Lawsuits unlikely to stall overtime rules

Crain’s Detroit Business

By Dustin Walsh

September 25, 2016

For Brogan & Partners Convergence Marketing Inc., new federal overtime pay rules mean its new associates may lose out on valuable experience.

The Birmingham-based advertising agency will be forced to limit the hours of just-out-of-college associates who otherwise would put in more hours to learn the ropes of the industry, said Ellyn Davidson, managing partner.

“When you first enter the workforce, you want to do things that further your career that might require you working more than 40 hours a week,” Davidson said. “In advertising, we might have a young person come to a TV shoot for the day or focus group in the evening as a learning experience. Now, it brings up an issue for companies like mine that have to make a financial decision on that experience for them.”

The only hope for Brogan & Partners, and many others, rests with two lawsuits filed last week challenging the U.S. Department of Labor’s ruling to expand mandatory overtime pay to more than 4 million workers. But those challenges face an uphill battle, according to experts.

The message to businesses: Be ready for Dec. 1, when the new rule is scheduled to take effect.

The rule requires employers to pay overtime to salaried workers earning less than $47,500 a year, doubling the current standard of $23,660 set in 2004. A suit filed in U.S. District Court in Texas by Michigan and 20 other states says that the overtime rule, in regard to state employees, will increase costs and force the cut of essential government services. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with the support of dozens of other chamber organizations, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others, claims in a suit filed in the same court the rule will ultimately force businesses to demote or lay off workers due to higher labor costs.

Local legal experts, however, say the legal challenges stand little chance in court and are preparing clients for the start of the Dec. 1 rule.

“I’m certainly not surprised to see the lawsuits, but I think (both suits) have a steep uphill climb to succeed,” said Gary Klotz, partner and labor and employment attorney for Butzel Long PC in Detroit. “Both suits are challenging the authority for the Department of Labor to do something they’ve done in the past. If they did it then, they can do it now.”

The 21 states in the suit claim the overtime ruling violates the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in that enforcing the rule infringes upon state sovereignty to employ and pay its workers as it sees fit.

The result will hammer state budgets, the suit claims.

However, the Labor Department also raised the overtime pay threshold in 2004 under President George W. Bush to $23,660 from the meager $8,060 set in 1975. At that time, the DOL said the ruling would provide overtime pay to more than 6 million workers. That ruling, while unpopular among businesses, did not receive a similar legal challenge.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce lawsuit challenges the DOL’s right to index the threshold to inflation. Under the impending ruling, the salaried worker salary threshold will rise with inflation every three years.

“DOL’s unprecedented escalator provision in the new overtime rule exceeds any authority granted to the department by Congress, which has never authorized indexing of the minimum salary thresholds related to overtime,” the lawsuit states.

Klotz said that just because the DOL did not enact the indexing provision in 2004 does not mean it’s not legal.

“Congress hasn’t said they can’t do (indexing),” Klotz said. “Just because (DOL) didn’t do it in the past doesn’t mean the current department can’t look at the statute differently. I believe it’s within their authority.”

Regardless of whether the lawsuits have merit, the ruling is going to negatively impact business, said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, which is supporting the U.S. Chamber-led suit.

“People in Washington (D.C.) have clearly never run a business … ,” Baruah said. “They assume most businesses are bad businesses, but that’s not true. This very well could drag wages down and now forces employers to track some employees’ hours rigorously and some not. What does that do to a work culture?

“The intent (of the rule) is not bad, but the unintended consequences are. The federal government is not nimble; it’s not a scalpel, it’s a blunt instrument. Businesses are getting hit with blunt force by these regulations.”

Davidson said the spirit of the rule is encouraging, but the consequences on professional firms is harmful.

“I want people to be able to live a decent life, afford food and have a roof over their heads,” Davidson said. “I’m sympathetic to that cause, but it poses a real challenge when we have new grads coming into an industry that is constantly getting squeezed. The days of fat media commissions in advertising don’t exist like they used to.”

Daniel Villaire, an attorney at Royal Oak-based law firm Howard and Howard Attorneys PLLC, said his work with clients has included an audit, or cost analysis, to determine the financial impact of the ruling as well as attempting to measure the effect on morale as some employees move from salaried to hourly and vice versa.

