If Not Now, When? Immigration Reform At A Time Of National Crisis

By: Brad Williams, Vice President, Government Relations, Detroit Regional Chamber

“We have the responsibility to (secure the border), but we cannot blame everything on border security. The more we do that, the more we talk ourselves into a false solution,” said former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez at the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference.

He went on to add: “If we are 100 percent successful at sealing our border and sealing overstays of visas, then God help us, then we’ll see what a real recession is like.”

With our country in the midst of a recession like nothing we have seen before because of COVID-19, advocates for meaningful immigration reform are a raising key question that strikes at the heart of the effectiveness of our federal government at this point in time.

If not now, when?

Yet amid a time of national crisis, some in the current administration appears to be attempting to shut down one of our biggest economic tools when we need innovation, talent, and job creation more than ever.

The U.S. Chamber recently filed a lawsuit aiming to convince President Trump and his administration to pull back on restrictive immigration policies that threaten to strip our country of one of its historical competitive advantages. It is further evidence of a growing frustration among business leaders partisanship overwhelming meaningful policy, something that dates back years.

That comes on the heels of a different lawsuit filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that forced the administration to rescind a policy that would have banned international students from staying in the U.S. if their college or university held classes virtually in the fall.

Clearly the politics around immigration have not only stymied long called for reforms, such as revising the visa system to better suit employers’ needs, but have actually started to move toward more restrictive policies.

For business leaders, the region’s and country’s economic recovery from the pandemic must be inclusive to be successful.

In July, the Chamber partnered with city and county leaders, the New American Economy, and Global Detroit to release a report highlighting how immigrants are essential to the region’s COVID-19 response, and its economic recovery.

In 2018, for instance, immigrants had $12.3 billion in spending power and comprised more than 11.7% of all health care workers.

The math is clear amid consistent support and calls for action.

In February, the Detroit Regional Chamber also signed on to the Michigan Compact on Immigration which outlines five principles to guide the discussion in our state.

The Compact very clearly calls on the federal government to take this issue head-on, putting politics aside and charting a sensible path forward that empowers immigrants to strengthen the economy and our competitiveness.

The signatories represent more than 20,000 companies and more than one million employees and calls for a federal immigration system that responds to the needs of Michigan employers and workers in a time when talent attraction and retention are critical to the state’s economic growth.

Of course, back in 2013, Secretary Gutierrez wasn’t alone.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also made the economic case for reforms as the topic was central to discussing Michigan’s competitiveness in the 21st century.

“A path to residency should be made easier so that these great catalytic converters of sustained economic growth pursue their dreams in this country rather than be trained here and shipped back to their country of origin to be our economic competitors,” said Governor Bush.

Unfortunately, the political gridlock since then has resulted in another seven years of stalled reform.

If not then, perhaps now the overdue change will come, as the country deals with a global pandemic that’s challenging it in unprecedented ways.

Butzel Long Chairman Richard E. Rassel named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Hall of Fame

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long Chairman, Richard E. Rassel, has been named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Hall of Fame Class of 2020. He is among 19 attorneys who will be honored on October 9, 2020.

Rassel has been with Butzel Long for 51 years. He practices primarily in the area of complex business litigation and arbitration with a special concentration in media law. He also is Secretary and a Director of the Detroit Legal News.

Over the years, Rassel’s professional skills have earned him listings in Chambers, The Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, as well as a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent rating. In addition, he was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers from 1989 to 2013. He served on the initial Board of Directors of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms.

Rassel also is active in the community. He is a past Board Chair of Detroit Public Television where he was honored with the 2011 Community Leadership Award, past Chairman of the Board of the Holy Cross Foundation, past Director of the Michigan Strategic Fund, former Chairman and Founding Trustee of the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, former Chairman of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of University of Michigan Law School.

