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Sandra M. Cotter Member

Sandra M. Cotter is the Director of Dykema's Regulated Industries Department and Leader of the Government Policy & Practice Group.  Ms.Cotter's practice focuses on campaign finance and election law, liquor licensing and regulation, insurance and environmental regulation and legislation, public policy litigation and legislation, and general corporate work for profit and nonprofit corporations. She has frequent contact with Michigan's executive office, state legislators and various agencies, including the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation and Liquor Control Commission. She is also a registered lobbyist in the state.

Ms. Cotter has been involved in the drafting of complex legislation and administrative rules on a variety of matters including insurance, liquor control, economic development, gaming, and environmental regulation.

Prior to joining Dykema, Ms. Cotter served as the legislative assistant for the Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing. While at Michigan State University, she worked for the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service, served as a page for the House of Representatives and interned with the chairman of the House Senior Citizens and Retirement Committee. While attending law school, she taught in the Minority Affairs Program at the University of Michigan.


  • Appointed as a Special Assistant Attorney General and was part of the Dykema team that represented the State of Michigan in the privatization of the State Accident Fund of Michigan. Primary responsibility was drafting legislation to enable the state to sell the workers compensation insurer and working with legislators on adoption of the legislation. Ms. Cotter was also part of the transactional team negotiating the $291 million privatization.
  • Michigan's Governor appointed Ms. Cotter to the Michigan Natural Resource Management and Environmental Code Commission in 1992. The Commission successfully codified statutes affecting natural resources and the environment. She was later appointed by Governor Engler to serve on the Hazardous Waste Site Review Board; her term since expired.
  • Significant experience before the Michigan Liquor Control Commission on liquor licensing and regulation matters.
  • Appointed to the Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control in 2002. While on the Board, the University's accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools was renewed and Ms. Cotter was part of the administrative team involved in the accreditation in 2004.
  • House Speaker v. Governor, 443 Mich 560 (1993)
  • Michigan United Conservation Clubs v. Secretary of State, 464 Mich 359 (2001)
  • Michigan Campaign For New Drug Policies v. Board of State Canvassers, Supreme Court order entered 9/10/2002 (Docket #122283)

Memberships & Involvement

  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Michigan
  • Ingham County Bar Association
  • National Hispanic Bar Association
  • National Association of Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Attorneys (
  • Republican National Lawyers Association

Community/Civic Activities

Nonprofit Council for Charitable Trusts, 2004-Present

Michigan State University's National Alumni Board, 2003-2006; Executive Committee, 2006

Michigan State University College of Social Science Alumni Board, 1992-2003

Crime Victim Foundation Board of Directors, 1995-Present

Board of Directors of the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company of America, 1995-2004

Board Member of the Michigan Chamber Foundation, 2017

Author of various Michigan ICLE publications

Instructor for ICLE courses on liquor licensing and regulation

Served on Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's transition team after his election in 2002

In the 2008 Michigan general election, Ms. Cotter was involved in both statewide ballot initiatives to appear on the ballot. She represented both the Michigan Citizens for Compassionate Care on the medical marijuana initiated law and CureMichigan on the constitutional amendment to allow for stem cell research in Michigan. Both measures passed by significant margins at the November 4, 2008 election.

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for Administrative/Regulatory Law, 2013-Present. Copyright 2015 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC

Named a Top Lawyer by dbusiness Magazine for Non Profit/Charities Law2010-2016

Named a Michigan Leading Lawyer in the areas of Election, Political & Campaign and Governmental, Municipal, Lobbying & Administrative Law by the Leading Lawyers Network, 2014-2016. Law Bulletin Publishing Company

Recipient of an AV® Preeminent™ Rating by Martindale-Hubbell

Dykema Gossett Pro Bono Award, 1994