The firm was founded in 1981 by James Dunn, Neil Mickenberg, and Judith Dickson with an emphasis on providing legal assistance to individuals dealing with government agencies and businesses.
THE FIRM’S BEGINNINGS
In its early years, the firm, then known as Mickenberg, Dunn, and Dickson, brought several major cases, including a successful challenge to an attempt by the Burlington Board of Voter Registration to limit registration of college students. In 1984, the firm took on the representation of several recently formed non-profit organizations, all of whom grew into substantial enterprises and have continued as clients of the firm to this day.
During the decade of the 1980’s, the firm’s nonprofit clients grew exponentially in the areas of affordable housing and health care, keeping the firm active in government contract work and innovative large-scale real estate transactions under the supervision of Neil Mickenberg. It expanded its practice to include legislative advocacy, primarily through its partner Michael Sirotkin. It also took on as partners Michael Kupersmith (currently a District Court judge), John Shullenberger (currently a lobbyist) and William Dorsch, a widely recognized Vermont trial attorney formerly of the firm of Dorsch and Hertz in Brattleboro. Bill expanded the firm’s personal injury and family law practices. During this same period, Jim Dunn spent several years working on a contract basis for the City of Burlington. Jim’s work for the City expanded his knowledge of labor and personnel issues, leading to the evolution of his practice. Today, primarily through Jim, the firm represents many labor unions and their members in both the public and private sectors.
By the 1990’s, the firm was well established and had an active practice that focused on legislative advocacy, personal injury and civil rights litigation, family law, special education, and the representation of unions and non-profit organizations.
In January 1999, Bill Dorsch retired from the firm and Michael Sirotkin formed his own lobbying firm based in Montpelier. At the same time, the firm merged with the Burlington law firm of Kochman & Smith, and Aileen Lachs, who had been an associate, became a partner. The merger added two very experienced attorneys. Whit Smith brought a national reputation as a litigator and advocate for children with disabilities as well as substantial experience with local nonprofit organizations. Frank Kochman has recorded two decades of commercial law experience and many years in the affordable housing field as outside counsel for the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. With the addition of Frank and Whit, the firm expanded its scope of practice to include commercial law and added depth to its well-established practice representing non-profit organizations and protecting individual rights. Aileen Lachs continued Bill Dorsch’s work in the area of family law and litigation.
In 2001, the firm brought on Mollie Hazel, then a recent graduate of Vermont Law School, with a Master of Studies (cum laude ) in environmental law. In 2006, Mollie became a member of the firm, concentrating her practice in real estate, affordable housing, and non-profit representation. Also in 2006, the firm added its newest associate, David Mickenberg. David is admitted to practice in Vermont and New York and brings with him substantial prior experience in press and public relations, legislative advocacy and grass-roots organizing.
2008 AND BEYOND
2008 brought a number of changes to Mickenberg Dunn. Jim Dunn, one of the founding partners, assumed "of counsel" status with the firm. He continues his well-established representation of unions and union members in a variety of matters. Frank Kochman left the firm at the beginning of the year to pursue a solo practice.