Laura Genovich practices municipal, land use, and commercial law in the firm's Grand Rapids office. She helps public entities and business clients reach their goals and solve their problems in creative, collaborative, and cost-effective ways.
MUNICIPAL AND LAND USE LAW
Laura works closely with municipal clients on issues related to zoning, election law and campaign finance issues, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA) compliance, labor/employment matters, real estate transactions, public finance, and contract drafting and negotiation. She handles complex property tax appeals and has special expertise in property tax exemptions and special assessments.
Laura also works with both public entities and private clients (including developers) on land use matters, including development agreements, annexations, Act 425 agreements, and zoning approvals.
Laura is a seasoned litigator who has represented local governments and private clients in both trial-level and appellate matters. She frequently handles appeals related to contracts, property disputes, zoning and land use issues, special assessments, sewer and water services, and other legal controversies. She has argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and has drafted many briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court. She also co-authored a merits-stage brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of a township client and filed numerous Michigan Supreme Court briefs on municipal law and property tax issues.
Laura handles both day-to-day legal questions and complex matters for public entities, including:
- Establishing and defending special assessment districts.
- Reviewing ballot language for millage proposals and ensuring compliance with Michigan's election laws.
- Advising libraries, schools, and municipalities on compliance with FOIA and the Open Meetings Act.
- Handling property tax valuation and exemption matters, including taxable value "uncapping" disputes.
- Drafting zoning and police power ordinances, including regulations for medical marijuana, wind energy, gravel mining, and "tiny houses".
- Representing public employers in arbitrations and administrative hearings (unfair labor practice disputes).
- Advising public bodies on state aid/public funding issues.
- Drafting simple or complex contracts to meet the client's needs, including independent contractor agreements, sewer service contracts, and intergovernmental agreements under the Urban Cooperation Act.
COMMERCIAL LITIGATION & BANKRUPTCY LAW
Laura represents individuals and businesses in contract and collection disputes in her commercial law practice. Recognizing that litigation is rarely anyone’s first choice, Laura works with clients to negotiate resolutions to make the best out of bad situations. When litigation is necessary, Laura vigorously fights for her clients' rights in court. Laura also has extensive experience in bankruptcy law where she helps secured lenders, small businesses, farm co-ops and other creditors protect their rights when a borrower or customer files bankruptcy. Additionally, Laura works with clients to negotiate credit agreements, collect debts, navigate workouts and mitigate losses outside of bankruptcy. She has served as local counsel for creditors across the country. Laura currently serves as a Chapter 7 and Chapter 12 bankruptcy trustee and has served as a Chapter 11 Examiner.
WRITING AND SPEAKING
Laura enjoys writing and speaking about the law. When a new case or statute impacts her clients, she is quick to share the breaking news andadvice. Laura writes a blog about new bankruptcy cases (www.michbankruptcyblog.com) and regularly presents at municipal law and bankruptcy seminars in addition to offering free webinars. She has taught as an adjunct professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and she serves as the Chairperson of the Federal Bar Association's Bankruptcy Section.
Honors & Recognitions
Michigan Assessors Association’s (MAA) Michigan Property Tax Achievement Award, 2017-2018
Thomas M. Cooley Alumni Association Distinguished Student Award
Best Lawyers in America® 2018-2020 for Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, National Quarter-Finalist
State Bar of Michigan 1L Oral Advocacy Competition - First Place
"Top Lawyer", Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019 in Bankruptcy and Creditor/Debtor Rights Law
Michigan Super Lawyers "Rising Star," Bankruptcy: Business, 2012-2019
Grand Rapids Bar Association "3-in-10" Award, 2017
Memberships & Affiliations
- Federal Bar Association Bankruptcy Section (Western District of Michigan), Steering Committee Member
- Grand Rapids Bar Association
Industry & Professional Associations:
- American Bankruptcy Institute
- National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees
- Grand Rapids Young Professionals
- Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Board of Directors 2011-2012
- Represented bankruptcy trustee in corporate Chapter 7 case and filed more than 40 avoidance lawsuits against preference recipients, resulting in the recovery of more than $500,000 for the bankruptcy estate.
