Member Spotlight

WLAM Congratulates our Members on their accomplishments!

March 2020 Announcements

Kimberly Clayson has been appointed by the US Trustee Program for the Department of Justice as an eligible Chapter 11 Small Business Trustee under the newly enacted Small Business Restructuring Act of the Bankruptcy Code. The law went into effect on February 19.

Jackie Culler recently joined Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Jackie focuses her practice in the area of employment law. She graduated from Wayne State University Law School and received her B.A. in Political Science from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Hon. Joyce Draganchuk, Mid-Michigan Region Secretary, has been appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court for a second 6-year term to serve as the business court judge of the 30th Circuit Court.  Judge Draganchuk has also been appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court as Chair of the Committee on Model Criminal Jury Instructions.  And finally, she has been re-appointed Presiding Judge of the General Trial Division of the 30th Circuit Court.

The ABA recently published Julie Fershtman’s newest book, Equine Law and Horse Sense.  This 372-page book is designed for people, businesses, and organizations in the horse industry and for the lawyers who serve them. For more information:

Erin Flynn has recently joined Nichols, Sacks, Slack, Sendelbach, Buiteweg & Solomon, P.C. Erin practices all aspects of Family Law including divorce, paternity, and child custody and support. She is also the current President of the Women’s Bar Association | WLAM Oakland Region.

Stefania Gismondi has been named as a new Partner with Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith, P.C. in the General Litigation Practice Group in Southfield. She joined the firm in 2016 and her practice involves insurance defense coverage of auto claims and other general civial litigation matters.

Attorney Tanya M. Murray recently joined the Insurance Law Practice Group of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest full-service law firms. Ms. Murray will focus her practice on coverage matters. Murray is an associate member of the Oakland County Bar Association’s Inns of Court, and she is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar. She is also the recipient of the 2019 Member of the Year award by the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Oakland Region. Read More

Two former attorneys from Bodman PLC, one of the largest law firms in Detroit, created their own firm after finding that large corporate law was not a good fit for them. Jasmine Rippy and Ameena Sheikh (pronounced “shake”) left the prominent firm and formed The Rippy + Sheikh Law Firm PC, and are branding themselves as the “Ladies in Law.” Read the full press release here.

Abril Valdes was recently appointed by Governor Whitmer as a Commissioner to the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan. Read the full announcement here.

The Women’s Law Caucus of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law has been recognized by the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations and have been selected to receive the Women’s Law Student Association Award.

December 2019 Announcements

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In December Governor Whitmer appointed three WLAM members to the bench.

  • Anna Frushour was appointed to the 14A District Court, in Washtenaw County.
  • Alyia Marie Hakim was appointed to the 39th District Court, serving the cities of Roseville and Fraser.
  • Jacquelyn McClinton was appointed to the 36th District Court, serving the city of Detroit.

The announcements from the Governor’s office are available here and here.

In November WLAM Past President Ann Erickson Gault won one of three open seats on the Troy City Council. She will serve a four-year term.

Tricia N. McKinnon, President of Shermeta Law Group, PLLC (“SLG”), is proud to announce that SLG has achieved national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) and by the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). The Firm is thrilled to receive these certifications and to be recognized as a woman-owned and operated business. The Firm is looking forward to all of the new opportunities that these certifications will provide and is ready to engage in new business opportunities and to grow existing partnerships.

WLAM Wayne Board Members Alexandra Casperson and Shanna Kaminski were honorees for Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Up & Coming Lawyers 2019.

Deanna Unis is now serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

September 2019 Announcements

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In May Zenell B. Brown was recognized for her 22 years of court service with the Third Judicial Circuit Court. She began at the Court in 1997 as a case worker; promoted to many other positions including Friend of the Court, and was appointed to her current role as Court Administrator in 2014. The Michigan State Court Administrator acknowledged Zenell in its 2019 edition of Court Success Stories. Additionally, WLAM awarded her the Geraldine Bledsoe Ford Award at our 2019 annual meeting.

It is not uncharacteristic for Zenell to credit her mentors, colleagues, and staff for their support when she is acknowledged. “I have a long list of judges and other professionals who have said yes to giving me and my ideas a chance. I also have family and friends who support and pray for me. I work to give others an opportunity to meet their career goals as well.” Zenell is a graduate of University of Detroit, Wayne State University Law School, Michigan State University’s Judicial Administration Graduate Certificate Program, and Central Michigan University’s Leadership Graduate Program. She is also a Certified Diversity Professional credentialed by the National DiversityFirst Council.

