Miller Canfield Grows Financial Services Group

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that Kasturi Bagchi and Alan Aboona have joined the law firm’s nationally recognized Financial Institutions Group.

Bagchi is a principal attorney with more than 20 years of experience handling real estate development and finance matters. Previously a partner in Honigman’s real estate practice, she counsels and manages risk for clients in loan, real estate and other asset-based transactions. She is licensed in Michigan, California and New Jersey and serves on the Indo American Chamber of Commerce USA Board of Directors.

Aboona is an associate attorney who represents national, regional and local financial institutions in real estate, construction, working capital and equipment financing, including syndicated transactions, tax credit and other government-supported financings and asset-based lending.

“Kas and Alan are outstanding additions to our Financial Institutions Group,” said Miller Canfield CEO Megan Norris. “They will add strength and capacity to one of our core practices, for which we have been known since we were founded nearly 170 years ago.”

Miller Canfield’s Financial Institutions Group provides services across a broad range of legal disciplines, including general and asset-backed transactions, real estate finance, public finance, insolvency, restructuring, workout, foreclosure and bankruptcy services.

Miller Canfield Elects Amy Johnston to Serve as Chair of Managing Directors

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that Amy Johnston has been elected to serve as the new Chair of the Managing Directors.

Johnston is a principal attorney and the co-leader of Miller Canfield’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group. She has served on the firm’s five-member Board of Managing Directors since her election in 2016.

“Amy has provided solid leadership as a Managing Director and the firm is better and stronger for it,” said Miller Canfield CEO Megan Norris. “Her business savvy and understanding of the workings of the firm will serve us well as the directors move forward with their vision.”

Johnston will focus on continuing to attract and retain top talent from a diverse candidate pool and building on the firm’s investment in its technological infrastructure.

“The firm is fortunate to have such a dynamic and energetic group of Managing Directors. It’s an honor and privilege to serve as the Chair,” Johnston said. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and our new CEO to achieve our goals.”

Johnston succeeds Joseph Fazio, who served as Chair in 2020 and 2010-2013, and served on the Board of Managing Directors for more than a decade. Her election marks the first time in the firm’s history that the top two leadership positions are held by women. Norris became the firm’s CEO in February 2021. Additionally, in 2020 the firm named Michelle Crockett as its Deputy Executive Officer and Chief Diversity Officer.

Johnston is publicly recognized as a leading lawyer. In 2021, she was recognized by Hour Detroit®’s Top Women Legal Leaders and in 2020, she was named as one of the Best Women Lawyers in America by Best Lawyers®. Johnston has been recognized in the top 5 Women Lawyers and top 10 Women Business Lawyers by Leading Lawyers. She was also honored for her leadership as Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2014 Women in the Law. In addition, she has been recognized on U.S. News & World Report’s “Top 25 Women Lawyers in Michigan” list since 2016, “Top 50 Women Lawyers in Michigan” since 2011 and “Best Lawyers in America” since 2008. She has been a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, the trial lawyer honorary society, since 2007. Licensed in Michigan and Ohio, Johnston received her J.D., cum laude from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and her Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Michigan.

Miller Canfield Names First Woman CEO Megan Norris

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that Megan Norris will become the firm’s Chief Executive Officer. Norris, the firm’s first woman CEO, will assume her new duties on Feb. 26, 2021.

Norris is one of the most highly respected employment and labor attorneys in Michigan. She is an accomplished litigator who has been elected by her national peers to join the prestigious College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers.

She is a leader both within the firm and among lawyers nationwide. She is a nationally recognized expert and frequent public speaker on the topics of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Within the firm, she has served as the leader of the Employment and Labor Group, overseeing the firm’s large and active team of dedicated employment and labor attorneys and staff. She served for eight years on the firm’s Board of Managing Directors, the last six years as chair.

Norris will focus on providing client value and efficiency when she takes the helm.

“In many ways, for nearly 170 years, the firm’s focus has never changed: Our primary purpose is always to serve our clients. And we can’t do so without the best attorneys in the business,” Norris said. “What is always changing is what our clients need. Clients face budgetary restrictions, so we must adapt to provide high-quality legal services in more efficient ways while remaining profitable.”

