Attorney Intel is pleased to announce The 25 Notable Attorneys of Michigan for 2023. While the state is well-known by many for its beautiful Great Lakes shorelines, what’s been pivotal to developing it as a major economic force is being the center of the nation’s automotive industry. The state has the 14th largest economy in the U.S., which is driven by advanced manufacturing, life sciences, professional and corporate services, tech, engineering, design, and development. Michigan has a wide variety of attorneys who are experts across this range of industries. This year’s awardees represent some of the most renowned law firms in the U.S. and the biggest companies in the world, such as Carhartt, Google, and General Motors.
Among this year’s awardees is Cyrus Vance Jr., Partner at Baker McKenzie, who served three consecutive four-year terms as the Manhattan District Attorney. Awardee Amanda Rice, Partner at Jones Day, played a primary role in drafting many Supreme Court merits briefs, several successful petitions for certiorari, and a number of significant amicus briefs. Also awarded is Randy Vaas, Patent Attorney at Google, who’s dedicated his entire career to patent law.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The 25 Notable Attorneys of Michigan for 2023.
Senior Counsel, General Motors
Onika Celestine is Senior Counsel at The General Motors Company. General Motors is the largest automaker in the U.S. Celestine is responsible for providing legal advice to senior leaders and technology buyers in the areas of information security, technology, purchasing, and strategic commercial transactions. During her 20-year tenure at the company, she held various roles of increasing responsibility, first joining as a Privacy Manager before going on to become an Attorney and eventually Counsel.
Celestine graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law with a JD and from The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business with an MBA.
Attorney, Ford Motor Credit Company
Jessica Zacharski is the Attorney of Ford Motor Credit Company LLC, the financial services arm of Ford Motor Company. The predominant share of Ford Credit's business consists of financing Ford and Lincoln vehicles and supporting Ford and Lincoln dealers. Zacharski oversees the safety and regulatory arm of the company. She first joined the company in 2014, originally overseeing product litigation and discovery.
Zacharski graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a JD and from the University of Michigan with an undergraduate degree in political science, communication studies, as well as Latin American and Caribbean studies.
Attorney, U.S. Bank
Shaquari Everson is the Attorney of U.S. Bank, an American bank holding company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and incorporated in Delaware. It is the parent company of the U.S. Bank National Association and is the fifth-largest banking institution in the country. Everson joined the U.S. Bank in 2022. She specializes in litigation, banking and finance, and mortgage banking foreclosure law.
Previously, Everson was an Associate Attorney at Varnum LLP. Before this, she was a Banking and Finance Associate at Miller Canfield, where she represented financial institutions in asset-based lending transactions. Earlier in her career, she was a Summer Associate at Dykema and a Judicial Intern to the Honorable Judge Denise Page Hood for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Everson graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a JD and an undergraduate degree in French and English from the University of Michigan.
Partner, Baker McKenzie
Cyrus Vance Jr. is a Partner at Baker McKenzie. He’s a part of the firm’s North American litigation and government enforcement practice and global investigations, compliance, and ethics practice. Vance also serves as the Global Chair of the cybersecurity practice.
Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Vance served three consecutive four-year terms as the Manhattan District Attorney. In this role, he oversaw a team of more than 600 prosecutors handling landmark criminal prosecutions and more than 100,000 cases each year. This includes investigations and prosecutions of complex, high-profile white-collar and business crimes in the U.S. and internationally. He also coordinated with global crime-fighting partners, including the City of London Police, the Paris Prosecutors’ Office, the Singapore Attorney General, Europol, and Interpol. Vance is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Throughout his career, he has been a visible and vocal advocate on a range of justice issues. He is a sought-after speaker and author and has testified multiple times before the U.S. Congress and state agencies. Vance graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center and Yale University with a bachelor's degree in history.
Patent Attorney, Google
Randy Vaas is a Patent Attorney at Google. Before joining Google, Vaas spent over 23 years at Motorola, where he was most recently a Lead Patent Operations Counsel for mobile devices. Before that, he was an Associate and Patent attorney at Price, Heneveld, Cooper, DeWitt, and Litton. Earlier in his career, he worked as a Patent Examiner with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Vaas graduated from The George Washington University Law School with a JD and from Michigan Technological University with an undergraduate degree in electrical and electronics engineering.