Moreover, he has been honored with the Community Service Award and the Leadership Award by the Birmingham (Michigan) Community House, where he is a past President. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Foundation Board; Co-Chair of Detroit Drives Degrees; a Trustee of William Beaumont Hospital System; an Ambassador of the College of Arts and Sciences of Oakland University; and a member of the Board of Advisors for the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Rassel holds a B.A. from University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. He served in the U.S. Navy and is a Certified Judge Advocate. He is also a graduate of the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution.

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 an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Kearney Joins LIFT As Platinum Member, Guiding the Institute Toward the Future of Manufacturing

LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, is excited to announce that global management consulting firm Kearney has joined the institute as a platinum member and is supporting the institute’s objectives to create a national showcase for future manufacturing in Detroit. Kearney, and its leadership team, is helping to inform LIFT on the latest technologies and to build a national showcase at its facility. As part of that national showcase, Kearney will be placing its Digital Model Factory in the LIFT facility to demonstrate the “art of the possible” in future manufacturing. The model factory is expected to be fully launched at LIFT before the end of the year.

Butzel Long expands Washington, D.C. footprint with addition of four IP attorneys

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Butzel Long, a leading Detroit-based law firm announced today that it has expanded its Intellectual Property (IP) Practice Group with a core group of four attorneys with strong science, technology and engineering backgrounds in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, according to Butzel Long President and CEO Justin G. Klimko.

The group is led by Aaron S. Kamlay (Shareholder), former head of the Washington, D.C.- area IP firm Morris & Kamlay, which specialized in intellectual property law matters related to strategic patent acquisitions, mergers and acquisitions, startup support, portfolio development and patent risk analysis. Joining Kamlay at Butzel Long are Ian S. Harrison (Of Counsel), Kevin T. Roddy (Of Counsel) and Donald “Jay” Lecher (Of Counsel).

“Intellectual property law issues reach into many areas of business,” said Klimko. “From patent prosecution to counseling and enforcement, the combined experience and caliber of attorneys from Morris & Kamlay complement our Intellectual Property Law Practice Group’s capability to meet current and future client challenges.”

“The addition of this top-level talent in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office enhances Butzel Long’s strong IP capabilities, which include a focus on complex and high-stakes patent development and litigation and IP disputes before federal district and appellate courts across the country” said Claudia Rast, Practice Department Chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property, Cybersecurity and Emerging Technology Group.

Butzel Long’s expansion of its Washington, D.C. office is in line with the firm’s strategic vision and its commitment to acquire highly-qualified legal talent to service over 3,000 geographically diverse clients in national and international markets.

Aaron S. Kamlay

Aaron Kamlay has been practicing intellectual property law for more than 15 years and has represented clients of all sizes across a wide range of technologies, including numerous successful startups and multiple Fortune 100 companies. He specializes in complex patent prosecution and portfolio management, acquisitions and divestitures of IP, and portfolio creation, with a focus on building business value through strategic IP development.

Prior to joining Butzel Long, Kamlay founded Morris & Kamlay with Gary Morris and worked at the IP specialty firms of Kenyon & Kenyon and Townsend and Townsend and Crew.

With a degree in physics and prior industry experience in programming, large dataset analysis, computer networking, and communications, Kamlay has obtained valuable patents for his clients in numerous fields, including artificial intelligence, high-availability databases, OLED devices, consumer electronics, optics, medical devices, robotics, and others.

He also advises clients in preparing patent portfolios for sales or acquisitions and in evaluating portfolios for mergers and acquisitions. He has advised on deals totaling over $10 billion. In 2011, he co-founded Morris &

Kamlay LLP, which specialized in strategic portfolio design, patent acquisition, licensing, and patent analysis.
Kamlay holds a JD from Vanderbilt University and a BS in Physics from the University of Evansville.

In 2012, he was named a Rising Star by Superlawyers Magazine. Morris & Kamlay LLP was named IP M&A Law Firm of the year 2019 and Best in Complex IP Prosecutions 2019 by US Business News Legal Elite Awards; Best Complex IP Prosecution Specialists 2020; and Recognized Leaders in Patent Valuation 2020 by US Business News Legal Elite Awards.

