Varnum partner Matt Bower is the recipient of the 2020 Hensel Award, presented by the Arts, Communication, Entertainment and Sports Section (ACES) of the State Bar of Michigan.
The Hensel Award is given to a member of the State Bar of Michigan who has made a significant contribution to the arts community in Michigan. Named for the late John Hensel, an artist and attorney who was a co-founder of the ACES section of the SBA, the award has been given annually since the early 1980s.
Section council member Lawrence Jordan said that the Hensel Committee voted unanimously to confer the award to Bower “in recognition of your many contributions to the arts community and ACES,” noting in particular Bower’s volunteer efforts on behalf of arts organizations.
Bower is an Ann Arbor-based business attorney whose practice focuses on clients in the startup community. He serves as outside general counsel to a wide range of emerging and middle market companies and works with investors and venture capital organizations.
With a lifelong interest in the arts, Bower was active for many years with Creative Many Michigan and its predecessor, ArtServe Michigan. He served on the board and as a volunteer in the Lawyers for the Creative Economy program. He also previously served on the board for Michigan Youth Arts.
Active in the theatre arts from an early age, Bower’s background includes an undergraduate degree in theatre from the University of Michigan. Following graduation, he moved to New York and dabbled in the theatre profession for a few years before becoming interested in a law career.
His New York theatre experience included acting with a local company while working in the office of a Broadway producer, where he reviewed scripts and provided other office support. After taking a job at a law firm, he found the work intellectually rewarding and decided to pursue a career in law.
Bower’s legal practice is infused with creativity, both in his delivery of client solutions and through the clients and industries he serves. His particular industry concentrations include software, SaaS, information technology, IoT, data analytics and other technology-based companies, as well as manufacturing, automotive, advanced materials, pharma, medical devices, publishing, digital advertising and media, retail, and food and beverage.
Working with entrepreneurs, often with cutting-edge technology, is thrilling, Bower said.
“It’s being able to work with companies and entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of fear, that are willing to go out there and really push the envelope on their technology and disrupt markets,” Bower said. “It’s just fun. The technology is great. It’s just something that’s really, really exciting.”
Bower earned his law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, where he was Editor in Chief of the intellectual property law journal. He practiced law in New York before joining Varnum in 2013. He now serves as lead attorney in the firm’s Ann Arbor office.
Bower and his wife, Lisa (a former ballerina who attended the National Ballet School of Canada), have passed their appreciation of the arts on to their four children. Oldest son, Ben, 16, caught the acting bug and has appeared in several school productions. Middle son, Owen, 13, is on the autism spectrum and finds solace in drawing and graphic design. Twins Lilly and Noah, 10, are into crafts and photography.
The Hensel Award ceremony is being planned for April 2021, with the hope that the event can be held in person rather than virtually.