Partner, Kirkland and Ellis LLP
Rory Wellever is a Partner in the technology and IP transactions practice group in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. His practice focuses on intellectual property, media, technology, and commercial transactions. With a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) credential from IAPP, he’s able to advise clients regarding the collection, use, transfer, and monetization of data, including online, internet of things (IoT), and cross-border arrangements. With a background in the entertainment industry, Wellever also counsels clients in matters involving new and emerging media, entertainment, and publishing matters, including music, film, television, literature, marketing, and advertising.
Previously, Wellever was a Partner at Honigman LLP and an Associate at Mayer Brown. Earlier in his career, he helped oversee Music Publishing and Royalty Administration at Epitaph Records. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a JD and Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in social relations.
Attorney, Consumers Energy
Don D'Amato is an Attorney at Consumers Energy. He first joined the company in 2015. Consumers Energy is an investor-owned utility company providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million people in Michigan.
Previously, D'Amato was an associate at Clark Hill PLC. Before that, he was an Associate at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP. D'Amato earned a JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law and an undergraduate degree in biology from Tulane University.
Chief Compliance Officer and Deputy General Counsel, International Automotive Components
Michael Qaqish is the Chief Compliance Officer and Deputy General Counsel of International Automotive Components. International Automotive Components (IAC) is a leading global supplier of automotive components and systems. Qaqish first joined the company in 2017 as an Associate General Counsel.
Previously, Qaqish was Corporate Counsel at SYNCREON. Before that, he was Corporate Counsel at NSK Americas, Inc, providing legal advice to the management team on issues arising from domestic and international transactions. He's also served as Corporate Counsel at the Bartech Group and In-House Attorney at Clear Blue. Earlier in his career, he was a Legal Intern to Chief Justice Clifford Taylor in the Michigan Supreme Court. Qaqish earned a JD from Wayne State University Law School and an undergraduate degree in finance from Michigan State University.
Partner, Jones Day
Louie Gabel is a Partner at Jones Day. Gabel frequently appears before boards of directors and audit committees and advises senior leadership on potential civil and criminal matters. He also leads investigations of alleged misconduct by senior executives and high-ranking officials at public institutions. In addition to his work with Jones Day, he serves on the Local Rule Advisory Committee for the Eastern District of Michigan. This is a committee of lawyers advising federal judges on revisions to the local litigation rules.
Before joining Jones Day, Gabel was an Assistant United States Attorney in Detroit. In this role, he successfully prosecuted national leaders of a violent motorcycle club, one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in Michigan history, international gun traffickers, and corrupt Detroit police officers. He also has successfully briefed and argued multiple appeals before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before this, Gabel was the DOJ's Resident Legal Advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh, where he helped revise Bangladesh's Anti-Terrorism Act. Gabel graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a JD and John Carroll University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and management.
Partner, Jones Day
Amanda Rice is a Partner at Jones Day. She’s also the Detroit Office's pro bono partner. Rice has played a primary role in drafting many Supreme Court merits briefs, several successful petitions for certiorari, and a number of significant amicus briefs. Her experience in the U.S. The Supreme Court led to her being appointed to brief and argue an important Fourth Amendment question in Lange v. California. She has also drafted dozens of winning briefs filed in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, state appellate courts, and trial courts across the country. Rice’s practice covers a broad range of substantive areas, including constitutional law, statutory interpretation, arbitration issues, Title IX questions, and class actions.
Rice was previously an Adjunct Professor at Wayne State University Law School and the University of Michigan Law School. Before this, she was a Law Clerk to Justice Elena Kagan in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Partner, Holland & Knight LLP
Katherine Markel is a Partner at Holland & Knight office. Markel focuses her practice on mergers and acquisitions. She represents acquirers and targets from a wide range of industries, including software services, information technology, government contracts, and professional trades. In addition to her M&A practice, she counsels clients on commercial transactions and general corporate and securities matters, including private placements and venture capital investments.
She previously served as an Associate General Counsel at the University of Michigan. She negotiated information technology and procurement contracts and managed governance and conflict of interest matters, among other practice areas. Before this, she served as the Director of Legal Affairs and Compliance for Identity Digital (previously known as Donuts) and as Attorney at Law at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP. Markel graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a JD, cum laude, and Whitman College with a bachelor’s degree in politics and philosophy.
Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, La-Z-Boy Incorporated
Uzma Ahmad is the Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of La-Z-Boy Inc. She’s responsible for corporate and securities law for the company and works closely with the La-Z-Boy Board of Directors on corporate governance matters. She first joined the company in 2019 as Senior Director of Corporate Law and Assistant Secretary.
