About Conor

Conor is a skilled litigator who draws on his years of experience with the Department of Justice and in private practice to help navigate clients from a lawsuit’s inception through its successful completion. Conor expertly tries cases, frames the issues in the trial court for potential appeal, and develops a successful appellate strategy.

Conor has a varied litigation practice. He has tried multiple federal cases and handled significant pre-trial discovery and motions practice. In one federal civil trial, Conor wrote the post-trial brief that helped convince the United States District Court to pierce the veil of the defendant-corporation and allow the plaintiff to recover on a nearly decade-old judgment.

Conor is considered one of Michigan’s top appellate advocates. Clients come to him with high-stakes appeals in both federal and state courts. Conor has handled numerous appeals involving financial disputes between sophisticated banks and companies, criminal constitutional law questions, bankruptcy issues, insurance coverage disputes, trust and estate matters, and a variety of other legal issues. Conor has argued cases in the United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, Eleventh, and Federal Circuits; the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court; and the Illinois Court of Appeals. He possesses a deep knowledge of the Michigan appellate bar and bench, having served as an interviewer and author of a regular feature on Michigan appellate judges for the Michigan Appellate Practice Journal.

Conor has received recognition for his written and oral advocacy. In 2015, Conor received the Amicus Service Award from the International Municipal Lawyers Association for an amicus brief he wrote in the United States Supreme Court. In 2017, Conor received WMU-Cooley Law Review’s Distinguished Brief Award for a brief he drafted in the Michigan Supreme Court. And in 2022, after a Michigan Supreme Court argument, a justice described Conor’s oral argument as “excellent,” and “textbook,” and called it “one of the best rebuttals” the justice had ever seen. Conor is also often consulted before appeal to assess a client’s likelihood of success or to preserve issues in the trial court.

In addition to his robust litigation practice, Conor has an active investigative and white-collar practice. Conor has led Title IX Investigations, advised on the applicability and ramifications of FERPA, Title IX, and federal and state discrimination law, and offered crisis counseling to educational institutions. Conor has tried federal criminal jury trials to verdict, handled numerous criminal appeals, and advised individuals and organizations facing federal and state investigations. In 2022, Conor briefed and argued People v. Taylor in the Michigan Supreme Court, which established new precedent for juvenile criminal defendants in Michigan.

Outside of the litigation, investigative, and white-collar realms, Conor has served as a trusted advisor to religious organizations. For over a half-dozen years, Conor has served as the Outside General Counsel to a Catholic diocese. Conor’s counseling of religious institutions has included advising them on how to manifest their missions in light of federal and state law and their special constitutional protections and counseling on employment and regulatory issues.

Prior to joining SouthBank Legal, Conor clerked for then-Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and served for seven years at the U.S. Department of Justice, much of that time as an attorney in the Civil Rights Division’s Appellate Section, with a nearly year-long detail at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. In DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Conor handled numerous criminal and civil appeals in almost every circuit in the United States. As a Special Assistant United States Attorney, Conor directed or oversaw numerous criminal prosecutions, investigations, and sentencing matters and served as co-counsel on two felony jury trials, which both resulted in convictions. During his tenure at DOJ, Conor received a Special Achievement Award from the Attorney General.

After his time at DOJ, Conor joined an appellate boutique in Washington, D.C., before moving back home to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Conor practiced in two of Michigan’s largest law firms.

Experience

  • Successfully represented client in the Illinois Court of Appeals obtaining reversal and remand of a $7 million declaratory judgment award. Kuhn v. Owners Insurance Company, 2023 IL App (4th) 220827, 2023 WL 4231001 (Ill. App. 4 Dist., 2023).
  • Handled investigation and defense of civil rights complaint against a high school that resulted in the Michigan Department of Civil Rights dismissing complaint in 2021.
  • Successfully represented debtor in appeal upholding denial of a more than $1 million claim under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. In re: Spiech Farms, LLC, 840 Fed. Appx. 861 (6th Cir. 2021).
  • Led 2019 Title IX investigation of sexual assault allegations in a high school and produced final report on findings and recommendations.
  • Successfully briefed and argued that trustee of estate that had donated endowed chair to the University of Michigan had standing to enforce gift agreement, resulting in first published Michigan Court of Appeals decision on the question under the Michigan Trust Code. Le Gassick v. University of Michigan, 330 Mich. App. 487, 948 N.W.2d. 452 (2019).
  • Part of team that prevailed at trial in piercing corporate veil and asserting successor liability to recover $2.7 million judgment against defendant’s predecessor. Ryan Racing, LLC v. Gentilozzi, 231 F. Supp. 3d 269 (W.D. Mich. 2017).
  • Defended physical therapy practice and its owner in False Claims Act case alleging Medicare fraud, resulting in settlement and dismissal of case with prejudice. United States ex rel. Hudd v. Great Lakes Physical Therapy-North Muskegon, LLC, et al., No. 1:16-cv-710 (W.D. Mich.).
  • Successfully briefed and argued as amicus curiae on behalf of the United States resulting in unanimous opinion affirming that jailhouse detention center was an institution for the purposes of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Khatib v. County of Orange, 639 F.3d 898 (9th Cir. 2011) (en banc).
  • Successfully represented the United States as appellee in defending the enforcement of the Help America Vote Act. United States v. New York State Bd. of Elections, No. 10-2320 (2d Cir. Sept. 7, 2010).
  • Co-tried multi-day robbery trial, delivering opening statement and examining over a dozen witnesses, which resulted in convictions on several counts. United States v. Richard Armand Pindle, No. 01:08cr287 (E.D. Va. October 2008).
  • Co-tried bank robbery trial, handling closing argument and multiple witness examinations, after which the jury delivered convictions on multiple counts. United States v. Carlton Coltrane, No. 01:08cr214 (E.D. Va. July 2008).

Education

  • Notre Dame Law School, J.D., magna cum laude
    • Administrative Editor, Notre Dame Law Review
  • Dartmouth College, Honors A.B. in Government, cum laude

Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court