My approach to practicing law is holistic and client-focused. Clients' needs and objectives rarely fit into one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter boxes. The first step is listening carefully and asking the right questions, to understand what the client's needs and objectives really are.
Often, approaching a task from a new or different perspective, can save time, reduce conflict, and reduce expenses. Many lawyers promise outside-the-box, novel thinking. In reality, few deliver. My track record of service to clients, over the years, demonstrates original and novel thinking, combined with thorough preparation, in case after case. Indeed, one publication, commenting on a routine motion that I recently filed in federal court, went so far as to describe my approach in one intellectual property case as "very powerful" and so "potent," that "every paragraph is worth quoting."
Like all my colleagues at Williams | Hughes, I view the attorney's role as a problem-solver, not as a problem maker. Our primary objective, whenever reasonably possible, is to promote understanding and communication, and to help develop effective strategies to make difficult problems and situations tractable, and to bring solutions within reach.
Once resource well worth reading, even if you are my opposing counsel, is Robert Axelrod's book The Evolution of Cooperation. Our premise, starting any negotiation or case, is that the other side will usually be more inclined to "cooperate" (i.e., find a fair, win-win solution) rather than to "defect," (i.e., to demand more than their fair share), and to begin the process by seeking to find a cooperative solution. Cooperators, when they find one another, and get a chance to cooperate, tend to be mutual "winners" in just about every ecosystem.
What happens, instead, when the litigation or negotiation counterparties are unreasonable, selfish, and (in Axelrod's terms) defectors? Well, those cases are the exception rather than the rule, but such cases can and do happen. When necessary, we are also prepared and willing to go the distance and to present the strongest case possible, whether in court, in a private negotiation, or in an ADR proceeding. It does not please me, for instance, to seek sanctions against another lawyer for overstepping the bounds of proper conduct. But when appropriate and necessary, precisely for the purpose of promoting future cooperation, we have been known to seek and win sanctions against opponents.
For instance, in one recent probate case, I secured several thousand dollars in sanctions to reimburse my clients for at least part of what they spent defending against a weak case filed by some Michigan (their emphasis) "Superlawyers." The highest praise one can get in this profession, is when the result you obtain for your client is so favorable, and the other side learns so much from that result, that they later refer a case to you or even hire you. Thanks, "Superlawyers;" I hope we can do business together as friends in the future. Likewise, when representing The Mega 80s (you may have heard of them, whether you are in the Grand Rapids area or the Detroit area), in one case I secured a result so favorable for my client (the other side not only paid the entire debt we demanded, plus my entire fee, plus the fee of an arbitrator) that the former opponent later hired me to handle a contested case involving a very large building in Downtown Detroit. Subsequently, when that music client has money to collect, generally the client does not even have to pay me fees; the story of what happened in the prior case tends to be so memorable, that collection issues for that client rarely last more than a few days.
In another case, most of a client's expenses defending against what reasonably was viewed by both a judge and by my client, as a meritless suit, were reimbursed. The other side in that case was represented by one or more attorneys then working in a law office that subsequently became a local branch of a statewide law firm.
The bottom line is that cooperation and negotiation are all the more successful, and produce more lasting results, when the counterparty in each process fully understands that their best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), seeRoger Fisher, William L. Ury & Bruce Patton, Getting to YES (Houghton Mifflin, ed., 2nd ed. 1991), is vastly less attractive, objectively speaking, than a fair and reasonable, negotiated, outcome.
This is not to promise that you will necessarily enjoy the same results as the examples referenced above. Each case and each representation involves its own facts and its own issues. But when I choose to take on your matter, it is always my intention to give you nothing less than my best service.
Languages spoken: English, French
Hourly ($125-250/hour), contingent (33%), Fixed (sometimes), Retainer (sometimes), Free consultation (20 minutes), Pro bono (5%)
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|MI||Active And In Good Standing||1998||08/04/2016|
|Award name||Grantor||Date granted|
|Certificate of Merit -- Envirometal Law and Policy||University of Michigan Law School||1993|
|Attorney||Williams | Hughes, PLLC||2007 - 2015|
|Attorney||Calligaro & Meyering, P.C.||2005 - 2007|
|Owner||CyberBrief, PLC||1999 - 2007|
|Assistant U.S. Attorney||U.S. Attorney's Office||1998 - 1999|
|Associate||Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, LLP||1997 - 1998|
|Associate||Steptoe & Johnson, LLP||1995 - 1997|
|Law Clerk||U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas||1994 - 1995|
|Briefing Attorney||The Supreme Court of Texas||1993 - 1994|
|Association name||Position name||Duration|
|Muskegon Rotary Club||Member||2012 - Present|
|Muskegon Social Justice Commission||Board Member||2012 - Present|
|Muskegon Area Arts Council||Board Member, Legal advisor||2011 - Present|
|Roosevelt Park City Council||Councilmember||2009 - Present|
|Michigan State Bar Foundation||Supporting Fellow||2008 - Present|
|Electronic Frontier Foundation||Cooperating Attorney||1999 - Present|
|State Bar of Michigan||N/A||1998 - Present|
|Michigan Commerce Bank v. City of Norton Shores||Mission Accomplished|
|Fruitland Township v. White Lake Ambulance Authority||Case dismssed voluntarily by agreement; no service interruption occurred at any time due to lawsuit.|
|AF Holdings v. Ciccone||Case voluntarily dismissed, without any of the identities of 300 cable subscribers being revealed.|
|See all legal cases|
|Fulcrum CLE Booklet||Roger E. Warin & Stephen A. Fennell, Anatomy of a Coverage Trial, in Insurance Coverage for Tobacco and Tobacco-Related Litigation and Liability (Fulcrum ed. 1996) (acknowledged for assistance in preparing outline materials);||1996|
|State Bar of Texas Seventh Annual DTPA / Consumer / Insurance Law Course||John Cornyn & Eric C. Grimm, Recent Developments / DTPA, in State Bar of Texas Seventh Annual DTPA / Consumer / Insurance Law Course (Mark S. McQuality ed. 1994).||1994|
|University of Michigan||Law School||Doctor of Jurisprudence/Juris Doctor (J.D.)||1993|
|University of Houston, main campus||Political Science (Minor -- English)||Bachelor of Arts, with university honors||1990|
|ROAD monthly meeting||Trans Pacific Partnership (moderator)||2014|
|ROAD monthly meeting||Drones (moderator)||2013|
|Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys Annual Meeting||Digital Mischief||2008|
|Computers Freedom and Privacy||Hacktivism (panel)||2007|
|The Fifth HoPE||Hacktivism Panel||2004|
|American Bar Association Annual Meeting||Privacy||2004|
|American Bar Association Business Section Annual Meeting||Privacy||2003|