February 2018 Newsletter

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Elaine Sawyer is a Co-Managing Partner and Secretary at Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C. She graduated from Oakland University and then attended Thomas Cooley Law School where she achieved her Juris Doctorate degree. Ms. Sawyer was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 1997. She was the President of the Sanilac County Bar Association for three years. She was nominated as the legislative representative to the 24th Circuit and sat as the Governor-appointed board member for the Sanilac County Department of Human Services and the Sanilac County Medical Care Facility. Currently, she is a member of the National Association of Professional Women.

Ms. Sawyer worked for a Plaintiff’s personal injury firm where she obtained vast experience in analyzing and handling auto-related claims for both first and third party litigation and workers’ compensation. She was also a partner in a general practice law firm for seven years that handled both civil and criminal cases. It was here that she gained her jury trial experience. With her eagerness to take cases to trial she obtained the best possible results with either better settlement offers or favorable awards from both juries and judges for clients.

In keeping with the firm’s Mission Statement, Ms. Sawyer’s no-nonsense approach and proven ability at trial to aggressively defend her client promotes the guiding principles that valid claims will be paid promptly, while fraudulent, inflated or contrived claims will be met with the most aggressive defense possible.

Welcome to 2018. We look forward to what this New Year will bring here at Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C. for our employees individually and for the firm. I want to thank Hewson & Van Hellemont employees for last year’s successes and for embracing changes to make this a great firm. Let me reflect a bit on what was accomplished in 2017.  

In 2017, we had the opportunity to bring Greg Hoelscher and his group of highly dedicated professionals into the fold of HVH. Not only were we able to increase our attorney based expertise in the area of No-Fault, but continued to increase our diversity in Bodily Injury, Property Protection and some Plaintiff work. As our firm continues to grow we still have an extended family environment with unending comradery.

Part of our growth included many changes with an increase of Partners and Shareholders. This helps the firm move into the future with a solid base and hopefully a clear succession for our younger associates moving forward. We were able to identify in 2017 that we need to continue our goal of diversification and worked toward that goal with our expansion. We need to forge ahead and provide support to our sister offices in both Grand Rapids and Florida. While we saw great expansion and additions of new talented attorneys in Grand Rapids we want to encourage that same expansion in Florida. At the end of 2017 we saw improvements in our billing numbers that we are carrying over to 2018.  

Your hard work ethic has earned HVH accolades from clients who have expressed appreciation for our hard work and dedication that ensures success for them. For us this is the daily way of working here and we at HVH appreciate your vision and concentrated efforts as we move forward.

So we start 2018 looking different than we did in January 2017. We are a stronger, a more diverse firm that persists and presses on toward cementing our reputation in the legal community and with our clients. Our 2018 goals continue to include, diversification, reputation for great trial attorneys, and hard work. We would like to expand in areas of business, workers’ compensation, property, estate planning and subrogation, just to mention a few.  

For our new attorneys in the profession, you have selected a firm that offers a tremendous array of different expertise in the profession. From research and writing to trial advocacy the opportunities for mentorship are unending. There is not one attorney, I’ve had the pleasure to work with at this firm, that isn’t willing to offer advice or answer any question. If you want to be a true litigator, this is the firm.  

I ask that each employee continue to reflect on how their daily work is a piece of the puzzle that meets the firm’s mission and provides the best service possible to our clients. As we progress into 2018 please look at ways to improve how you work, be efficient, how you deal with clients, be courteous and prompt, it is our personnel that make HVH synonymous with excellence in legal results and client support.

Staff Spotlight:
Words from Jason Jones

Jason is a Paralegal for Jim Hewson. In this capacity he does a lot of Trial preparation. It is very challenging because there are so many pieces to a file by the time it gets to trial, that it can be a daunting task to organize the file in a way that makes sense both to the attorney and to himself. Trials are always very fluid as there are so many moving parts. Anything from the judge’s ruling, the opposing counsel’s objection, the witness’s statement, or the jury’s reaction to testimony can quickly change the tenor of the case or the traction of a particular argument. Therefore, it is impossible to anticipate how a trial will progress day to day. That being said, anticipating where the trial is going is exactly what the paralegal must do. The paralegal must try to ascertain what exhibits, records, transcripts, or specific testimony the attorney needs a moment before he or she needs it. Juries and judges do not have patience for the attorney who is fumbling through an enormous stack of documents on their time. It is my sincere hope that I can help to mitigate the need for this so that the attorney can focus on presenting his or her case. Jason grew up in Troy, Michigan but went far from home to earn his Master’s Degree in Dublin, Ireland. Then he taught English in Krakow, Poland. His travels have taken him to Spain, France and the British Isles. Jason still has a lot of places in Europe he wants to see, and he has always dreamed of traveling to India. Jason claims he likes “Lowbrow humor” as his wife would probably term it. He loves slapstick comedy the likes of Monty Python, Mel Brooks, and Chevy Chase. The Blues Brothers is his favorite movie. He also has an affinity for really dumb jokes. He keeps busy with his hobbies, which include, traveling, gardening, camping, hiking, and fishing. But he is most passionate about art, music — with The Rolling Stones as his favorite band, and literature — his favorite book is Blindness by Jose Saramago. His family is very important to him and he is very involved with his daughters’ schools. He helps when he can chaperoning field trips, attending class events and volunteering time as a WatchDOGS (Dads of Great Students) at the school.

