Silver & Van Essen, P.C.

Silver & Van Essen, P.C.

Practical and Creative Litigation Solutions

Firm Overview

Silver & Van Essen was formed to provide extraordinary litigation services in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Our founders, Lee T. Silver and Douglas W. Van Essen, were previously partners at large, full-service firms where they specialized in civil litigation. They believed that the best way to serve clients was to form a firm that did one thing (high-stakes litigation) and did it well. This belief has resulted in a firm that is comprised exclusively of exceptional trial lawyers who are dedicated to providing personal service, minimizing litigation costs, and finding practical and creative solutions to clients' problems.

Our clients expect and receive candid assessments of their case, innovative strategies and aggressive representation at trial, and through the appellate process. We represent businesses, municipalities and individuals in state and federal courts throughout Michigan, and have been entrusted to handle cases for clients located across the country including California, New York, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona. Our practice includes:

-Representation of clients in civil litigation in state and federal courts throughout Michigan and other states.
-Representation of clients in arbitration, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution procedures.
-Development of strategies and negotiating solutions to complex legal disputes.
-Advice to clients on business decisions that pose litigation risks.

If you have a serious legal problem that requires skilled trial counsel, we encourage you to review the information contained in this website. But more importantly, we invite you to contact one of our attorneys. Only by talking to us and getting to know who we are as professionals and individuals will you come to understand the pride we take in our work, the commitment we bring to each and every case, and the value we can add to you or your business by resolving your legal disputes in a cost-effective manner. Feel free to contact us today.

Main Office

Main Office
300 Ottawa Avenue N.W.
Suite 620
Grand Rapids MI 49503




At Silver & Van Essen, our attorneys have successfully represented clients in a broad spectrum of business and commercial litigation matters in a variety of state and federal courts throughout Michigan and across the United States.

Whether you or your company are involved in a breach of contract dispute, a claim for fraud or other type of commercial dispute, we can help. The types of matters we are experienced at handling include the following:

-Breach of contract
-Shareholder and partnership disputes
-Covenants not to compete, trade secrets and confidential information -disputes
-Breach of fiduciary duty
-Business torts
-Securities litigation
-Civil RICO cases
-Real estate disputes
-Antitrust and unfair competition
-Construction litigation
-Trust and estate litigation
-Liability of corporate officers and directors
-Municipal and government liability
-Employment litigation
-Lender liability
-Civil and constitutional rights
-Arbitration and alternative dispute resolution
-Professional Malpractice
-Appellate practice
-Commercial litigation

If you have a legal matter involving one of these areas, please contact us to learn how our skill and experience can help you.

Lee T. Silver

Silver & Van Essen, P.C.

Partner Of Counsel, Stenger & Stenger, P.C.

Lee T. Silver, received his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Redlands in 1981 and his law degree from Indiana University Law School (Bloomington) in 1984. He was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1984, and has also been admitted to practice before the Western and Eastern Federal District Courts of Michigan, the Northern. District Federal Court of Illinois and the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Lee is very active in the Grand Rapids Bar Association, serving as Chairman of the Bench/Bar Committee, and a member of the Judicial Evaluation, Finance and Court Liaison Committees. Lee regularly serves as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") for large complex commercial cases and has been awarded Martindale-Hubbell's highest rating, "AV". Additionally, Lee has been named a Michigan Super Lawyer, which is awarded to the top 5% of attorneys in Michigan based on selection by a blue ribbon review panel of leading attorneys.

Areas of Practice:
Commercial Litigation
Contract Litigation
Business Torts
Breach of Contract
Shareholder and Partnership Disputes
Construction Litigation
Real Estate Litigation
Securities Litigation
Unfair Competition
Trade Secrets
Professional Malpractice
Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Bar Admissions:
Michigan, 1984
U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan, 1984
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, 1984
U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit

Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1984
Honors: First Place, Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition
Honors: Recipient, Glenn D. Peters Fellowship
Honors: Teaching Assistantship, Appellate Advocacy, 1984

University of Redlands, 1981
Honors: Cum Laude

Published Works:
Lender Liability: In Search of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Michigan Business Law Journal, Vol. XI, Issue No. 3, July, 1988

Professional Associations and Memberships:
Grand Rapids Bar Association
Chair, Bench/Bar Committee

Grand Rapids Bar Association
Member, Judicial Evaluation Committee

Grand Rapids Bar Association
Member, Court Liaison Committee

Grand Rapids Bar Association
Member, Finance Committee

American Bar Association, Litigation Section

American Bar Association, Business Law Section

State Bar of Michigan

The Association of Trial Lawyers of America

Michigan Trial Lawyers Association

International Society of Primerus Law Firms
Past President, Grand Rapids Chapter

Omicron Delta Kappa


Indiana University School of Law
Juris Doctorate,

Douglas W. Van Essen

Silver & Van Essen, P.C.

Douglas W. Van Essen received his Bachelor's Degree from Calvin College in 1978 and his J.D. from Notre Dame University in 1981. He was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1981, and has also been admitted to practice before the Western and Eastern Federal District Courts of Michigan, Northern District Federal Court of Illinois, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Van Essen has served as a Guest Lecturer at the Vermont School of Law, and as lead counsel, arguing four cases before the Michigan Supreme Court, including two class action lawsuits involving damages in excess of $200,000,000 each.


Notre Dame University
Juris Doctorate,

Aaron M. Halvas

Silver & Van Essen, P.C.

Of Counsel

State Bar of Michigan, 2001 - Business Law and Intellectual Property Sections
United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, 2002
American Bar Association - Business Law and Litigation Sections
Oakland County Bar Association


Siegel, Greenfield, Hayes & Gross, P.L.C.
Business Litigation Associate

Secrest, Wardle, Lynch, Hampton, Truex & Morley, P.C.
Commercial Litigation Associate

Morgan County Circuit and Superior Courts
Judicial Law Clerk

Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana, May, 2001
Doctor of Jurisprudence
Law Journal: Indiana Law Journal, Managing Editor, 2000 - 2001

Western Michigan University
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
Honors: Summa Cum Laude
Honors: Honor Societies of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi
Honors: Robert Friedmann Philosophy Award
Honors: Dean's List


Indiana University School of Law
Juris Doctorate,

Philip Stenger

Silver & Van Essen, P.C.

Mr. Stenger's extensive experience in corporate law, taxation, banking, and finance enable him to effectively assist clients in sophisticated transactions. Mr. Stenger has lectured extensively on estate planning for various civic and charitable organizations. In addition, Mr. Stenger has been a guest speaker at the Annual Small Practitioners Conference for Certified Public Accountants and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce regarding the law and taxation of limited liability companies and year end tax planning strategies.

Mr. Stenger has worked extensively in the area of creditor's rights and has overseen State and Federal Receiverships and liquidations of significant operating businesses. Mr. Stenger received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration (concentration in accountancy) from the University of Notre Dame in 1985, his law degree from Wayne State University in 1988 and his Masters in Taxation from Grand Valley State University in 1993. Mr. Stenger sat for and passed all four parts of the Certified Public Accountancy Examination. Prior to founding Stenger & Stenger, Mr. Stenger spent six years at a large full service Grand Rapids based law firm, Clary, Nantz, Wood, Hoffius, Rankin & Cooper and one year at a small law firm specializing in commercial transactions.