Foster Swift Adds Sydney Steele to Firm


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Foster Swift is pleased to welcome new associate Sydney T. Steele. Sydney will practice from the firm’s Southfield office as a member of the Litigation practice group. Steele earned her Bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin Madison and earned her Juris Doctor after attending Wayne State University Law School. Steele was also a summer associate and Law Clerk at Foster Swift before joining the firm as an associate this spring.



Since 1902, Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC has provided comprehensive legal services to businesses, municipalities and individuals. The firm employs 100-plus attorneys and over 100 support staff in six locations; Lansing, Detroit, Southfield, Grand Rapids, Holland and St. Joseph.  For more information about the firm, its attorneys and to access recent publications, visit


Is your college student considering law school?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—September 17, 2019

Lansing, Mich. –Have you ever heard your college-aged son or daughter utter the words “I’m thinking about going to law school”? If the answer is yes, Foster Swift Collins & Smith has crafted a complimentary, half-day program geared for aspiring attorneys. The event will be held Saturday, October 19.

Undergraduate students considering a career in the legal field can learn about the realities of the profession from those who have experienced it firsthand. Attendees will learn about the process of becoming a lawyer in Michigan from current Foster Swift attorneys. The attorneys’ experiences provide valuable information to allow students to gain a better understanding of the path to becoming an attorney, as well as what it takes to succeed in private practice.

To learn more about this seminar, watch the following video at

Topics covered during the session will include:
• Information to know before applying to law school
• The law school admission process
• Law school summer programs
• First steps after law school
• Private practice and common myths
• Future of the legal field

One of the goals of this program is to showcase private practice opportunities in mid-Michigan to future lawyers. Foster Swift will host the seminar from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm at its Lansing office (313 S. Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933). For more information and to register, visit

10 Southfield Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019

Ten attorneys from Foster Swift’s Southfield office were selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019 list. Firm-wide, 45 attorneys were included. Each year’s new edition is launched for the following calendar year.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. For more information, visit Listed attorneys and their areas of practice are as follows:

Dirk H. Beckwith-Construction Law

Michael R. Blum-Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management

Julie I. Fershtman-Commercial Litigation, Insurance Law

Gilbert H. Frimet-Health Care Law

Lisa J. Hamameh-Municipal Law

John M. Kamins-Corporate Law

Frank T. Mamat-Labor Law – Management

Paul J. Millenbach-Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defendants

Brian J. Renaud-Administrative/Regulatory Law

Bruce A. Vande Vusse-Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants

Attorney Howard Named to Novi Planning Commission

Foster Swift attorney Katila Howard was recently appointed to the Planning Commission for the City of Novi. Her term will last from January 2018 until June 2019.

Made up of seven members appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the City Council, the Planning Commission reviews and approves site plans and special land use permits for new commercial and residential development for the City. The Commission may also make recommendations to the City Council in regards to rezoning applications and proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.

Katila is a member of her firm’s Business & Corporate practice group where she practices employee benefits matters, ERISA, 409A and Internal Revenue Code compliance matters. Additionally she also works with both tax exempt organizations and nonprofits.

Crain’s Detroit Names Julie Fershtman in 2017 Notable Women Lawyers

Foster Swift shareholder, Julie I. Fershtman, has been named to Crain’s Detroit Business magazine’s inaugural list of the “2017 Notable Women Lawyer in Michigan.” Women selected for the list were nominated by their peers for setting legal precedent, managing high-profile cases, serving on boards, and mentoring others.

Julie has shown an excellent record of representing her clients in business, contract, equine and insurance litigation. Her leadership includes serving as president of the State Bar of Michigan (2011-2012), only the fifth woman in 80 years to be elected to this role, and as co-chair for its 21st Century Practice Task Force (2015-2016). Lastly, her strong commitment to mentoring young attorneys and educating both clients and collegues has captured the admiration of her peers. Previously, Fershtman was named the “2016 Woman of the Year” for the State of Michigan by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

“Members of the firm gravitate toward Julie for her sage advice and wise counsel on both business and personal matters,” said Michael D. Sanders, president of Foster Swift. “She thrives on lifting the performance and enabling the success of all those around her.”

Julie practices out of Foster Swift’s Southfield office. A lawyer for 31 years, she has tried cases before juries in four states and has been a speaker at conferences in 29 states. She has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2013 in the categories of Commercial Litigation and Insurance Law.

Five Foster Swift Attorneys Named to dbusiness 2018 Top Lawyers

Foster Swift attorneys Alexander A. Ayar, Julie I. Fershtman, Lisa J. Hamameh, Frank T. Mamat and Jonathan H. Schwartz have been named to the 2018 Top Lawyers list by dBusiness magazine, Detroit’s premier business journal.

Alex Ayar is listed as a Top Lawyer in the area of Commercial Litigation, concentrating his practice on complex litigation matters involving business, data privacy and cyber security, non-competes, real estate and entertainment. Alex practices in the Southfield and Detroit offices of Foster Swift.

Julie Fershtman is listed in the area of Insurance Law and practices in the areas of insurance defense, insurance coverage, commercial litigation, and equine law. She has successfully represented insurers on coverage cases and matters around the country. Julie practices in the Southfield and Detroit offices of Foster Swift.