Zenell sits on several boards including the Michigan Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the State Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution Section. She is also active in the State Bar Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Team and chairs an annual purse drive to collect purses and toiletries for domestic violence survivors. Zenell is married and makes her home in Southfield, Michigan. (Third Judicial Circuit Court press release)

Alexandria Casperson received the Community Impact Award from the Detroit Bar Association at their Summer Breeze Celebration in July. This award goes to a young attorney whose integrity, competence and accomplishments have significantly impacted the local community, or have had a demonstrable impact on the broader state or national landscape.

Justice Elizabeth Clement was honored with the “Judge of the Year” award by the Negligence Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

Julie Gafkay is a recipient of the 2019 SBM Champion of Justice Award which will be presented at the SBM Awards Luncheon on September 26th in Novi. The Champion of Justice Award is given to practicing lawyers and judges of integrity and adherence to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession, superior professional competence, and an extraordinary professional accomplishment that benefits the nation, the state, or the local community in which the lawyer or judge lives.

Ms. Gafkay also recently published an article on Balancing Customer Care and Employee Civil Rights in the Michigan Bar Journal, read the article here.

Plaintiff’s Attorney and WLAM member, Stephanie Goecke, recently reflected on her meaningful pro bono experience at Lakeshore Legal Aid’s 36th District Eviction Clinic. “This is a place where we can live out the idealism, we contemplated in law school. It’s refreshing to work where the focus is on service instead of victory or profit, and I have left the clinic with the amazing feeling that I achieved something for someone who was simply expecting the next defeat.  Honestly, it’s a real pick-me-up!”

Join Lakeshore Legal Aid’s team of volunteers today! Lakeshore is not-for profit law firm providing a range of free civil legal services to low income people, seniors, and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Lakeshore takes pride in providing Michigan with excellence in advocacy and civil legal counsel since 1966. If you are interested in volunteering please visit

The Detroit Bar Association selected Shanna Kaminski as the winner of this year’s President’s Award. The award recognizes a young attorney whose early career has exhibited high standards of service to the profession, her clients and the public.

The award was presented at the DBA’s Summer Breeze Celebration, at which the bar recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of “our best and brightest young attorneys who have, in the early stages of their career, demonstrated great potential as future leaders of the community.” The event was held Wednesday, July 24 at the Detroit Shipping Company.

Ms. Kaminski is a member of Varnum’s Litigation and Trial Practice Team and the Banking, Finance and Restructuring Practice Team. She focuses her practice on bankruptcy-related litigation, business litigation and debtor/creditor rights. More

Hon. Denise Langford Morris was honored this past April by the American Human Rights Council (AHRC) at their Spirit of Humanity Awards ceremony with the  Agent of Change-Guardian of Justice Award for her exemplary leadership within the judicial system and her remarkable record serving justice with great integrity, transparency, dignity and respect.

Donna MacKenzie was elected as President-Elect of the Michigan Association for Justice, and the Chair-Elect of the American Association for Justice Nursing Home Litigation Group. Ms. MacKenzie also recently published an article on Best Practices in Determining Whether a Claim Sounds in Ordinary Negligence or Medical Malpractice in the Michigan Bar Journal, read the article here.

Emily Peacock was elected as the Board of Governor to the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus of the American Association for Justice.

Jennifer Salvatore’s story behind her employment civil rights and firm is the featured cover story in the latest Michigan Super Lawyers.  Read the article here.

In April Governor Whitmer has appointed Deanne Bonner Simpson to the Military Appeals Tribunal. Ms. Bonner Simpson, of South Lyon, is the founding attorney of Veterans’ Advocates of Michigan, PLLC and a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Ms. Bonner Simpson is appointed to succeed Bradley L. Smith whose term has expired, to represent persons licensed to practice law in this state for a term expiring April 16, 2023. Ms. Bonner Simpson has also been designated as Chairperson for a term expiring at the pleasure of the Governor.  (

Kirsten Silwanowicz was published in the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review Journal with her article, Women’s Rights in the Workplace: The Struggle is Still Real. Read the article here.

Abril Valdes has joined the immigration Team at Honigman’s Detroit office. Ms. Valdes received her undergraduate from California State University and her Juris Doctorate from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. She has previously worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Clement & Hurst law firm.

In August WLAM Director at Large, Nicolette Zachary, was sworn in as President-Elect of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) at their annual summit in San Francisco. Several WLAM officers and board members were also present at the summit.

Kelly & Kelly, PC received the American Association of University Women – Northville Novi Chapter’s 2019 Community Service Award. “Our law firm is honored to receive [this award] for our over 20 years of support of the organization. Kelly and Kelly continues to stand behind the AAUW and their long time commitment to empowering women.”

