Giving Back

“Rich is a professional of high integrity… he is a caring person, concerned with social issues and helping those who suffer.”
Entrepreneur and executive in high-tech international manufacturing

Among the motivations for launching a solo practice in 2012 was the flexibility to invest my skills into pro bono and nonprofit ventures with a worthy purpose and proven achievement.

When The Barn for Equine Learning was victimized by arson, with the tragic loss of all thirteen specially trained therapy horses, structural and personal property, and equipment, I volunteered to oversee insurance and legal issues so the owners could better focus on rebuilding. (If you’d like to join me in supporting their work, learn more at their website here; you can also follow them on Facebook.)

 

  • United Way of West Michigan, past service on four Campaign Cabinets
  • The Barn for Equine Learning, volunteer and legal counsel
  • St. John Hospital, Detroit, Michigan; past member of Medical Ethics Committee
  • Ada Congregational Church, former member of Board of Trustees, Chair of Board of Deacons, Chair of Stewardship Committee

It is indeed a small world where our son Jason’s work making a documentary about occupational health issues in Central America intersected with litigation involving a firm client in foreign jurisdictions. To avoid any appearance of impropriety, I separated myself from both sides of any potential controversy.

From this experience, I ultimately decided to leave the large-firm platform so I could in the future and without conflict assist the clients I choose to represent.

Now, I provide counsel to La Isla Network, a foundation Jason created in 2008 to assist a Nicaraguan community of sugarcane workers afflicted by a little-known epidemic of kidney failure (CKDu). Through his efforts, this invisible epidemic has been identified in tropical agricultural areas throughout the world, has attracted international attention, and its cause and course for prevention have crystallized. For this work, Jason was recognized as a Tällberg Foundation Global Leader in 2015. If you’d like to learn more about the La Isla Foundation, this work, and how you might support it, you can do so through their website.

 

  • Advisor and counsel to La Isla Network
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), former Board Member, Executive Committee, and Chair of Strategic Planning
  • Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts, former member of Capital Campaign Committee

Jason thanks his sister, Megan, for the introduction to the unique challenges of life in Nicaragua, where she had worked with fellow Wake Forest MBA students to establish a sustainable business model in a desperately poor neighborhood in Managua, earning her and a classmate a rarely bestowed Humanitarian Award upon graduation.

Megan now lives in Roswell, Georgia, with husband Eric and their always inspiring son, TJ, where she continues to support progressive and humanitarian causes.

We are proud to be so humbled by our children. My wife Linda, who provides essential administrative services for La Isla, and I are grateful for their example and contributions, and all they have taught us.

“I highly admire Rich’s integrity as both a lawyer and a person, particularly his genuine commitment to social awareness and to justice.” –Assistant general counsel, global accounting and consulting firm

  • Egypt Valley Country Club, Ada, Michigan, Board of Directors 2011-17; Club President 2015-17
  • Board of Directors, Powell Systems Inc., Youngstown, Ohio, Fowler, Indiana
  • Adjunct Professor of International Commercial Arbitration, Thomas M. Cooley School of Law 2009-2012

Our son notes that, while he tackles global public health crises in the Third World, I have spent countless hours on the First World problems of a 36-hole country club. It was never a personal goal to become immersed in private club governance, but it happened: from Legal Committee, to legal representation during a time of conflict and lawsuits, to election to Board of Directors for two 3-year terms, then back-to-back stints as President.

It was time well spent. Egypt Valley remains committed to inclusion and diversity, providing a unique venue for charitable outings. We resolved the conflicts, restored stability and civility, and became not only the most financially sound club in West Michigan, but have achieved profits on operations consistently since 2015.

I learned a lot. We accomplished our goals. I stressed a message of transparency, accountability, and unity. It has helped me be a better strategic thinker and problem solver.