Foster Swift Welcomes Litigation Attorney to Southfield

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. —Foster Swift welcomes associate Kathrine A. Ruttkofsky to the firm’s Southfield office as a member of the litigation practice group. Kathrine joins Foster Swift as a lateral hire from her previous Troy-based law firm.

Kathrine’s practice is primarily in insurance defense, toxic tort defense and personal injury litigation.

Kathrine graduated cum laude with her Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2013.

Southfield Attorneys Selected as 2021 Michigan Super Lawyers and “Rising Stars”

Southfield, Mich. —Two attorneys from the Southfield office of Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC have been selected to the 2021 Michigan Super Lawyers list while four others have been selected as “Rising Stars.”

*In addition to being listed in Super Lawyers, Julie Fershtman was also listed in the “Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers” and the “Top 50 Women Michigan Super Lawyers”.

The 2021 Michigan Super Lawyers and their area(s) of practice for which they are listed:

Julie I. Fershtman* – Civil Litigation: Defense
Paul J. Millenbach – Business Litigation

The 2021 “Rising Stars” List and their area(s) of practice for which they are listed:

Adam A. Fadly – Civil Litigation: Defense
Joseph B. Gale – Civil Litigation: Defense
Robert A. Hamor – Real Estate
Rachel G. Olney – General Litigation

Only five percent of the lawyers in Michigan are selected by Super Lawyers while the “Rising Stars” list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state.

Super Lawyers is a research-driven rating system of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Annual selections are made using a multiphase process that includes peer nominations, independent research by Super Lawyers and evaluations from a highly credentialed panel of attorneys.

To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years of age or younger, or been in practice for 10 years or less.

Amanda Martin Joins Foster Swift


Amanda Martin Joins Foster Swift

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Foster Swift welcomes attorney Amanda Afton Martin to the firm’s Southfield office in the Trusts & Estates Practice Group. Bringing over 20 years of legal experience, her practice includes the areas of estate planning and administration, taxation, business law, and real estate.

Martin earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics from Eastern Michigan University and her Master of Laws degree in Taxation from Wayne State University. She graduated with her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law.


Southfield Office Welcomes Municipal Attorney

Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC welcomes attorney Sarah J. Gabis to its Southfield office. Sarah will practice as a member of the administrative and municipal practice group. She joins Foster Swift from her private practice in Troy, Michigan.

Sarah assists municipalities in addressing a wide array of issues that they regularly face including zoning and land use enforcement, Freedom of Information Act (FOA) and Open Meeting Act (OMA) matters, intergovernmental agreements and sewer and water contractual issues and related litigation.

Sarah received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Michigan State University. A graduate of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Sarah completed her juris doctorate cum laude in 2004.

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

Clayton & McKervey named a top workplace by the Detroit Free Press for 6th consecutive year

Clayton & McKervey, an international certified public accounting and business advisory firm located in metro Detroit, is pleased to announce it has been named a 2017 Free Press Top Workplace. It is the sixth year Clayton & McKervey has been included on the Free Press list, which ranks the best places to work in Michigan. The firm was among the honorees recognized at the Top Workplaces 2017 Awards reception on Nov. 2 at the Troy Marriott.

“We are honored to be recognized once again as one of the top workplaces in Michigan,” said Clayton & McKervey President Robert Dutkiewicz. “Public accounting is a competitive field for talent and its important to our client service efforts that our staff see Clayton McKervey as a positive place to work and build a career.”

The Top Workplaces survey gathers employee responses and measures organizational health in four categories:
1. Alignment – being aligned as an organization
2. Effectiveness – executing effectively
3. Connection – genuinely and meaningfully connecting with employees
4. My Manager – managing employees well

Clayton & McKervey ranked in the top third of the small company category, notably receiving a 4.9 out of 5.5 for staff response to the “My Manager” query.

Clayton & McKervey promotes a collegial and responsive work environment. The firm, already an industry leader in promoting women to partnership and other roles of high-level responsibility, introduced the Women’s Network in 2016 to engage female leadership talent with a four-tier approach that increases access to role models; improves marketing opportunities; provides education and support for career advancement; and enhances the culture of the firm to ensure the successful retention and recruitment of women.

In addition, Clayton & McKervey’s young leadership training program taps employees before they are managers and turns them into the firm’s leaders of tomorrow through technical training and leadership conferences, off-site learning, daily mentoring and in-house coaching, and community involvement. The firm also emphasizes the importance of making time to have fun and connect outside of working hours to foster visible, deeper levels of engagement with each other and the community.

About Detroit Free Press Top Workplaces
The Detroit Free Press Top Workplace rankings are based purely on anonymous employee feedback provided in a survey asking about leadership, benefits, training and flexibility. Along with Workplace Dynamics, an independent research company, the Free Press evaluated responses to questions about culture, salary and benefits, workplace amenities, and reasons they value both their job and leadership. The survey also included a comment section capturing respondents’ views of their current employer. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Top Workplace recognition is about a company “winning a culture of respect and continued learning.” To see all Top Workplace rankings, click here.