Ian S. Harrison

Ian Harrison has been practicing IP law for more than 13 years. He has worked with a wide variety of companies, from startups to members of the Fortune 100. He specializes in patent portfolio creation, complex prosecution, portfolio evaluation for transactions, and IP infringement, validity, and freedom-to-operate analysis.

Prior to joining Butzel Long, Harrison worked in IP at the Washington, D.C. offices of two AMLAW 100 firms. He has technical expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence, terrestrial wireless communications, satellite-based telecommunications, database management systems, electronic components, blockchain and consensus protocols, operating systems, home automation, mobile devices, and ultrasonic devices.

Harrison earned a (J.D.) from the University of Virginia and Haverford College (B.S., Computer Science).

Kevin T. Roddy

Kevin Roddy has more than 15 years of experience in patent law and has advised a wide range of clients in developing patent portfolios for a variety of technologies and industries. He also has experience in IP due diligence, especially with merger and acquisition transactions.

He specializes in patent prosecution with imaging and display systems, image recognition and machine vision, robotics, electro-optics, electronics, digital audio and multi-media systems, software, artificial intelligence and machine learning, medical devices, networked devices, and communications technologies. He has previously worked at multi-national law firms and corporations, as well as large and small specialty IP firms. Roddy has a background in Electrical and Computer Engineering with experience as an engineer developing digital imaging systems for the entertainment and motion picture industries.

Roddy graduated from Syracuse University College of Law (J.D.), the University at Buffalo (B.S., Electrical and Computer Engineering), and SUNY Potsdam (B.A., English Literature).

Donald “Jay” Lecher

Donald J. “Jay” Lecher is Of Counsel practicing in Butzel Long’s Washington D.C. office. He has more than 20 years’ experience counseling clients in preparing and prosecuting U.S., PCT and foreign patent applications. His proficiencies include mechanical, electrical, software and business method patent preparation and prosecution, IP infringement and validity studies, licensing, IP litigation support, trademark prosecution, and IP portfolio management.

Lecher was a U.S. Patent Examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after law school and built his legal experience thereafter in boutique IP and large general practice firms. His expertise lies in development strategy and management of client patent portfolios. Before attending law school, he was an Advanced Development Engineer in engine management control systems for General Motors Delphi division, Flint, Mich.

He is a registered attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. His Bar admissions include the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Lecher graduated from Regent University School of Law (J.D.) and GMI Engineering & Management Institute (B.S.M.E., Automotive Engineering).

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 an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Legal Publication names Cowan among ‘Leaders in the Law’

Plunkett Cooney partner Dennis G. Cowan was recently nominated as a member of the Class of 2020 “Leaders in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly (MLW), an industry publication serving the state’s legal community.

Cowan and the 29 other honorees were selected for, among other things, their significant contributions to the practice of law in Michigan, their expertise and their leadership in improving the state’s justice system, as well as seeking improvements to the legal and local communities and setting an example for other lawyers.

The 12th Annual Leaders in the Law awards ceremony will be held virtually on Aug. 3 starting at 6 p.m. The “Lawyer of the Year,” as selected by a vote of the class, will be announced during the COVID-compliant online event. All of the 2020 honorees will also be profiled in a special section of the MLW issue that will be distributed beforehand.

A Co-leader of the firm’s Governmental Affairs and Business Planning & Transactions practice groups, Cowan has the distinction of having previously served as President & CEO of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest full-service law firms.

Currently, Cowan focuses his legal practice on obtaining governmental approvals for clients at the local, county and state levels. He has particular experience advocating on behalf of clients who are seeking zoning, site plan and other land use approvals. Cowan also represents clients before state administrative boards, as well as with the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

Additional areas of his expertise include banking law, business law and transactions and cannabis law.