In June Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace, PC celebrated their 50th anniversary. View photos from their event here.

March 2019 Announcements

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Judge Denise Langford-Morris Historic Portrait Unveiling – Following the Women and the Law Symposium on March 8th, a cocktail reception and portrait unveiling honoring WLAM Board member, WLAM Board member, UDM alumna, and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris was held in the Detroit Mercy Law Atrium.  Painted by Detroit artist Henry Heading, the framed portrait is a gift from four Detroit Mercy Law student organizations—Law Review, Black Law Students Association, Women’s Law Caucus and Student Bar Association. The portrait, which is the School’s first of a woman and African American, will be permanently displayed in the halls of Detroit Mercy Law.

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), a global organization promoting client-centered conflict resolution, has named Metro Detroit family law attorney Alisa Peskin-Shepherd to its new Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Since 2001, IACP has worked to promote the international growth of collaborative practice, which brings together attorneys, counselors, and health practitioners to resolve conflicts, especially divorce and custody issues, in a results-oriented, client-focused process.

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the association’s newest body, was the focus of a plenary session at IACP’s 2018 educational and networking forum. The committee’s members are from all over the world and will meet by videoconference monthly, expanding IACP’s mission to lead, integrate, and promote collaborative practice by ensuring it encompasses an ever wider group of individuals.

October 2018 Announcements

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Liz Abdnour opened her Lansing-based firm, Elizabeth K. Abdnour, Esq., PLLC, in May.  We represent parents and students in special education and school discipline matters, as well as students, faculty, and staff in internal Title IX and civil rights investigations.  We also provide external investigative, training, and consultation services to schools, workplaces, and nonprofits.  We provide services throughout Michigan and Ohio.

Katie Brown, shareholder at Maddin Hauser Roth and Heller, received the 2018 Regeana Myrick Outstanding Young Lawyers Award, granted by the State Bar of Michigan’s Young Lawyers Section.  This award annually recognizes a Michigan lawyer under the age of 36 who has demonstrated an overwhelming commitment to public service, service to the bar and exceptional leadership.

Deborah Fisch, member of WLAM’s Washtenaw chapter, is pleased to announce the publication of her mini-cartoon book for attorneys, created for the Birth Rights Bar Association (BRBA), titled, “Pushed and Consented: Rights in Childbirth?” BRBA is a national bar association founded by Fisch and three colleagues in 2014 to support fellow attorneys in defending the rights of all people who give birth. BRBA held its first national conference in Chicago earlier this year.

The 20-page booklet provides an introduction to the topic of rights in childbirth, beginning with history and social context, and leading into descriptions of causes of action in tort, criminal law, and health care professional regulation. The ten full-page color cartoons highlight key cases and celebrate the accomplishments of attorneys and their clients.

The accompanying text includes bibliographies of case law and law review articles. Pushed and Consented is available for purchase in print format ( or as a flipbook that is viewable online for an optional donation (

Judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines, has recently been chosen to receive the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellency this November. During a dinner ceremony at the United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts will present Judge Hines with the award. Announcements from NCSC and Washtenaw Legal News.

The William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence is one of the nation’s highest judicial honors. Presented annually by the National Center for State Courts, this prestigious award honors a state court judge who demonstrates the outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professional ethics, creativity, sound judgment, intellectual courage, and decisiveness. The William H. Rehnquist Award honors judges who are taking bold steps to address a variety of issues affecting their communities. More about the award

Frances Hollander joined Blanchard & Walker in 2018 after working at the Michigan Court of Appeals.   Frances received her B.A. in linguistics from the University of Michigan in 2013 and her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 2017.  While in law school, she worked for Family Law Project, a non-profit serving low income survivors of domestic violence in Washtenaw County, as a student attorney and project coordinator.  Frances interned for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in the Domestic Violence Unit and externed for the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office in the Criminal Sexual Conduct Unit.  Frances also worked in the law school’s human trafficking clinic, volunteered for the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, and was a member of the Michigan Journal of Law Reform.  Following law school, Frances returned to Family Law Project for a short-term position before going to work for the Michigan Court of Appeals in the Research Division.

Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, principal, Transitions Legal, co-authored an article with Yeshiva University Prof. Daniel Pollack, titled, “Collaborative Law and Public Human Services Agencies,” which appeared in the June edition of the journal Policy & Practice. The collaboration brought together Pollack’s expertise as a professor of social work at Yeshiva University in New York and Peskin-Shepherd’s expertise in Collaborative Divorce through her Birmingham law firm, Transitions Legal. The article explains how Collaborative Law can be compatible with efforts of social service organizations to protect children and families.

