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Alan S. Schwartz and Joel S. Adelman - "Changing The Guard"

October 11, 2002

Abrams, Alan. "Changing The Guard." Detroit Jewish News 11 Oct. 2002.

Alan S. Schwartz Will Succeed Joel Adelman As CEO At Honigman

For years, Alan S. Schwartz has been dispensing legal advice on business transition and succession planning. Now he's applying his specialty to his own career.

After nine years as vice chairman of Detroit-based Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, Schwartz will be succeeding Joel S. Adelman as chairman and CEO of the law firm on Jan. 1, 2003. (Alan S. Schwartz and Alan E. Schwartz, a founding partner at Honigman, are not related).

"At a time when there is really significant instability in many businesses, including the professions, we're rock solid. It's an evolution, not a revolution," said Alan S. Schwartz, referring to the change in command. Honigman is the third largest Detroit-based law firm. As CEO, Schwartz will supervise 191 other attorneys and 334 staff members working in three locations: downtown Detroit, Lansing and its Oakland County office in Bingham Farms.

"Late last year," said Adelman, "I began to think about a couple of things … After much soul searching, I concluded that I did not want to continue as CEO and that Alan would be absolutely the best person to succeed me.

"Being CEO of our firm is a very demanding job," said Adelman. "It is a heavy responsibility and it leaves little time for personal matters. I'll be 63 in October and I concluded that I needed to begin to devote more time to my family."

Adelman will continue at Honigman as vice chairman and assisting the new CEO. He will practice real estate law, but not full time. Adelman called his successor "an outstanding and widely recognized lawyer and leader. He will be a terrific chairman and CEO."

Lettuce To Law

Schwartz was born in Denver, where his father was stationed during World War II. But both sides of his family were in wholesale produce in Detroit. "My mother's family business was Simon & Leeman at the Eastern Market, and my father's company was Ben B. Schwartz and Sons."

Schwartz grew up in northwest Detroit, attending Bagley, Hampton and Mumford. At Congregation Shaarey Zedek, he was president of junior congregation. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1965 and Harvard Law School in 1968.

"I have had only one job in my entire career, having joined Honigman Miller that year," said Schwartz, who is 58. "My practice is as a business lawyer. I do general corporate and transitional work, such as if a client wants to sell his business. I work as a business and succession planner, family advisor and as a counselor," said Schwartz.

Schwartz's clients are lavish in their praise. Murray Pitt, co-founder and former owner of Murray's Discount Auto Stores, said Schwartz is "absolutely the greatest. I've been a client of his for maybe 10 years. He's smart, hardworking and most important, always available."

"I think he understands accounting as well as any accountant. He understands insurance as well as any insurance agent. And he understands taxes."

"Most important, his value system is the same as mine. He understands the dynamics of the family. I do not make any important decision without Alan Stuart Schwartz sitting there in the room – even down to what food to serve at a meeting. I admire him and respect him. I am awfully glad he is on my side."

Dan Gilbert, chairman of Livonia-based Quicken Loans and founder of its predecessor, Rock Financial Corp., said Schwartz "handled our company when we went public, when we had a merger with Intuit, when we sold it and the transaction when we bought it back. I think he's the best corporate lawyer in Michigan."

Civic Involvement

But there's a lot more to Schwartz. He was president of Shaarey Zedek from 1996 to 1998, served on the board of Farmington Hills-based JARC, is active in the Clover Hill Cemetery expansion in Birmingham and co-chairs a Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit committee. He is a former member of the board of Federation, and works closely with Federation Chief Executive Officer Robert Aronson.

Aronson called Schwartz "an active spokesman for the synagogue community in Detroit as well as for Shaarey Zedek. He is an absolute delight to work with. He is devoted to synagogue life and to the greater Jewish community.

"He is very effective in bringing to Federation people who are in a position to support Federation. He is a tremendous asset to the community and a personal friend."

Schwartz also serves as vice chairman of the Detroit-based Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, often working in tandem with Eugene Applebaum, founder of Arbor Drugs and a Bloomfield Hills philanthropist, and also a client.

Ed Levy Jr., president of the Detroit-based Edward C. Levy Co., the international construction metal production company, has also worked with Schwartz on Karmanos business, civic affairs and pro-Israel causes. He called Schwartz "diligent, caring and a deeply involved person when it comes to any volunteer activity in which he is engaged."

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