A 1984 magna cum laude graduate of the Detroit College of Law, now known as the Michigan State University College of Law, Cowan has been involved in some of the state’s largest and most significant business deals, including a bid to build a Detroit casino, securing approvals for multi-million-dollar developments in suburban communities, and assisting with the financing package that helped make the city of Detroit’s “Grand Bargain” bankruptcy possible in 2014.

Cowan, who received his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts/Boston in 1978, is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association; the Real Property Law, Corporation and Business Law, and Public Corporations Law sections of the State Bar of Michigan; and the State and Local Government Section of the American Bar Association.

During his more than 30 years of practice, Cowan served 14 years as a member of the Royal Oak City Commission. After six years as a City Commissioner, he was elected and served four consecutive two-year terms as Royal Oak Mayor. As a result of his extensive experience as a public official, Cowan offers a unique perspective to advising clients on legal issues related to all levels of government.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of transactional and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in seven Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms.

For more information about Dennis Cowan’s selection as a 2020 Leader in the Law, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or via email at jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

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Know Before You Vote: Michigan’s Primary on Tuesday, Aug. 4

Next week, Michiganders will head to the polls, or their county clerks office to submit absentee ballots, and cast their votes in Michigan’s primary election. To prepare for the upcoming election, view the Chamber’s Aug. 4 primary endorsements and review the below resources to ensure you are prepared to cast your ballot.


Michigan Primary Election Tuesday, August 4


Michigan Absentee Ballots

Michigan’s top election official is urging people with an absentee ballot to return it to their local clerk’s office or dropbox instead of using the mail to ensure it’s counted in the Aug. 4 statewide primary. Read more.

 A ballot must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Night to be counted.

  • In-Person: Received 1 day before Election Day.
  • By Mail: Received 4 days before Election Day. Didn’t mail it in time? No problem! You can drop them off at your city clerks office.
  • Online: N/A
  • Due: Election day Tuesday, Aug. 4
  • Rules: Any registered Michigan voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

How to Get an Absentee Ballot in Michigan

  1. Use our Absentee Ballot Tool to prepare your application.
  2. Sign and date the form. This is very important!
  3. Return your completed application to your local election office as soon as possible. We’ll provide the mailing address for you.
  4. All Local Election Offices will accept mailed or hand-delivered forms. Your Local Election Official will also let you fax or email the application.
  5. Double-check the deadlines and be sure to cast your voted ballot on time to be sure it is counted.
  6. Please contact your local election office if you have any further questions about the exact process.

Once You Receive Your Absentee Ballot

  • Once you receive the ballot, carefully read and follow the instructions.
  • Sign and date where indicated.
  • Typically you could mail your ballot in, but the date to do so has past. Return your ballot to your local clerk’s office or dropbox instead of using the mail to ensure it’s counted in the Aug. 4 statewide primary.

Offsite links


View Chamber Aug. 4 primary endorsements. 

Walsh Hosts Virtual Master’s in IT Info Sessions

TROY, Mich., July 24, 2020 — Walsh will host informational webinars about graduate technology programs on July 28 from 12-1 p.m. and Aug. 5 from 6-7 p.m. Sessions will include an informational overview of the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) and the Master of Science in Information Technology Leadership (MSITL) and a Q&A session with IT/Decision Sciences chair Dave Schippers, Sc.D., and professor Terri Richards, Ph.D.

Advanced registration is recommended.

The MSIT was named one of 2020’s Best Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Programs by Student Training in Education and Public Service (STEPS) and recently ranked at no. 2 on the list of Top 20 Master’s in Information Technology by CyberSecurityMastersDegree.org. Walsh was one of the first schools in Michigan to be recognized as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and its information technology programs align with Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security NICE Framework Standards.

To register to attend a Walsh master’s in IT info session, visit walshcollege.edu/new-student-events

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ABOUT WALSH
Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of Southeast Michigan’s largest graduate business schools, offering classes in several locations and online. Our internationally and nationally-ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, finance, information technology, human resources, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit www.walshcollege.edu.

