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Publications | September 22, 2020
3 minute read

Attorney Spotlight: David Skidmore

What kind of law do you practice and what do you enjoy about it?

My area of expertise is trust and estate disputes and litigation. I find my work meaningful because of the great importance that these matters have for my clients, most of whom are individuals. Inheritance disputes are not all about money or property. There’s a psychological and emotional significance to probate disputes – survivors are often looking to validate and understand their relationships to the decedent or other family members. “Did Dad really intend to disinherit me? What does that say about how he felt about me?” I counsel my clients on personal and legal matters of the utmost importance to them; it’s very rewarding.

I also enjoy the detective work I do in trying to understand what was really happening with the decedent during the key time period. My first probate dispute involved an elderly woman who lived alone in a remote house in the woods. She left all her money to charity under her will, but at her death, her neighbor had already received everything through late-in-life transfers. In looking for witnesses with relevant knowledge, I came upon a friend who remembered that the decedent was complaining about “the aliens knocking on her bedroom window at night and keeping her awake” – at about the same time that she made the contested money transfers. It was a great feeling to find that evidence of mental incapacity, which helped to recover assets for the charities.

Tell us about your journey to becoming an attorney.

I went to college at Michigan State University and studied public policy/international relations at James Madison College. After college, I worked as a legislative and budget aide for the Alaska State Senate for three years. I came back to Michigan to attend the University of Michigan Law School.

Why did you decide to join Warner?

I happened upon Warner through sheer good fortune. In 1995, my wife and I had been accepted to several law schools, and we were having trouble making our choice. Looking for advice, and unfamiliar with any law firms, I found Warner’s name in the Martindale Hubbell law directory (this was before the Internet was available) in the law library in Juneau, Alaska (where we were living and working at the time). I called and spoke to Warner’s recruiting coordinator, Cath Meriwether, and the rest is history. I clerked at Warner both summers during law school and came to work here upon graduation. It’s the only law firm where I have ever worked.

I am grateful that I found Warner. It has a commitment to excellence that has pushed me to be the best attorney I can be. My colleagues are exceptional in their fields, but there is a teamwork mentality here where everyone makes time to help one another. I wouldn’t want to practice law anywhere else.

Warner also has given me flexibility to build my unique practice. Nobody practiced probate litigation full-time when I started here. I wanted to be a full-time probate litigator, and the firm supported me as I built my practice.

What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?

First, that I was adopted as an infant through the Kent County Probate Court, where I often practice now. Second, that I’m addicted to the silly hidden-camera show “Impractical Jokers.”

What are your hobbies and interests?

Spending time with my wife Ruth and my kids, David and Anna; painting (I make big, colorful, wild paintings, using oil or acrylic on canvas); reading biography and history books; landscaping my yard; taking long walks through the city of Grand Rapids, where I live; being active in my church; and attending Broadway shows (currently serving as Vice Chair of the Broadway Grand Rapids board).