Schroder to address attendees at public meeting on medical cannabis

Attorney Jeffrey Schroder of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, will be among the featured speakers on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at a public meeting sponsored by Clinton Township on the topic of medical cannabis.

Schroder, who is a member of Plunkett Cooney’s Government Affairs Practice Group and Cannabis Industry Group, is a former Michigan Assistant Attorney General. The other featured speakers will include Dr. Saqib Nakadar, an internal medicine specialist, and Justin Dunakiss, a lobbyist from Dunaskiss Consulting and Development, Inc.

The public meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Macomb County Community College, Center Campus, University Center (UC1), located at 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township. According to a township press release, the purpose of this public presentation is to “educate, not advocate” for medical cannabis.

Schroder and the other guest speakers will each have 15 minutes to discuss the topic of medical cannabis with the remainder of the time reserved for attendees who will each have up to three minutes to speak on the subject.

In 2008, Michigan voters approved a ballot measure to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. In 2016, the state’s Legislature passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) to establish parameters for the growth, distribution and use of medical cannabis.

Municipalities are now at a decision point – they must decide whether to allow medical cannabis businesses to operate within their borders or to prohibit them. For those choosing to allow such businesses, they will do so following regulations currently under development by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

“This is a crucial time for municipalities, and there is a lot to consider, including income tax land use, public safety, and community revenue implications,” said Schroder of Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office. “My goals in speaking tomorrow night are to help residents and elected officials understand the potential implications of a medical cannabis business in their community.”

Plunkett Cooney is one of the first Michigan law firms to establish a Cannabis Industry Group dedicated to representing the interests of commercial clients that are already licensed at the local level to operate grow, dispensary and support services companies. The members of the firm’s industry group publish The Cannabiz Law Blog, which is designed to help members of the cannabis industry stay updated on news, legislation, regulations and other developments in cannabis law.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney employs nearly 300 employees, including approximately 140 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, as well as Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm, which provides a range of transactional and litigation services, has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial firms in the United States.

For more information about attorney Jeffrey Schroder’s speaking engagement at the Clinton Township Medical Marijuana Presentation, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or


Thomas Vincent elected Plunkett Cooney’s new President & CEO

The shareholders of Plunkett Cooney – one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms – have elected their colleague, attorney Thomas P. Vincent, as the firm’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.

An accomplished trial attorney and former Oakland County Prosecutor, Vincent works in the firm’s corporate headquarters in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He succeeds Dennis G. Cowan who returns to the full-time practice of law at Plunkett Cooney and will continue to lead the firm’s Government Affairs Practice Group.

“This is a tremendous honor, and I look forward to the challenge,” said Vincent, who was elected by acclamation to a three-year term, effective Sept. 1. “Plunkett Cooney is an outstanding law firm, and it’s my privilege to help build on our more than a century of service to our clients and community.”

Vincent is a member of Plunkett Cooney’s Torts & Litigation and Labor & Employment Law practice groups. With over 100 cases tried to jury verdict, he is one of the firm’s most experienced trial attorneys with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to financial institutions and their insurance providers. His areas of expertise include commercial litigation, employment litigation, professional liability and general liability.

Prior to joining Plunkett Cooney, Vincent served as Chief Trial Attorney in the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office. He then joined the firm in 1985 and became a shareholder four years later. In 1999, he was elected to serve as a trustee of Plunkett Cooney’s board of directors, a position to which he was re-elected six more times.

In addition to his legal practice, Vincent finds time to give back to several religious and community organizations, including Gesu Parish in Detroit, St. Fabian Catholic Church in Farmington Hills, University of Detroit Jesuit High School, Angela Hospice and Mercy High School.

Licensed to practice in the state and federal courts in Michigan, Vincent received his law degree in 1981 from Michigan State University College of Law. His professional affiliations include the Oakland County Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, American Bar Association and American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Vincent, who received his undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in 1977, has received several honors, including selection by DBusiness magazine as a Top Lawyer in the areas of business litigation, employment law and general litigation. Martindale-Hubbell, a leading peer review rating service in the legal industry, has honored Vincent with its highest rating of AV-Preeminent. He has also received recognition by Best Lawyers in America and Leading Lawyers for his expertise in the areas of commercial litigation, as well as by Michigan Super Lawyers for his work in the area professional liability.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney employs nearly 300 employees, including approximately 140 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, as well as Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm, which provides a range of transactional and litigation services, has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial firms in the United States.