Ahmad first got her start in 1994 as a Corporate and Securities Associate at Dechert LLP. From there, she went on to Dykema Gossett PLLC, where she was a Corporate Finance AssociateCorporate. She eventually became the VP, Deputy General Counsel, and Assistant Secretary of Con-way Inc. before joining La-Z-Boy Incorporated. Ahmad graduated from Harvard Law School with a JD and an undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard University.
Vice President and General Counsel, Carhartt
Anna Inch is the Vice President and General Counsel of Carhartt. Inch provides comprehensive global legal support and leads Carhartt's corporate compliance initiatives as well as its social compliance team. She first joined Carhartt in 2012 as the Director of Legal Affairs before going on to become Senior Director of Legal and Compliance in 2016.
Before joining Carhartt, Inch was a VP of Legal at Entertainment Publications, LLC, and a Senior Contract Negotiator and Manager at Electronic Data Systems. Inch graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law with a JD and from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with an undergraduate degree in advertising.
Partner, McGuireWoods LLP
Gretchen Townshend is a Partner at McGuireWoods LLP. She’s been with the firm for over 16 years. Townshend’s practice focuses on corporate healthcare transactional work and regulatory matters. She represents various types of healthcare providers, including hospitals, multi and single-specialty medical practices, ambulatory surgery centers, and a variety of healthcare industry entrepreneurs.
Following law school, Townshend clerked for the Honorable Henry Lee Adams, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and the Honorable Frederick Martone of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. She also served as an extern for the Honorable Philip Simon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Townshend graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a JD and from Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in politics and government.
General Counsel, SRG Global
Todd Roeser is the General Counsel of SRG Global. SRG Global is an engineering-led global specialist asset service, mining services, and construction group built to solve complex problems across the entire asset lifecycle. Roeser first joined the company in 2012 as Legal Director.
Previously, Roeser was an Assistant General Counsel at Guardian Industries Corp. Before that, he was Corporate Counsel at Freudenberg-NOK. Earlier in his career, he worked with Miller Canfield as an Associate of the corporate and international law group. Roeser earned a JD from the University of Michigan Law School and an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan.
Partner, Gordon and Rees LLP
Katherine Musbach is a Partner at Gordon and Rees LLP. Her practice is focused on cybersecurity, commercial litigation, insurance coverage, and bank litigation. She regularly represents domestic and international insurers in coverage disputes across the country, emphasizing fidelity bonds, commercial crime policy, and cyber claims. She investigates allegations of employee dishonesty, vendor fraud, and cybercrime to advise clients on coverage issues and recovery opportunities. As a result of her investigatory work, clients have successfully negotiated settlements and pursued litigation for losses involving compromised email accounts, hacked payment processing systems, and defective technology.
She was previously at the U.S. Department of Justice as a Legal Intern in the Civil Rights Division of the Office of Special Counsel. Prior to law school, she taught third grade with Teach For America in Phoenix. Musbach received a JD, cum laude, from Duke University School of Law and a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.
General Counsel, Saginaw Valley State University
Ellen Crane is the General Counsel of Saginaw Valley State University. Crane is part of The Office of the General Counsel and represents Saginaw Valley State University and the Board of Control. She joined Saginaw Valley State University in 2018 as the Director of Human Resources and transitioned to the General Counsel position in 2019.
Before joining Saginaw Valley State University, Crane was an attorney at Braun Kendrick Finkbeiner PLC for over 22 years. In private practice, she counseled private and public sector employers in a variety of industries in their employee relations challenges, including managing leaves of absence, handling claims of harassment and discrimination, and representing employers in labor relations. Crane graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a JD and an undergraduate degree in economics from Albion College.
Partner, Faegre Drinker
Mallory Korpalski is a Partner at Faegre Drinker. She’s spent over 15 years at the firm. In her practice, she guides corporate clients through complex transactions, counsels on corporate governance matters, and advises on day-to-day business needs. Korpalski represents buyers, sellers, and management in M&A transactions of varying size and complexity across multiple industries, including chemicals, manufacturing, medical devices, oil and gas, alcoholic beverages, and food and agriculture.
Previously, she was a Summer Associate at Dickinson Wright PLLC. Korpalski graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a JD and a Bachelor of Science in agribusiness management from Michigan State University.
Partner, Troutman Pepper
Matt Rupp is a Partner at Troutman Pepper. Rupp works with partners in the corporate, health science, and technology practice areas on private equity and mergers and acquisitions issues. Rupp also represents privately held and publicly traded corporations in connection with a variety of corporate matters, including strategic mergers and other acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, financings, corporate governance, securities law disclosure and compliance matters, and executive compensation.
