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Practice Areas


University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
Detroit, Michigan
J.D., cum laude, 1985

University of Washington
Seattle, Washington
B.A., cum laude, Communications, 1980
Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

All Michigan state courts

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

United States Supreme Court

Insurance Claims and ERISA Litigation Attorney

Mark sues insurance companies when they fail to pay claims. Varnum represents only insureds in these matters. Mark has helped shape the landscape of Michigan insurance law since 1985. He is regularly asked to speak on insurance issues for continuing legal education programs and at other Bar-related activities.

Mark also handles litigation matters dealing with employee benefit issues under ERISA. He has handled all facets of employee benefit litigation, from benefit claims to multi-employer plan contribution issues. Mark has acted as benefit counsel for litigation matters on a national basis for a Big Three Auto Maker and a national food processor.

Mark was named Grand Rapids “Lawyer of the Year” for ERISA Litigation in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.

Mark’s practice has also allowed him to develop an extensive appellate practice. He has appeared at every level of state and federal court in the country, including the United States Supreme Court. His representation of the County of Kent in Northwest Airlines v The County of Kent, et al, 510 U.S. 355 (1994), culminated in a decision from the United States Supreme Court. Mark has also argued, en banc, before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Nixon v County of Kent, 76 F3d 1381 (6th Cir. 1996), en banc.

Honors and Recognitions

Best Lawyers in America® since 2013

Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Litigation – ERISA, Grand Rapids, 2016, 2018, 2021, 2023

Grand Rapids Magazine’s Top Lawyers, Litigation – Insurance, 2019 – 2022

Leading Lawyers: Employee Benefits Law; Insurance Coverage Law: Consumer Insureds; Insurance, Insurance Coverage & Reinsurance Law

Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated

Professional Affiliations

Grand Rapids Bar Association

State Bar of Michigan

Community Involvement

American Cancer Society, Kent County unit, past president

Gerontology Network, Board

St. Thomas the Apostle School, Board

Women’s Resource Center, Board

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