University of Michigan Law School
Ann Arbor, Michigan
J.D., cum laude, 1990
Order of the Coif
Grand Rapids, Michigan
All Michigan state courts
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
United States Court of Federal Claims
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (including Trial Bar)
United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
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 Northern District of New York
United States Supreme Court
United States Tax Court
Ron is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who currently serves as chair of the firm. He concentrates his practice in civil and white collar litigation, as well as internal investigations. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and has been recognized as one of Michigan’s top lawyers by Best Lawyers®, Super Lawyers®, Benchmark Litigation©and by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a Leader in the Law. Prior to his election as chair, Ron led the firm’s Litigation and Trial Practice Team.
Before joining the firm, Ron served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Miami for the Southern District of Florida, where he prosecuted and tried several large criminal cases. He was also the Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division in that office from 2000 – 2001. Since joining Varnum, Ron has tried cases in courts across the country, including New York, Washington, D.C., Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Kansas. Ron has obtained multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements for plaintiff businesses, including a top ten verdict in Michigan, as recognized by the Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has also obtained a number of defense verdicts against plaintiffs claiming high damages.
Ron has extensive experience as an instructor of trial advocacy. He has taught at the preeminent trial advocacy program in the United States, the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and at the National Advocacy Center, which is the trial practice school for the Department of Justice. Since 2006, he has taught at the Hillman Trial Advocacy Clinic, the trial advocacy program for the Western District of Michigan, and he led that program in 2012 and 2013. He is also a federal court approved mediator.
As a former federal prosecutor, Ron represents companies and officers in white collar criminal matters and governmental investigations, and he conducts internal investigations.
Member of the leadership team assembled by the Independent Monitor named by the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee General Motors’ compliance with its obligations under the Deferred Prosecution Agreement stemming from its recall of defective ignition switches.
Represented the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in connection with investigations arising out of the Flint water crisis.
Represented former owner of Dr. Pepper, Snapple and Squirt products in a series of income tax related suits against the United States Department of Justice, as well as related litigation, and in separate cases obtained a jury verdict in excess of $4 million, a bench verdict in excess of $3.5 million, and an $8.5 million settlement. The jury verdict was upheld by the 6th Circuit in a published opinion and was hailed by Forbes as one of the top ten tax cases of the year in 2014.
Represented financing company in a series of lawsuits against dealers and administrators of vehicle service contracts brought in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and obtained a summary judgment in excess of $10 million and additional settlements exceeding $10 million.
Conducted an internal investigation for and represented top 100 global automotive supplier in multiple grand jury investigations into criminal violations of the Clean Air Act. Obtained a declination of prosecution from two U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Department of Justice.
Conducted an internal investigation and represented foreign auto supplier in Department of Justice Antitrust Division “Auto Parts” investigation, and also represented company in federal class actions brought by auto dealers and consumers.
Honors and Recognitions
American College of Trial Lawyers, fellow, 2017 – present
American Board of Trial Advocates, 2020 – present
Benchmark Plaintiffs, Leading Commercial Litigation Plaintiffs Star in Michigan, 2012 – present
Best Lawyers in America®, since 2011
Grand Rapids Business Journal, Notable West Michigan Lawyers, 2023
Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Banking and Finance Litigation, Grand Rapids, 2013
Grand Rapids Magazine’s Top Lawyers: Litigation – Commercial; White-Collar Criminal Defense; 2019-2021
Leading Lawyers: Commercial Litigation; Criminal Defense Law – White Collar
Michigan Lawyers Weekly, Leader in the Law Award, 2014
Michigan Super Lawyers® since 2010
Special Commendations from the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, Customs, and the ATF
United States Department of Justice, Volunteer Service Award, 1999
American Bar Association
American Bar Foundation, fellow, 2010 – present
Federal Bar Association Western District of Michigan, president, 2014; Executive Committee, 2006 – 2016; officer, 2007 – 2016
Grand Rapids Bar Association
Michigan State Bar Foundation, fellow, 2008 – present
State Bar of Michigan
Camp Henry, Board of Directors, 2017 – 2020
Federal Pro Bono Committee, 2010 – present
Grace Christian Reformed Church, Council member, 2005 – 2008
Heartside Ministries, president, Board of Directors, 2003 – 2009
Hillman Advocacy Clinic held by the Federal Court for the Western District of Michigan: Executive Committee, 2006 – present; chair, 2011 – 2012; vice chair, 2009 – 2010
Land Conservancy of West Michigan, Board of Directors, 1992 – 1995
Log Cabin vocational training program for disabled, Board of Directors, 1998 – 2001
Northeastern Little League, coach, 2010 – 2019
The Right Place, Board of Director, 2019 – present
Strafford, speaker, DOJ Investigations of Fraud in PPP Loan Applications: False Claims Act, Corporate and Personal Liability, 2022
MSU Midwest Securities Law Institute, speaker, SEC Issues and Securities Litigation Developments, 2019
Hillman Advocacy Clinic, Western Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, Faculty
National Advocacy Center, Faculty
National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Faculty