Legal People ...


Butzel immigration law attorney Reginald A. Pacis was a featured panelist during an American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) webinar on March 31. The program was titled "Treaty-Based Visa Processing: TN, E-3, and H-1B1 Processing Challenges with USCIS and CBP." Panelists discussed strategies for seeking alternatives to consular adjudication for applicants to avoid the risk of overseas travel and disruption in work authorization.

Pacis focuses his practice in immigration law and has handled a variety of immigration matters including H-1B specialty occupation cases, L-1 Intracompany transfers, Labor Certification matters, Immigrant Visa Petitions/Adjustment of Status applications and interviews, TN Free trade cases, H-1B Department of Labor Investigations, I-9 employer verification compliance, and U.S. Port of Entry airport and land port interviews.

In 2021, Pacis was appointed a trustee to the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC), which helps address the needs and concerns of the Asian Pacific American (APA) communities in Michigan. Previously, he was a commissioner to the MAPAAC.

Pacis was named Immigration Lawyer of the Year 2013 in the field of Immigration Law by The Best Lawyers in America and has been listed in Best Lawyers for several years.

He is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Samahang Pilipino Ng Oakland Filipino organization. He served two consecutive one-year terms from 2003 to 2005 as chairperson of the Michigan Chapter of AILA and was a member of the AILA National Board of Governors for those terms.

Pacis also served as vice chair (2008 to 2009) and later chair (2009-2010) of U.S. Customs and Border Protection AILA liaison committee; vice chair (2013 to 2014) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Operations AILA liaison committee; member (2014 to 2015) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services National Benefits Center AILA liaison committee; and has served as a member (2015) and later chair (2016) of the AILA Election committee. He has presented in a number of AILA Annual Conferences Nationally and Internationally from 2004 to 2019.

Pacis is a vice president and board member of the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit. He also is a speaker in demand on immigration law matters.

In addition, attorney and shareholder Thomas A. Kabel has been elected to Butzel's Board of Directors. He also is Butzel's Corporate/Real Estate Practice Department chair.

Based in the firm's Troy office, Kabel concentrates his practice in the area of commercial real estate and real estate-related finance. He has been involved in all facets of acquisition, disposition, leasing, financing and development of real property throughout his career.

Kabel's real estate practice spans a wide range of diverse areas and clients, representing developers, automotive companies, colleges and universities in all aspects of their real estate needs. He also has experience representing commercial lenders in conventional financing and has served as bank and bond counsel on numerous industrial revenue and other tax-exempt financings.

He also is certified by the Small Business Administration to close SBA loans under the SBA's 504 loan program. Currently, Kabel is chair-elect of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and is a former chair of the Section's CLE Committee. He is the author of "Equitable Subrogation: Why the Refinance Lender's Security Interest May Not be as Secure as it Thinks" (Michigan Real Property Review) and has participated as a speaker and/or author in numerous seminars and other continuing legal education programs over the years. Kabel is a member of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys and of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association.

Kabel is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School (1999) and Grand Valley State University (1995).

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The board of directors of Plunkett Cooney recently re-elected partner Michael P. Ashcraft to a one-year term as secretary/treasurer.

Ashcraft, who serves as a co-leader of Plunkett Cooney's Professional Liability Practice Group, is one of the state's leading professional liability attorneys. He concentrates his practice primarily on the defense of attorneys, accountants, and their firms in professional liability and responsibility matters. A partner in the firm's Bloomfield Hills office, he also represents judges, insurance brokers and agents, securities brokers and dealers, real estate brokers and agents, investment advisors, officers and directors, and notaries public in complex litigation in state and federal courts.

Admitted to state and federal courts in Michigan, Ashcraft graduated from Michigan State University College of Law in 1992. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1987. Ashcraft is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the State Bar of Michigan's Professional Ethics Committee, the American Bar Association's Committee on Professional Responsibility and Liability and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers.

In addition, Plunkett Cooney partner Kimberly K. Seibert was recently elected to the board of directors of the Detroit Bar Association.

Seibert, who was elected to a one-year term, will be responsible for providing strategic leadership to attain the Detroit Bar's goals and objectives, for identifying new members and for developing new opportunities with strategic partners.

Seibert is a partner and co-leader of the Transportation Law Practice Group of Plunkett Cooney. Her practice centers on the areas of motor vehicle negligence and no-fault law. She routinely defending insurers, rental car companies, trucking companies and corporations in no-fault coverage disputes and negligence litigation.

A member of the firm's Detroit office, Seibert has been named for the past five years as a Michigan Rising Star in Civil Litigation Defense by Michigan Super Lawyers. She received her law degree from Wayne State University Law School in 2011 and received her undergraduate degree from University of Michigan in 2008.

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Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that M. Katherine VanderVeen (member, Detroit) has been named an "Up and Coming Lawyer" by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

"I am honored to be selected by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a 2022 Up and Coming Lawyer. This list is filled with extremely talented and accomplished attorneys who zealously contribute to their communities and clients," said VanderVeen. "I am proud to be included in this year's class."

VanderVeen's practice focuses on transactions involving financing, whether syndicated or single-lender loans, secured or unsecured loans, cash-flow or asset-based loans, real estate financing, construction financing, acquisition financing, or recapitalization. She assists clients with all aspects of commercial finance transactions, including initial structuring and documentation, modifications and amendments, and restructurings and refinancings. VanderVeen specializes in loans to regulated industries, including cannabis (single state and MSOs, vertical and horizontal operations, and more) and healthcare (medical and dental), and handles cross-border transactions. She is recognized as a leader in her field by Best Lawyers in America® "Ones to Watch" for Banking and Finance Law.