“After the audit, we develop a plan to implement the new overtime rules and make any necessary changes to positions, pay, policies and practices,” Villaire said.

Klotz said the issue has become highly politicized.

“These states all have Republican attorney generals and/or governors,” Klotz said. “Texas is taking the lead because it’s been successful before. But I’d be stunned if they were able to get a nationwide injunction on this matter.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement when the suit was filed on Sept. 20, calling it a radical liberal move by the Obama administration.

“The numerous crippling federal regulations that the Obama administration has imposed on businesses in this country have been bad enough,” Paxton said in a statement. “But to pass a rule like this, all in service of a radical leftist political agenda, is inexcusable.”

Labor Secretary Tom Perez defended the rules.

“Despite the sound legal and policy footing on which the rule is constructed, the same interests that have stood in the way of middle-class Americans getting paid when they work extra are continuing their obstructionist tactics,” Perez said, The Texas Tribune reported.

But Texas has succeeded in challenging the Obama administration in the past. The state of Texas has sued his administration at least 45 times since 2009. Texas has won seven of those cases, including a June split U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down President Obama’s executive order to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

Nevertheless, attorneys continue to prepare clients, Klotz said.

“I haven’t heard from a single client since the suits were filed, but if I did, I’d tell them to continue to get ready for Dec. 1,” Klotz said.

Program gives Detroit students path to 4-year colleges

The Detroit News

By Kim Kozlowski

September 25, 2016

A scholarship program that aims to give Detroit high school students a tuition-free path to higher education is expanding beyond community colleges this year to include four-year institutions.

The $2.5 million Detroit Promise, unveiled in March, is giving two-year scholarships to 540 Detroit high school graduates to attend five community colleges in the region. It also is pilot testing an initiative to send 293 students to the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and other four-year institutions.

The two-year pilot program will cover four years of tuition costs and fees for students in the program this year, and another cohort next year. Officials are working to make it permanent.

“When we started this program, people were really excited about sending Detroit students to college for two years, but they hoped we would eventually send students to four-year universities,” said Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent programs at the Detroit Regional Chamber, which administers Detroit Promise. “For this to have a transformative impact on the city, a two-year program is good but a four-year program is a game-changer.”

Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, spoke about the Detroit Promise last week to hundreds of higher education advocates at the National College Access Network’s annual conference in Detroit.

“Young people in Detroit need to have the same opportunities that young people have everywhere,” Allen said. “We know that capable, intelligent kids from low-income neighborhoods are less likely to go to college as kids from well-to-do families. We are leaving talent on the table — people who are really smart, intelligent and passionate.”

This year’s Detroit Promise participants include Leila Ramirez, a Cesar Chavez Academy graduate who is attending the University of Michigan.

“It’s definitely a big help to my family,” Ramirez said. “I don’t know how I could have paid for it otherwise.”

Louis Wyre, a graduate of University of Detroit Jesuit High School who’s enrolled at MSU, depicted the scholarship as a blessing for students like him from Detroit.

“This is a motivation for kids to continue their education, work their way through school, meet the requirements and receive the scholarship,” Wyre said. “That way, they are able to stay on the right path and be successful, and in turn, make contributions to the city of Detroit and inspire other kids to do the same.”

The Detroit Promise is modeled on a seminal program in Kalamazoo, which gave students the promise of a higher education thanks to an anonymous donor. The Kalamazoo Promise, which covers tuition for the city’s high school graduates at four-year Michigan colleges and universities, inspired dozens of other communities nationwide to work on guaranteeing that students could afford higher education.

The foundation for the Detroit Promise was laid in 1989 with the Detroit Compact, which helped students pay tuition and fees at community colleges that weren’t covered by Pell Grants, university awards or other scholarships. But it was catapulted by Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2011 announcement that he wanted to see more Promise programs based in Michigan, Handel said.

Snyder created the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF), which funded the community college portion of what is now known as the Detroit Promise. MEEF funds also are being used for the four-year program, along with support from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Years ago, the students who qualified for the Detroit program came from a limited number of schools in Detroit — mostly neighborhood public schools. Today, the scope has widened to include all public, charter and private schools in Detroit.

To qualify, students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average, an ACT score of 21 or an SAT score of 1060. They also must attend college full-time.