She will also continue to invest in attracting and retaining diverse lawyers, an area in which Miller Canfield has for decades been a leader.

“Clients now demand that their law firms commit to diversity just as they are doing themselves. This is an area where the firm has been historically strong and is now much more competitive. So, I expect that much of my time will be spent on our human capital—recruiting and retaining top talent, and putting our people to work to figure out how we can always better serve our clients,” Norris said.

Norris succeeds Michael McGee, who is stepping down after serving as CEO since 2013.

“Megan is an exceptional leader who will bring great vision and values to her work as CEO. The firm has benefitted tremendously from her leadership, and we are extraordinarily fortunate to have her serve in this capacity,” McGee said.

McGee will resume his practice in the firm’s Public Finance Group. Under McGee’s leadership, the firm renewed and strengthened its commitment to law firm diversity, equity and inclusion, becoming the only firm in Michigan, and one of only 24 nationwide to have earned Mansfield Plus Certification for three years in a row. Certification is awarded to law firms that meet high standards for significant representation of women, people of color and LGBTQ+ attorneys in firm leadership roles. Additionally, during McGee’s tenure as CEO, the firm expanded capacity in the rapidly growing autonomous and connected vehicles sector and the aerospace and defense industry, and grew its footprint domestically and internationally, forging alliances through North and South America and adding offices in Washington, D.C., Ohio and Qatar.

“I have had the good fortune to work with Mike McGee and the Managing Directors, both as a Group Leader and as a Managing Director, and I am honored that they have chosen me as the firm’s next CEO. Mike leaves big shoes to fill, so I am grateful that he will remain a valued partner and trusted advisor as we embark on the firm’s next decade,” Norris said.

Norris is the recipient of the State Bar of Michigan Labor and Employment Law Council Distinguished Service Award, is ranked in the prestigious “Chambers USA” guide of America’s leading lawyers, and has earned recognition in Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leaders in the Law, Lawdragon 500, Crain’s Detroit Business Notable Women Lawyers in Michigan, Best Lawyers in America and DBusiness Magazine Top Lawyers. She has served on the United States District Court Local Rules Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors for the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, the National Employment Law Institute Advisory Board, the Institute of Continuing Legal Education Labor Advisory Board, and the City of Detroit Police Commission, which she chaired in 2003 and 2004.

Miller Canfield Announces 11 New Hires in 7 Offices

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that nine associate attorneys have joined the firm in six of the firm’s key practice groups: Corporate and Transactions, Employment and Labor, Energy and Environmental, Financial Institutions, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, and Real Estate. Miller Canfield’s new associates are:

Joanna Dreaver, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group, Troy, Michigan. She comes to the firm after working as a contract attorney at Perdue Law Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2015, Dreaver was a summer intern for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Judge Helene White. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and earned her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Michigan.

Michael Fisher, Energy and Environmental Group, Lansing, Michigan. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and he earned his Master of Public Administration from Central Michigan University and his Bachelor of Science in environmental biology from Ferris State University. He was a legal extern at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Appeals Board in Washington, D.C. Fisher was a law clerk for the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and interned at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Before law school, Fisher worked for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, where he was an environmental response program specialist and a water resources technician.

Kareem Gibson, Financial Institutions Group, Detroit. He is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and the University of London, where he earned a Graduate Diploma of Law. He earned his Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of South Carolina. While studying in London, Gibson was a student advisor at the Start-Ed Legal Clinic, where he helped clients with contractual and other business issues.

Dominique Giordano Gonzales, Real Estate Group, Chicago. She comes to Miller Canfield from Cook County Circuit Court, where she was a clerk for Judge Celia G. Gamrath. Prior to her clerkship, she worked as a corporate counsel extern for Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School and earned her Bachelor of Arts, with double majors in political science and Spanish, from Villanova University.

Arthur Griem, Corporate and Transactions Group, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and earned his Bachelor of Science in leadership and management studies from New York University. Griem worked as a legal extern for TI Automotive in Auburn Hills. While at NYU, he was a captain of the university’s ice hockey team, which won the ACHA Division II national championship in 2015.

Vera Hansen, Corporate and Transactions Group, Detroit. She is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science and law at the University of Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany. She was a legal intern at Lear Corp. in Southfield ad at Tata Motors in Pune, India.

Alyssa Hussein, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group, Detroit. She is a graduate of University of Detroit Mercy Law School and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and earned her Bachelor of Arts in women and gender studies, political science and history from the University of Toronto.

Erica Jilek, Employment and Labor Group, Detroit. She is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and earned her Bachelor of Science in political science from Central Michigan University.

Barbara Moore, Employment and Labor Group, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Moore comes to Miller Canfield from Varnum in Grand Rapids, where she was an associate in the firm’s employment and labor practice. Before joining Varnum in 2018, she was a legal intern at the United Community Housing Coalition in Detroit. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Michigan State University.

In addition to the nine new associates, the firm announced that senior counsel attorneys Howard Weissman has joined the firm’s Corporate and Transactions Group in Washington, D.C., and L. Steven Platt joined the Employment and Labor Group in Chicago.

Platt was previously a partner at the Chicago firm of Robbins, Salomon & Patt, where he headed the labor and employment practice, with a special focus on employment litigation and class action wage and hour litigation. He has decades of experience that will certainly bolster our powerhouse Employment and Labor Group.

Weissman comes to Miller Canfield from Baker & McKenzie, where he was part of the firm’s compliance and investigations practice since 2014. He had previously served as vice president and associate general counsel at Lockheed Martin Corp.

Miller Canfield Named Sole Michigan-Based Law Firm to Earn Mansfield Certification for Diversity

Miller Canfield has announced that it is the only Michigan-based firm to earn Mansfield Plus Certification, and one of only 24 nationwide to earn the designation three years in a row. Certification is awarded to law firms that meet high standards for significant representation of women and minority attorneys in firm leadership roles.

To earn Mansfield Certification from Diversity Lab, the leading incubator for innovative solutions to foster diversity and inclusion in law firms, firms must ensure that 30 percent of the candidates affirmatively considered in lateral hiring and promotions are women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ attorneys and attorneys with disabilities. One hundred firms earned certification in 2020. To earn the Plus designation, a firm must have also achieved representation of at least 30 percent women, minority, LGBTQ and disabled attorneys in a large number of key leadership roles and lateral hiring.

“We are tremendously proud of the work the firm continues to do in the areas of diversity and equity,” said Miller Canfield CEO Michael McGee. “Inclusivity is and always has been one of our core values. Our continued commitment strengthens us as individuals and as a firm.”

In August, Miller Canfield appointed Michelle Crockett to the newly created position of Chief Diversity Officer, deepening the firm’s pledge to create a diverse and equitable workplace.

As a result of Miller Canfield’s commitment to initiatives like Mansfield Certification and its internal goals and programs, the firm has made significant progress with respect to the representation of women and minority attorneys, specifically:

49% of Miller Canfield’s associates are women
40% of the firm’s non-equity principals are women
40% of managing directors are women
40% of resident directors are minorities and women

Diversity Lab announced on Sept. 15, 2020, that it is also partnering with more than 20 mid-sized firms (firms with fewer than 100 lawyers in the U.S.) to pilot the Midsize Mansfield Rule certification process.

Miller Canfield Appoints Chief Diversity Officer

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that it has appointed Michelle Crockett to the position of Chief Diversity Officer.

“This is a great step for the firm, and one that is intended to reinforce the firm’s commitment to a diverse, inclusive and equitable working environment, free from implicit bias and structural racism,” said Miller Canfield CEO Michael McGee. “And we are fortunate to have Michelle, who is the best person in the country to do the job.”

Crockett has previously served as the firm’s Hiring Chair/Diversity and Professional Development Principal. Her achievements include leading the firm to be included in the first class of major law firms nationwide to pilot the Mansfield Rule, which requires that at least 30 percent of candidates for lateral hiring and promotion considerations be women, minority and LGBTQ candidates.

Additionally, Miller Canfield is one of 51 firms that earned the Mansfield Certified Plus designation in 2019—and one of only 27 to earn it two consecutive years—by meeting the requirement of at least 30 percent diverse lawyer representation in a notable number of current leadership roles and committees.