VanderVeen received her law degree from Wayne State University Law School and her Bachelor of Arts from James Madison College at Michigan State University.

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced the appointments of Christopher M. Blount and Susan Dabaja to the Third Circuit Court of Wayne County, Matthew P. Sabaugh to the 16th Circuit Court of Macomb County, and Raeigen L. Evans to the 36th District Court of the City of Detroit. Judicial appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Third Circuit Court of Wayne County

Blount currently serves as a judge with the 36th District Court in Detroit. As a judge, he is cross designated for the district and circuit court and is one of the presiding judges over the Street Outreach Court. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Blount was a private practice attorney specializing in probate and misdemeanor and felony defense matters. He also served as a deputy defender with the State Defender Office focused on felony defense and criminal trial practice.

Blount earned his law degree from Wayne State University Law School. He also earned a Bachelor of Fine Art in Graphic Design and a Master of Urban Planning from Wayne State University. He is a member of the executive board for the Wayne State University Law School Black Law Alumni Council and the Association of Black Judges of Michigan. Additionally, Blount serves as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Wayne County Community College and as a member of the Michigan State Court Administrator Office Judicial Usability Workgroup.

"It is with humility and thanks that I accept this appointment from Governor Whitmer to serve the citizens of Wayne County," said Blount. "I look forward to presiding over an accessible and transparent courtroom that treats all citizens equitably and with respect."

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18 and expire at twelve o'clock noon on January 1, 2023, following the appointment of Judge Noah Hood to the Michigan Court of Appeals. If Blount wishes to serve the remainder of Hood's term, expiring January 1, 2027, he would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.

Dabaja is currently a solo practitioner and owner of the Law Office of Susan A. Dabaja PC where she has represented clients for the last 17 years. In her practice, she specializes in family, civil, real estate, contracts, immigration, landlord-tenant, criminal, and bankruptcy law. Dabaja offers pro bono services for single and abused mothers, nonprofit institutions, and juveniles. Dabaja also serves as a mediator and as an appointed guardian ad litem for children.

Dabaja earned a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She previously served as the president of the Dearborn City Council for 8 years and is the current co-chair of the Dearborn Education Foundation. Dabaja is an appointee serving on the Michigan Commission of Middle Eastern American Affairs and she also serves as chair of the Local Community Stabilization Authority.

"I am humbled and grateful to Governor Whitmer for entrusting me with this great responsibility," said Dabaja. "I am confident that everything I've gained from my personal and professional lives - the balance, the perspective, the work ethic, the empathy, the passion, the humility, the strength of character - has prepared me for this position. As judge, I promise to remain dedicated to ensuring equity in our courts with equal access to justice for all regardless of their background. I look forward to serving the citizens of Wayne County and the State of Michigan."

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18 and expire at twelve o'clock noon on January 1, 2023, following the retirement of Judge Bruce Morrow effective January 31, 2022. If Dabaja wishes to seek a full six-year term, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.

16th Circuit Court of Macomb County

Sabaugh currently serves as a judge with the 37th District Court of Warren and Center Line. He also serves as the chief judge pro tem, the presiding judge of the Treatment Court, and he started Macomb County's first eviction diversion program. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Sabaugh was an assistant prosecutor for Macomb County where he was assigned to the circuit court, district court, and consumer protection division. He successfully prosecuted cases from misdemeanors to capital felony cases in circuit court. He attended law school at night while working as a legislative assistant to then State Representative Paul Wojno.

Sabaugh earned his law degree and Bachelor of Science in Resource Development from Michigan State University. He is a current member of the Warren Kiwanis Club and Macomb Homeless Coalition. Additionally, Sabaugh serves as an adjunct professor for the paralegal program at Macomb County Community College.

"I am honored to accept this appointment from Governor Whitmer," said Sabaugh. "I promise to provide fair, efficient, and accessible justice to all the citizens of Macomb County. I will continue to be a judge who listens respectfully to all sides in the courtroom. Everyone who appears before me can be assured that I will decide their case without fear or favor and according to the law."

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 13 and expire at twelve o'clock noon on January 1, 2023, following the retirement of Judge Carl Marlinga effective February 25, 2022. If Sabaugh wishes to seek a full six-year term, he would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.

36th District Court of the City of Detroit

Evans currently serves as a referee with the Third Circuit Court in the Family Division Juvenile Section. She has held this role since 2011 presiding over juvenile delinquency matters ranging from truancy to armed robbery. She also has experience presiding over child abuse and neglect bench trials. Evans previously worked as an assistant prosecutor in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office where she tried numerous felony bench and jury trials and prosecuted cases ranging from assault to homicide.

Evans received her law degree and Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Wayne State University. She is a member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and serves on the Executive Board for the Renaissance Head Start Organization. Raeigen lives in Detroit with her husband, Paul, and their children.

"I want to thank Governor Whitmer for this opportunity to serve the city of Detroit in this capacity," said Evans. "It is truly an honor to be appointed judge in the city where I was raised and am raising my children. I promise to serve my fellow citizens of Detroit with a heart for all people, respect, and fairness."

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18 and expire at twelve o'clock noon on January 1, 2023, following appointment of Judge Kristina Robinson Garrett to the Michigan Court of Appeals. If Evans wishes to seek a full six-year term, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.