For more information about the election of Thomas P. Vincent as Plunkett Cooney’s new President & CEO, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or

Clayton & McKervey again included on Inside Public Accounting’s list of 300 largest firms

Clayton & McKervey, an international certified public accounting and business advisory firm located in metro Detroit, is pleased to announce it has again landed on the list of the 300 largest public accounting firms in the nation as noted by Inside Public Accounting, a leading accounting trade publication.

“We are always pleased to be included on a list that represents firms who are in growth mode and expanding to meet the needs of their clients,” Rob Dutkiewicz, CPA, President of Clayton & McKervey, said.

With 75 staff members, Clayton & McKervey focuses on growth-driven, middle-market companies. Possessing an entrepreneurial mindset, many Clayton & McKervey clients compete in the global marketplace, whether they are based in the U.S. or abroad.

Now in its 27th year, the IPA 100 is a list of the 100 largest public accounting firms beginning with the Big 4 and including rankings and analysis of 96 national, regional and local firms, with the IPA No. 100 firm reporting net revenues of $37.2 million. IPA also lists firms from Nos. 101 to 300, with the No. 300 firm reporting revenues at $10 million. The rankings and accompanying analysis paint a comprehensive picture of the state of the profession.

About Inside Public Accounting
INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA), founded in 1987, is published by The Platt Group, which publishes both the INSIDE Public Accounting newsletter and the National Benchmarking Report, along with other key reports on the profession. Formerly known as Bowman’s Accounting Report, accounting leaders have turned to Inside Public Accounting since 1987 to advance their firms and achieve results. Learn more at

About Clayton & McKervey
Clayton & McKervey is a full-service CPA firm helping middle-market entrepreneurial companies compete in the global marketplace. The firm is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout the world. To learn more, visit


Rehmann promotes 13 to manager in Southeast Michigan

Rehmann is expanding its leadership team by promoting 13 key associates to management positions throughout Southeast Michigan.

“Today’s announcement summarizes key changes that will further solidify Rehmann’s position in the financial services industry,” said Rehmann CEO Randy Rupp. “These appointments will continue to help drive our growth and move us in the direction to achieve our strategic goals.”

Newly promoted employees include:
• Brittany Colwell – Tax Manager
• Tammy Garin – Rehmann Financial Group Team Leader
• Valerie Glaeser – Marketing Manager
• Miranda Junga – Marketing Manager
• Taylor Keel – Tax Manager
• David Kure – Consulting Manager
• Colin McHugh – Assurance Manager
• Dan Merritt – Assurance Supervisor
• Julie Murray – Accounting, Consulting and Tax Manager
• Sarah Rock – Tax Manager
• Preston Shank – Tax Manager
• Amanda Varga – Assurance Supervisor
• Amanda Wedgwood – Assurance Supervisor
• Ryan Wichmann – Accounting, Consulting and Tax Manager
• Eylene Wachowiak – Tax Manager

About Rehmann
Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services firm of CPAs & consultants, wealth advisors and corporate investigators dedicated to providing clients proactive ideas and solutions to help them prosper professionally and personally. The firm offers a cross-functional team approach that gives clients direct access to a professional in any available service. Rehmann has nearly 800 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at

Butzel Long attorney Kevin C. O’Malley featured during state-wide broadcast of ‘Michigan Business Rap’

Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Kevin C. O’Malley was a featured panelist during a live, state-wide broadcast of the “Michigan Business Rap,” radio show on August 16, 2017. Other panelists included Jim McDaniels, owner, The McDaniels Agency, Farm Bureau Insurance; and Tom Hamp, owner, AdviCoach Mid-Michigan.

O’Malley provided key insight targeted to small business owners about lawsuits. He also discussed the validity of verbal transactions; critical details small businesses must include in their contracts; employment laws; forming a relationship with an attorney, and proactive approaches to take before or after a law suit has commenced, to name a few.

At the same time, the panel discussed insurance considerations for small businesses and employment policies. A link to the interview can be found at

Based in Butzel Long’s Lansing office, O’Malley concentrates his practice on business law and banking matters with significant experience in trade and professional association law. He is regarded as a leading expert on both association and secured transaction law. He also advises startups and emerging companies.

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:

Donna Frye Joins UHY Advisors

UHY Advisors, one of the nation’s leading professional services firms, welcomes Donna Frye as director of transfer pricing and the newest addition to the international tax services practice.

