`His Life Is The Law'
Peers bestow Champion ofJustice Award upon lawyer Henry Baskin.
Special to the Jewish News
"There's just no one like him in the legal commu-
nity," said Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy
Potts, who has known Baskin for 15 years.
"He's dynamic, highly professional, generous, and
very caring and giving," she said. "Just give him a
project or a cause, unleash him and he gets the job
done. The 'Courtroom Henry' is the same as
`Henry, the personal friend' ... they both give 200
Los Angeles area for five years so he could be closer
to such clients as singer-songwriter Smokey
Robinson, singer Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the
enry Baskin has a sterling reputation as
Platters and others.
an entertainment and media attorney,
"But I returned because I didn't like the deceitful-
but he once told a fledgling entertainer
ness and phoniness of the managers and others con-
named Barbra Streisand to marry a rich
nected with the stars," Baskin said. "I just couldn't
man because she would never be more than a lounge
stand the Hollywood scene."
Back in the Detroit area, he has been representing
Baskin also is a topnotch divorce lawyer,
such local celebrities as radio personality
but he once stunned his client when he
Dick Purtan and his daughter, JoAnne, a
asked a judge for more alimony for her
TV health reporter; television news anchors
because she was overweight, plain looking,
Huel Perkins and Fanchon Stinger; TV
arthritic and probably never would get mar-
weatherman Jerry Hodak; radio home
repair handyman Glenn Haege, disc jockey
He's a noted family law attorney, but a
John Mason and many others.
youngster once bopped him on the head
Baskin chuckles when he recalls the
with a car phone because the boy didn't like
advice he gave Streisand — who had been
the outcome of a custody hearing.
invited to a Passover seder at the home of
That's a look at the lighter side of Baskin's
his former in-laws — after he saw her per-
legal career, -40 years of professional accom-
form at the Caucus Club in downtown
plishments that have demonstrated his ded-
Detroit at the beginning of her career. He
ication to the rule of law and improvements
chalks it up to inexperience early in his own
in the American system of justice. His
career, and he's delighted with her success
achievements in his professional activities
since that time.
and his community and charity efforts have
Divorced after a short marriage, Baskin
earned him many awards and plaudits. But
has been single for 30 years and came close
the most significant honor came recently
to remarrying only once. In the meantime,
when Baskin was given the Michigan Bar
he established a reputation as one of the
Association's annual Champion of Justice
nation's top divorce lawyers.
Award. And almost simultaneously, the
"I specialize in high-asset divorces," is the
Bloomfield Hills resident was named chair-
way he describes it. He's pleased with his
man of the Oakland University Board of
efforts at setting the precedent of a judge
Trustees for a two-year term.
ordering a Jewish man to agree to a get (a
Not bad for a product of a pioneering
Jewish divorce) after the husband rejected
Jewish section of northwest Detroit, who
his ex-wife's request for one.
played football in the street, basketball in
In another case, Baskin apparently
the back yard, "crashed" Friday-night girls'
endeared himself to a wealthy Dearborn
club meetings with his pals, had a bar mitz-
appliance-store owner when he handled his
vah at the old Richton Street Shul and
divorce because, when the divorced couple
graduated from Central High School and
remarried, the husband asked Baskin to be
Wayne State University's Law School, both
his best man.
in Detroit. Baskin, now in his 60s, is really
The judge who heard Baskin's plea for
not sure how he lost his boyhood nickname
extra alimony for his obese and plain-look-
of "Hank," but it's been "Henry Baskin,
ing client — she got an extra $80,000 a
attorney at law," for most of his adult life.
year — was Norm Lippitt, who was serving
He maintained his own law office as part
a four-year Circuit Court appointment at
of the Clark Hill Law Firm in Birmingham
the time. Lippitt of Bloomfield Hills is now
until this month when he moved into the
Baskin's "landlord" in Birmingham.
Hyman Lippitt Law Firm, also in
Henry Baskin has a new law firm with daughter Dana Baskin
"Henry and I both still laugh over that
Birmingham. That kind of an arrangement
Coffman, an attorney, and longtime executive assistant Diane Dietle.
incident," he said. "I've known him for
is called maintaining a "boutique" firm in
more than 40 years and you just can't find a
someone else's larger organization.
more qualified, highly respected lawyer in
Baskin plunged into entertainment and media law the state. He's excellent in every phase of his practice
In the firm with him are his daughter, attorney
at the beginning of his career and is noted for set-
Dana Baskin Coffman of Bloomfield Township and
... entertainment, divorce and family work."
ting new standards in that field. He became interest-
Diane Dietle of Milford, who has been his executive
Throughout his many years of handling divorce
ed in the entertainment field after representing a
assistant for more than 30 years. He also has a son,
and family law cases, Baskin has worked to protect
Motown singer in a minor crime case. He even
Marc, who is a psychologist with the U.S. govern-
victims of domestic violence and preserve the rights
moved to California in the 1970s and lived in the
ment in the Washington, D.C., area.
of children involved in divorce cases. He was chair-