Michael Stephenson

Michael W. Stephenson


David Long (Assistant) – 517-324-1032 or dlong@willinghamcote.com

Michael W. Stephenson is a shareholder and has practiced law for over 25 years. He is the Vice President of the firm. He is a member of the firm’s Medical Malpractice and Professional Licensing Groups. Mr. Stephenson specializes in defending physicians against medical malpractice claims. He also focuses upon the obtainment of professional licenses by medical professionals and defends against violations filed against medical professionals. He has many years of experience in handling matters in court in which he has drafted and answered discovery requests, drafted motions, attended court hearings, has taken various depositions of both lay witnesses and expert witnesses, and he has handled all steps of the litigation process including lead counsel for trials. Mr. Stephenson is known as the “go to” attorney and is known as one of the best Medical Malpractice Defense attorneys in the State of Michigan.

Michael W. Stephenson is the president of the firm’s board of directors and chair of the firm’s Litigation Group.

Michael has been an attorney since 1993 and began working at the firm in 1999. He became Partner shortly thereafter, and has served as the Managing Partner for a number of years.

Trial/Litigation Success

Known as one of the best Medical Malpractice Defense attorneys in the State of Michigan, Michael has tried approximately 75 cases. His practice focuses on representing physicians, midlevel providers, and hospitals. Representative healthcare specialties have included orthopedics, cardiology, neurology, infectious disease, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, anesthesia, podiatry, emergency medicine, jail medicine, pathology, pain medicine, family medicine, and dentistry.

Handling Medical Malpractice involves not only understanding the best way to try each case, but requires deep understanding of the practice of medicine. Melding both complicated areas when representing a client is second nature to Michael.

Although he takes an aggressive approach to the defense of each case, Michael never forgets that litigation can be difficult on the parties involved. He has spoken to health providers and their spouses about the stresses of litigation, and what they can expect. To help alleviate that stress, Michael provides his clients with timely updates of all litigation events, and virtually unlimited availability for in-person and telephone meetings/updates.

Additionally, Michael has a strong professional licensing practice representing physicians and other healthcare providers (including psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, and midlevel providers) within the administrative hearing system in claims against the Bureau of Professional Licensing.

Michael practices throughout the State of Michigan and has tried cases in 18 different counties, numerous district courts, and in the Federal system. He frequently travels throughout the United States to depose medical experts.

Legal Community Involvement

Michael has a longstanding commitment to speaking to various students and young professionals. He has spoken to the prelaw section for Michigan State University, WMU-Cooley Law School, and the paralegal association on various occasions. He was also President of the Young Lawyers Section of the Ingham County Bar Association. In addition, Michael regularly attends Ingham County Bar Association events, and is a strong supporter of the Women’s Lawyer’s Association of Michigan. He is also a Fellow for the Ingham County Bar Association Foundation and serves as a case evaluation panelist for the Ingham County Circuit Court.

General Community Involvement

Despite regularly traveling in and outside of Michigan, Michael is a generous volunteer, and has deep roots in his community. He served on the Board of Directors for Montessori Radmoor School from 2005-2018, acting as President for the majority of that time. He served as a Boy Scout Troop Leader (Troop 125), including journeying to the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico, and completing a 12 day, 100 mile camping trip. He has also hiked Isle Royale and the Appalachian Mountains with the Troop. In support of his daughter, he has chaperoned countless high-adventure Girl Scout Troop trips, including whitewater rafting, dog-sledding, and numerous camping trips.

Michael has participated in various fund raising activities including the Annual Dapper Dads Challenge and Fashion show for the Sparrow Foundation, the annual Empty Plate Dinner for the Greater Lansing Food Bank, the annual dinner for Helping Women Period (advocates for menstrual equality), and the annual fundraiser for the McLaren Hospital Chi Heart Center. He has also mustered the energy and endurance to participate in sprint triathlons and the “Tough Mudder” 10-mile obstacle course.