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

Detroit-Area Developers Choose to Reuse

By James Amend

All across metro Detroit, what’s old is new again.

Spurred by a rebounding economy, the region’s real estate development is in overdrive and taking a unique twist by bringing failed properties back to life.

“Our market right now is very hot,” said Cindy Ciura, principal of CC Consulting in Bloomfield Hills. “It’s attracting international, as well as national interest.” Residential, commercial and mixed-use developments are occurring in the city of Detroit, led by local urban revivalists Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, and the Ilitch family. However, this development stretches into every suburban enclave across the tri-county area and beyond.

While the end of the Great Recession unleashed demand for new developments and cash to fund projects, it also shifted the approach of investors, experts say. Developers are wrestling with record-high construction costs because the recession forced many skilled tradesmen out of business, into retirement, or convinced their offspring to find other less-cyclical professions.

Prior to the downturn, developers were paying $75 per square foot to build. Today, it costs $125 per square foot or more, said Chris Brochert, partner and co-owner of Lormax Stern Development Co. in Bloomfield Hills.

“At the same time, inflation has not gone up, so very few can afford these high rents,” he added. To keep a lid on costs, developers have turned to adaptive reuse, where an existing site or building is renovated for purposes other than its original intention. Adaptive reuse is also attractive because it removes blighted properties from communities, encourages parallel real estate investment and, as a form of land conservation, it keeps undesirable urban sprawl in check.

However, adaptive reuse sometimes draws concerns over historical preservation, so developers, communities and governments must work hand-in-glove to succeed.

Government and Community Come Together

The story of Northland Center shopping mall in Southfield illustrates how blight can be erased, new development can be integrated into the community, and history can be preserved. Anchored by a four-story J.L. Hudson’s department store, Northland dominated Detroit shopping for 61 years until it became the victim of suburbanization and competition from newer destinations. It was shuttered in 2015 after falling into financial chaos. But instead of watching the 12-acre site decay, the city of Southfield bought the property for $2.4 million with the intention of spending up to $10 million to raze the mall and sell the land to a developer.

“The city purchased the property to protect, maintain and ultimately increase the property values for Southfield’s home and business owners,” said Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver. “We did not want Northland to become a vacant shopping center significantly blighting the community.”

But while the property has a bright future, an intricately choreographed dance paved the way. The city secured a loan to buy the land and has been conducting fundraisers to repay it. The mall contained a unique tunnel system, which was used for storage and deliveries, and Southfield has been stockpiling dirt at every opportunity to backfill it when it is razed.

Bids were put out for demolition costs and inspections revealed asbestos that must be remediated, a delicate project that should begin in May or June and take up to eight months to complete. An advisory firm was hired to determine the most appealing development contractor, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised to secure historically significant pieces of art from the mall.

Community feedback suggested saving the Hudson’s portion of the site for its historical significance and the goal is a mixed-use development. The city has seen preliminary cost estimates and an initial design, which was presented to council members in March. City officials said they would like to turn the site over to developers as soon as possible, but they want to be careful that it complements other projects underway.

“We’re trying to be fiscally responsible in the work we are doing and consistent with other work we’re doing around the city,” said Rochelle Freeman, director of business and economic development for Southfield.

A Much-Needed Facelift

On the region’s east side, Lormax Stern took over the dilapidated Macomb Mall in 2013. The firm renovated and modernized the interior and exteriors, and lured in popular retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Old Navy and Sears.

“We brought it from the 1970s to 2015,” Brochert said. “It is now thriving with new tenants and is more appealing to people in the surrounding area.” Lormax Stern also worked its magic with a former Jacobson’s department store in Grosse Pointe. The 70,000-square-foot building was renovated for first-floor retail and is anchored by tenants such as gourmet grocer Trader Joe’s, and upscale clothiers Jos. A. Bank and LOFT. The second floor was dedicated to office space, while an adjoining parking deck was redone for convenience.

In downtown Birmingham, AF Jonna Development LLC of Bloomfield Hills took over the struggling Palladium Building, downsized its movie theater, and added office and residential space to complement restaurants. Brochert said the project saved an important corridor of the bustling city. “If that would have gone downhill, it would have been disastrous,” he said.

A few miles up the road in Bloomfield Hills, a $500 million mixed-use development called Bloomfield Park stalled in 2008, creating an 87-acre, post-apocalyptic scene of windowless concrete buildings and crumbling parking garages. But in 2015, Southfield-based developer Redico bought the rights to the site and $350 million of initial demolition work started last year.

Dale Watchowski, CEO of Redico, said Bloomfield Park typifies his firm’s strategy. “We’re focused on getting in and out within two years. We don’t want to get tied up in a long deal where the economy can turn on us,” he said. “A successful development requires good project management, and the process has to move quickly.”

