Bloomfield Hills attorney Nate Fink, named one of Michigan’s “up-and-coming lawyers,” tells SEEN about challenging Michigan’s high auto insurance rates, shares advice for law school students and dishes on his favorite Supreme Court justice.
By Stephanie Steinberg
Name: Nate Fink
Title: Attorney at Fink + Associates Law
City: Bloomfield Hills
Schools attended and degrees earned: University of Michigan, Bachelor of Arts; Wayne State University Law School, Juris Doctor
1. What inspired you to become a lawyer? I have a passion for helping people, and I see the law as a great way to do that.
2. What kind of law do you focus on? Our firm focuses on complex civil litigation and class actions (primarily antitrust and securities fraud). And, we handle lots of business disputes for closely-held businesses. When business or professional partners don’t get along, they often call on us.
3. You’ve been honored as a Rising Star in Michigan Super Lawyers magazine each year since 2013. What are some of your biggest legal accomplishments? I have successfully tried cases before juries, have argued many high-stakes motions in court and I have taken and defended some very significant depositions. I have also taken a lead role in litigating a multimillion-dollar arbitration involving an extraordinarily complex failed business partnership.
4. What’s it like working with your father at Fink + Associates Law? Since he’s reading this — it’s magnificent! But seriously, it’s been great being able to work with him. For as long as I can remember, I always hoped that we’d have the opportunity to work together. He’s a wonderful mentor, and it’s fun to be able to work with him and the other attorneys in our firm to fight for our clients.
5. Whether it’s law or another industry, do you have any advice for others who are considering joining a family business? It’s hard to separate the personal and professional aspects of your relationships, but it’s important to do just that. Nobody knows your strengths and weaknesses better than your family, and that can be very valuable. But you always need to keep some separation to be sure you’re doing what’s best for the business and for your clients. That’s why I started my career at a different firm, and it’s why my father has other lawyers evaluate my work and give me guidance.
6. In 2017, Michigan Lawyers Weekly named you an “Up and Coming Lawyer.” What are some things you’re working on that we should know about? We recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mayor Mike Duggan and other drivers challenging the constitutionality of the Michigan No-Fault Act, because the law forces Michigan residents to pay the highest auto insurance rates in the country. We’re hopeful that this lawsuit will ultimately lead to lower auto insurance rates for all Michigan residents.
7. Do you have any advice for students contemplating law school and the expense? Make sure you really want to be a lawyer. Law school is a major financial investment, along with three tough years of disciplined education, so it’s important to make sure you have a good use for that law degree. I’ve heard people say that studying law is a good education that can help you in whatever you do; I’m not so sure that’s true. Law school is a trade school. Nobody takes a plumbing apprenticeship if they don’t want to be a plumber.
8. Do you have any tips for studying for the bar exam? Frankly, it’s a miserable, stressful experience, but you’ll survive. For my fellow Wolverines, be forewarned that the exam is administered in East Lansing, which just adds another level of misery. The only people I knew who struggled to pass didn’t take it seriously enough. Also, when in doubt, the answer is always D.
9. Law is a competitive field. Do you have any advice for newly minted lawyers looking for a job? Be proactive. Try to get your foot in the door somewhere, and do everything you can to leverage your personal and professional network to make connections. It’ll all work out.
10. You were elected President of the American Constitution Society’s Michigan Chapter. What does that role entail? It’s a tremendous honor to serve as the president of our chapter. Recent past presidents of our organization include prominent Detroit-area attorneys, federal judges and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan under President Obama. I seek to provide leadership to our board, work on great programming for our members and the community to further the goals of the American Constitution Society, which promotes individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law.
11. With three young kids, how do you balance your kids and growing career? I don’t sleep much. Generally, my work schedule is fairly predictable, but in litigation, surprises and fire drills arise. Thankfully, my wife is tremendously supportive and understanding.
12. What’s the most challenging part of your job? Finding enough time in the day to work on the complex, unique legal issues presented by our clients.
13. What do you enjoy most about your job? Advocating on behalf of my clients, particularly in the courtroom.
14. Who’s been a mentor in your career and what’s the best career advice he/she gave you? Cinnamon Rice was a great mentor to me early in my legal career. Practicing law, particularly as a litigator, has many highs and lows. She taught me to stay as levelheaded as possible and not sweat the small stuff.
Now on to some fun questions…
16. Favorite movie that involves a court case? I have two: “The Verdict” and “My Cousin Vinny.”
17. Favorite legal TV show? I’ll be cliché and say “Law and Order.”
18. Favorite Supreme Court justice and why? The Notorious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg). She’s such an inspirational figure in the law, and she has done so much in her career to expand civil rights for all Americans.
19. Favorite place to go with your three kids? Greenfield Village.
20. When you’re not working, where can we find you? Chasing my children around, or, very rarely, out to dinner with my wife.
Each month, we interview executives in Metro Detroit to get their business and career advice. If you know someone who should be featured in SEEN Around the Water Cooler, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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