In the newly created role, Crockett will chair the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, which will propose to the firm’s managing directors changes to firm structures and policies that can move the firm toward a more diverse and welcoming environment. The Council is comprised of the chairs of the following firm committees: Diversity, Summer Associates, Mentoring, Women of Miller Canfield, Pro Bono, and Associates, in addition to the Chief Operating Officer.

Under Crockett’s leadership, the firm has solidified its position as a leader in the area of diversity and inclusion and has earned national recognition for its efforts and initiatives. The firm attributes much of its success to Crockett’s relentless efforts to create actionable, measurable, results-driven initiatives that foster meaningful and sustainable change. She developed an aggressive two-year diversity plan that sets specific targets within leadership ranks, including the firm’s managing directors, to increase representation across the board.

The results have been remarkable. Specifically:

*49% of Miller Canfield’s associates are women
*40% of non-equity principals are women
*40% of managing directors are women
*40% of resident directors are minorities and women

In addition to her duties at Miller Canfield, Crockett teaches Race in the Law and K-12 Education Law at the University of Michigan Law School. She is a fellow of the American College of Labor & Employment Lawyers, a member of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Leaders in the Law Class of 2020, and chairs the State Bar of Michigan Labor & Employment Law Section and the Michigan Community Resources Board of Directors.

Robert Murkowski to Serve as Detroit Bar Association President-Elect

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that Robert Murkowski has been elected to serve a one-year term as president-elect of the Detroit Bar Association. Murkowski was sworn in on Aug. 13, 2020, by Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy M. Kenny at the association’s annual meeting. He will serve as president in the 2021-2022 term.

Murkowski is a principal in Miller Canfield’s Detroit office. He is a member of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group and co-leader of its Automotive team. He represents clients in various complex commercial, corporate, antitrust, class action, tort, product liability and criminal defense matters in both federal and state courts and arbitrations.

Murkowski has been named among Michigan Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” in business litigation since 2013. He was also named an “Up & Coming Lawyer” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly in 2015 and is listed in DBusiness magazine’s Top Lawyers edition.

Miller Canfield Shortlisted for 2020 Chambers USA Diversity & Inclusion, Pro Bono Awards

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that Chambers USA has shortlisted the firm and one of its notable attorneys in the Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America 2020 honors. The awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and firms for advancing diversity and inclusion in the U.S. and Canada.

Miller Canfield Hiring Chair/Diversity and Professional Development Principal Michelle Crockett has been shortlisted in the Diversity & Inclusion Lawyer of the Year category, and the firm’s Pro Bono practice is shortlisted for the Pro Bono Program of the Year for 2020.

“We could not be prouder of Michelle and of our Pro Bono team, which is led by Pro Bono Counsel Wendy Richards,” said Miller Canfield CEO Michael McGee. “Their dedication and hard work have made the firm stronger and more inclusive, as well as making the communities we serve fairer and more equitable.”

Miller Canfield has been a longtime leader in pro bono service. During 2019 and 2020, the firm was engaged in dozens of complex matters in pursuit of promoting access to justice for all. Notable projects focused on the areas of:

*Prisoners’ rights/criminal justice, particularly assisting prisoners who had been sentenced as juveniles to mandatory life without parole
*Immigrants’ rights, and a major class action in collaboration with the ACLU of Michigan and others in the highly publicized Hamama v. Adducci to protect hundreds of Iraqi nationals living in the U.S. from removal without due process in immigration courts
*Voting rights, and a partnership with Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brennan Center for Justice and the Association of Pro Bono Counsel to create state-specific guides on how and why to become an election poll worker

Crockett’s achievements include leading the firm to be included in the first class of major law firms nationwide to pilot the Mansfield Rule, which requires us to affirmatively consider women and minority candidates when making hiring and promotion considerations (30 percent of the candidate pool must be women, minority and LGBTQ applicants). Miller Canfield was the only firm in Michigan to meet Diversity Lab’s stringent standards for Mansfield Certification Plus and, after two years, remains the only firm in Michigan to earn the designation.

These achievements would not be possible without Crockett’s relentless efforts to create actionable, measurable, results-driven initiatives that foster meaningful and sustainable change. She developed an aggressive two-year diversity plan that sets specific targets within leadership ranks, including the firm’s managing directors, to increase representation across the board.