Frye is a seasoned professional with over 16 years of transfer pricing knowledge including international tax and transfer pricing compliance, planning and controversy services.

As director of transfer pricing, Frye will work as part of the international tax services practice assisting with transfer pricing planning, benchmark analysis, implementation, BEPS issues, documentation and controversial work with respect to transfer pricing.

Frye has over 16 years of transfer pricing knowledge, including Big 4 accounting experience and Big 3 automotive experience. She is a licensed CPA in the state of Michigan and double alumni of Walsh College.

About UHY Advisors
UHY Advisors, Inc. (“UHY Advisors”) operates in an alternative practice structure with UHY LLP, a licensed CPA firm, collectively forming one of the top professional services firms in the country, providing comprehensive audit, attest, tax and business advisory services to a wide range of clients principally in the dynamic middle market. To learn more visit UHY LLP and UHY Advisors are US members of UHY International (“UHYI”), a network of independent accounting and consulting firms. UHYI is ranked among the top international accountancy networks and a full member of the Forum of Firms.

Automotive Experts: In Mobility Race, Michigan’s Leadership Dependent on Talent Access

By Carlotta Gmachl

Michigan is well-positioned to lead in the mobility race but risks losing its foothold without access to a pipeline of highly skilled talent and a renewed effort to attract entrepreneurs. That was a key message that automotive and technology leaders outlined during a panel discussion at the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) Annual Conference last week in Holland.

Led by Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, the panel “The Future of a Driverless Society” also included eLab Ventures’ Paul Brown, Warner Norcross & Judd’s Randall Peck, and InfiniteKey’s Kevin Virta.

Key takeaways include:

  • Talent remains the biggest challenge for startups in Michigan.
  • Most students are interested in joining big corporations and are overlooking their opportunity at a newly founded business. This is particularly true for engineers who are in high demand.
  • While Michigan excels in vehicle mass production, Silicon Valley is known for being strong in product development. Because of this, entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and Michigan see the opportunity to cooperate.
  • Amongst the biggest obstacles for Michigan entrepreneurs is the lack of an established entrepreneur community.
  • Taking risks requires a strong backbone and a community that supports those risky decisions — something Michigan is lagging on.

Panelists also highlighted the importance of Michigan as an attractive state for startups, particularly when it comes to the convergence of technology and mobility. The overarching message of attracting talent reinforces the importance of key tenants of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit economic development strategy: increasing post-secondary degree attainment and increasing mobility-related projects.

“It is clear that Michigan has a challenge and an opportunity to continue to develop our mobility startup ecosystem and to continue to lead in next-generation mobility,” Stevens said.

Carlotta Gmachl is a Business Attraction and MICHauto coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Experienced Operations Director Joins Warner Norcross

Thomas Komjathy, an experienced operations director and strategist, has joined Warner Norcross & Judd LLP as director of Southeast Michigan operations.

In his new role for the firm, Komjathy will develop and help implement business strategies to support the firm’s continued expansion in Southeast Michigan. He will be based in the firm’s Southfield office and will work closely with attorneys and executive partners in both Southfield and Macomb County, coordinating with practice groups and industry teams to further expand the growing footprint of Warner Norcross in the region.

Komjathy brings nearly two decades of expertise in engineering, strategy, project management and operations in energy and automotive – two key practice areas of the firm – to Warner Norcross.

“We are very pleased to welcome Tom to Warner Norcross,” said Managing Partner Douglas A. Dozeman. “He has an exceptional skill set that further complements two areas we are known for representing: auto suppliers and energy producers. His leadership experience and operations background will be invaluable as we continue to focus on growth in Southeast Michigan.”

Prior to joining Warner Norcross, Komjathy served as manager of group performance for DTE Energy. In this position, he developed the vision and strategy that led to dramatic improvements in service reliability through the turnaround of the organization’s $75 million vegetation management program. During his tenure with DTE, Komjathy also developed one of the largest wind projects in Michigan, managed operations for Detroit Edison’s fleet of renewable energy generation assets and led DTE Electric’s outdoor lighting business.

Komjathy also contributed his financial and operational experience as a board member for the Utility Wind Integration Group, a nonprofit industry association with more than 160 members throughout North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Trained as an engineer, Komjathy also worked as a plant manager for Akzo Nobel Automotive Plastic Coatings in Pontiac and in various engineering and consulting roles for BASF Corp.

