Varnum partners Ron DeWaard and Aaron Phelps have been selected by the Grand Rapids Business Journal for recognition in the inaugural edition of Notable West Michigan Lawyers.
Notable West Michigan Lawyers recognizes people who are doing outstanding work in their profession and the community. Judges look for individuals who are leaders in their organization and who exhibit that leadership professionally through participation in programs to enhance their organizations, the law profession and the community at large.
DeWaard is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who currently serves as Varnum’s Chair. Under his leadership, the firm has cemented its reputation as a top firm with roots in West Michigan, while achieving substantial growth in Southeast Michigan and in Florida. DeWaard maintains an active litigation and government investigations practice, where his counsel is sought after in high-profile matters. He has extensive experience as an instructor of trial advocacy, including teaching at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, the Department of Justice National Advocacy Center and the Hillman Trial Advocacy Program for the Western District of Michigan.
Phelps is a first-chair trial lawyer, member of Varnum’s management committee and past chair of the firm’s Litigation and Trial Practice. In his two decades of litigating complex disputes across Michigan and the country, he has achieved a variety of multimillion-dollar verdicts in headline-grabbing litigations. Recently, in what is the largest environmental tort case in Kent County history, he represented more than 400 Rockford area residents in 250+ separate lawsuits involving PFAS chemicals. The litigation raised issues of first impression relating to decades old dumping of toxic PFAS chemicals, which contaminated drinking water for thousands of area residents. Outside of his practice, Phelps and his family own and operate Maple Side Farm. He frequently speaks to farm groups and is a past vice president of the Kent County Farm Bureau.