The results have been remarkable. Specifically:

*49% of Miller Canfield’s associates are women
*40% of the firm’s non-equity principals are women
*40% of managing directors are women
*40% of resident directors are minorities and women
*78% of the firm’s 2019 summer associate class were women
*55% of 2019 summer associates were minorities

Firms and individuals are selected based on extensive research by Chambers USA and its D&I team. Chambers & Partners and Chambers USA are leading law firm and lawyer research and ranking publications that rank the top lawyers and law firms across the U.S. and globally. Winners of the Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America 2020 will be announced on Sept. 24, 2020.

Miller Canfield Joins Law Firm Antiracism Alliance

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that it has joined the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance.

The Alliance was formed in June 2020 to “leverage the resources of the private bar in partnership with legal services organizations to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color and to promote racial equity in the law,” according to its charter.

The Alliance will collaborate across law firms nationwide and will facilitate coordination among member firms to support legal services organizations, which have for decades worked to dismantle systemic racism to create large-scale immediate and long-term pro bono projects.

The Alliance has identified as action items:

Host a summit of key stakeholders to prioritize the LFAA’s work facilitated by experts in the areas of racial justice and systemic project design
Develop Systemic Racism Legal Inventory, a catalog of laws, rules, policies and practices that result in negative outcomes for people of color, with priority focus on tackling anti-Black racism
Implement legislative and regulatory advocacy strategies to change laws, rules, policies and practices identified in the Systemic Racism Legal Inventory
Initiate high-impact litigation to effectuate reform identified in the Systemic Racism Legal Inventory

Miller Canfield is one of more than 125 top law firms nationwide to join the Alliance.

Miller Canfield Opens Qatar Office

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce the opening of an office in Doha, Qatar, by way of the Qatar Financial Centre, which has issued a license to Miller Canfield International, PLLC – QFC Branch to conduct a range of advisory and legal services. The announcement was made by CEO Michael McGee.

The Qatar office will be seamlessly integrated with its offices in Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Chicago to provide a platform for clients, including U.S. defense contractors and mid-market companies in the defense, cybersecurity and aerospace industries, to engage in business in both Qatar and the United States.

“Adding an office in Doha is key to helping our clients capitalize on the rapidly expanding defense technology business. Our diverse operational structure, which includes services provided by Miller Canfield Consulting, enables us to guide our defense sector clients through the legal, practical and political complexities involved in engaging with their governmental clients,” McGee said.

Miller Canfield’s Qatar team offers clients consultancy, legal and advisory services. The attorneys who will work on Qatar matters have years of experience living and working in Qatar and have advised on some of the largest transactions between Qatar and the United States in the defense sector. Miller Canfield will continue to offer assistance to clients engaged in business with the Qatar Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and the private sector in industries including aerospace, defense and cybersecurity.

Miller Canfield’s Qatar practice is led by Pawel Chudzicki, who spent more than five years in Doha building up the operations of a global law firm and was recognized by Chambers and Partners in 2019 as a leading Qatar expert based abroad; and Lana Yaghi, who spent three years in Qatar. They will share their time between the Doha and Washington, D.C., offices.

“Pawel and Lana have a solid track record of representing U.S. clients in the defense and cybersecurity sectors engaged in business in Qatar, a strong ally of the United States and an important market for the U.S. manufacturing and service sectors,” McGee said. “Their deep understanding of Qatar’s regulatory, commercial, financial and cultural landscape makes them uniquely qualified to advise private and public sector entities engaging in cross-border transactions between the U.S. and Qatar.”

Chudzicki and Yaghi have vast experience helping clients interact with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce State, the Qatar Financial Center, Qatar Science and Technology Park, the Ministry of Labor and other ministries and agencies. Miller Canfield’s lawyers have advised clients on the entire corporate lifecycle, including entity formation and dissolution, labor law issues, commercial transactions, corporate governance, procurement and tender requirements, privacy issues, anti-bribery laws.

Together with Miller Canfield’s international offices in Shanghai, China; Monterrey, Mexico; Windsor, Ontario, Canada; and Warsaw, Gdynia and Wroclaw in Poland; and the newest office in Qatar, the firm provides cross-border business and legal advice to U.S. and international clients with business interests around the globe.