Since its beginning, more than 2,000 Detroit students have qualified for funding toward associate degrees at Wayne County Community College District, Oakland Community, Macomb Community, Schoolcraft and Henry Ford colleges.

Soon, the two-year college scholarships for city students will be available in perpetuity with public dollars generated through the Detroit Promise Zone, a legal designation created under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2009 that allows Detroit to capture a portion of state education taxes generated in the city to fund scholarships.

While the number of Detroit students taking advantage of the program is low, Handel said they are working to do more outreach, particularly those planning to attend community colleges, and encouraging students to enroll.

This year, officials are working to enroll half of the program’s community college students — about 250 to 300 — in a study known as the Detroit Promise Path to help them improve their chances of graduating based on national models that have shown to improve success rates.

“It’s not enough for students to just go, they have to graduate,” Handel said.

The study, conducted by MDRC, a social policy research organization based in New York, will test a performance-based scholarship among the Detroit Promise Path scholars.

Unlike merit scholarships, which reward students for past behavior, the performance-based scholarships will reward students with a $50 gift card when they meet twice a month with coaches who will provide resources, academic counseling and more to keep students on track.

“Performance-based scholarships can make a difference,” said Colleen Sommo, a senior research associate at MDRC. “Having comprehensive programs that alleviate multiple barriers to success helps students progress in their college careers and graduate.”

In addition to UM and MSU, all of the state’s public universities are participating or plan to join the initiative, except for Lake Superior State University. Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University plan to participate, Handel said, but not this year.

Additionally, Marygrove College and University of Detroit-Mercy are participating in the four-year program.

“We’ve been in Detroit since 1877, we are committed to the city, we are proud to be an urban university,” said Gary Lichtman, media director of University of Detroit-Mercy. “The Detroit Promise mirrors our Jesuit and Sisters of Mercy mission, so it’s a very good fit for us.”

Innovative Community Partnerships Key to Retaining Region’s Talent

This week, Detroit Regional Chamber President Sandy Baruah joined Lisa Katz, executive director of the Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan, on a panel to address the short and long-term opportunities to fill the talent pipeline and close the skills gap in Southeast Michigan as part of the 2016 National College Access Network (NCAN) Conference in downtown Detroit. The Conference featured over 1,500 education professionals from across the United States.

“Our talent gap and employment challenge is no different than in other places,” Baruah said while crediting educational and business leaders for working collaboratively to address the issue.

“Just months ago we had an unemployment rate higher than the national average but now we are just below the average,” Baruah added.

Pointing to the success of initiatives like Mayor Mike Duggan’s summer employment program, Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, Katz touted partnerships underway by the business, community and philanthropic sectors to provide essential career pathways for teens and young adults.

“This was no effort spearheaded by Sandy or I, but we are real advocates and supporters of its mission and impact,” said Katz. “We wanted to make sure our city’s youth are able to get that hands-on experience to help them be successful in the long run.”

The panel was moderated by Pat Roe, vice president of philanthropy for USA Funds.

Legislative Update: Health Insurance Tax Repeal, Autonomous Cars, and Brownfields Incentives Among Bills to Watch

The Michigan Legislature is back in session this week, and the Detroit Regional Chamber’s government relations team is working closely with elected leaders on several bills under consideration that impact economic growth and the business community throughout the region. Proposed bills include repeal of the HICA insurance tax, TIF Brownfield incentives and autonomous vehicle regulations. Chamber members are encouraged to contact their local legislators to express their support on these key issues for a stronger business climate in Michigan.

Senate Bills 987-990: Health Insurance Claims Assessment Repeal
Legislation repealing the HICA (health insurance claims assessment) tax was approved by the House Insurance Committee on Sept. 15 and heads to the full House for final passage this week. If approved, the HICA will expire as originally planned on Jan. 1, 2017, while guaranteeing reliable funding for traditional Medicaid programs. The HICA tax is a .75 percent tax on health insurance claims paid by individuals and businesses and has added nearly $1 billion to the cost of health insurance since its enactment in 2011.

