Varnum attorneys join national advocacy board


Varnum partners Ron DeWaard and Peter Smit were elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates.

DeWaard and Smit join more than 7,600 trial attorneys and judges across the U.S. who are tasked with improving “the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy to the end that individual litigants may receive more effective representation and the general public be benefited by more efficient administration of justice consistent with time-tested and traditional principles of litigation.”

Membership into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is invitation only. Attorneys must have tried at least 10 civil jury trials to jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel. They must also be approved by the local ABOTA chapter prior to being listed on the application.

In addition to being a trial attorney, DeWaard was a former federal prosecutor who now serves as a chair at Varnum. He also is a federal court-approved mediator, specializing in civil and white-collar litigation and internal investigations.

DeWaard has taught at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Hillman Trial Advocacy Clinic and the National Advocacy Center, which is the trial practice school for the Department of Justice.

Smit has been a trial lawyer at Varnum for more than 43 years and is a member of the firm’s personal injury practice. He focuses on business litigation defense, including FLSA, product liability defense, malpractice defense, as well as personal injury, wrongful death, auto and trucking litigation matters.

Smit is certified in alternative dispute resolution for practice in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan and the Michigan circuit courts.

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