About Ellen Piligian

Ellen Piligian Articles written 10

Articles written by Ellen Piligian

The Low-Key Litigator

Keefe Brooks stays calm in the courtroom

One of the most memorable cases of Keefe Brooks’ career centered on a 1997 fire in William Beaumont Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. The fire, caused by a medical procedure done inside an oxygen tent, burned the head and face of a child who was born with severe developmental disabilities associated with premature birth, including poor lung function and cerebral palsy. The question was whether injuries from the fire caused any of the disabilities. The hospital’s representatives …

David Kotzian Shoots From the Hip

The employment law attorney prides himself on being straightforward with clients and colleagues

In 2000, after 15 years of practicing employment law at a large firm, David Kotzian, then about 40, entered a mild midlife crisis. Nothing major, he insists. But he did get a tattoo. “I kept it professional,” says the conservative-looking lawyer, his gray-flecked hair and mustache accenting his ensemble of gray slacks, gray-and-white striped shirt and gray tie, as he sits in his simply appointed office in Farmington Hills, while gesturing to the phoenix tattoo on his right arm above the …

Tell Aviv

To Joseph Aviv, positive word-of-mouth speaks louder than academic accolades

A childhood memory haunts Joseph Aviv. Growing up in Manhattan, he was about 8 years old when he auditioned at the Juilliard School to study classical piano as an elementary school student. There he was, in this large auditorium packed with applicants and their parents, “all of whom were hoping you’d screw up,” Aviv says. On stage sat a massive grand piano, beyond which a half-dozen faculty members sat with pads of paper and pencils poised to judge his every move. When they called his …

Heart of the Matter

To George Googasian, every case is personal        

George Googasian has had his share of publicity and hefty personal injury verdicts. But those are not the cases that come to mind when he thinks about why he became an attorney more than 40 years ago. He likes to reflect on a case from around 1966, before he became a full-fledged plaintiff's attorney. It involved an Oakland County physician from Argentina who was called to military duty in the United States. The doctor declined to serve, believing he had reasonable cause: His wife was pregnant, …

The Grand Plan

To Richard Victor, nothing can take the place of a grandparent        

The black-and-white photo on the wall of Richard S. Victor's spacious second-floor office in Bloomfield Hills is easy to miss, surrounded as it is by dozens of framed articles and photos (Victor with Oprah, Victor with Katie Couric, Victor with his family), not to mention awards and plaques too numerous to count. The image—of Victor's father holding Daniel, Victor's then-18-month-old son—is directly opposite his desk, right where it's been for the three decades Victor has practiced law, …

The "Aw, Shucks" Lawyer

David Christensen, a knight of the Order of the Dannebrog, hasn’t lost the common touch

David Christensen is not one to brag, but even he has to admit one of the most gratifying moments of his career was winning a verdict against General Motors in 1999.  At the time, Christensen, a formidable personal injury lawyer with Charfoos & Christensen in Detroit, had his doubts. Given the automotive giant’s unlimited resources, he says, “I had no confidence I could win. The odds were against me.” Moreover, adds Mary Pat Rosen, his associate of 20 years who worked with him on the …

The Good Fight

Lisa Gleicher's victory for cancer patients

Medical malpractice attorney Elizabeth “Lisa” Gleicher is not the type to seek out the limelight, but it found her in 2001 when the State Bar of Michigan honored her as a Champion of Justice. Gleicher had achieved a major victory for cancer patients, specifically Michigan women suffering from breast cancer: the right to have their insurance carriers pay for stem cell transplants.  The pro bono case began with one woman in the early 1990s. “Word got out,” says Gleicher, who found …

Order in the Chorus

Justin Klimko’s musical parodies target most everyone

By day, Justin Klimko handles mega-deals, like the recent  $50 million sale of a U.S.-based defense contracting firm to an Israeli buyer. But by night—about a dozen times a year—Klimko, a corporate transactions attorney at Butzel Long in Detroit, takes aim at the legal profession and just about everyone else as a member of A (Habeas) Chorus Line, a musical parody troupe.  As the group’s sole lyricist, Klimko has penned such remakes as “That Old BlackBerry” (performed to “That Old …

Nina's World

The world’s leading real estate lawyer, Nina Matis, cuts through the crap

What does it take to be the leading real estate lawyer—not only in the state, not only in the country, but in the whole freaking world? Nina Matis, the current champion (according to the 2006 Who’s Who Legal Awards), doesn’t have a clue. Matis, 59, admits that even she is flabbergasted by her career. She’s a partner in her firm, Katten Muchin Rosenman, and a member of its executive committee and board of directors. She’s also general counsel and executive vice president at …

Get Your Motor Runnin'

Jennifer Kent went in-house with the most famous motorcycle company in the world

A few months into her new job as corporate counsel for Harley-Davidson Motor Company in Milwaukee, Jennifer Kent discovered just how passionate people are about the place. It was Labor Day weekend in 2003 and the company was celebrating its 100th anniversary. “People were getting married and renewing their wedding vows in our parking lot,” says Kent, amazed. “It was a great introduction to the company.”   Kent, 35, who’d held her previous job as assistant U.S. attorney in Wisconsin …

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