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (www.acbsp.org).

Garlin Gilchrist II

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist is a computer engineer, public servant, and the first African American elected to Michigan’s second-highest office. Most recently, he has been appointed chair of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

A native Detroiter, Gilchrist attended the University of Michigan for computer science and engineering. He built a successful career as a software engineer at Microsoft, social media manager for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign, organizer for MoveOn.org, and director of technology for the City of Detroit.

Gilchrist and his wife, Ellen, currently reside in Detroit where they are raising their twins, Emily and Garlin III, and are expecting to add another member to the family soon.

Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a lifelong Michigander.  She is a lawyer, an educator, former prosecutor, State Representative and Senator.  She was the first woman to lead a Senate caucus. But the most important title she boasts is MOM. Inspired by her family, she’s devoted her life to building a stronger Michigan for everyone.

Governor Whitmer was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2006 where she served as the Senate Democratic Leader. In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Governor Whitmer won all 83 counties in the primary and won the general election with 53 percent of the vote. Since taking her oath of office, she has put together the most diverse cabinet in our state’s history and has signed executive directives to clean up our drinking water, end discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation and gender identity, secure equal pay for equal work, and expand opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses. She has led bipartisan negotiations to lower Michiganders’ auto insurance and led a bipartisan group of legislators and business, education, and labor leaders to make sure every Michigander has a path to a high wage skill.

Governor Whitmer is committed to solving the problems Michiganders face every day. She has put a bold budget plan on the table that will ensure every Michigander has a great public education and a path to a good-paying job, every community has clean, safe drinking water, and everyone can drive to work or drop their kids at school safely, without blowing a tire or cracking a windshield.

Butzel Long celebrates 40-year pro bono client The Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation

DETROIT, Mich. – The legacy of Rosa L. Parks continues through a foundation established 40 years ago with guidance from Butzel Long law firm.

Together with The Detroit News and Detroit Public Schools, Butzel Long incorporated The Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation (RPSF), which has sent more than 2,400 students to college with scholarships. The firm has continued to co-administer the Foundation since its inception. The scholarships grant high school seniors a one-time $2,000 award in the name of the late civil rights leader. This year, 41 students received scholarships.

Notably, Butzel Long yearly sponsors a Butzel Long Rosa Parks Scholarship granted to a rising college freshman. The 2020 recipient is Drue Bender, a Renaissance High School graduate. She plans to pursue a career in political advocacy/law and will be attending Michigan State University this fall.

The Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation is dedicated to awarding scholarships to Michigan high school seniors who hold close to Mrs. Parks’ ideals while demonstrating academic skills, community involvement and economic need.

Richard E. Rassel, Chairman, Butzel Long chaired the Foundation for many years. He said, “Getting to know Mrs. Parks was a highlight of my career.”

“We’ve been involved with the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation from the start including paying half of the administrative expenses of the Foundation from the outset,” said James S. Rosenfeld, Butzel Long labor and employment law attorney and vice president of the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors. “Our support has grown over the years. Dick played a crucial role in the Foundation’s endowment, and, consequently, number of scholarships, dramatically increasing. In recognition of Dick’s service to the Foundation and leadership at Butzel Long, the firm committed to our annual scholarship. It is an honor for Butzel Long to work with the Foundation.”

Incidentally, The Detroit News announced on July 9 that the Rosa L. Parks Foundation will receive funds from its sales of a vintage T-shirt that says, “The Detroit News – the first good news of the day.” Actress Drew Barrymore is photographed wearing the vintage T-shirt on the cover of the August edition of InStyle Magazine.

“This thoughtful gesture to benefit the Rosa L. Park Scholarship Foundation is a special highlight to recognize Mrs. Parks and celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the Foundation,” added Rosenfeld.

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 an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long