Komjathy resides in Rochester Hills with his wife, Kim, and children, Allison and Michael.

About Warner Norcross
By providing discerning and proactive legal advice, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP builds a better partnership with its clients. Warner Norcross is a corporate law firm with 216 attorneys practicing in eight offices throughout Michigan: Grand Rapids, Southfield, Macomb County, Midland, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Holland and Lansing. To learn more, visit, follow us on Twitter @WNJLLP or connect on LinkedIn.

110 Lawyers from Dykema Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018

Dykema, a leading national law firm, announced today that 110 of the its attorneys, in multiple practice areas and markets, have been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018 guide. Additionally, 10 of the firm’s practitioners have been named Best Lawyers 2018 “Lawyer of the Year,” a special distinction conferred upon a single lawyer within a practice area and metropolitan market.

The Best Lawyers in America® is the pre-eminent national listing of outstanding attorneys. This annual guide is derived from exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers.

The Dykema attorneys named Best Lawyers 2018 “Lawyers of the Year,” the practice area(s) for which they are being recognized and office location are:

• Kerry T. Benedict – Banking and Finance Law
• Marie R. Deveney – Trusts and Estates
• James P. Feeney – Bet-the-Company Litigation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Dennis M. Haffey – Litigation – Banking and Finance
• J. Daniel Harkins – Litigation – Intellectual Property
• Kathryn J. Humphrey – Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Howard B. Iwrey – Litigation – Antitrust
• D. Richard McDonald – Securities / Capital Markets Law
• William J. Perrone – Government Relations Practice
• James M. Truss – Oil and Gas Law
The Dykema attorneys listed in the 2018 Best Lawyers in America guide, identified by office location and the practice areas for which they have been recognized, are:

Ann Arbor, Michigan

• Maria B. Abrahamsen – Health Care Law
• Phyllis G. Adams – Health Care Law
• Marie R. Deveney – Trusts and Estates
• Kathrin E. Kudner – Health Care Law
• Melvin J. Muskovitz – Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment
• Roselyn (Roz) Parmenter – Health Care Law
• Ronald J. Santo – Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management
• Robert P. Tiplady – Litigation – Trusts and Estates; Trusts and Estates
• Jill M. Wheaton – Appellate Practice; Commercial Litigation

Austin, Texas

• Keith A. Shuley – Environmental Law; Water Law
• Phillip M. Slinkard – Corporate Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

• Bowden V. Brown – Public Finance Law
• Brendan J. Cahill – Mergers and Acquisitions Law
• Amy M. Christen – Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
• Michael G. Cumming – Trusts and Estates
• Stephen R. Estey – Land Use and Zoning Law
• James P. Feeney – Arbitration; Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Corporate Law; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Adam M. Fishkind – Real Estate Law
• Fred J. Fresard – Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Alan M. Greene – Land Use and Zoning Law; Litigation – Land Use and Zoning; Litigation – Real Estate
• Dennis M. Haffey – Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions; Litigation – Securities; Litigation – Trusts and Estates
• Kyle R. Hauberg – Project Finance Law; Real Estate Law
• Margaret Adams Hunter – Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
• Howard B. Iwrey – Antitrust Law; Litigation – Antitrust
• Joanne R. Lax – Health Care Law
• Gerald T. Lievois – Mergers and Acquisitions Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law
• D. Richard McDonald – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law; Securities Regulation
• Mark A. Metz – Corporate Governance Law; Corporate Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law; Securities Regulation
• Brian M. Moore – Commercial Litigation
• James D. Obermanns – Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
• Sheryl L. Toby – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Litigation – Bankruptcy
• Stephen L. Tupper – Information Technology Law

Chicago, Illinois

• Ross J. Altman – Construction Law; Real Estate Law
• Michael C. Borders – Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Terrence M. Burns – Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants
• Derek L. Cottier – Real Estate Law
• C. Elizabeth Darke – Real Estate Law
• Michael S. Kurtzon – Real Estate Law
• Robert C. Linton – Real Estate Law
• Andrew P. Scott – Land Use and Zoning Law
• Michael F. Sexton – Real Estate Law
• Ian M. Sherman – Insurance Law