“It was an honor to work together on this powerful, scholarly article, marrying our respective professional expertise to show how we can create greater outcomes for families,” Peskin-Shepherd says.

“Collaborative writing, like collaborative law, is all about synergy, each person bringing their unique skills, talents, and ideas to the table,” says Pollack. “Working with Alisa meant we were comfortable critiquing our article until we both felt it was perfectly buffed, polished, and ready for publication.”

Policy & Practice is the flagship publication of the American Public Human Services Association ( Pollack sought to write the article “to alert public human services employees that even though we usually think of divorce and other conflicts and disputes as a private matter, there are times when a department of human services may be involved. Consequently, the more they know about collaborative law, the better the final results will be.”

The Dobrusin Law Firm is pleased to announce that managing shareholder Kristen Pursley has been named a judge in the 2018 North American MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC), a platform for recognizing and rewarding organizations that are promoting technology as a vehicle for positive change in a world where automation poses potential challenges for employment.

“Being part of the Pontiac community, we see firsthand what happen when low- and middle- income workers are left behind — or even harmed by advances that otherwise benefit business, economy, and society,” said Kristen. “I am so pleased to be part of this initiative which promotes ‘digital heroes’ – organizations harnessing technology to create a more equitable economy, as we face some of the most disruptive changes in human history.”

Kristen represents clients who are tier-one suppliers for the automotive industry, medical diagnostic and device manufacturers, and consumer product and packaging producers. She was a Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2013 Women in the Law honoree, a SuperLawyers¼ Rising Star for 2013-2017, a Best Lawyer in Patent Law for 2016-2017, a dbusiness Top Lawyer for 2017, and a member of the Oakland County Executive’s 40 Under 40 class of 2015. Kristen is also a recent graduate of Leadership Oakland and is an Oakland County Bar Foundation Fellow. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and received a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Kristen and other judges will choose 12 regional challenge winners to be acknowledged and awarded cash prizes at the IIC North American Celebration held in Detroit in September. Four regional champions will win $20,000 each and eight finalists will each win $5,000. Following the celebration event, four North American winners will advance to the IIC Global Grand Prize Tournament, hosted at MIT in Cambridge, MA, in October. Four global grand-prize winners, chosen from the regional winners around the world, will be awarded $1 million in prize money.

Judge Sara Smolenski was featured on the cover of West Michigan Woman’s August/September issue. The full article is available here.

June 2018 Announcements 

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Earlier this spring, Angela Baldwin was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan.

Housed within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the 15-member commission develops and maintains a unified policy and plan of action to serve the needs of Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino residents.

“I thank Angela and Keysha for their devotion to fulfilling the needs of Michigan residents,” Snyder said.

Baldwin is assistant corporation counsel for the City of Detroit Law Department. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University and a law degree from Michigan State University School of Law. She will replace Martha Gonzalez-Cortez and will serve a three-year term expiring Dec. 10, 2020.

Attorney Julie Gafkay was a guest speaker at Seattle University Nursing School discussing the topic “Do Patient Rights Include the Right to Discriminate Based on Race?”  which focused on the case of Battle v. Hurley Medical Center, in which she represented Tonya Battle. The case was the inspiration for the best-selling novel Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, a book that challenges readers by demonstrating possible consequences of granting a patient’s request for care based on race.


Jenna Wright Greenman joins Noticed, an invitation-only service for distinguished professionals. Wright Greenman has been chosen as a Distinguished Lawyerℱ based on peer reviews and ratings, dozens of recognitions, and accomplishments achieved throughout her career.

Wright Greenman outshines others in her field due to her extensive educational background, numerous awards and recognitions, and career longevity. After receiving her Biomechanic Kinesiology and Science Education from the University of Michigan in 1997, she went on to earn her J.D. cum laude from the Thomas Cooley School of Law in 2000.

With nearly 20 years dedicated to law, Wright Greenman brings a wealth of knowledge to her industry, and, in particular to her area of specialization, medical malpractice and liability defense claims. (Legal News)

Ryan Kelly (Treasurer of WLAM and Past President of WBA – Oakland) is a contributor for ICLE’s newest online certificate program focusing on custody, parenting time and support through the Judgment of Divorce.  Ryan provides tips and guidance on child support and parenting time issues and the certificate program is now live online and available at  Ryan is a partner at Kelly & Kelly, P.C., in Northville where her practice focuses on high conflict family law issues.

Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, continues the expansion of its insurance coverage with the addition of attorney Stephanie A. Martin.

