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John Lichtenberg

"The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.... The law cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Common Law

Key Service Areas

  • Commercial and Business Litigation
  • Health Care Industry
  • Human Resource and Employment Law

616.233.5163

legal assistant - Becky Becktold

About John

How do you help businesses and individuals?

I work with business and health care clients, mainly helping them manage their relationships with their workers. This may involve developing contracts, bargaining agreements or benefit plans, guiding clients through the regulatory maze that now governs every aspect of the employment relationship, or handling investigations, arbitrations or litigation. I have extensive experience in complex commercial contract litigation and cases involving unfair competition, as well as defending class and collective action suits under state and federal law.

What skills help you advise the client and achieve the best results or outcomes?

I’ve learned from experience that my first job is to listen to the client. What are they trying to achieve? What problems or limitations stand in the way? How can those best be overcome or avoided? I can't solve a problem I don’t understand; and I can't answer a question I didn’t hear because I was talking. At my best, I'm a sounding board, offering practical advice grounded in over 35 years of legal experience. Whether in a conference room or a courtroom, I base my actions and advice on knowledge, reason and experience, not emotion or ego.

What case did you find the most rewarding to work on?

I had the rare privilege of writing the brief in a matter before the United States Supreme Court. The case concerned the scope of federal removal jurisdiction - an esoteric but important aspect of our federal judicial system. In most appellate cases you simply argue how the law as it is should apply to the facts of your case. Here, we got to argue to nine of the best legal minds in the country what the law should be. The Court unanimously agreed with our position, and the case now appears in law school text books.

Education

The Ohio State University College of Law, J.D., summa cum laude, 1980

Michigan State University, B.A., High Honors, 1975

Insights

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Q: Is it true that the client is always right?

A:

I like to think so. It is always the client’s right to choose how to proceed. Lawyers aren’t oracles; we’re advisors. If the client knows all the alternatives and knows what I know about the law, how can their decision be wrong for them even if it wasn’t the decision I recommended?

Associations

Grand Rapids Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section

State Bar of Michigan, Health Law and Labor and Employment Sections

American Bar Association, Health Law and Labor and Employment Sections

Alliance for Health, Former Chair of Evaluation Committee

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services Board of Directors (Chair of Compensation Committee, Member of Executive Committee and Governance Committee)

Pine Rest Foundation Board of Governors, Former President

Network 180, Former Board Chair

Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, Former Board Chair

The Economic Club of Grand Rapids

American Health Lawyers Association

Bar Admission

Michigan

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan

U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana

U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Sixth & Seventh Circuits

U.S. Supreme Court

Awards and Recognition

Martindale Hubbell Highest AV® Preeminent Rating

Michigan's Law and Politics, Super Lawyer, Employment and Labor

Leading LawyersSM

Best Lawyers of America®, Commercial and ERISA Litigation