Dallas, Texas

• Thomas B. Alleman – Insurance Law; Litigation – Environmental
• Mark E. Andrews – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
• M. David Bryant, Jr. – Commercial Litigation
• William Frank Carroll – Arbitration; Banking and Finance Law; Commercial Litigation; Mediation
• Bob H. Feroze – Real Estate Law
• William B. Finkelstein – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
• Brian R. Forbes – Real Estate Law
• R. Chris Harvey – Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Christopher D. Kratovil – Appellate Practice
• Arlene Switzer Steinfield – Employment Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment
• Edwin J. Tomko – Criminal Defense: White-Collar

Detroit, Michigan

• J. Michael Bernard – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law
• Robert A. Boonin – Employment Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment
• Michael P. Cooney – Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Samuel C. Damren – Commercial Litigation; Mediation
• Sherrie L. Farrell – Commercial Litigation
• Grant P. Gilezan – Environmental Law; Litigation – Environmental
• Steven E. Grob – Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law
• James F. Hermon – Litigation – Labor and Employment
• Kathryn J. Humphrey – Aviation Law; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Mark D. Jacobs – Environmental Law
• Peter M. Kellett – Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Antitrust; Litigation – Securities; Mediation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Joel D. Kellman – Litigation – Real Estate; Real Estate Law
• Jin-Kyu Koh – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law
• Cameron H. Piggott – Litigation – Real Estate; Real Estate Law
• Carl Rashid, Jr. – Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law; Litigation – Real Estate; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Real Estate Law; Tax Law
• Thomas M. Schehr – Commercial Litigation
• Thomas S. Vaughn – Corporate Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law

Grand Rapids, Michigan

• James S. Brady – Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Criminal Defense: General Practice; Criminal Defense: White-Collar; DUI/DWI Defense; Family Law; Litigation – First Amendment; Litigation – Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy); Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• John A. Ferroli – Environmental Law; Litigation – Environmental
• Stephen S. Muhich – Employment Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment
• Brian J. Page – Corporate Law; Litigation – Real Estate; Real Estate Law

Lansing, Michigan

• Richard J. Aaron – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Energy Law
• R. Lance Boldrey – Gaming Law; Native American Law
• Sandra M. Cotter – Administrative / Regulatory Law
• Ann D. Fillingham – Corporate Law; Public Finance Law
• Gary P. Gordon – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Government Relations Practice
• James P. Kiefer – Corporate Law; Public Finance Law
• Lori McAllister – Arbitration; Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Insurance
• William J. Perrone – Banking and Finance Law; Government Relations Practice
• W. Alan Wilk – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Corporate Compliance Law; Corporate Governance Law
• Leonard C. Wolfe – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Gaming Law; Government Relations Practice

McAllen, Texas

• Diann M. Bartek – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Litigation – Bankruptcy

Minneapolis, Minnesota

• Reed R. Heimbecher – Patent Law
• Timothy D. Kelly – Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions; Litigation – Real Estate
• Brian Melendez – Commercial Litigation

San Antonio, Texas

• Kerry T. Benedict – Banking and Finance Law; Real Estate Law
• Ramon D. Bissmeyer – Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment
• J. Daniel Harkins – Copyright Law; Litigation – Intellectual Property; Litigation – Patent; Patent Law; Trademark Law
• C. David Kinder – Commercial Litigation
• Wilhelm E. Liebmann – Corporate Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law
• Donna K. McElroy – Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management
• Robert W. Nelson – Tax Law
• J. Patrick Ryan – Corporate Law
• Thomas E. Sanders – Commercial Litigation; Litigation – ERISA
• Brett W. Schouest – Commercial Litigation
• James B. Smith, Jr. – Corporate Law
• Phylis J. Speedlin – Arbitration; Mediation
• Daniel R. Stern – Employment Law – Individuals; Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management; Labor Law – Union; Litigation – Labor and Employment
• John B. Stewart – Real Estate Law
• James M. Truss – Commercial Litigation; Energy Law; Litigation – Environmental; Litigation – Real Estate; Oil and Gas Law
• Dan G. Webster III – Corporate Law
• David B. West – Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Trusts and Estates
• Deborah D. Williamson – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
• W. Roger Wilson – Energy Law
• Harry W. Wolff, Jr. – Trusts and Estates

In addition to all of the lawyers listed above, we are proud to note that a few of our recently retired attorneys have earned recognition from Best Lawyers as well.