An associate attorney of Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office, Martin focuses her practice primarily in the area of insurance coverage, representing major property and casualty insurance companies in coverage disputes involving environmental contamination, construction defect and high-exposure product liability claims. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, New York and New Jersey.

Martin received her law degree, cum laude, from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. in 2013. She received her undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York in 2008.

Drew, Cooper & Anding is pleased to announce that Amanda Narvaes has been named Partner in our commercial litigation practice group. Since joining DCA as an associate in 2011, Ms. Narvaes has developed a specialty in complex commercial litigation in federal and state courts. Ms. Narvaes’s experience includes successfully litigating against financial institutions and large corporations to protect her clients’ rights.

On June 1, Emily Peacock became a named a partner at Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace. Since joining the firm in 2015, Emily has distinguished herself as an outstanding advocate for those who have been injured or neglected.  As a partner, Emily will continue to focus her practice on seeking justice for the victims of nursing home neglect and medical malpractice.  In recognition of Emily’s partnership, the firm name has been changed to Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace.

In addition to becoming a named partner in her firm, Emily was also recently sworn in as the Chair of the Women’s Caucus of the Michigan Association for Justice.

Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace is also pleased to welcome Emily Thomas to the firm. Emily will continue to represent victims injured as a result of birth trauma. From the beginning of her career, Emily has focused on representing those injured from birth trauma, and she has assisted in obtaining many favorable outcomes for her clients, including several multi-million dollar settlements.

“Emily Thomas brings to the firm her significant knowledge and experience litigating complex birth trauma cases. She has an amazing energy, compassion, and dedication to her work that we know will add a tremendous value to our firm’s clients,” said Donna MacKenzie.

In addition to Emily’s successful representation of her clients, Emily serves on the Executive Committee for the Michigan Association for Justice, and she is an active member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), where she is chair-elect of the Professional Negligence section and an active member of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG). Emily has authored numerous articles including being featured in AAJ Trial Magazine and in the BTLG and Professional Negligence newsletters. Emily is also a coveted speaker, and she has been invited to speak nationally about birth trauma litigation. Over her career, Emily has won several notable awards including the Regina Myrick Award and Michigan Lawyers Weekly Up and Coming Lawyers Award – 2015. Emily also serves her community by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association.

Congratulations are in order for Western Region WLAM members Nicole Paterson and Emily Rysberg, who each made partner at their firms recently. Emily Rysberg was elected as a new member attorney at Dickinson Wright, PLLC. Nicole Paterson was promoted to membership at Clark Hill, PLC.

Laura Vogel, a past president of WLAM, was honored on Monday June 4th by the Oakland County Bar Association for her probono service in 2017.



WLAM Former Members of the Month



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Amanda P. Narvaes is a trial attorney who practices with the law firm Drew, Cooper & Anding P.C. in Grand Rapids. She represents business owners in complex commercial litigation and individuals in consumer protection cases. The types of cases she litigates have ranged from copyright infringement matters to automotive supplier disputes, to claims against a mortgage servicer for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Amanda has been involved on the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan’s Western Region Board since 2011, and served as its President during the 2015-2016 year. She currently serves as the Regional Representative for the Western Region. Ms. Narvaes also serves on the Western Region committee charged with planning the annual Women Lawyers vs. Judges Softball Game, which raises thousands of dollars every year for the YWCA West Central Michigan.

Amanda is active with the Grand Rapids Bar Association and currently serves on its CLE Committee. In 2016, Amanda was awarded an inaugural 3 in 10 Award at the Grand Rapids Bar Association Annual Meeting. In 2017, she was recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as an “Up and Coming Lawyer.” In her free time, Ms. Narvaes enjoys biking, hiking, and running, and spending time with her husband and three-year old daughter.


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Alexandria is currently the Department Executive of the Wayne County Mortgage and Deed Fraud Task Force, the first of it's kind in the nation, working to protect properties in Detroit and across the county. Prior to serving in this role, she was a Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney where she handled cases in various specialized units including Public Integrity, Arson, Deed Fraud, and Child Abuse.

Alexandria has been involved with Women Lawyers Association of Michigan since 2014, serving on the first Domestic Violence Committee, and is currently serving her second term as the Programming Director for WLAM-Wayne region. She is an active member of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Michigan and has participated in the Detroit Bar Association's Inn of Court.

Alexandria earned her bachelors degree in Crime and Social Justice from the University of Michigan in 2011 and her juris doctorate from Michigan State University College of Law in 2014. She spent a semester of law school interning for the United Nations at a Criminal Trinunal in the Netherlands. She is originally from the Upper Peninsula.


