Legal People ...

The partners of Varnum LLP are pleased to welcome Erin Morgan Klug to the firm.

Klug joins the Intellectual Property Team in the firm’s Novi office.  She focuses her practice in both patent and trademark procurement to develop both domestic and international intellectual property strategies. Klug works with a wide range of clients from large companies to solo entrepreneurs. She has experience in both mechanical and electrical arts including automotive, chassis systems, brake assemblies, packaging, medical devices, consumer goods, mobile applications, sensors and control systems.

Klug regularly prepares license agreements, clearance opinions, novelty opinions and infringement opinions as well as assisting clients with copyright matters and IP litigation.

Klug is admitted to practice before the state courts of Michigan, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

She earned her B.S. from the University of Michigan and her law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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The Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), serving Washtenaw and Livingston Counties, recently announced it will honor attorney Deborah LaBelle on Thursday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Ann Arbor City Club, 1830 Washtenaw Ave.

This event is the 17th annual event honoring individuals who have demonstrated commitment to the just and humane resolution of social conflict in the community. This year’s award is the first to be named The Impact Award. The event also serves as the primary fundraiser for the non-profit Dispute Resolution Center.

LaBelle has a longstanding commitment to providing justice for juveniles, an ongoing focus of the DRC. In addition to her private practice, LaBelle is the director of the Juvenile Life without Parole Initiative of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan and coordinator of Michigan’s Juvenile Mitigation Access Committee.

LaBelle’s firm is handling approximately 100 cases of juveniles convicted of life sentences.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that sentencing a person under 18 to life in prison without parole constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The annual Dispute Resolution Center Spring Event is also an opportunity to learn about how the DRC’s mediation, facilitation and restorative justice efforts support the community and contribute to a better quality of life in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties.

Sponsorship opportunities for The Dispute Resolution Center Spring Event are available. Event tickets cost $100 with all proceeds to benefit the DRC. For more information, call 734-794-2125 or visit

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Brian McKeen,
managing partner of McKeen & Associates of Detroit, ( spoke at the Michigan Association of Justice (MAJ) 71st Annual Seminar on Friday, April 15. 

The seminar theme was “New Ways to Succeed,” and McKeen, MAJ president elect, spoke about cross-examination.

The day-long seminar featured speakers and panel discussions from law firms throughout Michigan. It was held at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit.

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Felicia M. Thomas
has been appointed assistant dean of student affairs at Wayne State University Law School.

Thomas had served as director of student affairs and diversity initiatives since May 2014. In her new role, which was effective this month, she will continue to serve as director of diversity initiatives.

The Student Affairs office helps students navigate their law school years by assisting with a range of academic, personal, and professional issues. The office oversees academic and non-academic advising, bar exam preparation programs, special needs accommodations, and student organizations.

Thomas joined Wayne Law in October 2006, splitting her time as a counselor in the Career Services office and as director of academic success in what is now the Student Affairs office. She came to Wayne Law after more than three years as a law clerk for the Wayne County Circuit Court Civil Division.

From September 2007 to May 2014, she worked in the law school’s Admissions office, becoming director of recruitment and enrollment. During the 2011-12 academic year, she served as interim dean of students.

She is a member of the Law School Workgroup of the State Bar of Michigan Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee and State Bar of Michigan Character and Fitness Committee (District H), advisory board member and teacher for the WSU Office of Community Engagement’s College JumpStart program, and facilitator for the Detroit Public Schools/Neighborhood Legal Services Mock Trial Tournament.

Thomas earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 2002. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in English and African-American studies.

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Farmington Hills-based Fabian, Sklar, & King PC, a law firm focused on representing homeowners and business owners in fire injury, explosion, and property-
damage cases, announced that Rabih Hamawi has joined its team of nationally recognized attorneys. Michael Fabian, founding shareholder of the firm, made the announcement.

Hamawi earned his law degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

Hamawi holds licenses in Property, Casualty, Life, Accident, and Health insurance. He is a Licensed multiple lines Property and Casualty, Life, Accident, and Health Insurance Counselor (LIC). He earned the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®), Certified Insurance Consultant (CIC), and Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designations. He previously served as managing principal for the Universe Financial Group, an insurance and financial services agency, where he managed two offices and built a multi-million-dollar book of business.

While in law school, he interned for U.S. Distrcit Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara, Eastern District of Michigan. He also interned for the United States Department of Justice in the United States Attorney’s Office in Detroit.

Hamawi is bilingual and fluent in Arabic as well.

Prior to attending law school, Hamawi earned a master’s degree in finance (MSF) with a concentration in financial planning from Walsh College in Troy, and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B, with high honors) from the Lebanese University, Faculty of Law and Political Science.

Hamawi is an adjunct professor teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Personal and Corporate Finance, Risk Management, and Insurance and Financial Planning  at the University of Phoenix, Davenport University, and Southern New Hampshire University.

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Kathy Swedlow
will soon join the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS) as its deputy administrator, announced Dawn Van Hoek, Michigan’s appellate defender.

Currently a professor of law at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Swedlow has diverse legal experience that she brings to MAACS, including service as co-director of Cooley’s Innocence Project, and acting assistant dean of students. Work as a staff attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits led her to the Defender Association of Philadelphia’s Federal Court Division, where she represented death?sentenced prisoners in post?conviction challenges filed in state and federal courts. Widely published in legal journals, Swedlow has contributed significantly to legal scholarship on DNA testing and evidence.

Swedlow joins MAACS as it enters a second year under the leadership of Brad Hall, who became administrator in January of 2015. MAACS administers the
assignment of appellate counsel in approximately 2500 criminal cases each year, maintaining a roster of 150 private assigned counsel who are trained and supervised in the work. Working closely with trial courts and counties, which pay private assigned counsel, Hall has led efforts to streamline the assignment process, reduce delays, improve access to record development, and improve attorney fees. Innovative pilot projects in the areas of case management and appellate investigation are underway, with results to be reported in the fall of 2016.

The MAACS office is joined by the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) in providing counsel to all indigent criminal defendants seeking appeal of their convictions and sentences: state?funded, SADO represents approximately 25% of the statewide total. An Administrative Order of the Michigan Supreme Court merged MAACS and SADO for management purposes in 2014, allowing Appellate Defender Van Hoek to more effectively provide resources to both private counsel and appellate defenders.

MAACS and SADO are overseen by a governor-appointed body, the Appellate Defender Commission, led by former State Bar of Michigan President Thomas Cranmer.