Crain's Detroit Business Article Featuring Alex Parrish, Partner In The Corporate and Securities Department
Minority Business All-stars
Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn L.L.P.
2002 revenue: $89 million
Claim to fame: Led by Parrish, Honigman represents and advises 15 percent of companies listed in the Black Enterprise 100, plus many Hispanic, Native American and woman-owned enterprises. Sits on Honigman's management board.
Why he does what he does: "I decided to work in Detroit because Southeast Michigan has the highest concentration of minority businessmen and women in America. When I made partner, the timing was right. Minority firms were maturing and expanding and starting to be in need of the kinds of work we do in mergers, acquisitions and such."
When Alex Parrish joined Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn L.L.P. in 1985, he learned his trade by working with the big traditional clients of the firm, such as National Bank of Detroit, General Motors Corp. and major Detroit retailers. He soon decided that burgeoning opportunities for minority businesspeople meant a need for strong legal representation in that arena, too.
Parrish said he got the go-ahead to develop a minority business practice from senior firm members Jack Miller and Alan E. Schwartz after he made partner in 1989.
He still represents Fortune 500 corporations and large financial institutions, while developing what may be one of the largest high-end law practices in the country that focuses on minority- and women-owned businesses and the companies that want to do business with them.
Significant projects he has worked on include formation of Vitec L.L.C., Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C. and Renaissance Global Logistics L.L.C. and the recent acquisition of the Michigan Chronicle newspaper's parent company by a group of Chicago and Detroit investors.
"I get a thrill out of my clients being successful. When I walk into an office or manufacturing plant that I was involved in conceptually and now it's up and running, with scores of workers supporting their families, that's a thrill," Parrish said.
Bill Brooks, chairman, president and CEO of United American Healthcare Corp., said Parrish "deserves a lot of credit" for helping turn around what six years ago was a company in serious trouble. "We're upward bound now, thanks to counsel and support from Alex."
Parrish was born in Tennessee, grew up near the various U.S. Army bases where his father served, and received his undergraduate degree from Howard University.
His first Detroit exposure came after he graduated from Harvard Law School, when he clerked for Judge Damon Keith, now a senior judge at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in 1980-81.
Keith recalls being impressed with Parrish when they met while the judge was speaking at Harvard, and he offered him a clerkship on the spot. "Alex is very quiet, but tremendously bright,"
Keith said. "And he's not only smart, but blessed with common sense, good judgment and courage."
After Parrish spent four years in the U.S. Army as an assistant to the general counsel at the Pentagon, Keith recommended him to Alan E. Schwartz at Honigman.
Alan S. Schwartz, Honigman CEO, said he considers Parrish "a significant force in the business community, hugely trusted and esteemed by his clients."
- Robert Ankeny