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Tanya has been actively involved with the Women’s Bar Association, the Oakland Region of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, since 2012, and is currently President Elect.  She is the Director of Career Services & Outreach at Detroit Mercy Law, where she also serves as the advisor for the Women’s Law Caucus. Tanya is a 2016 WLAM Regional Leadership Award recipient, a member of the 2017 Michigan Lawyers Weekly Women in the Law class, and was a 2017 finalist for Administrator of the Year, an award voted on by Detroit Mercy Law students. She previously practiced law at Collins Einhorn Farrell PC in the professional liability defense group, representing attorneys, real estate salespeople, and other professionals. She is an ICLE contributor on professional liability topics. Tanya is also active in the Oakland County Bar Association and the Northville Democratic Club. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan – Dearborn in 2003 and her law degree, cum laude, from Wayne State Law School in 2007, where she served as a member of the Student Board of Governors and was an assistant editor for the Wayne Law Review. When she is not working, Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband and eight-year-old son, and is an avid University of Michigan sports fan.


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Emily M. Peacock is a trial lawyer with the law firm of Olsman MacKenzie & Wallace.  Emily represents individuals who have been injured while in the care of a nursing home, senior living facility, hospital, or adult foster care home.  She has litigated numerous wrongful death cases for victims of medical malpractice, and she has experience litigating cases involving choking deaths, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and failing to properly monitor resulting in death.

Emily recently helped start the Women's Caucus of the Michigan Association of Justice, a group of women lawyers dedicated to promoting access to justice for all in Michigan.  The group will address and promote the specific issues facing women in the legal profession as well as those issues facing female clients.  Emily also supports the Michigan Association Justice by serving on its Executive Board, as well as speaking at the Seminar in the Snow and Annual Medical Malpractice Seminar.  Emily is also active in the American Association for Justice as part of the organization's Board of Governors and Women's Caucus.  She is also a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Macomb County Bar Association, Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, and State Bar of Michigan Negligence Law Section.

Emily will be a volunteer griller at the Annual Bench Bar Culinary Challenge this summer and she is hoping that her firm will help the team of lawyers beat the judges!  She is also volunteering her time to plan Sips on Solstice, which is Olsman MacKenzie & Wallace's annual fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association.


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Lyndsay is Senior Counsel in the Macomb County office of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP. Lyndsay focuses her practice on representing individuals and businesses in a wide range of state and federal litigation. Lyndsay’s practice also includes representing financial institutions in matters involving litigation, commercial loan workouts, receiverships, foreclosures and creditors’ rights.

Lyndsay is the Treasurer of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan-Macomb Region and has served on the Board since 2010. Lyndsay is active with the Macomb County Bar Association and serves as a volunteer and supporter for Macomb Charitable Foundation and Turning Point. Lyndsay is also a soon-to-be graduate of the Leadership Macomb program.

Lyndsay earned her Bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Michigan in 2006 and her juris doctor from Wayne State University Law School in 2009. She currently resides in Shelby Township with her husband, Brandon, and two children, Alexis and Ethan.


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Anca is an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan in Bay City.  Anca handles a variety of federal criminal cases and investigations on behalf of the United States. Prior to moving to Bay City, Anca served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Tucson, Arizona. She also served as a judicial clerk for Justice Stephen Markman at the Michigan Supreme Court and as a Prehearing Attorney for the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Anca is the President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan – Great Lakes Bay Region, and has served on the board since 2013.  Throughout her career, Anca has been active with the Federal Bar Association, including sitting on the board of the Tucson Chapter, American Inns of Court, Bay City Morning Rotary Club, and several other local organizations and boards.

Anca graduated from BabeƟ-Bolyai University College of Law in Romania in 2002.  She received her second law degree from the Michigan State University College of Law in 2006.  She speaks five languages and enjoys traveling.


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Liisa R. Speaker is the founder of Speaker Law Firm, PLLC, an appellate boutique law firm representing clients in the Michigan and Federal Appellate Courts.  She has been of Member of WLAM for many years and is highly involved in the legal community. Ms Speaker was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to two four-year terms on the Court Reporter and Recorder Board of Review. She is a past chair of the Appellate Practice Section for the State Bar of Michigan. She is also the Past President to the Ingham County Bar Association. She was awarded Women in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly in 2014. Through her written and oral advocacy, Ms. Speaker has demonstrated a passion for developing an appellate practice that gives her clients a voice, while contributing to the legal community.

