News & Insights

Chambers USA Ranks Dykema as a Top-5 Firm Nationally for Automotive Product Liability and in 12 Total Practice Areas in 2021 Edition

Dykema Also Earned 25 Individual Attorney Rankings; Including Derek Whitefield as a Top-5 Automotive Product Liability Attorney Nationally

May 20, 2021

Dykema, a leading national law firm, announced today that it received 25 individual attorney rankings and 12 practice area rankings in the 2021 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business guide. In total, the firm received National recognition in three practice areas and six individual attorney ranks; including ranking as one of the top five firms in the nation for Product Liability: Automobile. In addition, Derek Whitefield was recognized as a top-five attorney for Product Liability: Automobile.

Published annually, Chambers has been ranking the best law firms and lawyers since 1990, and now covers 185 jurisdictions throughout the world. Chambers ranks both lawyers and law firms based on the investigations of more than 200 researchers who conduct in-depth confidential interviews with lawyers and clients.


Chambers USA recognized the following Dykema practices:

USA - Nationwide

  • Cannabis Law

  • Product Liability: Automobile

  • Product Liability: Consumer Class Actions

District of Columbia

  • Insurance: Insurer

Illinois

  • Real Estate

Michigan

  • Corporate/M&A
  • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
  • Labor & Employment
  • Litigation: General Commercial
  • Real Estate

Texas

  • Bankruptcy/Restructuring

Texas: San Antonio & Surrounds

  • Litigation: General Commercial

Chambers USA recognized the following Dykema attorneys, as identified by jurisdiction and practice area:

USA - Nationwide

  • R. Lance Boldery—Cannabis Law: Eastern United States
  • R. Lance Boldrey—Native American Law
  • Derek S. Whitefield—Product Liability: Automobile
  • Derek S. Whitefield—Product Liability: Consumer Class Actions
  • John M. Thomas—Product Liability: Consumer Class Actions
  • Terri S. Reiskin—Product Liability: Consumer Class Actions

District of Columbia

  • Thomas J. Judge— Insurance: Insurer
  • Lewis K. Loss—Insurance: Insurer

Illinois

  • Michael S. Kurtzon—Real Estate
  • Andrew P. Scott—Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use

Michigan

  • J. Michael Bernard—Corporate/M&A
  • Robert A. Boonin—Labor & Employment
  • Amy M. Christen—Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
  • Adam M. Fishkind—Real Estate
  • James P. Feeney—Litigation: General Commercial
  • Kyle R. Hauberg—Real Estate
  • James F. Hermon—Labor & Employment
  • Margaret Adams Hunter—Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
  • Jin-Kyu Koh—Corporate/M&A
  • Thomas S. Vaughn—Corporate/M&A

Texas

  • Deborah D. Williamson—Bankruptcy/Restructuring

Texas: Austin & Surrounds

  • Phillip M. Slinkard—Corporate/M&A

Texas: San Antonio & Surrounds

  • Jeffrey C. Gifford—Corporate/M&A
  • Wilhelm L. Liebmann—Corporate/M&A
  • Marty Truss—Litigation: General Commercial

Chambers USA also noted client and market perception for the following Dykema practices:

Bankruptcy/Restructuring

What the team is known for

Debtor-side representation focused on midmarket companies across a wide range of industry sectors, with significant energy, real estate and healthcare experience. Adept at advising on distressed asset acquisition and bankruptcy-related litigation. Works with debtors, creditors and committees. Also represents financial institutions, including Texas-based and community-based banks.

Notable practitioners

Deborah Williamson is a go-to practitioner in the insolvency and restructuring space. She has broad sector expertise and often works with clients from the healthcare and energy sectors on the full spectrum of bankruptcy matters. "Deborah is a really great lawyer. She is personable, smart and well respected by the judiciary. She is a deal cutter." "Deborah is a powerhouse." "She is a formidable adversary."

Cannabis Law

What the team is known for

Designed to offer a full range of legal services to cannabis businesses. Combines experience in navigating licensing and regulatory regimes with a track record of guiding clients through real estate and corporate deals. "They have been exceptional," says a source, adding: "We had a very favorable experience. They can get any question we have answered in a timely manner, which is extremely valuable for us."

Notable practitioners

Lance Boldrey is regularly called upon to provide whole-business advice to cannabis businesses. "His wisdom and experience have been extremely beneficial."