House Bill 5765: Michigan Tax Tribunal Reform
A hearing on this bill that would provide much-needed structural and operational reforms to the Michigan Tax Tribunal process took place this week in the House of Representatives’ Tax Policy Committee. The legislation was originally introduced as a result of feedback and workgroup participation by members of the Chamber’s Tax Committee. The Chamber is advocating for a full vote in the House this fall.

Senate Bills 1061-1065: TIF Brownfield “Transformational Projects”
The Chamber has been actively engaged in a coalition effort to enact a newly proposed tax incentive to build on the successes of Michigan’s Brownfield Tax Increment Financing program, providing an innovative tool to encourage large, multi-use projects that would otherwise not be economically viable. The legislation passed in the Senate’s Economic Development and International Investment Committee, and is expected to receive a full vote soon.

Senate Bills 995-998: Autonomous Vehicle Regulations
A package of bills placing Michigan as a national leader in regulating the testing and operations of autonomous vehicles received a hearing in the House Communications and Technology Committee on Sept. 13, after passing in the Senate with a unanimous vote. The Chamber testified in support of this crucial legislation to help develop the next generation of intelligent mobility and connected vehicle technology. A full vote in the House is expected soon.

Six Dickinson Wright Attorneys are Recognized in Michigan Super Lawyers 2016 Top Lists

Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that six of the firm’s attorneys have been recognized in Michigan Super Lawyers 2016 Top Lists. The attorneys honored this year include:

Henry M. Grix – Estate & Probate, is ranked among the Top 50 Consumer Lawyers in Michigan and the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Timothy H. Howlett – Employment & Labor, is ranked among the Top 50 Business Lawyers in Michigan and the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Kathleen A. Lang – Business Litigation, is ranked among the Top 25 Women Business Lawyers in Michigan and the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Michigan.

Thomas C. McNeill – Business Litigation, is ranked among the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Edward H. Pappas – Business Litigation, is ranked among the Top 10 Lawyers in Michigan, the Top 50 Business Lawyers in Michigan, and the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Daniel D. Quick – Business Litigation, is ranked among the Top 50 Business Lawyers in Michigan and the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

The Top Super Lawyers is a listing of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement as well as the highest point totals in Michigan Super Lawyers nominations, research and blue ribbon review process.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 425 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has seventeen offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and ten other domestic offices in Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn. (2); Las Vegas, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Reno, Nev.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canada office is located in Toronto.

As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification, the firm offers clients a distinctive combination of superb client service and exceptional quality. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

Miller Canfield Among Top 15% of Complex Employment Litigation Firms in America

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that the BTI Litigation Outlook 2017 has ranked the firm in the top 15 percent of all U.S. law firms in Complex Employment Litigation.

Miller Canfield’s employment litigation team is regularly ranked alongside the best known major national law firms. With attorneys licensed in several states and admitted to more than 30 federal courts, the team has the capacity to litigate cases throughout the United States and Canada, including: wage and hour disputes; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission harassment, retaliation, discrimination and civil rights claims; Family Medical Leave Act and Americans wth Disabilities Act claims; wrongful discharge, whistleblower and employment-related tort claims; non-compete disputes; and employment-related arbitrations.

The BTI Litigation Outlook reports on client behavior and spending, how it is changing in 2017, and what law firms can do to adapt and strengthen their client relationships. BTI is predicting that there will be little change in spending on litigation, but opportunities for law firms remain strong as many clients are increasingly looking to their existing law firms to do both everyday litigation work and complex litigation. The report noted that specific areas of growth include employment, class action and intellectual property litigation, while commercial litigation spending is expected to decrease in the coming year.

About Miller Canfield
With over 250 lawyers practicing in all major areas of law and 14 offices in five countries, Miller Canfield is among the 200 largest law firms in the U.S. Our lawyers are recognized by the most prestigious legal referral guides and organizations around the world, including Chambers USA and the 2016 edition of “Best Law Firms” published by U.S. News & World Report, in which Miller Canfield received national first-tier rankings in Public Finance Law, Labor & Employment Litigation and Labor Law-Management. Miller Canfield was also named by corporate counsel as a “Standout in Complex Labor Litigation” in the BTI Litigation Outlook 2015 report, the third consecutive year. The firm is also recognized for superior client service in the 2015 BTI Client Service A-Team report.