Lisa Hamameh is listed as a Top Lawyer in the category of Land Use and Zoning law. She compliments her practice in the following related areas: municipal law, representing cities, townships and villages; liquor licensing law, representing business owners; as well as condominium and homeowners’ association law. Lisa practices in Foster Swift’s Southfield office.

Frank Mamat is listed in the area of Labor and Employment Law. Frank is one of the nation’s preeminent labor law attorneys and focuses his practice on complex labor issues such as union matters and unfair labor practice litigation. Frank practices in the Southfield and Detroit offices of Foster Swift.

Jonathan Schwartz is listed as a Top Lawyer in the area of Commercial Litigation. Jonathan’s practice focuses on representing companies and individuals in business, complex commercial, employment, real estate and entertainment litigation matters. Jonathan practices in the Southfield and Detroit offices of Foster Swift.

This is the second year in a row that all five attorneys were listed as Top Lawyers.

For more information on dbusiness Top Lawyers, visit


Foster Swift Employment Attorney Named an Up and Coming Lawyer for 2017

Foster Swift attorney, Alicia W. Birach, has been named an Up and Coming Lawyer for 2017 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. This award is given annually to 30 legal practitioners who have established a name for themselves in their first 10 years of practicing law by going above and beyond and displaying the ambition, drive and determination that sets them apart from their peers.

A Central Michigan University and Wayne State University Law graduate, Alicia is a member of the Employer Services Practice Group and practices out of Foster Swift’s Southfield office. She has extensive experience representing insurance carriers, third party administrators and employers against workers’ compensation claims. Additionally, she is also experienced in counseling employers on labor and employment issues.

This year’s Up and Coming Lawyers ceremony luncheon will take place at the Detroit Marriott in Troy on December 7th. With Alicia receiving this award marks the third year in a row that a Foster Swift attorney has been named an Up and Coming Lawyer. Current Foster Swift attorneys Alexander Ayar and Jonathan Schwartz each received the same honor in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

Foster Swift Welcomes Four Attorneys

Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC welcomes Michael Cassar, Hilary McDaniel, Toufic Saati and Emily Wisniewski to the firm. All four participated in the firm’s summer associate program and were sworn in on October 31.

Hilary is a member of the firm’s Litigation practice group, Emily is a part of the firm’s Business and Corporate practice group and Michael is a member of Foster Swift’s Finance, Real Estate & Bankruptcy practice group. All three will practice from Foster Swift’s Lansing office.

Meanwhile, Toufic will serve as a part of the firm’s Litigation practice group in Southfield. The addition of Toufic is also the second time in as many months that Foster Swift’s Southfield office has expanded: five attorneys were added on September 18.

Foster Swift Named to Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” List and Rated Tier 1 in 25 Practice Areas

Foster Swift was included in the 2018 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list as a Tier 1 Law firm in 25 practice areas. Foster Swift’s Lansing office was awarded 20 Tier 1 ranked practice areas, with three more Tier 1 rankings going to their Grand Rapids office and two for the Southfield office.

The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process. The process includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review and review of additional information provided by law firms regarding demographic and background information on the firm and its attorneys. To be considered for inclusion on the list, law firms must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metro area—Foster Swift had 46 lawyers named Best Lawyers for 2018.

Katila Howard Named 2017 “Five Under Ten” Recipient for UMBA

Foster Swift attorney Katila Howard is one of the five recipients for the “Five Under Ten” Young Alumni Recognition Award for the 2017 Black Alumni Association of the University of Michigan (UMBA) awards gala. The award is given annually to five recent University of Michigan graduates who are recognized by their peers for achievements in their respective professional fields and contributions in the community. To be eligible, the alums must have received an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan within the last ten years. The 41st Annual Reunion of Black Graduates will take place on Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Katila is a member of Foster Swift’s Business & Corporate practice group, where she focuses on matters of employee benefit and Internal Revenue Code compliance. She also works with nonprofit & tax exempt organizations, assisting in matters such as exempt status attainment and drafting/negotiating contracts among other challenges.

In addition to her practices, Katila is a zealous advocate for diversifying the legal profession and mentors minority law students and helps prepare them for their interviews and the Bar Exam. She also speaks to elementary and middle school students from disadvantaged communities regarding the importance of education and perseverance.

Furthermore, Katila is dedicated to increasing access to quality legal and business resources to organizations that may not otherwise have access. In this capacity, she serves on the board of two nonprofits where she volunteers and assists with compliance, fundraising and planning.

Katila has acted as a volunteer for former Michigan House of Representatives member, Rashida Tlaib to help raise voter awareness in the Detroit community. Katila earned both her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Michigan and prior to attending law school, Katila started as an elementary school teacher with Teach for America in Detroit.

Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC is a full service law firm founded in 1902.  The firm employs 100-plus attorneys and over 100 support staff in six locations; Lansing, Detroit, Southfield, Grand Rapids, Holland and St. Joseph.  For more information about the firm, its attorneys and to access recent publications, visit