Associate Dean Nelson Miller
Several recent graduates of the law school’s Grand Rapids campus are forming, expanding, or merging their own small law firms, showing success in another sector beyond the campus’s placements with large and mid-size law firms. Campus Dean Nelson Miller has recognized for a long time that the Grand Rapids campus has had graduates joining premier small area law firms such as premier small area law firms such as Bos & Glazier having the largest medical-negligence verdict in the area, Willey & Chamberlain handling complex criminal litigation, and the 130-year-old Wheeler Upham representing clients from individuals all the way to Fortune 500 companies. Campus graduates, though, have also formed and expanded highly successful small law firms of their own.
WMU-Cooley graduate Jordan Hoyer fairly recently formed her own firm, The Law Office of Jordan C. Hoyer, PLLC, focusing on commercial and financial services litigation. She also employed fellow graduate Erika Hunting, along with two other longtime area lawyers. The Dallas law firm Talcott Franklin P.C. just recently acquired Jordan’s law firm and appointed her as the managing attorney for the regional office.
Jordan’s success attracted Talcott Franklin P.C. when the national securities-litigation firm was looking for a Midwest base to continue its tradition of sophisticated civil litigation. Jordan, Erika, and the other lawyers in Jordan’s firm will now incorporate Talcott’s national work into their existing local and regional practice base, confirming Jordan’s extraordinary early success.
Campus graduates Andrew Rodenhouse and Jessica Kuipers formed their Grand Rapids law firm, Rodenhouse Kuipers, several years ago offering a variety of services with an emphasis on criminal defense, attorney grievance, and character and fitness defense. Their success led to the new firm’s swift expansion.
They recently named Jim Sterken, a campus graduate who focuses on civil litigation and estate planning, and Audra McClure, a Lansing campus graduate who focuses on domestic relation litigation, as additional partners due to their continued success at the firm. The firm also employs another recent graduate, Chris Newberg, who works with businesses in the fields of art, entertainment, advertising, communications, digital media, cyberspace, emerging technologies, and intellectual property creation.
The firm credits its success to the entrepreneurial spirit of its attorneys as well as the support that is continually given by the legal community. “We started our own firm for a variety of reasons, but the most important reasons are the freedom to control our destiny, the ability to potentially influence positive change within the legal community, and the liberty to do what we truly are passionate about,” attorney Kuipers stated. From being involved in a large multi-jurisdictional lawsuit to attorney Rodenhouse’s recent arguments before the Michigan Supreme Court, expect big things in the near future from Rodenhouse Kuipers.
Campus graduates continue to establish and expand successful law practices.
Campus graduate Ross Plont, who not too long ago formed the Grand Rapids law firm Newton Plont after having begun his career as an associate at the premier small firm Gruel Mills, recently announced the firm’s hiring of campus graduate Dan Fricke, whom Ross sponsored for swearing in after Dan just received welcome news of his having passed the bar. Dan is the firm’s first associate as the firm continues to grow its litigation practice.
According to attorney Ross Plont, the “real-world” education at Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus “prepared me to hit the ground running in a fast-paced litigation firm where I handled complex civil-litigation claims. Working cases with recent law-school grads from other schools, particularly early on, really made me appreciate the education that I received at Cooley. The practical foundation that Cooley provided, combined with the real-world experience I gained from my mentors at Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman PLLC, enabled me to team up with my partner, Stephanie Newton, in the formation of Newton Plont, PLLC. Being my own boss was one of the objectives I had when I decided to go to law school, and the education that I received at the Grand Rapids campus of Cooley Law School was an integral part of achieving that objective.”