GRAND RAPIDS — What do you do with a guy who actually enjoys getting up to his ears in mergers and acquisitions?
Well, after keeping him very, very busy for two decades, you make him managing partner of West Michigan’s biggest law firm.
Warner Norcross and Judd LLP announced last week that its partners have elected Alex J. DeYonker to succeed John D. Tully in the post.
And make no doubt about it, DeYonker really, really enjoys mergers and acquisitions work.
“It’s very demanding and very challenging,” he told the Business Journal. “But every deal is different, and the more of them I get involved in, the more I learn about it.”
He said he also enjoys the legal aspects of security offerings, and he considers his biggest career break to be the continuing opportunity to practice law as a corporate business attorney practically since he completed his law degree.
Both those things aside, he said he found it very exciting to have Warner Norcross’s 90 co-owners accord him the honor of electing him to the position. “A vote of your peers like that,” he added, “really means something.”
He received his BS degree with high honors from Michigan State University, and earned his JD degree cum laude from Wayne State University in his native town of Detroit. His wife, Michelle, also is a native of Detroit.
DeYonker was admitted to the State Bar Association of Michigan in 1975. “I always was interested in the business law aspects of the legal profession,” he said, noting that he has worked in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance practically from the start of his career.
“Then I was fortunate enough to be invited to join Warner Norcross a little over 20 years ago.”
He has served as chairman of the bar’s Business Law Section and has been co-chairman of the State Regulation of Securities Committee. He is listed in The Best Lawyers In America.
Until recently, DeYonker served as chair of the Warner Norcross Business Group.
His predecessor said DeYonker is an exceptional choice for the position of managing partner “because of his extensive legal experience, proven leadership within the firm and dedication to client service.”
So how, exactly, does one go about managing a firm with 94 partners in Detroit, Holland, Muskegon and two Grand Rapids offices? The firm also has 64 other lawyers, termed associates, most of whom probably aspire to become partners, and 242 other employees.
At first, DeYonker said, he plans to do quite a bit of driving. “I’ve just started visiting,” he said, “and I’ll be doing quite a bit of it at first.”
But he said the main thrust of his work will be to serve as a counselor for those practitioners or groups in the firm who may need his help, and to help guide the firm in its strategic planning.
DeYonker is a member of the board of directors of Spartan Stores Inc., a firm that he helped steer not only through a major acquisition and merger, but also through virtually simultaneously becoming a publicly traded firm.
Warner Norcross is one of the state’s major law firms and it works with clients on a regional, national and international scope. It recently was recognized as one of the 100 best places to work with a law degree. Nearly a third of the firm’s partners are listed in the 2001 Best American Lawyers.