Previously, he was a Partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP in Chicago, where he spent over nine years. Rupp graduated from the University of Michigan with a JD and a Bachelor of Arts.
Partner, Barnes and Thornburg
Scott Murphy is a Partner in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Barnes & Thornburg LLP office. He serves as Vice Chair of the firm’s construction law practice group. He is also a member of the firm’s commercial litigation practice group, where he concentrates his practice on business torts, contract disputes, and securities fraud, as well as shareholder oppression claims. As a seasoned litigator, Murphy has experience in numerous forums, including state and federal courts, arbitration tribunals, and appellate courts. His clients range from Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, and municipalities to individual business owners, shareholders, and investors.
Murphy was named on the Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Stars list and has received recognition in Best Lawyers since 2013 for his work in commercial and construction litigation. Before joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP, he was an Associate at Dickinson Wright PLLC and McGuireWoods. Murphy graduated from Florida State University with a JD and Northern Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in political science.
General Counsel, Shape Corp.
Aida Tanaka is the General Counsel of Shape Corp. The company is a global full-service supplier of lightweight steel, aluminum, plastic, composite and hybrid solutions. Tanaka joined Shape Corp. in 2016.
Tanaka first got her start in 1989 as a trial lawyer at Bronson, Bronson, and Mckinnon. From there, she went on to Navistar, where she spent over 19 years. She eventually joined Autocar, LLC/GVW Group LLC as Vice President of Distributor Development, her most recent position prior to joining Shape Corp. Tanaka graduated from Cornell Law School with a JD, the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law with an LLM in information technology law, and Case Western Reserve University with an undergraduate degree.
Partner, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
Evonne Xu is a Partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP. She counsels clients across the world on corporate matters of all sizes, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances, finance, stock acquisitions, and sales. She also counsels commercial clients on issues vital to their business, such as contracts, real estate transactions, distribution agreements, licensing agreements, and supply agreements. Fluent in English and Chinese, Xu assists Chinese companies operating throughout the U.S. as well as companies in the U.S. conducting business throughout China.
Previously, she spent eight years at Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC as an Attorney and Counselor. Before this, she was the Vice-Director of the Membership Office, Asian Practice Committee at the New York County Lawyers' Association. Xu graduated from Fordham University School of Law with an LLM, cum laude, and Shanghai University School of Law with an LLB.
General Counsel, Toyoda Gosei Americas
Omar Sawaf is the General Counsel of The Toyoda Gosei Group. The company is a leading global manufacturer of rubber and plastic automotive components, safety systems, and LEDs. Sawaf advises the group on commercial, corporate, litigation, and regulatory matters.
Before joining Toyoda Gosei Americas, Sawaf was an Attorney at Berry Moorman P.C. Prior to this, he was a Senior Associate at Herbert Smith Freehills. Earlier in his career, he worked with Howrey LLP as an Associate. Sawaf graduated from The George Washington University Law School with a JD and from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law with a master’s degree in tax law and taxation.
Partner, Clark Hill PLC
Andrew Richner advises clients on matters of governmental law and policy. Richner focuses on campaign finance, elections, and federal tax laws in the political law space. He provides in-depth analysis and advice for clients wishing to form and operate political action committees, ballot question committees, and tax-exempt organizations engaged in political and social welfare activity.
Richner’s background as an elected official for 27 years is the foundation for his success. He served as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan from 2003 through 2018, including two years as Chairman of the Board. He holds the honorific title of Regent Emeritus. Before this, he was a member of the Michigan State House of Representatives. Murphy was one of the most productive legislators during his three terms in the legislature, sponsoring 49 bills that became public acts. Richner graduated from the University of Michigan with a JD and bachelor's degree in business administration.
Partner, ArentFox Schiff
Evgeny (Gene) Magidenko is a Partner at ArentFox Schiff. Magidenko brings a strategic perspective to his clients’ matters, whether they involve tax counseling or disputes with the IRS, by drawing on his breadth of experience in the field. He also advises both for-profit businesses and tax-exempt organizations on a wide array of organizational and operational matters at all stages of their life cycles.
Before joining ArentFox Schiff, Magidenko worked in the Ann Arbor office of a large Detroit firm, where his practice focused on estate planning and tax matters. Prior to this, he was at a Washington D.C. law firm, where he advised companies on tax planning, international tax compliance, and tax aspects of domestic and cross-border transactions. He previously clerked for the Honorable David Laro at the U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C. Magidenko graduated from the New York University School of Law with an LLM in taxation and the University of Michigan with a JD and a bachelor's degree in public policy.