Human Resources and Law

Seven women lawyers earn top honors

August 13, 2014
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Michigan Lawyers Weekly named its “2014 Women in the Law” class this week, and seven of the honorees hail from West Michigan.

Award winners will be honored during a luncheon on Sept. 11 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy.

The 2014 “Woman of the Year” will be announced during the luncheon.

Women in the Law nominees are selected based on their wide-ranging list of professional accomplishments, role as mentors and their community involvement, including pro bono work.

They are considered the top of their field.

A full list of the 30 honorees is available here.

West Michigan winners

Tracey Brame is an assistant dean and an associate professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Grand Rapids. She joined Cooley Law School in February 2006 from Legal Aid of Western Michigan, where she was a staff attorney.

She has also served as a staff attorney for Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia, a research and writing specialist with the Federal Defender Office, and an assistant defender with the State Appellate Defender Office in Detroit.

Brame started the Access to Justice Clinic at the Grand Rapids campus in 2006, and currently runs the West Michigan Public Defender Clinic. She also teaches a course on family law, race and the Supreme Court, and a seminar on the death penalty.

Melissa N. Collar is a partner with Warner Norcross & Judd LLP in Grand Rapids. She assists clients in the acquisition, development, construction, leasing and sale of real property.

She is chair of the firm's real estate and condominium practice groups. She is also a licensed real estate broker.

Collar has received numerous honors and awards. Most recently she was named Best Lawyers' 2014 Grand Rapids Construction Law Lawyer of the Year.

Pamela J. Cross is an attorney at Rhoades McKee PC in Grand Rapids. She focuses her practice in the areas of estate planning, probate and elder law.

She is the chair of the firm’s estate planning and administration practice group and a member of the executive committee.

Cross is a former adjunct professor at Cooley Law School, where she taught estate planning.

She is a co-author of an article titled “Estate Planning and Divorce,” which was published in the April 2003 Michigan Family Law Journal. She is a frequent lecturer and speaker at various probate and estate planning seminars.

Sara G. Lachman is an attorney at Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids. She is a member of the firm's litigation section and has been practicing law since 2004.

She represents clients in both federal and state courts in various types of complex commercial litigation.

Her community involvement includes membership on the board of trustees for the Grand Rapids Public Museum Foundation, the East Grand Rapids Planning Commission, the board of directors for the Fulton Street Farmers Market, and serves on committees for John Ball Park Zoo and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

Mary M. Mims is an attorney at Scholten Fant in Holland. She has practiced exclusively in the areas of family law and mediation during her 25-year career.

She serves on the board of Black River Charter School.

Raquel A. Salas is a cofounder of Avanti Law Group in Wyoming, where she practices litigation, family law, and business law. She is currently a managing member of the firm.

Salas began her career in the family, litigation, and business practice groups of Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP.

She has received multiple recognitions for her professionalism and leadership, including being recognized in 2012 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.

Elizabeth Wells Skaggs is a partner at Varnum LLP in Grand Rapids. She focuses her practice on employment issues and litigation.

Skaggs has served on the firm's committees for diversity and inclusion, retention, recruiting and associates.

Skaggs has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2012, and was selected by her peers this year for that publication's Lawyer of the Year honors in the area of litigation - labor and employment.

Skaggs dedicates her time as a volunteer for Artists Creating Together — an organization that brings students with disabilities together with artists and art projects. She has been a board member since 2006, served as secretary from 2011-2013, and currently serves as the board chair.

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