GRAND RAPIDS — Becoming the head of an organization often means having moved from job to job, struggling forward, always looking for the next step up. For Jeffrey Ammon, it meant staying in the same place for 27 years.
At the beginning of the year, Ammon took over responsibilities as managing partner at the law firm of Miller Johnson, where he has worked since graduating from University of Michigan Law School in 1978. Although the promotion does mean a new level of responsibility, Ammon pointed out that it’s not quite the same as becoming the president or CEO of a typical company.
“Law firms are flat organizations. There are no pyramids here,” he said. As such, he expects to guide the firm, but not to give a lot of orders. “Lawyers don’t operate by edict.”
Of course, the role as managing partner (or managing member, as the firm prefers) is not simply a titular change. Ammon said that Miller Johnson is always looking at ways to improve its customer service, its marketing, its technology, and even its role as an employer.
As a career-long employee of Miller Johnson, Ammon admits that he doesn’t have any personal frame of reference to make the claim, but he maintains that the firm offers one of the more laid-back, enjoyable settings to practice law in
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he said. That was part of the attraction for him when he joined the firm. Some of his U-M classmates said he was “wasting his
“They looked at me like I was on drugs,” he said.
“I’ve always said that dinner is best served before and at home,” he said.
Over his nearly three decades with the firm, Ammon has come to specialize in a number of business-related practice areas, with a particular emphasis on economic development incentives. He combines expertise in business and property taxation, real estate, government incentives, and finance to advise clients on expansion and relocation projects in
His expertise on economic development matters extends beyond counseling clients. He speaks and writes extensively on the legal aspects of economic development. He has taught tax seminars for the Michigan Chamber for over 15 years. This year he did double duty at the chamber’s
Taking on his responsibilities as managing member at Miller Johnson will curtail some of his client work. Although he is reluctant to give that up, he is excited about some of the other opportunities the new role will offer. He would like to focus the firm’s expertise and practice areas to meet some up-and-coming markets, including the so-called “knowledge-based economy,”
“I have some vision,” he said. “Now we’re going to do some strategic thinking.” LQ