Deanna’s practice focuses on the areas of commercial and employment litigation and her service as general counsel to fashion designers. Deanna leads Fosterfashion, the firm’s fashion and design law team.
She also handles alternative dispute resolution, primarily through service as an arbitrator as well as representing clients in a variety of real estate, mortgage, collection and creditor rights matters. She is a member of the firm’s Banking, Finance and Real Estate Practice Group, Employment Law, S.E.E.D. and Agricultural Law Group.
Deanna handles a broad range of commercial litigation matters including breach of contract litigation, defending contract and statutory claims arising from the mortgagee/mortgagor relationship, resolving real property easement, adverse possession, boundary and title disputes, enforcing the rights of parties to secured transactions, filing and defending actions for conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with contract as well as other business torts.
Deanna also drafts and negotiates licensing agreements, commission agreements, employment and independent contractor agreements and advises clients regarding the misclassification of employees. When out-of-court efforts and administrative proceedings fail to resolve disputes, she defends employers in state and federal courts in breach of contract discrimination and retaliation actions, and she files suits to enjoin violations of, covenants not-to-compete provisions and sales commission agreements.
Her work as a commercial litigator has earned the respect of her peers, as is demonstrated by her AV® Preeminent™ Martindale-Hubbell rating and Best Lawyers® in America recognition in Commercial Litigation since 2009. Deanna serves on the AAA Commercial Panel of Neutrals and serves as a mediator.
Prior to joining Foster, Swift, Deanna clerked for Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Carolyn Stell and worked for Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlet.
Admitted to practice in Michigan, she is a member of the Federal Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Ingham County Bar Association. Deanna is a member of the Fellows of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, and she is a former member of the State Bar of Michigan’s Client Protection Fund Committee and the Indiana University Law Alumni Board. In 2017, Deanna was admitted to the Texas Bar to practice law there.
Locally, Deanna volunteers her time to a variety of Lansing and Detroit area endeavors that support start-up fashion and design businesses, artists and a wide variety of "makers." She also volunteers her time to The Friends of Reutter Park and to Operation Santa, a program that provides Christmas gifts to children of low-income families. She has served as the President of the Board of Trustees of Michigan Montessori Internationale, Inc., and she is a founding member of the Lansing Chapter of Inforum and AthenaWIN.
Born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Deanna was a summa cum laude graduate of Ball State University, obtaining degrees in Political Science and the Honors College. She received her legal education and juris doctorate from Indiana University in 1985. She continued her legal education at Fordham Law, in 2014, attending its fashion law intensive summer program.
Honors & Recognitions
AV® Preeminent™ Martindale-Hubbell
Best Lawyers in America® 2009-2019 (Commercial Litigation)
American Arbitration Association Roster of Neutrals, Commercial Panel
Memberships & Affiliations
- American Bar Association
- State Bar of Michigan
- Michigan State Bar Foundation, Fellow
- Federal Bar Association
- State Bar of Texas
- Member, LEAP Board of Directors and Steering Committee
- Member, Friends of Reutter Park
- Member, Michigan Athletic Club
- Successfully defended a multi-million dollar action alleging breach of warranty, brought by a first tier supplier/manufacturer of injection molded automotive parts against a second tier supplier of thermoplastic. In addition to receiving a very favorable result, she protected proprietary client information from disclosure in federal district court by negotiating an agreement to arbitrate.
- Obtained summary judgment for the employer/defendant in a same sex harassment and retaliation case, and successfully argued to affirm this favorable result before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Obtained summary judgment in a variety of lawsuits involving real estate disputes, to include actions asserting adverse possession and claims arising under the Michigan Sellers' Disclosure Act.
Recent Blog Posts
- The Return of the Unpaid Internship
- Fashion Designer Khanh Nguyen Shares Her Passion and Wisdom with Michigan Fashion Startups
- The Perfect, Inspiring Break
- The FTC Cranks Up the Heat on Wool
- Grow Your Business with Foster Swift's SEED Group
- Are You Personally Liable for Your Business's Debts?
- Who Will be Next?
- Does your Design House have a Firm Foundation?
- Getting Your Design House in Order
- Labels: A Necessary Pain in the Neck
- Employee or Independent Contractor?, April 2019 Agricultural Law News, January 26, 2019
- An Ideal Time to Take on Your Accounts Receivable, Foster Swift Finance, Real Estate & Bankruptcy News, August 18, 2016
- Trade Dress - A Good Fit for Fashion?, Ipls Proceedings - State Bar of Michigan, January 2015
- Financing the Creative, Foster Swift Finance, Real Estate & Bankruptcy News, August 26, 2014
- Is Your Independent Contractor Really an Employee?, Foster Swift Agricultural Law Update, January 16, 2014
- Mediation: A Viable Alternative to Litigation, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 2008
News & Events
- The Business of Fashion, September 28, 2017
- Road to Retail Instructor, The Runway, Lansing's fashion incubator, June 17, 2016
- Panel Member M-Power Your Art, Detroit Startup Week, May 24, 2016
- A Pattern for Success, Industry Days: Design & Manufacturing, Detroit Design Festival, September 22, 2015
- Fashion Law, The Fashion Association of Merchandising and Design at Central Michigan University, November 4, 2014
- Proper Use of Email, Walsh College, March 10, 2011
- 45 Foster Swift Attorneys Listed in Best Lawyers in America© 2019, August 15, 2018
- 46 Foster Swift Attorneys Named to 2018 Best Lawyers in America®, August 21, 2017
- Business Attorneys Release an Additional Three Legal Basics Videos, October 12, 2015
- 44 Foster Swift Attorneys Named to 2016 Best Lawyers in America® Roster, August 21, 2015
- Runway's first sponsor renews: Foster Swift Continues Support of Lansing’s Fashion Incubator, April 24, 2015
- Fashion is alive in Michigan: Foster Swift Launches New Fosterfashion Blog, October 22, 2014
- Lights, Camera, Fashion: Foster Swift Partners with Runway Lansing, October 14, 2014
Indiana University School of Law, J.D., 1985
Ball State University, B.S., 1982, summa cum laude
Fashion Law Institute, Fordham University Law School, Summer Intensive Program, 2014
Bar and Court Admissions
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals