Tom Sinas grew up in Lansing, spending his weekends and holidays surrounded by family before moving away to Minneapolis to practice law.
He said when his oldest child turned four, he started to imagine how different life would be for his kids if he and his wife remained in Minneapolis — he didn’t like what that picture looked like.
“I think I took for granted how enriching that was for my life, and then I thought about raising my kids in a place where they would really only see their family a few times a year, and I decided it was time to change that,” Sinas said.
His decision coincided well with interest by his father, George Sinas, in expanding the family law firm, Sinas Dramis Law Firm, into the Grand Rapids market.
Sinas Dramis is a 64-year-old personal injury firm that was started in Lansing by George Sinas’ father and Tom Sinas’ grandfather.
Today, the firm has 12 attorneys. Ten spend their time on personal injury law related mostly to automobile accidents, while the other two practice in the area of family law.
“We represent injured people and their medical providers in claims they have with insurance companies,” George Sinas said.
Over the years, George Sinas has become involved in the growing fight to continue Michigan’s auto no-fault law.
He serves as general counsel for the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault, which is comprised of more than 20 major medical and consumer groups opposing efforts to minimize lifetime comprehensive medical coverage.
“As general counsel, I have been actively involved and have been over here in Grand Rapids many times, because Grand Rapids has a medical community that shares this strong desire to keep this no-fault system in tact,” George Sinas explained.
“I have been really impressed with what this medical community is doing to fight for the preservation for this system. I realized that our law firm and the city of Grand Rapids really have shared values with regard to this very important issue. It’s a very important issue to us, and thankfully, it's really important to the medical community in Grand Rapids.”
So last July, Sinas Dramis opened an office in downtown Grand Rapids, at 15 Ionia SW.
The space has helped George Sinas stay close to the center of the action in the no-fault fight and has also provided the firm a chance to be closer and more accessible to its West Michigan clients.
“We’ve been a firm that has had a statewide exposure for many years,” George Sinas said. “Our practice has taken us to all different parts of the state, including Grand Rapids.”
Sinas Dramis is among a group of Michigan personal injury firms that have recently expanded into the West Michigan market.
“Yes, I have noticed it,” George Sinas said. “I think there are a couple of explanations for that. First of all, most of these guys are coming from Detroit, and that community is shrinking. It’s below 700,000 people. And when the population shrinks, the number of injured people shrinks. So there are fewer and fewer cases.
“In addition, there has been some real serious changes in the law that have made it more difficult for injured people to pursue claims, and that’s been a big deal.”
He said those changes include both legislation and court decisions that have impacted personal injury law.
While Detroit might be shrinking, Grand Rapids is growing and thriving, making it the next frontier for personal injury firms.
Tom Sinas reiterated that Sinas Dramis’ reasons for expanding in Grand Rapids had much more to do with the no-fault fight and its client relationships, however.
“Our reasons for being here was we really wanted to be closer to this community, because of this idea that we really believe they are fighting for the same thing we are fighting for,” Tom Sinas said. “We are here also because this is where I call home.”
Tom Sinas said his family is settling in quickly, already participating in this year’s Heritage Hill Homes Tour last weekend, and his kids are enjoying spending time with their new born baby cousin.
Even if the no-fault law eventually changes in some form or another, both Tom and George Sinas agree there will be a place for their firm in Grand Rapids.