National Magazine Names Citys Top Law Firms

May 16, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — While noting that Grand Rapids is the hub of western Michigan and a hot spot for supermarkets, Corporate Board Member magazine also knighted the city’s top five law firms as part of its Special Legal Issue.

There is a slight loophole in that legal listing, though. One of the firms isn’t located here.

Named by the magazine were the city’s two largest law firms: Warner, Norcross & Judd LLP and Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett LLP. Also named were Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC and Mika, Meyers, Beckett & Jones PLC.

But the fifth firm cited by the magazine as one of the city’s best doesn’t have an office in town. Instead, Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith PC is located in Lansing and in Farmington Hills. Since neither city is considered a suburb of GR, why was Foster Swift selected as a top legal firm in the city?

“Actually, I don’t have any idea why they would have done that,” said Sharon Smith from the law firm’s marketing department in Lansing.

“When I first looked at it, I felt Lansing was included with the western side of the state perhaps, because there was no listing for Lansing in that magazine. So absent that, we didn’t do any follow-up or anything like that,” she added.

Grand Rapids Bar Association President Dale Ann Iverson, a partner at Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge PC, told the Business Journal that the magazine didn’t contact GRBA for its input concerning the list. Nor could she ever recall a national publication ranking the city’s law firms before.

In naming the city’s top five firms, Corporate Board Member acknowledged that all were relatively small in size, but large in stature. Warner Norcross was cited because 29 of its lawyers are listed in the current edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Likewise for Varnum Riddering, which the magazine wrote had 20 of its attorneys in the book.

Miller Johnson was cited for producing three past presidents of the state bar association, while Mika Meyers was named for defending the constitutionality of political term limits.

But the magazine didn’t explain why it chose Foster Swift as one of the city’s top firms.

“We’re quite pleased about it, actually,” said Smith of being included. “But, again, it wasn’t something that we were particularly knowledgeable about.”

In addition to listing the top firms in River City, Corporate Board Member did the same for the Motor City. And three of Detroit’s top five firms identified by the magazine do have offices here: Dickinson Wright PLLC, Dykema Gossett PLLC and Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone PLC.

Board Member Inc. is the parent company of Corporate Board Member and Bank Director magazines. The firm is based in Brentwood, Tenn., and also has offices in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

L. William Seidman is the current publisher of Bank Director. The business school at Grand Valley State University, located in downtown Grand Rapids, is named in his honor.

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