Corporate/M&A

What the team is known for

Provides sophisticated counsel on a wide range of corporate and financing matters, including commercial loan structuring, business governance and securities issuances. Attracts a diverse client base encompassing lenders, banks, investors and high-profile businesses. Maintains a strong private equity offering, acting on portfolio acquisitions and sales. A client highlights the team's "integrity and knowledge of the law" as key strengths. Another adds: "They are extremely knowledgeable and they work to a standard that is consistently high."

Notable practitioners

Michael Bernard is a highly regarded practitioner who is esteemed for his strengths in M&A, corporate governance and capital raising transactions. He is frequently mandated on acquisitions and disposals in the automotive industry.

Jeff Gifford is a respected practitioner who advises on transactions. He is frequently called upon by public companies.

Jin-Kyu Koh is widely considered to be a leader in M&A. He is equally skilled in the public and private sectors and is also well versed in venture capital financing. "He has a good reputation and great talent, and he does a thorough job."

Will Liebmann offers experience in a wide range of corporate issues, including M&A and joint ventures. "He is one of the best in town."

Phillip Slinkard is experienced in a range of issues, including corporate governance, M&A and franchise matters. "He is good at offering legal and business advice. He is a very pleasant person to work with and we trust him." "He is technically proficient, extremely responsive, thoughtful, insightful and proactive."

Thomas Vaughn is experienced handling matters related to real estate investment funds, including in regard to formation issues.

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

What the team is known for

Significant expertise in a wide range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, supported by comprehensive resources in corporate finance, labor and employment and tax. Demonstrates particular strength in the formation of qualified employee benefit plans, welfare benefit schemes and issues relating to ERISA. Experience also covers health plans. Client base includes public and church-affiliated employers. A client notes: "I am very impressed with how they're able to analyze the differences and communicate it back to the team in a normal manner; they talk to us in a way in which we understand."

Notable practitioners

Amy Christen heads up the health and welfare team, overseeing an array of matters relating to the ACA and COBRA. "She is very easy to work with, she is very responsive and she communicates with us very well." "She is a very smart and detailed lawyer."

Meg Hunter has a wealth of knowledge in employee benefits and associated tax matters. Her wide-ranging practice encompasses the entire life-cycle of benefit programs, from their design through to operation and termination. "She is an outstanding lawyer in the employee benefits area; she is smart, organized and very knowledgeable." "She has tons of expertise and is knowledgeable and helpful in thinking through issues."

Insurance: Insurer

What the team is known for

Strong team offers dedicated representation of insurers in complex coverage disputes and other litigation. Strong record in both professional liability and general liability claims, including particular expertise in cases involving bank failure. Frequently acts on bad faith claims. Sources report: "They're very smart, know the area inside and out, their writing is very strong and they have a deep bench of knowledge. They're a personable team made up of wonderful lawyers who understand business relationships as well as legal ones." Commentators say: "They're a good team overall. They're very experienced, competent lawyers who know the subject area very well. Their key strength as a team would be their experience and breadth of knowledge."

Notable practitioners

Lewis Loss focuses his practice in the representation of prominent insurance carriers in complex and sensitive disputes. He is noted for his expert handling of sexual misconduct, wrongful death and business interruption claims. "He is experienced, professional, and has the depth of knowledge necessary to handle very complex matters." "He is a very experienced and well-respected lawyer."

Thomas Judge brings particular expertise in professional liability disputes, including D&O and E&O work. "Tom understands our policies and the litigation process well. He is very knowledgeable in the area of management and professional liability insurance." "He's very knowledgeable about the insurance issues and he's collaborative."

Labor & Employment

What the team is known for

Robust labor and employment practice popular with a diverse range of banking, higher education and technology clients. Notable strength in representing clients in administrative proceedings before the NLRB and Michigan Employment Relations Commission. Employment expertise spans noncompete and trade secrets disputes as well as discrimination claims. Also active advising on traditional labor matters, including union issues and wage and hour cases. A source describes the team as "professional, responsive and cognizant of both general and matter-specific budget constraints."

Notable practitioners

Jim Hermon is well versed in defending corporate employers against allegations of harassment and discrimination, as well as representing them in cases arising from breaches of noncompete agreements. He has further experience advising clients on workforce reductions. "James is knowledgeable and responsive."

Robert Boonin handles a broad array of traditional labor law matters and is well known for his expert knowledge of the FLSA. He is particularly adept at representing education and public sector clients.