Liisa drafted and submitted amicus briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of organizations such as the Family Law Section for the State Bar of Michigan, the Family Defense Attorneys of Michigan, the Appellate Practice Section for the State Bar of Michigan, the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault, and the Michigan Association for Justice. These briefs aided the Court in drafting opinions or orders that had profound impacts on the law in Allard v Allard, Estes v Titus; USF&G v MCCA, Rowland v Washtenaw County Road Commission, Beaver v Barton Malow, U of M Regents v Titan Insurance, and McCormick v Carrier, to name a few.

Liisa graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and now lives on a river in Lansing with her husband, two daughters, Great Dane and a cat.


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Angela was the 2016 recipient of the Mary Foster Award from the WLAM Washtenaw Region.

Angela is a founding partner of the Ann Arbor-based employment litigation firm, Blanchard & Walker, PLLC.  Angela provides advice to executives making job transitions, and handles complex severance negotiations for highly compensated employees.  She also focuses on helping employees with disabilities enforce their rights with regard to ADA accommodations, FMLA leave, and employee benefits matters.  She has litigated gender discrimination, Equal Pay Act, and lactation rights cases, and frequently represents women with cancer facing discriminatory conduct at work.

Throughout her career, Angela has been active in the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, including serving on the board of Washtenaw Region from 2006-2011.  She returned in 2016 to serve as Washtenaw’s regional representative to the WLAM state board.  Angela also currently sits on the board of the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor.  She frequently presents on ADA and FMLA issues, and is a co-author of the FMLA chapter of ICLE’s Employment Litigation in Michigan book.

Angela graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English Language and Literature in 2000.  She received her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 2004.  She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, James, and their daughter, Jocie.


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Since she joined WLAM in 2012, Melissa has been an active member of the Oakland region, holding several committee and board positions.  This year, she is Oakland region’s representative to WLAM.

Melissa has been recognized as a Rising Star by Michigan Super Lawyers for two consecutive years for her expertise in intellectual property.  She focuses primarily on trademark and copyright prosecution, clearance, enforcement and litigation, as well as internet and domain name disputes.

Melissa strives to use her expertise to better the community around her.  She was recently a panelist at the Detroit Entrepreneur Week Small Business Legal Academy  held at Wayne State University School of Law.  She also recently served a two-year term with the International Trademark Association’s pro bono committee where she collaborated with attorneys from around the world in an initiative to provide law schools with resources and support to establish trademark legal clinics.

Outside of the legal world, Melissa is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Detroit and serves on ACG Detroit’s Women’s Forum committee, a committee that strives to foster relationships among women in business. In her free time, she spends time with her husband and two Old English Bulldogs, Petunia and Winston.


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Nikole L. Canute is a member of Mika Meyers, PLC, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Her areas of practice include: labor and employment law, employment litigation, energy litigation, civil litigation, fraud investigation and litigation and securities litigation. Nikole is very skilled in handling employment investigations, electronic discovery and matters involving computer forensic investigations.  Nikole currently serves as Chair of Mika Meyers’ Diversity Committee, and Vice Chair of its Labor and Employment Practice Group.

Nikole is very involved in the Grand Rapids community.  She serves as Vice President of the board of directors for Family Promise of Grand Rapids, a non-profit organization focused on assisting homeless families in west Michigan.  Additionally, for several years, Nikole has been involved in the planning of the annual Women Lawyers v. Judges Softball Game, which raises approximately $20,000 each year for the YWCA of West Central Michigan, and is currently chairing the event planning committee.  In past years, Nikole has been an officer of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and spent several years on the board of directors for the WLAM, Western Region, which selected her as its 2013 “Outstanding Member of the Year.”

Nikole graduated from Alma College in 2002, and received her law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2005.  While she a passionate Notre Dame fan, Nikole does not (usually) discriminate against those with other allegiances.


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Julie was recently named a 2016 MLW Woman in the Law.

Julie I. Fershtman is a Shareholder in the Southfield, Michigan, office of Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, PC, where her practice focuses on insurance defense, commercial litigation, insurance coverage, and equine law.

Julie was the 2011-2012 President of State Bar of Michigan (only the 5th woman). More recently, in 2015-2016, she co-chaired the State Bar’s “21st Century Practice Task Force,” which examined issues facing the legal profession and offered recommendations to protect the public and support lawyers in the face of a rapidly changing profession. She currently serves on the board of trustees of the Michigan State Bar Foundation and the Board of Directors of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society.

She has tried cases before juries in 4 states and has been admitted pro hac vice counsel in state and federal courts in 17 jurisdictions. She is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation and Insurance Law.

A frequent speaker, her speaking engagements span 29 states, primarily on topics of liability, insurance, and risk management. She writes frequently and is the author of 2 books and a contributor to 5 books published by the ABA. She has written more than 400 published articles and is an active blogger.