Welcome Our New Attorneys

Laura Helderop

Laura Helderop is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received her undergraduate degree from Hope College in Holland, Michigan in International Relations and Spanish. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she moved to Seattle, Washington to complete an AmeriCorps VISTA term at the American Red Cross. In 2014, Laura moved to Cleveland, Ohio to attend Case Western Reserve University School of Law. She graduated with honors in 2017, and was admitted to the Michigan State Bar and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in 2017. In her free time, Laura enjoys playing tennis, watching college basketball and gardening.  

Ashleigh Russett

Ashleigh Russett graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and French in 2013. She then attended Michigan State University College of Law where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2017. While attending law school, Ashleigh competed in national and international moot court competitions and was published in the Michigan State International Law Review in 2017. Before joining Hewson and Van Hellemont, P.C., Ashleigh served as a Legislative Aide and Policy Specialist to State Representative Tom Cochran in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Dylan Stec

Dylan Stec graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013 where he received a B.A. in History. Dylan then attended Wayne State Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 2017.

During law school, Dylan served as a law clerk at GKN Automotive, at the insurance defense firm Mellon & Pries and the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Dylan also was elected as Litigation Supervisor of the student-run Free Legal Aid Clinic, which provides free family and elder law legal services to indigent residents of Wayne County. While at Wayne State he also participated in Wayne State’s Mock Trial competition. Prior to working at Hewson & Van Hellemont, Dylan worked as a litigation clerk for the City of Detroit.

Dylan joined Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C. in January 2018. He was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 2017.

2018 Blog Team Addition

Stephen Wezner

Stephen Wezner has joined the HVH BLOG team for 2018. Watch for his blog posts on Workers’ Compensation.

Check out the latest posts by the team:

  1. “New Changes in 2018 for Gifting Taxes and Exclusions” –Bruce Rice
  2. “Water, Water, Everywhere: Juliana, Public Trust, and the Environment” –Austin Probst
  3. “Tapestry and Legacy: Estate Plans and Copyright” –Austin Probst
  4. “Can a Personal Representative or Trustee Change or Ignore the Terms of a Trust or Will” –Bruce Rice
  5. “The Green Initiative: Necessary or Trendy?” –Melissa Clark
  6. “Ancillary Estate Administration for Michigan Property” –Bruce Rice

You can find the Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C. blog at:

Don’t forget to join HVH on LinkedIn

Diane Hewson — Congratulations

Named as one of the “Leaders in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly Class of 2018 

The honorees have made outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Michigan and set an example for other lawyers. They have demonstrated tremendous leadership and offer a wealth of expertise in many areas of the law. 


Recently reported in the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers journal, the following are questions actually asked of witnesses by attorneys during trials and, in certain cases, the responses given by insightful witnesses. The following are things people actually said in court, word for word:

Q: What is your date of birth?
A: July 15th.
Q: What year?
A: Every year.

Q: And where was the location of the accident?
A: Approximately milepost 499.
Q: And where is milepost 499?
A: Probably between milepost 498 and 500.

Q: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?

Q: The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?

Q: Were you present when your picture was taken?

Q: Was it you or your younger brother who was killed
in the war?

Q: Did he kill you?

Q: How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?

Q: You were there until the time you left, is that true?

Q: How many times have you committed suicide?

Q: She had three children, right?
A: Yes.
Q: How many were boys? 
A: None.
Q: Were there any girls?

Q: You say the stairs went down to the basement?
A: Yes.
Q: And these stairs, did they go up also?

Q: How was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death.
Q: And by whose death was it terminated?

Q: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
A: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

Q: All your responses must be oral, OK?
What school did you go to?
A: Oral.

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
A: No.
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar. 

Oak Park-Main Office 25900 Greenfield Road | Suite 650 | Oak Park, MI 48237 | Ph: 248-968-5200
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Grand Rapids 625 Kenmoor Avenue, S.E. | Suite 304 | Grand Rapids, MI 49546 | Ph: 616-949-5700

This newsletter is for the purpose of providing information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. The HVH website/newsletter is for information only and is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship in any form. This newsletter or any portion thereof is not to be distributed or copied without the express written consent of Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C.

Copyright © 2018 Hewson and Van Hellemont, P.C., All rights reserved.

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