Law and Real Estate

Law firm expands into downtown Detroit

March 4, 2015
TAGS Varnum
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Law firm expands into downtown Detroit
The original Federal Reserve Building in downtown Detroit was built in 1927 and stands beside an eight-story expansion. Photo via bedrockmgt.com

A law firm is expanding its southeast Michigan presence by opening an office in downtown Detroit.

Varnum said last month that the office will be located in the Federal Reserve Building, at 160 W. Fort Street.

The firm will take over the building’s entire fifth floor.

The office space is being built out and is expected to open in the second quarter of this year.

About a half-dozen attorneys will move to the new downtown location initially.

This is the firm’s sixth office. Its other offices are located in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Grand Haven, Lansing and Novi.

The building

Varnum will be the Federal Reserve Building’s final office tenant.

The Federal Reserve Building, which is owned and managed by Bedrock Real Estate Services, underwent an extensive renovation two years ago, with the Detroit-based architecture firm Rossetti providing lead design work.

The newly renovated building features open, light-filled common areas and a Minoru Yamasaki-designed glass annex.

Rossetti remains a tenant of the building. Other tenants include the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.

Dan Mullen, VP of leasing and development with Bedrock Real Estate Services, said he’s pleased to welcome Varnum to downtown Detroit.

He said Varnum’s team members will “love being part of the thriving, entrepreneurial environment downtown.”

Detroit business

Scott Huizenga, Varnum’s managing partner, said the expansion into downtown Detroit reflects the firm's growth strategy, as well as a commitment to clients in the region.

"This office, with its location in the Financial District and close proximity to several courts, will help us more efficiently serve many of our corporate clients, as well as other clients with business in this area,” Huizenga said.

Huizenga noted Varnum trial attorneys have had 79 cases in Detroit-based federal court in the past year alone.

The level of activity is expected to increase, keeping Varnum among the law firms with the highest level of activity in the court, which is within walking distance from the new office.

For the past nine years, Varnum has served clients in metro Detroit, primarily from its office in Novi.

The suburban Detroit office has grown to more than 30 attorneys, including 10 who joined the firm in the past year.

"Our attorneys who practice in southeast Michigan have flourishing, growing practices, and many attorneys from our other offices do a significant amount of work with clients in the metro Detroit area," Huizenga said.

In addition to serving corporate clients, Varnum's southeast Michigan client base also includes work for the financial industry, including banking and private equity clients, as well as health care and real estate-focused practices.

Varnum's Southeast Michigan office is also known for its tax practice and employment and litigation practices.

The firm has held regular office hours for the past three years at the M@dison Building at the corner of Broadway and Woodward, as part of the firm's MiSpringboard program.

MiSpringboard is a Varnum initiative to provide $1 million in legal services to entrepreneurs and startups. A significant number of MiSpringboard clients are from southeast Michigan.

More growth expected

Huizenga expects to see the firm’s roster of clients and attorneys grow due to the Detroit office.

He noted the current economic climate is providing a “level of opportunity in southeast Michigan” and the type of “challenging work on which our attorneys thrive.”

“We are very excited to have a bigger role in this growing market and look forward to having an expanded physical presence,” Huizenga said.

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