WLAM Congratulates our Members on their accomplishments!
September 2019 Announcements
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 https://lakeshorelegalaid.org/pro-bono-legal-services/.
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.
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. (www.michigan.gov)
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.
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 Announcementsread more
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 Announcementsread more
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 (https://birthrightsbar.org/pushed-and-consented/pushed-and-consented-rights-in-childbirth) or as a flipbook that is viewable online for an optional donation (https://birthrightsbar.org/flipbook-landing).
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 (https://www.aphsa.org/). 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 SuperLawyers® 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 Announcementsread more
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 Lawyer™ 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 ICLE.org. 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.