Professional Affiliations

  • State Bar of Michigan
  • Ingham County Bar Association

Community Affiliations

  • Board of Directors, Michigan Montessori Internationale, Inc.
  • Ingham County Bar Association
  • Lansing Chamber of Commerce
  • Michigan Montessori Internationale, Inc. (Board of Directors)
  • Ingham County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section – Past President
  • Association of Trial Lawyers of America Member 1993 – 2006
  • Federalist Society – Member – 1991 – 1996
  • The Legal Perspective – Don’t Inadvertently Choose Death – 2015
  • Briefs (ICBA) – High Adventure – 2014
  • The Legal Perspective – Trial Prep vs Trail Prep – 2014
  • AVVO Legal Guides – What to Expect at Trial – 2012
  • AVVO Legal Guides – Basic Elements of a Malpractice Case – 2012
  • Smith v Henry Ford Hospital, 219 Mich App 555, 557 NW2d 154 (1996).
  • Persichini v William Beaumont Hospital, 238 Mich App 626, 607 NW2d 100 (1999).
  • Apsey v Memorial Hospital (on reconsideration), 266 Mich App 666; 702 NW2d 870 (2005).
  • Crego v Sparrow Hospital, 327 Mich App 525; 937 NW2d 380 (2019).  Trial counsel only.
  • Third Year Law Students – What to Expect After Law School – 2017
  • Professor Fleener’s Course – The Legal Profession – 2016
  • Third Year Law Students – Life in the Law – 2015
  • Litigation Education Retreat – The Legal Process – 2015
  • Sparrow Neonatology Retreat – The Law – 2015
  • Don’t Inadvertently Choose Death – Care Codes, Medical Powers of Attorney & Advance Directives – 2015
  • Regional Claims Summit – Challenges of Defending Bowel Perforation Cases – 2014
  • Litigation Education Retreat – Medical Malpractice Basics – 2014
  • Career Day – The Legal Profession – 2013
  • From the Exam Room to the Courtroom – Loss Prevention for Today’s Physician – 2008
  • 2007 Physician Risk Management Seminar – Documentation, Differential
  • Diagnosis and the Disinterested Physician – 2007
  • Smooth Sailing: Navigating the Rough Waters of Modern Day Practice – Mid-level Providers, Testimony Red Flags & Pitfalls – 2006
  • Risk Management Presentation – Let’s Talk: Communicating the Good, the Bad & the Apology – 2005
  • Annual Fall Risk Management Conference – Risk Management & Patient Care in the Office Setting – 2004
  • Practice Meetings – Medical Malpractice – 2003
  • Legal Implications of Documentation in a Busy Office Setting – Medical Documentation – 2002
  • PreLaw Fraternity Meeting – What to Expect from the Law – 2002


  • State Bar of Michigan
  • United States District Court-Western District
  • United States District Court-Eastern District
  • United States District Court of Colorado
  • United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States Supreme Court


  • Leo A. Farhat Outstanding Attorney Award 2019
  • Super Lawyers 2014 to present
  • Crain’s Detroit Business Top Attorneys 2014
  • Ten Best American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 2015
  • Case Note – Verdict Search Medical Malpractice – 2016 and  2017
  • Featured Verdict – Verdict Search Michigan – 2013, 2016 and 2017
  • Superb Attorney – AVVO – 2016-present
  • Best in Medical Malpractice Defense – Michigan The Corporate America Legal Elite – 2015
  • Client Choice Award – AVVO – 2014
  • Top Contributer – AVVO – 2013
  • Top Attorneys in Michigan – Showmark – 2011
  • Charles E. Willingham Award – Willingham & Cote – 2008
  • Jack L. Cote Award – Willingham & Cote – 2002


  • Michigan State University (B.A. 1990)
  • Wayne State University Law School (J.D. 1993)

Blog Posts by Michael

Michael W. Stephenson in the News