Detroit attorneys Richard L. Cunningham, Lambro Niforos, and Margaret A. Costello won contested seats in the recent State Bar of Michigan commissioner elections. Francine Cullari of Flint, Laurin C. Roberts Thomas of Lansing, Edward H. Pappas of Bloomfield Hills, and Elias J. Escobedo of Waterford won in uncontested races. All seven commissioners will serve three-year terms expiring at the close of the Annual Meeting in 2008.
Cunningham, Niforos, and Costello will serve District H, which includes Wayne, Monroe and Lenawee Counties. Cullari will represent the District B Counties of Midland, Bay, Saginaw, Genesee, Lapeer, Sanilac, Huron, and Tuscola. Thomas will serve District E Counties of Barry, Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Livingston, Montcalm, and Shiawassee. Pappas and Escobedo will serve District I, which is Oakland County.
Richard L. Cunningham is a sole practitioner who currently focuses on criminal defense. Since his admission to the Bar in 1979, he has served at various times as Associate Counsel for the U.S. Veterans Administration, Staff Counsel for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor, and Recorder's Court Judge. He has been active in many professional organizations throughout his career. He has served as Chairperson of both the State Bar and Detroit Metropolitan Bar's Criminal Law Sections and as an elected member of the State Bar Representative Assembly. He is currently a member of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association. In 1997, he was recognized by the DMBA as its "Chairperson Of The Year."
Lambro Niforos has been a member of the State Bar's Board of Commissioners since 2002, where she has served on many committees. Twice elected to three-year terms on the Representative Assembly, she has also twice co-chaired the statewide biennial Bench/Bar Conference Planning Committee, and served on the State Trial Courts Administration Committee. She presently serves on the Judicial Qualifications Committee and is a Fellow of the State Bar Foundation. Niforos has worked in the Office of the Wayne County Corporation Counsel since 1984, litigating and counseling in the areas of employment discrimination, personal injury, state and federal civil rights, elections, environmental law, mental health, and tax.
Margaret ("Peggy") Costello is a member of Dykema Gossett's litigation practice group in Detroit. She has been active in numerous pro bono initiatives and serves as Chair of her firm's pro bono committee and as a member of the State Bar's Pro Bono Involvement Committee. She was awarded the Bar's 2002 Cummiskey Award for pro bono service. A past president of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (1999-2000) and the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association (2003-2004), Costello also serves as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association and the Board of Directors of the Detroit Bar Foundation. Elected to the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly in 1996, she served until 2002, and chaired the Drafting, and the Rules and Calendar Committees.
Francine Cullari has been practicing law since 1982. She is a sole practitioner in Grand Blanc, and focuses on business law, real estate, planning and zoning, estate planning, and probate. Cullari has devoted much time to pro bono activities and is very active in her community. She is a past president of the Genesee County Bar Association and a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation. She was the chair of the Representative Assembly's Drafting Committee and has served on many other State Bar committees, including being vice-chair of the Publications and Website Advisory Committee, co-chair of the Awards committee, and member of the Public Outreach and Legal Education Committees. Cullari has won many awards and has been a columnist and editor for the Flint Journal, the Michigan Bar Journal and Genesee County's Bar Beat magazine.
Laurin C. Roberts Thomas began her law career as a sole practitioner. She later took a position at the Law Offices of Edward G. Youmans, a personal injury firm. In 1994, she accepted a position at UAW?GM Legal Services Plan, where she remains employed as a staff attorney practicing in the areas of consumer law, insurance, probate/estate planning, elder Law, immigration and collections. Thomas is active in the State Bar, where she currently serves on the Representative Assembly and is a founding member of the Consumer Law Section, where she has served as chair, secretary, and currently serves as treasurer. She is also a member of the Social Security Section. She is a member of the Ingham County Bar Association and currently serves as president of the Lansing Black Lawyer's Association.
Edward H. Pappas has served on the Board of Commissioners since 1999. He practices with the Dickinson Wright law firm in Bloomfield Hills, and is a former president of the Oakland County Bar Association. He has chaired many State Bar committees, including Attorney Grievance from 1989 until 1992 and the Long Range Planning Committee Goal Group on Independence of the Bench and Bar in 1997. He has also actively served on various committees in the Business Law Section and is a member of the ADR and Litigation Sections of the State Bar. Pappas is a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation and the American Bar Association Foundation, and is a charter fellow of the Oakland Bar Foundation. He currently serves as a master in the Oakland County Bar Association Inn of Court.
Elias J. Escobedo Jr. has been a practicing attorney for over 15 years, concentrating on personal injury, family, criminal, and labor law. He is president of the Oakland County Bar Association, and a past president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan. Recognized by the State Bar of Michigan as a "Citizen Lawyer," Escobedo is the recipient of various awards: the Sandy Rosenthal Memorial Award for professionalism, honesty and integrity in the legal profession; the Key to the City of Pontiac for Service in the Hispanic Community; and the Professionalism Award from the Oakland County Bar Association. Escobedo has had a distinguished military career; he received two Purple Hearts during his service in the Vietnam War, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Service Medal.