Inside Track: Warrior spirit serves Perdue well

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Edward Perdue’s first job at a Grand Rapids law firm ended before it began, which turned out to be the best thing for his career. Courtesy Edward Perdue

From the Spanish American War to the Persian Gulf War, Edward Perdue’s family has a long history of serving their country. 

And although Perdue retired from active duty nearly 30 years ago, he still is on the front lines of service, but just in a different capacity.

He has been working as an attorney for more than 23 years, advocating for legal justice for his clients. 

After almost three decades as a trial attorney at the Dickinson Wright PLLC Grand Rapids office, however, he decided to take a bold step and opened a firm of his own, Perdue Law Group PLLC, in February.

“I just thought it was time for me to try something new,” he said. “I felt like I did everything I wanted to do at Dickinson Wright and it was time for me to try to build something that was unique and that reflected my personality and my style, and was something that I can pass along to even some of my kids later, if things work out well. I still have that warrior spirit and I fight very hard for my clients. That fighter mentality is what I identify myself with.”

That fighter mentality, whether on the battlefield or in a courtroom, is natural to him. 

Growing up in Long Island, New York, Perdue attended La Salle Military Academy, where he enrolled in its Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC). He later received a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship to Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

EDWARD PERDUE
Organization:
Perdue Law Group PLLC
Position: Owner
Age: 52
Birthplace: Long Island, New York
Residence: Heritage Hill, Grand Rapids
Family: Wife, Rachel; children, Liam, 20, Finnegan, 19, Maeve, 14, and Maguire, 12

Business/Community Involvement: Co-founder, GRVBA; founder DRI’s Veterans Network Committee, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel’s Veterans Committee, Center for Law and Public Policy’s Working Group on Artificial Intelligence.
Biggest Career Break: “When the first firm went out of business and being able to switch from what was a really small firm to a big firm like Dickinson Wright and land in that spot, kind of by accident, was a big break for me, really, because I learned how to practice law at the highest level for a top-notch firm. I was very fortunate to grow up and learn my trade in that environment.”

 

Even though he knew he owed the military at least four years of active duty service and four years of reserve time, by way of the NROTC scholarship after graduation, he majored in history and political science.

After he received his bachelor’s degree, he went on to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, where he did six months of infantry training and also learned about other aspects of the military. 

Following his graduation from basic training, he went on to the U.S. Army Field Artillery School in Oklahoma to become an artillery officer. He then went on to the Fleet Marine Force, where he was assigned to the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“My first deployment was to the Persian Gulf War and that was when I spent four and a half months in Iraq in 1991,” he said. “I was deployed … with an infantry company in northern Iraq. My job was to call in artillery fire and also aircraft support, both to transport helicopters and attack helicopters and even fixed-wing aircraft, and call in bomb strikes if they were necessary. That was my job as second lieutenant and then I got promoted there to first lieutenant. Ultimately, when I got out, I ended up getting out as a captain.”

He also was deployed to France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Israel and Japan, among other countries.

Although Perdue was fortunate to complete his active service as an artillery officer, he was susceptible to a lot of ankle sprains and he ultimately became a disabled veteran.

“It happened over time,” he said. “I have a 10% disability rating in both of my ankles. I ended up twisting my ankles a lot in the Marine Corps when we were marching and doing different things like that in airborne school, and instead of falling out, I would just let the corpsman tape them up. So, they would twist, and I would tape them up. It worked out fine because I didn’t want to fall out, but I learned later that (my ankles) weren’t allowed to swell and heal. By taping them up pretty tight, I ended up grinding a lot of the bones in my ankles and the cartilage in there. So, there are constellations in both ankles of little bones chips in there, which causes a lot of discomfort and early arthritis.”

Perdue said he hopes to get it medically taken care of as technology improves over time.

Nevertheless, he went on to study law at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Afterwards, he received and accepted a job offer at a law firm in Grand Rapids where he planned to clerk. He later learned that the firm, Clary, Nantz, Wood, Hoffius and Cooper PC, dissolved just before he was scheduled to start.

“No one called me to let me know that the firm didn’t exist anymore, so I didn’t interview anywhere else,” he said. “When I graduated, I called up and said, ‘I am ready to start,’ and there was one person left there who said, ‘The firm doesn’t exist anymore, so I am sorry that no one called you but there is no job here for you.’ I didn’t know what I was going to do, but some of the people who had been with that firm heard what happened and one or two of them had gone to Dickinson Wright, and they actually had an opening (because) one of my classmates at Notre Dame had a job (offer) at Dickinson Wright but he turned it down and went somewhere else, so they had an opening and they fit me right in.”

Perdue spent more than 23 years at Dickinson Wright. He started out as an associate attorney and quickly climbed the ranks and became a partner of the firm. Throughout his tenure he was a litigator, focusing on cases that involved business, automotive, health care, intellectual property, class action defense and product liability claims.

“The firm is one of the best firms in Michigan,” he said. “Their level of service is extremely high and the quality of their work product — like the papers they prepare, the motions that they file, the briefs that they write and the quality, the oral advocacy that they engage in at that firm — is at the highest level. That is where I learned to practice my craft for most of my career and I have been blessed to have learned in that kind of environment and to practice at the top of my game.”

Now that Perdue has stepped out on his own to open his boutique firm, he said he is ready for a new challenge as a business owner and also as an attorney.

“I try to litigate matters efficiently and do it as affordably as possible for my clients,” he said. “Sometimes it requires us to have early conversations about whether a matter should be resolved early and think about alternative ways to resolve disputes, whether it is through mediation or negotiation or some other means of coming to some early resolution to these disputes other than the traditional model of just litigating these things for years, which can become very expensive, only to settle them two years later for roughly the same terms that you might have been able to settle them for early on. So, I am sensitive to that at all times. Yet, I am also prepared to try a case and I believe I am a very effective advocate at trial also. So, it is not something I am afraid to do. I am happy to do it if the situation calls for it.”

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