Duo tapped to further accelerate firm’s growth and relentless focus on client service
Varnum is pleased to announce that Jon Bylsma has been elected Chair of the firm and Scott Hill has been re-elected Executive Partner. Both terms are effective January 1, 2024. Following a successful five-year term as the firm’s Chair, Ron DeWaard is returning his focus to the full-time practice of law, where he will continue to lead the firm’s White Collar and Government Investigations Team.
“It’s with great pleasure and confidence that I pass the baton to Jon as Varnum’s next Chair,” DeWaard said. “His leadership ability and strong relationships within the firm will serve us well as we continue our growth strategy and expansion of client service offerings. I anticipate continued success for the firm and our clients with Jon and Scott at the helm.”
Bylsma is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Practice Team, previously serving as leader of that team for several years. Prior to his election as Chair, he served as a Practice Management Leader and member of the firm’s Executive Committee for the past four years, after a term on the firm’s Policy Committee. An experienced trial attorney, Bylsma represents clients in a variety of commercial litigation and strategic planning in Michigan and throughout the country. He has practiced at Varnum throughout his entire legal career, joining the firm after graduating from the University of North Carolina Law School in 1993. As Chair, he will be responsible for setting the firm’s strategic direction.
“I am honored to be elected by Varnum’s partnership to serve as the firm’s Chair,” said Bylsma. “The firm is fortunate to have benefited from Ron’s leadership over the past five years and I look forward to partnering with Scott to continue making Varnum a premier destination for really amazing attorneys who seek to provide outstanding, innovative client service.”
DeWaard, a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, led several high-profile matters while serving as the firm’s Chair, including an independent investigation of the 2021 Oxford High School shooting and defense of public officials in the Flint Water Crisis.
Hill has served as Executive Partner for the past five years, navigating the firm through office expansions in Birmingham and Ann Arbor, as well establishing a new office in Naples, Florida. Hill also played a role in leading the180-attorney firm through the COVID-19 pandemic.
A corporate attorney with a focus on business representation, Hill works extensively with businesses on supply chain, governance, succession planning and transactional matters. He has been named one of West Michigan’s most influential leaders for five consecutive years by Crain’s Grand Rapids Business.
As Executive Partner, Hill chairs the firm’s Executive Committee, responsible for policy implementation, lean processes and attorney development. He has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2017, serving as chair for the past five years. He previously served as chair of the Corporate Practice Team and led the Attorney Recruitment Committee.
“Varnum’s future is bright and I am enthused to once again serve as the firm’s Executive Partner, partnering with Jon to foster a culture of client service and nimble growth,” said Hill. “Ron’s service to the firm has been exemplary and I thank him for his exceptional leadership during unprecedented times.”