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Jeff DeGraff

Professor, Business Administration
University of Michigan Ross School of Business

jeffJeff DeGraff is a clinical professor of business administration at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He teaches administration courses, and executive education courses on leading creativity, innovation and change. DeGraff’s research focuses on innovation strategy for competency development, practices and methods, creativity communities and innovation networks, and leadership development.

He is an author and co-author of the books “Innovation You, Creativity at Work: Developing the Right Practices to Make Innovation Happen,” “Leading Innovation: How to Jumpstart Your Company’s Growth Engine” and “Competing Values Leadership: Creating Value in Organizations.”

DeGraff is the managing partner of the consulting practice, Competing Values. He runs a leading innovation center, Innovatrium, and serves as an advisor to think tanks and governments.

You’re Doing it Wrong: Dale Carnegie Coach Offers Quick Tips for Customer Retention

Building loyal customer relationships takes time, skills and a personal touch, all of which many businesses forego in favor of the quick sale. But following some basic best practices can pay dividends in the long run, according to Lizz Glenn, a certified performance coach at Dale Carnegie Training of Southeast Michigan. Recently Glenn sat down with the eDetroiter to discuss her expertise on building win-win relationships through networking.

What is a common mistake most people make when approaching a potential customer?

They say “I” too much. I think we put too much focus on ourselves … we are all in sales. If you are not in a specific sales position, you are selling your ideas. When you are trying to communicate the benefit that someone is going to receive from your product or service you need to tell them, “You are going to benefit from this in such and such way. This is going to help you do this.” Instead of, “I do this, and my company is this.” No one cares. You need to put the focus on the customer. I think that’s the common mistake that a lot of people make. When we really focus on seeing things from our customer’s point of view, and put ourselves in his or her shoes, that makes a difference.

How do you determine what a customer’s wants and needs are?

Great question. I believe we determine that by asking questions. A lot of times in business, people go in and they talk a lot. I feel like we’re not uncovering our customers’ needs, because all we’re doing is talking about ourselves. I believe when you ask the right questions, and when you ask about a customer’s current situation, that’s really important, depending again on what product or service you sell.

In my instance, I always ask our customers, “What is the culture like in your organization? What are some challenges that you are facing in the workplace?”

You really have to focus on their pain points and get to their root cause of some issues.  When you ask the right questions, and when you’re proactively listening, you are able to ask more effective questions. A lot of times we listen but we’re not really listening. We’re listening to reply, and not necessarily listening to the person.

What is the No. 1 key to maintaining a long-term positive relationship with customers?

I think it’s just always touching your customer, even if you’re sending them an email to a value-added article. If you’re inviting them to an event … I don’t think each conversation we have with our customers should be to make a sale.

How do you make a professional connection more personal?

I think when you show your customer that, “Hey, I value you. Thank you for your business. I’m honored to serve you and your organization.” Show them that through contact. If you are sending articles, if you are sending happy birthday messages on LinkedIn, congratulations on the work anniversary … holiday parties … just making sure that you’re always touching them. When you do that, they remember you.

What are some more interesting networking topics when making small talk?

There is only so much someone can say about the weather. Small talk is so tough. In our classes, we literally teach an entire conversation stack. We teach this entire process on how to have effective conversations. It starts with asking someone about their name. Then maybe asking them different questions about their name before transitioning into, “Are you from Michigan originally?” “Do you have family here?” “Do you have pets?” That’s kind of the approach we take with getting to know people. I’ve read in a study, it is very common for Americans to —when we’re networking and meeting people—we always ask them what they do right off the bat. In other cultures, they don’t do that.

Could you share any personal experiences of bad small talk?

I asked, “What do you do?” once at a networking event and I totally shouldn’t have done it. The person was, I think, of Hispanic descent and it was offensive to him. He mentioned to me, “No. You should ask me about my family and things like that.” It’s important when you small talk to get to know the person. Be natural. A good question to start off with is, “What brings you to this event?” I find the more you talk with someone, the more you find commonalities.

They also say a first impression is a lasting impression. With your coaching expertise, what do you say to that?

I definitely think the first impression is a lasting one. Absolutely. I think the way you present yourself, meaning the way you dress, the way you act, the way you speak, people are judging that. They’re judging us by the way we look and what we say and how we say it. We need to be accountable for those things. You can always recover. You can always strengthen the relationship in ways where you can recover from that first impression. If we really strive to, when we’re meeting people, looking our best, being mindful of what we say, going into events prepared, it makes a huge difference.