She graduated from Emory College in 1983 and Emory Law School in 1986. Julie and her husband, Robert Bick, live in Franklin. Their daughter, Katie, is a Junior in college.


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Rachel was named as one of Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 under 40 for 2016!

Rachel is a registered patent attorney and  focuses primarily on domestic and foreign patent prosecution in the electrical arts. Rachel consults clients from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups. She enjoys working closely with clients to counsel them on how to best protect their intellectual property based on their specific business goals.

Rachel has a deep understanding of various technologies in mechanical and electrical arts.  In particular, she has extensive experience prosecuting patent applications in consumer electronics, automotive, medical device, and network technologies. Her practice further includes drafting patentability, infringement, validity and freedom to operate opinions.

Rachel’s practice also includes consulting clients on open source software license agreements. She works with clients to understand complex software licenses and copyright matters. Rachel has worked with the firm’s open source team to perform software audits on complex systems and has advised clients on software license obligations while assisting in compliance solutions.

Rachel received a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio Northern University. During law school Rachel was a member and officer of the Wayne State Intellectual Property Student Association (WIPSA) and earned the Silver Key Award for academic achievement. At Ohio Northern University she was active in several student groups holding numerous leadership positions. Rachel served as president of both the student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and her social sorority. Prior to attending law school, Rachel gained electronics hardware and software experience while working as an intern at an avionics safety company in Columbus, OH.


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Lori was sworn in as the President of the State Bar of Michigan.

Lori A. Buiteweg, of Ann Arbor, has been sworn in as the 81st president of the State Bar of Michigan. Ms. Buiteweg will lead an organization of over 44,000 members that works to improve the administration of justice, promotes the legal profession, and builds public understanding of the legal system. She has been involved in State Bar work for more than a decade and has served on many of its committees and groups. She has served on the SBM Board of Commissioners since 2003, and has served as treasurer, secretary, vice president, and president-elect She served as chair of the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly from 2005-2006.

Buiteweg served as president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association from 2000-2001. She currently serves on the WCBA Public Service Committee, as chair of its highly successful Constitution Day Project. She received the 2013 Patriot Award from the Washtenaw County Bar Association for her community service, pro bono representation, and education of the public about the U.S. Constitution. She received the 2012 Citizen of the Year Award from the Michigan Council for Social Studies. And she was named Grand Blanc High School Alumna of the Year in 2006. Buiteweg is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, one of fewer than 50 in Michigan and 1,600 nationwide. And she is a founding member of the Washtenaw County Eastern Michigan University Legal Resource Center which awarded her their "Outstanding Service" award at their 10th anniversary celebration earlier this month.

She graduated from the Honors College at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and economics and she earned her juris doctor from Wayne State University Law School in Detroit.


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Dawn was the 2014 recipient of the Jean L. King Leadership Award.

Dawn Van Hoek is Director of the State Appellate Defender Office, Michigan’s only state-funded public defense agency. Twice recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as one of the state’s most influential lawyers, Ms. Van Hoek has chaired the State Bar’s Representative Assembly, Attorney Discipline Board hearing panels, and co-chaired the Bar’s Task Force on Racial, Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and Legal Profession. She has served as President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation since 1997, leading a scholarship program that has awarded nearly $500,000 to 210 outstanding women law students. Ms. Van Hoek is a past president of the statewide Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and also has served as the President of the Wayne Region Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

A recipient of the 2013 Metro Detroit ACLU’s Bill of Rights Award, Ms. Van Hoek was honored in 2014 with the WLAM Foundation’s Legacy Award. She currently serves on the boards of the Michigan Campaign for Justice, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, and Wayne County’s Criminal Advocacy Program. Her community service includes serving as a mentor in the Just the Beginning Program, linking college-bound students with practicing lawyers.


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Channelle was named as one of Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 under 40 for 2015!

Chanelle specializes in criminal defense and family law and is the owner and managing partner of Channelle Kizy, PLLC.

Chanelle is active in the legal community. Chanelle is the President-Elect of the Women’s Bar Association (WBA is the Oakland Region of WLAM) and has served in various capacities as a member of the WBA since 2010, including: Mentorship Chair; Regional Representative to the State Board; Treasurer; and Vice-President. Chanelle is also a member of several other organizations including the Michigan Inter-Professional Association, the Chaldean American Bar Association, the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, and the Family Law Section and Criminal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

In addition to her recent award, Chanelle is a Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Star (2010-2014), a dbusiness top family law lawyer two year in a row, and a Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Regional Award Recipient (2012).