University of Michigan Law School, J.D.
  • cum laude
Wayne State University, M.A.
Columbia University, B.A.
  • cum laude
University of Manchester
  • Ford Foundation Fellowship

Bar Admissions

Professional Affiliations

American College of Real Estate Lawyers, 2004-present

State Bar of Michigan

  • Real Property Law Section
    • Governing Council, Member, 1992-2002
  • Business Law Section

Judicial Conference of the Sixth Circuit

  • Life Member, 2002-present

University of Michigan Law School

  • Committee of Visitors, 1988-2008

Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association (DMBA)

  • Board of Directors, 2007-2010

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Detroit

  • Advisory Board, 2012-present

International Women's Forum – Michigan Chapter

  • Board of Directors, 2011-present

Real Estate Executive Council (REEC)

  • Board of Directors, 2012-present
News & Resources


Denise Lewis is a real estate attorney who concentrates her practice in representing national and regional developers in complex transactions that include public/private partnerships, urban redevelopment, and mixed-use development.

  • Handles multi-tiered transactions involving office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, single-family residential, hospitals, apartment complexes, and industrial facilities
  • Assists businesses in securing state and local incentives for development, including federal and state historic designation, tax abatement, and publicly assisted financing involving tax increment financing and private activity bonds
  • Represents clients in numerous transactions involving federal historic tax credits and new markets tax credits
  • Represents corporate borrowers, institutional lenders and major developers in loan transactions involving construction financing, bridge loans, permanent/end loans, and loan workouts
  • Handles, in the public finance area, numerous and diverse bond and note issues for underwriters and borrowers
  • Serves the firm as its Diversity Partner


McGregor Fund

  • Board of Trustees
    • Vice Chair, 2010-present

Public School Academies of Detroit (PSAD)

  • Board of Directors, 2011-present

Wayne State University Foundation

  • Board of Directors, 2012-present

St. John Providence Health System

  • Board of Trustees, 2011-2015

Detroit Zoological Society

  • Board Member, 1989-present

Invest Detroit

  • Investment Committee, 2005-present
  • Oversight Committee, 2014-present

DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital

  • Board Member, 1992-2010

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

  • Finance and Investment Committee, 2003-2011

Wayne State University

  • Board of Governors, 1993-2001
    • Chair
    • Vice Chair

News & Resources


Press Releases


Seminars & Events


  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2010-2020
    • Recognized in practice areas of:
      • Project Finance Law
      • Real Estate Law
  • Leading Lawyers Magazine Michigan, 2017
    • Recognized in practice areas of:
      • Land Use, Zoning & Condemnation Law
      • Public Finance Law
      • Real Estate Law: Commercial
      • Real Estate Law: Finance
    • Named as one of the:
      • Top 100 Leading Business Lawyers
      • Top 100 Leading Women Lawyers
  • DBusiness, Top Lawyers, 2010, 2013-2017, and 2019
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, 2006-2019
    • Named as one of the:
      • Top 50 Women Super Lawyers, 2006-2013, 2015, and 2016
      • Top 25 Women Business Super Lawyers, 2013 and 2015
      • Top 100 Super Lawyers, 2007-2010
  • Crain’s Detroit Business, Named as one of the “50 Names to Know in Real Estate," 2016
  • Savoy Magazine, Named one of the Most Influential Black Lawyers – Top Partners, 2015 
  • Listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2005-2013
    • Recognized as one of America's leading business lawyers in the Real Estate field in Michigan; Chambers USA states: 
      • 2013 – "Denise Lewis is a key player at the firm. She represents developers in a broad range of projects and has additional experience in the realm of real estate finance."
      • 2012 – "The 'accomplished and knowledgeable' Denise Lewis is known for representing significant corporations, national developers, municipalities and school districts in real estate matters. She is particularly experienced in investment incentives, loan transactions and workouts."
  • Honored by the Detroit Historical Society’s Black Historic Committee for her role as the first African American and first female director of the City of Detroit’s Personnel Department, 2011
  • Lawdragon
    • Recognized as a finalist, 2010
    • Lawdragon 500, Named in Leading Dealmakers in America list, 2007
  • Michigan Lawyers Weekly, Named as one of 20 Women in the Law, 2010
  • Presented with the "Powerful Women in the Legal Field" Award by the Rhonda Walker Foundation, October 2008
  • The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Award, Top Ten Michigan Business Woman, 2008
  • Michigan Chronicle, Women of Excellence Award, 2008
  • Black Women Contracting Association (BWCA), Named Best Attorney, 2005 Awardee
  • Crain's Detroit Business, Most Influential Women Leaders, 1997
  • Crain's Detroit Business, Outstanding Black Business Leaders, 1998

Academic Appointments

  • University of Detroit Mercy, Adjunct Faculty Member