James Amend is a senior editor at WardsAuto in Southfield.

Read more from this issue below: 

Under Construction: Michigan’s Build-To-Suit Market

Detroit: A City on the Rise

Help Wanted: Closing Michigan’s Skilled Trades Gap


Cracking the Millennial Code

Metro Detroit businesses shifting culture, workspaces to attract younger talent

By Daniel A. Washington

With a proven track record of innovation and career advancement, the region’s auto industry, suppliers and service providers are becoming leading destinations for millennial talent.

Companies such as Lear Corp., TI Automotive, P3 and Tweddle Group have invested greatly in Southeast Michigan and are leading the way in reinventing themselves to appeal to a new generation.

“Design and creative talent is exceptional in Detroit and the opening of the Lear Innovation Center will help us gain a competitive advantage within the industry,” said Dave McNulty, vice president of human resources and global talent acquisition at Lear, regarding the recent $10 million investment in Detroit’s Capitol Park.

Creating a place and space dedicated solely  to creativity, the Innovation Center will  focus on next-generation automotive battery  charging, seating designs and technology  integration and non-automotive projects for  clients such as Shinola, Nike, Under Armour  and New Balance.

The Southfield-based global supplier  of automotive seating and electrical  systems’ latest investment is just one of  the many examples that auto suppliers  and service providers are taking to  retain a competitive edge ahead of others  seeking to poach talent.

“We love metro Detroit because it is a talent-rich area and is where grit and ability go  hand-in-hand, which results in a pool of local people who have the vision to see the  future and the guts to get us there,” said Paul Arnegard, vice president of creative services at Tweddle Group.

Tweddle’s new office, focused on  connected car software in downtown Detroit, is currently home to more than 30  employees. The 65-year-old automotive communications and publishing firm has plans to add up to 20 more employees in  the upcoming year.

“Tweddle Group isn’t going anywhere,” said Arnegard about the company’s commitment to Detroit and the region. “Our focus is on creating a culture where millennials want to be.”

Simply put, Michigan and the region is a proven testing ground for millennial talent  looking to develop and contribute to an  emerging field of connected mobility and  technology.

P3’s new facility in Southfield serves as the  company’s automotive headquarters in the  Americas and includes open collaboration  spaces and a 10-car, full-vehicle workshop  with prototyping capabilities.

The center also houses multiple labs  to provide cutting-edge insights on  connectivity, autonomous vehicles, eMobility, cybersecurity and other in-vehicle telematics and mobility solutions.

“In a time when top talent is in high demand,  P3 realizes the need to set ourselves apart from all of the competition,” said LaToya Palmer, head of human resources and legal at P3.

Palmer expressed P3’s commitment to further advancing millennials’ skill sets and providing advancement opportunities to  increase employment value.

“We are dedicated to helping our employees build a meaningful career, which for many millennials is critical to job satisfaction, and  we pride ourselves on offering opportunities to work on cutting-edge projects for  big clients that help shape the future of  mobility,” she added.

Home to a number of world-class universities  and schools, the region offers auto and tech companies the opportunity to train and work closely with a robust educational  talent pipeline.

TI Automotive’s new corporate offices located in Auburn Hills are home to a collaborative floor-plan and one-of-a-kind architectural design.

“We engage university students as a first  step in attracting young professionals to  the company,” said Domenic Milicia, chief human resources and communications  officer at TI Automotive. “We do this in  two ways: by sponsoring various technical projects in local universities and offering our extensive co-op and internship programs to 20 to 30 students each year.”

The automotive fluid storage and delivery systems supplier is leading the way with others in the region in creating opportunities and environments for talent to thrive and forward-thinking culture and career succeed. The uptick in talent investment placement.

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing by companies is a telling sign, pointing and communications coordinator with the Detroit to the region as a haven for technology, Regional Chamber.

American Society of Employers (ASE) announces job fair for veterans and individuals with disabilities on Aug. 18 in Southfield

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, will host a Veteran’s Job Fair on Thursday, Aug. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Southfield Pavilion. Joining ASE as co-hosts are the Southfield Veterans Commission, the U.S. Veterans Administration and the Michigan Industry Liaison Group (MILG). The job fair is open to all, but is targeted to military veterans and their families, as well as individuals with disabilities, and is free to both employers and job seekers.

The Job Fair announcement was made by ASE CEO, Mary E. Corrado.

“ASE and our host partners and sponsors recognize the challenges that veterans, their families and individuals with disabilities can face in securing stable employment. We are proud to organize and facilitate this job fair for all to attend,” Corrado said.

Kelly Services will be providing free resume review at the event.

The Southfield Pavilion is located at 2800 Evergreen, Southfield, Mich. 48076. Registration for individuals and employers can be found on the MILG website.

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization
The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at