Dykema Launches New National Trial Team

Monday, March 10, 2014 - 15:53

Dykema has announced the formation and launch of its new National Trial Team – a group of experienced trial lawyers who have tried hundreds of cases to verdict. 

The 27 lawyers on Dykema’s National Trial Team, resident in firm offices in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Washington, DC, have taken over 650 cases to verdict, including 94 in the past five years alone. This 27-member team has tried cases covering a wide range of practice areas from product liability to intellectual property, antitrust, securities, employment, and every form of business litigation, as well as across all major industries from automotive to pharmaceutical, aviation, healthcare, financial services, computer technology, entertainment and telecommunications.

Beyond mere numbers, Dykema National Trial Team members have tried some of the biggest cases in the country, including most recently, Westgate Ford Truck Sales, on Behalf of Itself and a Class of Ford Medium and Heavy Duty Truck Dealers vs. Ford Motor Company (Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Cleveland, Ohio), in which members obtained a favorable defense verdict in the retrial of a class action where the original trial (handled by another firm) had resulted in a $2.2 billion verdict.

Dan Stephenson, Los Angeles-based member of the firm and leader of the Dykema National Trial Team, notes “with fewer cases going to trial all the time, fewer lawyers know how to try cases. The result is that today, many large firms have good litigators but they have little trial experience. Our team has such deep bench strength that, even with minimum advance notice, we can be ready to take any case to trial – anywhere, anytime.” Mr. Stephenson, an accomplished trial attorney with over 30 years of experience as a Dykema litigator, once secured a favorable defense verdict for an airframe manufacturer in the biggest case the State of Michigan has ever seen – an airplane disaster trial that lasted 18 months.

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Dykema has announced that two of its Ann Arbor-based attorneys – James M. Cameron, Jr., office managing member, and Heidi Naasko, national pro bono and diversity counsel – have been named recipients of the Washtenaw County Bar Association’s Third Annual Pro Bono/Public Service Award. The award was presented February 27, 2014 at the Association’s 26th Annual Bar Revue and Silent Auction.

The Pro Bono/Public Service Award is bestowed annually to a lawyer or organization that has made significant contributions to pro bono and/or public service work. Mr. Cameron and Ms. Naasko were recognized as having demonstrated exemplary and long-standing commitment to providing legal representation and counsel to those who otherwise would be denied access to justice, and for extraordinary service to the community.

Mr. Cameron, a commercial litigator, has practiced law for more than three-and-a-half decades, all with Dykema. In addition to leading the firm’s Ann Arbor office, Mr. Cameron has tried numerous product liability and medical malpractice cases on behalf of manufacturers and hospitals, is experienced in a broad array of commercial matters, has handled numerous commercial and constitutional cases for public school districts and public universities, and works closely with corporate clients on business plans, contract negotiation and litigation prevention counseling.

Mr. Cameron has served a variety of civic, community and professional organizations over the years. His lifelong commitment to education manifests itself in having served on the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation (former director and chair), the Michigan Teacher Tenure Commission (former member and chair), the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education (former trustee), as well as currently serving as member of the Board of Trustees of the EMU Foundation (the nonprofit corporation that manages funds on behalf of Eastern Michigan University).

He has also served on the Board of Trustees, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals for Scio Township. He currently serves as chairperson and board member, State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board, and is a member of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court Mediation Panel.

As national pro bono counsel, Ms. Naasko administers Dykema’s program that leverages the firm’s resources – in its 13 offices, coast to coast – to satisfy the unmet legal needs of individuals and organizations in local communities. Ms. Naasko, often in partnership with Dykema’s business clients, has created and launched a variety of innovative pro bono initiatives. Among them are the following: a crisis clinic for Detroit-based nonprofits, aligning nonprofit organizations with law firm attorneys who together address and resolve legal and business issues that in some instances threaten the existence of these organizations; the Dykema Free Legal Aid Clinic, a program launched in Ferndale, Michigan, in which Dykema lawyers freely provide legal counsel to parents of students attending middle and high school, working on those issues that may impede a student’s success; and a statewide program – initiated in 2008 – that pairs attorneys with previously unrepresented abused or neglected immigrant children. Dykema, under Ms. Naasko’s direction, was the first major law firm to volunteer attorneys, develop and coordinate their training, and implement this effort.  

In addition to her leadership of the firm’s pro bono efforts, Ms. Naasko maintains a substantive poverty law practice and specializes in representing unaccompanied immigrant children who are victims of human trafficking. She also represents domestic violence survivors in divorce, child custody, immigration and personal protection matters.