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Michigan Lawyers Weekly Names Clarke a Leader in the Law

April 6, 2018

Varnum attorney Kimberly Clarke has been named a 2018 Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. A luncheon ceremony recognizing Clarke and other honorees was held Thursday, April 5 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy.

Honorees were selected by an editorial panel who considered each nominee's commitment to excellence and significant accomplishments in the practice of law, leadership and contributions as a community volunteer, and/or pro bono service.

Clarke is a partner at Varnum, focusing her primary practice on immigration matters. Her client base includes national and international companies as well as regional businesses, colleges and universities. She also maintains a specialty practice of consultation with agricultural clients both in Michigan and nationally. She handles various agricultural labor and employment issues such as compliance with migrant labor laws, H-2A worker issues, wage and hour laws, and anti-discrimination laws.

Clarke works with top clients at the national and international level, and she is consistently among the top earners at the firm. She has the respect of her peers and partners and has served in various leadership roles within the firm, focusing on professional development and mentorship. For the past 18 years, Clarke has served on the firm’s recruiting committee, responsible for selecting new attorneys to enhance and build the firm. She also formerly served as one of two associate retention and training partners, responsible for coaching and mentoring the firm’s associate attorneys. Clarke continues to mentor young attorneys, and a current mentee had this to say about Kim:

“She has gone out of her way to attend weekly lunches with me to provide additional training in the field of immigration law and to keep up-to-date with changes in immigration policy. She provides opportunities for me to attend numerous networking events to grow my familiarity with the Michigan legal community. She takes time out of her everyday practice to push me to be a better attorney. Even within the first couple of months of my career, she provided me with opportunities to attend client meetings and learn about the practice of immigration law through face-to-face interaction and practical applications. She has gone above and beyond what most mentors do for their mentees. She makes me feel valued and provides me with new learning experiences every single day.”

Attorneys who work closely with Clarke describe her as a true advocate for her clients, someone who will always find a solution for a client. An example of her innovative thinking is her involvement in the creation of an online resource for agriculture clients. In partnership with the Michigan Farm Bureau, she developed the Agricultural Employment Compliance Guide, an easy-to-use guide for farm employers trying to keep up with the sometimes overwhelmingly-complex federal and state employment laws. The guide is accessible via secure login on the firm’s website. In conjunction with the employment guide, Clarke presents a series of farm employment seminars around the state each January. Seminar attendance has grown from a few dozen to almost 200 attendees this year.

Clarke’s commitment to excellence within her practice, as well as the broader legal community, is evidenced by her active involvement in professional organizations including:

  • National Council of Agricultural Employers
  • National Council of College and University Attorneys
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • American Agricultural Law Association
  • Michigan Farm Bureau
  • State Bar of Michigan - Agricultural Law and International Law sections

She is equally involved in the non-legal community and in causes for which she cares deeply. Early in her career, Clarke became a legal clinic volunteer at West Michigan Justice For Our Neighbors, providing immigration legal services for low income immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. She became active at the board level, and in 2012 helped establish National Justice for Our Neighbors.

“Her strategic thinking was extremely valuable as we developed systems for supporting the network,” said Rob Rutland-Brown, executive director of the national organization. He credited Clarke with helping to create standards and best practices that have been implemented across a national network of 18 sites, serving over 5,000 clients from 118 different countries last year.

Clarke is currently Board treasurer for National Justice For Our Neighbor and Board secretary for the nonprofit Saint Mary’s Foundation. She formerly served on the Board of Directors for Bethany Christian Services for several years, as well as on the Membership Committee of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, helping the organization cross the thousand member threshold.

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