Michael Stephenson

Michael W. Stephenson


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

Michael W. Stephenson is the Managing Partner of the firm, the President of the Board of Directors and is a shareholder.  He has practiced law for almost 30 years. He heads the firm’s Medical Malpractice and Professional Licensing Groups. Mr. Stephenson specializes in defending physicians and other medical professionals against medical malpractice claims and professional license investigations and violations. He has handled all steps of the litigation process and has tried over 50 jury trials. Mr. Stephenson is known as as one of the best Medical Malpractice Defense attorneys in the State of Michigan.

Michael W. Stephenson is the Managing Partner and the President of the firm’s Board of Directors.

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.
  • 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


  • Parker, 91-CV-70917, U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, Judge Edmunds.
  • Manning, 1993-463129-NO, 52-3rd District Court (on remand) (Rochester Hills).
  • Pollack, 94- Court of Claims/Ingham County, Judge Harrison.
  • Jones, Oakland County Circuit, Judge Langford-Morris.
  • Fonte, 94-1779 NH, Washtenaw County Circuit, Judge Conners.
  • Williams, 94-474062 NH, Oakland County Circuit, Judge Thurburn.
  • Paris, 96-0358 NF, 28th District (on remand) (Southgate), Judge Kandrevas.
  • Pacitto, 97-001332, 16th District Court (Livonia), Judge Brzezinski.
  • Austin, 98-806713 NO, Wayne County Circuit, Judge McDonald.
  • McCann, 98-005178 NH, Oakland County Circuit, Judge Nichols.
  • Hoskins, 98-005033 NO, Oakland County Circuit, Judge Tyner.
  • White, GC-068269, 19th District (on remand) (Dearborn), Judge Hultgren.
  • Habel, 98-2934 NH, Calhoun County Circuit, Judge Kingsley.
  • Hamilton, 99-89858 NH, Ingham County Circuit, Judge Collette.
  • O’Mara, 00-1289-GC-F, 54-A District (Lansing), Judge Anderson.
  • Kempker, 99-25680-NO, Allegan County Circuit, Judge Beach.
  • Swihart, 00-4041-NM, Jackson County Circuit, Judge Schmucker.
  • Montgomery, 01-94514-NH, Ingham County Circuit, Judge Collette.
  • Shook, 01-1396-NH, Jackson County Circuit, Judge Nelson.
  • Gillerson, 02-73597-NF, Genesee County Circuit, Judge Yuille.
  • Maddin, 02-3195-NH, Jackson County Circuit, Judge Grant.
  • Barber, 01-94494-NH, Ingham County Circuit, Judge Brown.
  • In Re: P. F. Revocable Trust, 03-31833-TV, Shiawassee Probate, Judge Clatterbaugh.
  • Crawford, 03-828-NH, Eaton County Circuit, Judge Osterhaven.
  • Shook (retrial), 01-1396-NH 01-1396-NH, Jackson County Circuit, Judge Nelson.
  • Miller, 03-873-NF, Washtenaw County Circuit, Judge Morris.
  • Trowbridge, 03-2226-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Beverly Nettles-Nickerson.
  • Long, 04-10042,U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, Judge David M. Lawson.
  • Barrett, A04-000375-NH, Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, Judge William G. Schma.
  • Malone, 05-42580-NH, Marquette County Circuit Court, Judge John R. Weber.
  • Bernath, 06-5655-GC, 14B District Court (on remand) (Ypsilanti) Judge John B. Collins.
  • Rogers, 99-91148-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge James R. Giddings.
  • Butler, 02-1348-NH, St. Joseph County Circuit, Judge Paul E. Stutesman.
  • Ballard, 05-492-NH, Alpena County Circuit Court, Judge John F. Kowalski.
  • Peet, 03-884-NH, Eaton County Circuit Court, Judge Calvin E. Osterhaven.
  • Yurcso, 06-62602-NH, Saginaw County Circuit Court, Judge William A. Crane.
  • Olson, 06-1514-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Joyce Draganchuk.
  • In Re L. W., 2001-277358-GD, Oakland County Probate Court, Judge Barry M. Grant.
  • Emmenhiser, 07-488-NH, Eaton County Circuit Court, Judge Calvin E. Osterhaven.
  • Farrell, 08-2382-NH, Jackson County Circuit Court, Judge Chad C. Schmucker.
  • Keusch, 06-639-NF, Washtenaw County Circuit Court, Judge David S. Swartz.
  • Kakowski, 07-03334-NH, Jackson County Circuit Court, Judge Tomas D. Wilson.
  • Walston, 09-277-NH, St. Joseph County Circuit Court, Judge Paul Stutesman.
  • Kobus, 09-864-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.
  • Webster, 10-0132-NH, Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, Judge Gary C. Giguere, Jr.
  • Oostdyk, 2010-0277-NF, Kalamazoo County Circuit Court. Judge J. Richard Johnson.
  • Wray, 10-1219-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Clinton Canady, III.
  • Nobach, 11-10817-NH, Clinton County Circuit Court, Judge Randy L. Tahvonen.
  • Gorrell, 10-0603-NH, Jackson County Circuit Court, Judge Thomas D. Wilson.
  • Scott, 13-311-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Joyce Draganchuk.
  • Champagne, 13-921-NH, Calhoun County Circuit Court, Judge Conrad J. Sindt.
  • Stevens, 13-56-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Clinton Canady, III.
  • Simpson, 13-1078-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge James S. Jamo.
  • Miilu, 12-1169-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Clinton Canady, III.
  • Caraway, 13-1337-NH, Calhoun County Circuit Court, Judge Sarah S. Lincoln.
  • Lamb, 13-000013-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.
  • Genereaux, 13-000953-NH, Ingham County Circuit Court, Judge Rosemarie Aqulina.
  • Branoff Cap., 14-11313-CK, Clinton County Circuit Court, Judge Randy Tahvonen.
  • Southward, 14-5222-NH, Lenawee County Circuit Court, Judge Gregg P. Iddings.
  • Morris, 17-1503-NM, Calhoun County Circuit Court, Judge John Hallacy.
  • Tavarone, 14-06256-NH, Kent County Circuit Court, Judge Donald Johnson.
  • Miller, 18-035375-NH, Saginaw County Circuit Court, Judge Janet Boes.
  • LaFleur, 17-13421NH, Calhoun County Circuit Court, Judge John Hallacy.
  • Elton, 17-109430-NH, Genesee County Circuit Court, Judge Geoffrey Neithercut.

Appellate Courts

  • 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


  • Best Lawyers in America 2022
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) 2021
  • Leo A. Farhat Outstanding Attorney Award 2019
  • Super Lawyers 2014 to present – Personal Injury Medical Malpractice Defense
  • 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

Congratulations to Michael W. Stephenson for being selected to the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Each year, no more than five percent of private practice attorneys throughout the United States receive this honor. Best Lawyers is nomination based and reflects the consensus opinion of leading lawyers in regard to the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.