July 25, 2012 - Clarkston Attorney Laurie Cunningham knows her new law partner well – it's her son, Noah Fields.
Laurie Cunningham and her son, Noah Fields, practice law in downtown Clarkston. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
"It's a family business," said Cunningham, who practices law at 21 S. Main Street. "Noah grew up in the business – he'd go to court with my dad (the Hon. Robert Cunningham, who served as a judge in Pontiac). My dream was for my son to come partner with me."
"It's been the plan about as long as I can remember," said Fields, who worked in his mom's law office as a clerk when he was 16 years old.
He later interned at 52-2 District Court with the Hon. Kelley Kostin, and is now assigned there certain days as a public defender.
The firm, which handles mostly family law, is now called Cunningham and Fields.
"I like it, I like the way that sounds, I truly do," Fields said. "It's nice, with the added responsibilities. Before, I was limited in the things I could do. Now, I do everything."
As a student at Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, he volunteered with Family Law Assistance Project. The project provides free family law legal aid to low income residents in Oakland County.
"I fell in love with it, it felt really good," he said. "Originally, I went into law for the money – not until that experience did I see something there outside financial gain."
Fields, 28, graduated from Clarkston High School in 2002, then went to Oakland Community College and Oakland University, graduating in 2008. He passed the bar earlier this year.
"I'm so proud of him," Cunningham said. "There's no greater flattery than for a child to do what his parent does. The legal profession will benefit."
She hopes one day to retire and Fields take over.
"Then, down the road, for my grandchildren to take over," she said.
Fields' plans are to continue to build the family law practice in Clarkston.
"Short term, get my feet wet out there, do as much as I can and help as many as I can," he said. "I really like it here, the Union and Woodshop. I've traveled a lot, but no matter what, I look forward to coming back home to Clarkston."
"I hope the law firm is always in Clarkston," Cunningham said. "This is our home. I like it here, the beautiful downtown with people walking around. It's fabulous."
The family moved to Clarkston from Auburn Hills 25 years ago.
"We (she and her husband Richard Fields) wanted to move out into the country," Cunningham said. "It still has a country feel, though times have changed, and a great school system. It's a good community."
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.