Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DW Women in Law Profile - Leslee M. Lewis

For Leslee Lewis, member and practice department manager for real estate, environmental, energy & sustainability, the idea of seeing a building or project from fruition to completion is rewarding.  It is one of the ways that she feels she can help people and their communities.

“I chose law as a profession because I wanted to help people who could not help themselves,” says Leslee from her Grand Rapids, Mich. office. “I chose Dickinson Wright out of law school because I wanted to do sophisticated legal work and because Dickinson Wright was ranked #1 nationally for promoting and developing female attorneys. In the end, I wanted to go somewhere where I could be judged on my capabilities.”

Leslee sure has been judged on her capabilities, working her way from Associate to Practice Department Manager of one of the nation’s top real estate practices, according to Law360, and gaining accolades such as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers and Chambers for herself along the way.  As a real estate attorney, Leslee has worked on some great projects nationally, cross-border, and around Michigan, including a number of the notable public buildings around downtown Grand Rapids.  One of her recent favorites is the Invenergy Gratiot County Wind farm project that went into operation this year as the largest wind farm in Michigan. The 212.8 megawatt project in Gratiot County features 133 GE wind turbines and is estimated to generate enough renewable energy to power more than 50,000 Michigan homes.

“It took years of work in good faith by so many people to result in this wind farm.  I loved the way the community pulled together around the project.  I hope the income will help the community preserve its farming traditions and the taxes will benefit its schools,” says Leslee. “For me, the best thing about working on this project was that the wind farm was built in my hometown, where more than three generations of my family grew up.  And in the end one of the wind turbines was built on lands that used to be my great-grandparents’ farm.  That was more than serendipity for me.”

Another project that Leslee is fond of is preservation of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, which involved working on behalf of donors to help purchase and preserve fragile dune lands along Lake Michigan in Saugatuck, Mich. Now, Leslee says, generations of people from across the country can come to Saugatuck and enjoy beautiful coastal dunes that will remain protected for future generations.

When she is not helping clients with projects that build companies and communities, Leslee stays true to her outdoor roots by biking, hiking, swimming and kayaking with her family. She also coaches her kids’ teams when available and spent this fall coaching her daughter’s U8 soccer team. She loves working with kids and says it was the most rewarding thing she did this fall outside of work.

As you can see for Leslee it’s all about the community and the people. The next time you are in a town, stop and think about the people who worked to help preserve the lands or build the parks, performance halls and businesses that make a community. It’s the reason she went into law in the first place and why she still enjoys it to this day.

To learn more about Leslee Lewis and her practice, click on her biography here.