pursuing her LL.M. from New York University School of Law (expected completion 2015) and received a law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and A.B. from the University of Michigan.

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Wayne State University Law School’s Kathryn Smolinski
is co-author of three chapters in a new book, “The Handbook of Oncology Social Work: Psychosocial Care for People with Cancer,” published by Oxford University Press.

Smolinski is director and founder of Wayne Law’s Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic.

Her chapters are:
—“Oncology Social Work Interventions Throughout the Continuum of Cancer Care” written with Brad Zebrack and Barbara L. Jones.
—“Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Individuals Diagnosed with Cancer” written with William Goeren.
—“Legal Issues that Affect Quality of Life for Oncology Patients and Their Caregivers” written with Debra Wolf.

Topics covered by the book include distress screening, genetics, survivorship, care coordination, diversity issues, legal and ethical matters, pediatric care, and loss and grief.

The book was launched Feb. 23 at the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network Conference in Philadelphia and will be featured May 20 during the Oncology Social Work Conference in Seattle and at other oncology, social work and health care conferences and events this year throughout the country.

Before she attended law school, Smolinski, a Monroe resident, worked for 20 years as an oncology social worker, including serving as executive director of the Association of Oncology Social Work and as a senior oncology social worker at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

She earned a bachelor of arts in psychology and English and a master of social work from the University of Michigan, as well as a law degree from Wayne Law. She is an adjunct assistant professor at the law school.

The Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic operates as a partnership between Wayne Law and the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit and provides free legal assistance to low-income cancer patients while training law students to be effective advocates for people with compelling needs. Legal services include helping people attain public benefits, keep their jobs and homes while their cancer treatment is ongoing, and plan their estates and long-term health care needs.

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Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that the firm has been ranked the #1 Bond Counsel in Michigan and #4 in the Midwest Region in dollar volume for municipal bonds issued in calendar year 2014, for which the firm served as bond counsel. The results were announced in The Bond Buyer, a nationally recognized publication in the municipal finance arena.

“It is quite an honor for our municipal law and finance practice group to achieve those rankings,” says Paul Wyzgoski, head of the group. “Our lawyers were involved last year in a number of traditional and challenging innovative financings for a wide variety of State and local clients, and the rankings reflect the trust and confidence our clients have in us.”

Dickinson Wright was credited with $3 billion of the Midwest Region’s financings serving as bond counsel for 2014, according to Thomson Reuters. Financings included Detroit Water and Sewer refundings, the Detroit general obligation bond settlement, the Exit financing and the Detroit Public Lighting Authority project bonds that were issued through the Michigan Finance Authority. In addition, the firm served as bond counsel to the City of Holland for a large gas fired generating station and served as bond counsel to the Michigan Strategic Fund for the Arena project for the Detroit Red Wings.

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The Detroit-based law firm Dykema recently announced it will combine with Texas-based Cox Smith. The combination will give Dykema a significantly expanded presence in Texas, where Cox Smith is a leading firm with deep history. The additional depth in key practices, coupled with the combined firm’s broader geographic reach, will enhance the range of services available to both firms’ clients. The addition of Cox Smith’s 118 lawyers will give the combined firm more than 450 attorneys in 15 offices. In Texas, the firm will initially operate under the name Dykema Cox Smith. The combination, which takes effect May 1, will double the size of each firm’s Dallas presence, and San Antonio will become one of Dykema’s largest offices.

“Cox Smith’s deep roots in Texas and Dykema’s robust national platform will significantly strengthen the depth of experience and service that the combined firm can offer our clients,” said Peter Kellett, chairman and CEO of Dykema. “Cox Smith shares our excitement about opportunities in Texas and beyond, and also shares a culture and work ethic similar to Dykema’s. This combination is a superb fit for our firms, our teams and our clients.”

For more than a century, Dykema has served business entities worldwide, from startups to Fortune 100 companies, as well as public bodies and nonprofit organizations, on a broad range of complex legal issues. Before the combination, Dykema had more than 330 professionals with offices in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Deborah Williamson will serve on the firm’s executive board and Jamie Smith will serve as Dykema’s vice chair-Texas.

For Dykema, the combination also represents a natural next step. As a number of the firm’s clients had an increasing presence in Texas, Dykema opened its Dallas office in 2007 with four attorneys-and now has 27 attorneys in the state. The Texas economy has grown rapidly, attracting a number of corporate headquarters and increasing the demand for legal services. Although Dykema has expanded quickly to meet this demand, the combination with Cox Smith enhances the ability to service both existing and new clients in the region with increased visibility in Texas and the Southwest.

The combined firm will offer sophisticated regional and national practices, including commonly shared strategic initiatives in middle market M&A transactions; energy; infrastructure; automotive; government policy; financial services litigation; health care; and data privacy and cybersecurity. It also gives Dykema clients access to Cox Smith’s attorneys in important industries including financial services; oil, gas and energy; and construction/manufacturing. Cox Smith’s clients gain access to important financial centers and industries beyond Texas borders. Both firms believe that the strong Texas economy demands greater depth to meet client expectations.

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Attorney Frank T. Mamat of Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith PC was accepted as a full member of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Advisory Council (SAC). The SAC exists to support the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office’s endeavors to serve Oakland County by functioning as an advisory body on good business practices and law-enforcement related policy issues.

Mamat focuses his practice on complex labor issues.  He is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, DBusiness magazine’s Top Lawyers, The American Lawyer Top Lawyers, Crain’s Detroit Business Best Lawyers, and The American Registry’s Top Lawyers in Michigan.