Litigation

What the team is known for

Thriving commercial litigation team acting for both sides in a range of high-stakes civil disputes. Possesses an excellent track record representing clients in arbitrations and mediations, as well as state and federal court cases across the USA. Handles a wide range of antitrust, product liability and real estate-related issues. Well known for its work advising major pharmaceutical and medical device businesses, as well as automotive companies. Also represents clients in the healthcare industry in product liability matters. "It's a strong firm," comments a client, adding: "Everyone I have worked with is talented and they're willing to get into the details of things and do a good job." An interviewee reports: "It is a solid firm with a formidable litigation department." "Its attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced," notes a source.

Handles a diverse array of contentious proceedings, including high-value contract disputes, dealer and franchise issues and government investigations. Maintains a strong client roster of both international and regional companies, as well as individuals and boards of directors. Active in sectors ranging from banking and consumer finance to the healthcare, energy and technology industries. Clients state: "They are very responsive and look beyond the lawsuit to the optics, how to respond and the broader strategy and business questions. The firm is very impressive."

Notable practitioners

James Feeney has expertise covering the full gamut of pharmaceutical and medical device claims, in addition to toxic tort cases. His wider litigation practice encompasses financial services and antitrust litigation. "He is a very talented lawyer, extremely knowledgeable on litigious matters, and his performance in the courtroom is very impressive." "He is as gifted a trial lawyer as you'll ever meet."

James Truss is well regarded in the market for his experience in litigation relating to the energy sector. His client base includes pipeline operators, mineral producers and oilfield service companies, among others.

Native American Law

Notable practitioners

Lance Boldrey advises tribes, nontribal governments and nontribal entities on a wide array of Native American law matters, with an emphasis on state-tribal relations, economic development and other corporate matters. “Lance is very good. He is very effective at both the state and federal level.”

Product Liability

What the team is known for

Well-regarded automotive product liability firm with particular strength in Detroit. Excels across both mass torts and consumer class actions. Frequently represents major automobile clients in MDLs and large-scale economic loss cases. Further strengths in personal injury lawsuits and product defect litigation. Expertise includes acting as local, regional and national counsel. Interviewees state: "Dykema is awesome with strategy, client development and helping with discovery - that firm is a go-to firm." Clients say: "They do an excellent job and have a considerable profile in the space."

Notable practitioners

Derek Whitefield is widely experienced in automobile product liability, having represented leading companies in consumer class actions, personal injury lawsuits and federal MDLs. "Derek is a very smart and diligent lawyer who is easy to work with and a team player." "He is well known and well respected in the field."

John Thomas is a fine choice of counsel for large automotive manufacturers facing complex consumer class actions, as well as appellate litigation. "He is very capable in the consumer class actions space." "He's a longtime practitioner in the realm." "He gets very good results in auto matters."

Terri Reiskin heads the firm’s class actions group and is particularly noted for her representation of automotive manufacturers, while also offering experience across a broad range of consumer and product liability claims. "She is very good as a litigator and strategist." "She is really good on the technical side of cases." "She's a really sharp lawyer who really knows the space."

Real Estate

What the team is known for

Full-service real estate practice, representing a range of clients such as developers, investors and owners. Draws on its impressive construction knowledge to advise on transactional real estate matters, covering property acquisition, leasing, restructurings and financings. "They are excellent," says a client. "They are responsive, knowledgeable, and always achieve great outcomes for us."

Undertakes the full spectrum of real estate work including commercial loan origination and infrastructure development, as well as litigation. Acts for a host of transactional stakeholders, from real estate owners and investors to lenders. Experienced in working with clients from the retail and utilities sectors. Known for its bench of highly experienced practitioners, and regularly acts with members of other groups within the firm to provide an integrated service. A client states: "I am most impressed with the real estate group. They are very knowledgeable and responsive."

Notable practitioners

Adam Fishkind is a well-regarded figure within the department. He has a variety of experience spanning the acquisition, leasing and financing of retail, residential, industrial and hotel properties. He is partner in charge of the firm's Bloomfield Hills office. "He is a solid lawyer and he is very knowledgeable." "He is a very good lawyer."

Kyle Hauberg leads the real estate and environmental department, advising on all aspects of commercial property matters. "He is a great lawyer, he has good knowledge in real estate and I hold him in the highest respect."

Michael Kurtzon is a real estate financing specialist known for his work with big-name lenders. His capabilities include syndication, structuring and collateralization.

Andrew Scott has built a noteworthy practice representing developers in land use and zoning matters. He also assists corporate clients with negotiating government entitlements and tax incentives for the development of corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities. "He is a smart guy and he is very well regarded - I have always recommended him."