What do you hope people will gain and take away from your session?

I want people to walk away with more tools in their toolbox. I want people to walk away remembering that the human connection is the most important connection. You live in such a wired world with social media and different things, and we’re communicating via email all the time.

When you focus on your people skills and your communication skills and build good relationships with people, it’ll take you very far, regardless of what industry you are in. One of my favorite quotes by Dale Carnegie is, “When it comes to one’s financial success, 15 percent of it is technical knowledge, and then 85 percent of it is human engineering,” which is the ability to understand and treat people.

Crestmark’s Equipment Leasing Division Makes Monitor 100 List of Largest Equipment Finance Companies; and Monitor 50 List of Top Banks

Crestmark Equipment Finance (CEF), Crestmark’s equipment financing and leasing division, is among the largest and fastest growing equipment finance/leasing companies in the United States. The 25th Annual Monitor 100 ranks CEF 84th in net-asset value and 87th in new business volume. Crestmark moved up a spot on the list of largest equipment leasing/finance companies.

In addition, CEF made Monitor’s Top Bank 50, which ranks the nation’s largest bank-owned equipment financing and leasing companies; CEF ranked 48th.

“Crestmark Equipment Finance is focused on helping clients maximize their operations by offering financing that makes essential equipment, and state-of-the-art upgrades, affordable,” said Scott Grady, president of Crestmark Equipment Finance. “We are pleased to make the Monitor 100 list of largest equipment companies in the U.S., and to be among Monitor’s Top Bank 50 in the equipment financing/leasing market.”

In a move to expand the range of financing options available to clients, Crestmark entered the equipment leasing and finance space in October 2014 with the acquisition of TIP Capital. Since then, the division has focused on strengthening operations and expanding product offerings.

The Monitor 100, now in its 25th year, and Monitor Top Bank 50 are compiled and published by Monitor Daily magazine.

About Crestmark 

Crestmark is an FDIC-insured bank that provides innovative financial solutions for businesses nationwide. Financing solutions include asset-based lending, accounts receivable financing, lines of credit, term loans, factoring, machinery/equipment financing and equipment leasing. Crestmark has extensive experience in helping many industries including transportation, manufacturing, staffing, petrochemical, government contractors, apparel/footwear/furniture distribution/manufacturing, hospitality/hotels, insurance agencies, and technology hardware/software. Headquartered in Michigan, with additional offices in California, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, New York, and Illinois; and representatives nationwide.

Butzel Long attorney Ivonne M. Soler appointed to Hispanic/ Latino Commission of Michigan

Butzel Long family law attorney Ivonne M. Soler has been appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the Hispanic/ Latino Commission of Michigan. She will fill a vacancy on the commission, serving the remainder of a three-year term expiring December 17, 2017. Her appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

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.

Based in Butzel Long’s Detroit office, Soler concentrates her practice in the areas of family law litigation and commercial litigation. She represents clients with family and domestic relations issues, including divorce, property division, spousal support, child support, child custody and parenting time, change of domicile, pre and post-nuptial agreements, post-judgment enforcement, adoption and assisted reproduction (family building) issues.

Soler also represents clients in general matters pertaining to business and commercial litigation, including breach of contract actions and non-compete, trade secrets, and unfair competition disputes.

Soler is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 2013) and Wayne State University (B.A., cum laude, 2006). While in law school, she served as the Associate Director of the Moot Court Board of Advocates, the President of Conexiones: The UDM Hispanic Law Society, and a member of the Dean’s Honor Society. She received many honors while in law school, including book awards for the highest grade in Legal Writing and Trial Practice. Moreover, she was the winner of the 2012 Patrick A. Keenan Memorial Appellate Advocacy Tournament.

A native of Puerto Rico and fluent in Spanish, Soler is actively involved with the Hispanic Bar Association (HBAM), the Women’s Lawyer’s Association of Michigan (WLAM), and the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MHCC). At the same time, she serves on the New Lawyers and Family Law Advisory Boards for The Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). She also is active with Butzel Long’s Women’s Leadership Initiative.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: