Education

Thomas M. Cooley Law School, J.D., 2000, magna cum laude

State University of New York at Fredonia, B.S., 1995

Clerkships

Judicial Clerk for Justice Marilyn Kelly, Michigan Supreme Court

Bar and Court Admissions

Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Ronald D. Richards Jr.
Shareholder
T: 517.371.8154
Photo of Ronald D. Richards Jr.

Ronald D. Richards Jr.

Shareholder
313 South Washington Square
,
Lansing, MI 48933-2114
T: 517.371.8154
F: 517.367.7154

Ron is a shareholder and a member of the Administrative & Municipal Law Practice Group. Ron's practice focuses on the following areas: municipal law; administrative law; telecommunications law; energy & utilities law; transactional law related to the above; and litigation related to all of the above.

Before joining Foster Swift in 2002, Ron worked as a Research Attorney in the Pre-Hearing Division at the Michigan Court of Appeals. He then served as a Judicial Law Clerk for Justice Marilyn Kelly at the Michigan Supreme Court.

Ron regularly authors articles and makes speaking engagements on hot legal topics within his practice. He has authored pieces that have appeared in the Michigan Bar Journal, and multiple law reviews, trade journal magazines, and newsletters. More details on Ron's vast experience and expertise are below:

Municipal Law: Ron is known for his expertise in representing municipalities in litigation, and is equally as skilled in ordinance drafting and ordinance enforcement. He also regularly advises municipalities on every-day municipal matters, such as contracts, variances, special use permits, and rezonings; as well as on energy and telecommunications matters.

Administrative Law: Ron regularly helps a wide array of clients resolve matters involving state administrative agencies, including the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), the State Construction Code Commission, the Liquor Control Commission, and various county drain commissions. On this front, his practice involves comment filings, contested case filings, working with government agencies' staff, and handling all aspects of contested cases and comment cases.

Telecommunications Law: He handles an extensive array of telecommunications issues. This includes resolving issues concerning the Michigan Telecommunications Act, the Federal Telecommunications Act, and the related state and federal administrative rules. It also includes practicing before the MPSC in matters on telecommunications issues, such as contested case cost study cases, other disputes between providers, and comment cases. And it includes drafting and negotiating contracts and interconnection agreements related to telecommunications endeavors for clients. He is also knowledgeable about cable communications and Internet regulatory issues.

Energy & Utilities Law: Ron has experience handling various energy and utilities law matters. He has been involved in energy regulatory matters before the MPSC, such as litigating disputes between providers or regarding alleged violations of regulatory laws. He has drafted power purchase agreements – including renewable energy power purchase agreements – and has experience with MPSC cases regarding approvals of renewable energy power purchase agreements.

Transactional Law: He routinely assists clients in drafting and negotiating key contracts required to carry out those clients' telecommunications, energy, municipal, or other business needs. And where needed, he handles litigation to enforce those agreements.

Liquor Law: As part of his administrative law work, Ron assists clients with liquor licensing application matters, violation cases, contested case hearings, and penalty hearings.

Appeals: His previous experience with the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court give him a significant advantage in developing effective strategy for appellate pleadings and oral arguments in state and federal court.

In his off time, Ron is committed to promoting education at all levels. He is an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he teaches legal writing, and at Michigan State University. He also is an avid volunteer to youth-oriented endeavors as he serves on the Board at Impression 5 Science Museum and formerly coached youth soccer.

Representative Matters

  • Secured a favorable Michigan Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the MPSC's decision that, among other things, allowed rural incumbent local exchange telephone carriers to use a tariff to bill for local transport and termination access charges and receive monetary damages.
  • In 2011, Ron obtained a unanimous Court of Appeals decision in favor of a telecommunications client on a breach of contract claim.  The Court of Appeals agreed that the statute of frauds required a ruling in the telecommunications client's favor, resulting in enforcing the underlying contract.
  • Ron secured a favorable arbitration result in 2009 for a telecommunications association in a dispute between association members over the proper terms of an interconnection agreement.
  • In 2009, Ron assisted a large agricultural entity secure approval for specific land uses that implicated Right-to-Farm Act and State Construction Code issues.
  • In multiple instances, he has successfully defended a municipality in zoning cases, including by securing summary disposition in 2009 for a township resulting in dismissal of takings and substantive due process claims; and by securing favorable appellate results for his municipal clients.
  • Ron defended a township in a 2008 appeal from a variance that the township zoning board of appeals granted, and secured a decision affirming the township zoning board of appeals' decision.
  • Obtained dismissal in a 2008 case, which the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld, for a township in defense of malicious prosecution allegations.
  • Drafted and negotiated, for a renewable energy utility client, a renewable power purchase agreement with a municipality.

News

Speaking Engagements

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Publications

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Memberships & Affiliations

Legal Affiliations:
  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Adjunct Professor, 2007-2012 
  • State Bar of Michigan 
    • Publications & Website Advisory Committee, Member
    • District E Character and Fitness Committee, Member
  • American Bar Association
  • Ingham County Bar Association
  • Public Law Quarterly, Regular Contributing Author, 2009-2012 
  • Administrative Law Journal, Regular Contributing Author
Community Involvement:
  • Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing, Board of Directors
  • Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry, Adjunct Assistant Professor 
  • Okemos Soccer Club, Soccer Coach