TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF PRACTICING LAW has led Darrell Zolton to one universal truth: It’s all about relationships.
“We really strive to establish more of a personal connection with our clients,” Zolton says. “Some of that comes from our backgrounds – we really focus our practice on families, whether it’s helping someone who’s sick, or helping families deal with estate planning, or real estate. What I like particularly about those areas is they’re generally not as confrontational – you’re doing a lot more counseling and guidance, and things aren’t nearly as adversarial as other areas. But regardless of the area of the law we’re practicing, we’re not interested in a one-time situation; we want to be our clients’ lawyer for life.”
As a teen growing up in Saginaw Township, Zolton found himself drawn to situations where he could play the devil’s advocate, at school and at home. “I liked seeing the other side of things, and I always had an interest in government and civics – that’s what led me down this path to law,” he recalls. “What’s interesting about the law to me is that while there are facts that play into it, the law itself it pretty concrete. The law says ‘this.’ But the circumstances around it are all a little different, depending on your perspective.”
When he entered the profession, Zolton was living on the west side of Michigan. But his relationships – there’s that word again – with family and friends brought him home, where he is now seen as a trusted advocate who brings a healthy mix of know-how and compassion to the courtroom. “Family and community are important, and those are big pulls,” Zolton says. “It was important to have our kids near their grandparents, and it was good to re-establish those connections in the community. It’s been beneficial living in the Saginaw area because I’m able to be involved in the community that I grew up in.”
Asked to gauge where his firm could be in ten years, Zolton has answers both figurative and literal. “I think we’ll be a little larger, expanding into areas that are becoming more of a need in this area,” he says. “You’re going to see a need for more elder law – anything related to all the baby boomers who made their careers in the auto industry in the area. They’re not going anywhere, because this is home. But they’re going to need help with things like guardianships, estate planning, real estate…anything dealing with senior issues is going to be big in this area. I can also see our firm expanding its presence to include areas in the north-central area of the state.”
In the meantime, Zolton will continue to help families in the courtroom and foster the relationships he and his partners have developed. “It’s important to us that we not only get the job done for our clients, but to be moral and ethical while we do it,” he says. “I honestly believe that we generally gravitate toward clients who are usually on that side of the argument, and it’s easier to fight for someone when you’re fighting for people who are honest.”
The best thing about my job?
Helping people solve their problems.
It’s simplistic, but it’s true.
- Darrell Zolton
- 2012 – Recipient of F.H. Martin Award, Law Day 2012
- 2001 – Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Court
- 1997 – U.S. District Court, Eastern District
- 1992 – U.S. District Court, Western District
- 1991 – Admitted to Michigan Bar
- 2005 – Probate and Estate Planning Certification
- 1991 – Juris Doctorate, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
- 1984 – Bachelor of Science, Central Michigan University
- Estate and Trust Planning
- Administration of Decedent’s Estates and Trusts
- Elder Law, Medicaid and Nursing Home Planning
- Real Estate – Residential and Commercial
- Corporate and Business
- Creditors Rights and Collections
- State Bar of Michigan – Probate and Estate Planning, Real Estate and Elder Law Sections
- Saginaw County Bar Association 2001 and 2002 – Treasurer
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
- Northeastern Michigan Estate Planning Council
CIVIC AND COMMUNITY SERVICE (PAST AND PRESENT):
- Director – Wellspring Lutheran Services; Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Special Ministry Foundation; and Valley Lutheran High School Foundation
- Former Director – Peace Lutheran Church and School Foundation
- Former President – Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Saginaw
- Member – One Hundred Club of Saginaw County; Independent Village, Inc.; Alzheimer’s Association; and Noon Rotary Club of Frankenmuth