Prominent Detroit-area lawyer Ira Jaffe’s official retirement was brief. As he explains it, “I view doing very little as purgatory.”
After retiring last year from Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss, the Southfield-based law firm that he founded in 1968, Jaffe, 81, was doing some consulting for families and businesses concerning succession planning and wealth transition — his particular areas of interest. But last month he joined the powerhouse law firm of Honigman LLP as distinguished counsel. “I love working,” Jaffe says, and he seeks “enjoyable ways to make a difference.”
“Ira was ready to do something different, and I was ready to try something new,” says Honigman CEO and Chair David Foltyn, adding that other prominent individuals, including the late U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, have served the firm as distinguished counsel.
Foltyn says that it took less than two weeks to put together Jaffe’s affiliation with Honigman. “We were excited to do it with him. We love having him in the firm, sharing his brilliance and expertise,” he says.
Jaffe will focus on his special areas of expertise and interest — charitable foundations, family business succession, wealth plans and charitable giving. In addition, Foltyn expects to turn to Jaffe for assistance because of his experience in starting and building a big law firm.
“We are honored to have Ira join Honigman as distinguished counsel, a special Honigman status reserved for attorneys who are widely recognized in the legal and business communities as preeminent practitioners,” said Foltyn.
Honigman LLP has more than 330 attorneys at multiple offices in Michigan, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
In addition to his former role as law firm CEO, Jaffe served as CEO and president of The Fisher Group, the Max and Marjorie Fisher family office, until 2019. He has been active with the Norman and Esther Allen Foundation, which focuses on helping the elderly Orthodox community. Jaffe is trustee emeritus of the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation.
Jaffe enjoys “helping families with transition including wealth transfer. Family businesses need to consider the future by asking ‘What is the succession plan? Is it the right time to sell? Are there appropriate managers in place?’”
He enjoys helping families consider wealth and tax issues. “Some want to spend it all themselves and don’t want to transfer so much to the next generation. There are no right or wrong choices. Everyone is different,” he says.
Jaffe explains that some wealthy individuals may give large charitable gifts or establish donor-advised funds with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit or the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan.
“Some want their own foundations — they want to see the good that is achieved and participate. It can be a way to interface with the second and third generations — to engage them in good deeds.”
Jaffe will be based at Honigman’s Bloomfield Hills office but may open an office in Florida for Honigman. Jaffe and his wife, Brenda, long-time members of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, spend much of the year in Naples. Fortunately, they were not there during Hurricane Ian.
“Ira has more than 50 years of experience working with and advising some of the nation’s most sophisticated and successful individuals, businesses, foundation and nonprofit community organizations, a background and skill set that will prove invaluable to the many Honigman clients he will come to serve,” Foltyn says.