Monday, January 17, 2011
Successful attorney launched education at OU's SBA
Ask Kevin Gleeson, SBA '73 (Econ), what makes him a successful trial attorney and he'll mention discipline, competitiveness and a solid knowledge of statistics. He credits his Oakland University undergraduate business education for setting him on the right path. It's no surprise he's an accomplished attorney, most recently named to the 2011 "Best Lawyers in America."
As a trial lawyer standing in front of a jury, it's common for Gleeson to challenge statistical evidence presented by expert witnesses, citing a resource from an SBA statistics course.
"I received a booklet from an OU professor called, "How to Lie with Statistics,"" he explains. "I still have it and hold it up in front of the jury. The statistics classes I had at OU were fascinating, and helped me as a trial lawyer, because many expert witnesses in the commercial litigation area rely on statistical data. How they collect, evaluate and analyze it, is how you challenge it."
Gleeson, a managing partner at the Southfield firm of Sullivan, Ward, Asher & Patton, P.C., not only appreciates the knowledge he gained in classes, but the high expectations of his instructors, citing the positive influence professors John Tower, Sid Mittra and others had on his educational experience.
"I was inspired by my micro and macro economics courses, and thoroughly enjoyed the monetary and theory policy class," he adds.
Demands develop discipline
"The professors demanded a great deal, and I had to be very disciplined in carrying out my studies. That helped develop me as a lawyer," he says. "To be a good trial lawyer you have to be very disciplined. The other thing I found interesting, that despite the fact they demanded a lot from us, they always wanted students to be free thinking and were always asking for our ideas."
After graduating from OU, Gleeson attended Thomas M. Cooley Law School, graduating in 1979. Soon after, he joined Sullivan, Ward, Asher & Patton, P.C., specializing in construction, architectural and engineering litigation, and professional liability defense for accountants and lawyers.
Gleeson has received many accolades throughout his legal career. He was named in 2008 as a "Top Lawyer," which recognizes attorneys for their performance, as well as their integrity and ethics. He has been named in "Super Lawyers" since 2006, and selected as one of the top 100 attorneys in the state of Michigan. And, he has made "Best Lawyers in America" annually since 2008.
Gleeson was also recently inducted in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
"This is an honor because you don't join, they pick you," he says. "I'm totally shocked every time I get one of these."
Competitive way of life
Gleeson is just as competitive out of the courtroom as he is in the courtroom. A former swimmer, he turned to running and has raced in 26 marathons throughout the U.S., including Detroit, Chicago, Boston and Columbus. He says a lot of his colleagues are also involved in competitive sports. "To be a trial lawyer, you have to be aggressive," he says. "Most attorneys I know are involved in competitive sports -- golf, tennis, biking."
Gleeson's wife, Lisa, runs a thriving gift wrapping business, "Lisa's Gift Wrappers," based in Royal Oak, Mich., and recently named in HOUR Magazine's "Best of" issue. Their 19-year-old son is a student at Oakland Community College, where he is enrolled in the criminal justice program and plans to become a police officer.
Part of something special
Gleeson jumped at the chance last year to become a member of the SBA Board of Visitors, where he says he added diversity to the group. "It's mostly, if not all, business people, including high-ranking managers," he says.
He's impressed with the direction of OU and the SBA, and credits the professors and administrators for helping the university grow.
"Dean Mohan Tanniru is a ball of energy," he says. "It's people, from the dean down to the students, who keep that energy going. Young people come to Oakland with new and innovative ideas. You can see the growth; it's been unbelievable."
Gleeson believes there's something at special at Oakland University.
"The professors and deans are all so dedicated; and it's not for advancing their own interests, but because they're committed to the university," he notes. "It has had a tremendous impact on me. People feel very emotional about OU -- I'm not suggesting that that's rare -- but it's certainly had an effect on me."
By Dawn Pauli