• Eric Thomas Carver – Litigation – Trusts and Estates; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates
• Jaime Ramon – Litigation – Labor and Employment; Labor Law – Management

About Best Lawyers
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. More than 83,000 leading attorneys globally are eligible to vote, and we have received more than 13 million votes to date on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

About Dykema
Dykema serves business entities worldwide on a wide range of complex legal issues. Dykema lawyers and other professionals in 13 U.S. offices work in close partnership with clients – from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies – to deliver outstanding results, unparalleled service and exceptional value in every engagement. To learn more, visit and follow Dykema on Twitter at

NAFTA Negotiations Are Underway: 5 Things Businesses Should Know

By Stacy Ettinger

Officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico will meet in Washington, D.C. this week to begin negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The three countries have set an ambitious negotiating schedule, with a plan to hold seven rounds of talks before the end of the year.

The following is a brief look at the schedule for NAFTA renegotiation, key issues likely to be on the negotiating agenda, and the economic relationship between the United States and its NAFTA partners.

Renegotiation Schedule

With elections scheduled in the United States and Mexico in 2018, the NAFTA renegotiation process would likely be a political liability if it drags on too long. The plan, therefore, is to finalize an agreement before the end of the year. With input from businesses and other stakeholders, negotiators are in the process of drafting proposed text to present at the first negotiating session in Washington, D.C. beginning this week.

Six additional negotiating sessions are scheduled through December. After negotiations wrap up, the House of Representatives and Senate will need to vote on, and President Trump will need to sign legislation implementing the agreement. Mexico and Canada also will need to vote to implement per their domestic legal requirements, before a new, “modernized” NAFTA takes effect.

Issues on the Agenda

All three countries go into NAFTA modernization negotiations with their own objectives. Key issues include the following:

  • Tightening Rules of Origin

The United States is looking to “update and strengthen” the rules of origin “to ensure that the benefits of NAFTA go to products genuinely made in the United States and North America.” This might mean raising the North American content requirement for goods to qualify for duty-free treatment. Parts and inputs sold between the NAFTA partners that previously qualified for duty-free treatment could become subject to tariffs.

While U.S. import duties generally are relatively minimal, the same cannot be said for Mexican and Canadian import duties. Given the extensive reliance on integrated cross-border supply chains, the additional duties could drive manufacturers to rethink their sourcing strategies and consider suppliers outside the NAFTA region.

  • Market Access for Agricultural Goods

NAFTA has been very beneficial for cross-border trade in agricultural goods. However, certain products continue to be a source of serious friction between Canada and the United States, including dairy and lumber. Expect both countries to stand their ground to protect sensitive agricultural industries.

  • Energy Production and Transmission

Canada and the United States greatly expanded their bilateral energy trade under NAFTA. Mexico is in the process of opening its oil, gas and power sectors and is looking to incorporate provisions in NAFTA to ensure its energy industries are included in regional energy trade.

  • Eliminating Red Tape

The United States, Canada and Mexico will likely find common ground on proposals regarding regulatory and customs processes that would reduce bureaucratic delays and “red tape.” Given the magnitude and frequency of cross-border transactions between NAFTA partners, any agreement on modernization, simplification and harmonization of customs procedures and processes would result in significant cost savings, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. Encouraging regulatory cooperation as a way to improve transparency and regulatory compatibility would likely have similar benefits.

  • New Rules for Digital Trade

The United States, Canada and Mexico also have mutual interest in establishment of strong rules promoting and protecting e-commerce and digital trade. The NAFTA countries agreed to such rules, including prohibiting customs duties on digital goods and services, as part of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) negotiations. Digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was negotiated, and there is support among the three countries to address this issue in the ongoing NAFTA modernization efforts.

What Should You Be Doing?

The issues discussed above are just some of the items on the NAFTA renegotiation agenda. NAFTA modernization efforts are on the fast track, and now is the time to engage with government officials to ensure negotiating text reflects your interests.

Benefits of NAFTA

Negotiated 25 years ago, NAFTA was the most comprehensive free trade agreement at the time. With a few exceptions, tariffs on goods produced and traded within North America were reduced to zero. Barriers to investment were eliminated. And service providers were generally free to operate throughout the North American market. The resulting economic integration between the United States, Mexico and Canada is extensive. Canada is the leading market for U.S. exports and the number one customer for each of the Great Lakes states. Mexico is the United States’ second largest export market. The largest categories of traded goods include automobiles and parts, petroleum products, and industrial machinery and equipment.

Stacy Ettinger, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm K&L Gates, has worked as a senior legal advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she advised agency officials on U.S. and foreign trade rules, supervised dispute settlement proceedings before the World Trade Organization, and represented the U.S. in international trade negotiations.