- Served as co-counsel for township in taxpayer's appeal of more than $3 million in corrected and supplemental special assessments, which resulted in judgment favorable to the township.
- Represented township in a local resident's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case to enforce township's zoning ordinance.
- Represented creditor against trustee's demand for more than $170,000 in alleged preference payments.
- Successfully defended public employer in arbitration, resulting in the denial of multiple grievances.
Recent Blog Posts
Michigan Bankruptcy Blog
- Bankruptcy Court Upholds Contemporaneous Exchange for New Value Defense in Preference Action
- Bankruptcy Court Sanctions Lawyer, But Appeals Court Reverses and Rules that Lawyer’s Aggressive Advocacy Did Not Cross the Line
- District Court Reverses Bankruptcy Court Ruling that State Criminal Restitution is Dischargeable
- Supreme Court Refuses to Review Student Loan Bankruptcy Case
- No Stripping Allowed: Supreme Court Rules that Chapter 7 Debtor Cannot Strip Off a Junior Lien
- The Borrower in Bankruptcy: Top 10 Mistakes Banks & Lenders Make in Consumer Bankruptcy Cases
- The Right Way to Execute a Writ: Bankruptcy Court Decision Explains the Mechanics of Collecting a Judgment in the Western District of Michigan
- Sixth Circuit Reverses Bankruptcy Court Decision to Disallow Chapter 7 Debtor's Amendment to Exemptions
- Sixth Circuit Sorts Out Bankruptcy Slugfest Between Friends
- Divorce and Bankruptcy: The Legal Intersection of Two of Life's Most Challenging Moments
- Good News for Family Farmers, American Bankruptcy Institute Journal: February 2020, February 3, 2020
- Clinton Township Found Liable in Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act Lawsuit, Foster Swift Municipal Law News, November 14, 2019
- REMINDER: November 1 is Deadline for Municipalities to "Opt Out" of Recreational Marijuana Establishments, Foster Swift Municipal Law News E-blast, October 17, 2019
- Marijuana Emergency Rules: What Municipalities Should Know, Foster Swift Municipal Law News, August 8, 2019
- November 1 is Deadline for Municipalities to "Opt Out" of Recreational Marijuana Establishments, Foster Swift Municipal Law News E-blast, July 18, 2019
- Michigan Supreme Court to Hear Appeal of Decision Upholding Appropriation of Public Funds for Private Schools, Foster Swift School Law News E-Blast, June 26, 2019
News & Events
- What to Do with a Marijuana Initiative Referendum, Michigan Townships Association (MTA) Conference, April 28, 2020
- Debtor's Bar of West Michigan 10th Annual Conference, West Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, January 20, 2020
- Case Law Update, Federal Bar Association Bankruptcy Section, July 26, 2019
- Marijuana - Up in Smoke, Federal Bar Association Bankruptcy Section, July 26, 2019
- Working with Weed: How Marijuana Laws Will Affect Your Business, Old Town Commercial Association, May 20, 2019
- Ethics Boot Camp, MTA Annual Conference & Expo, April 2019, April 3, 2019
- Foster Swift Participates at the 2020 MTA Conference, Foster Swift Municipal Law News, February 16, 2020
- Eight Foster Swift Attorneys Included in GR Magazine Top Lawyers 2019, Grand Rapids Magazine, December 2, 2019
- 23 Attorneys Selected to 2019 Michigan Super Lawyers and “Rising Stars”, Automation Alley, September 3, 2019
- 42 Foster Swift Attorneys Listed as Best Lawyers® 2020, August 15, 2019
- Foster Swift Announces Women in Leadership, Michigan Business Network, June 5, 2019
- Foster Swift Presents at 2019 MTA Conference, February 8, 2019
- Webinar: What Employers Need to Know about Marijuana in the Workplace, Ingham County Legal News, January 29, 2019
Thomas M. Cooley Law School, J.D., 2008, summa cum laude
Ohio University, B.S., 2005, summa cum laude, Communications
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