Areas of Practice

Commercial Litigation

Labor & Employment Law

Kathleen L. Bruinsma


Phone: 616-732-5000
Fax: 616-732-5099

Kathleen Bruinsma represents individuals and businesses in a variety of civil litigation matters, including commercial, real estate, employment, and intellectual property disputes. 

Kathleen’s clients – ranging from individuals and startups to small and midsized companies – value her direct and honest counsel, which comes from listening closely to their needs and goals and being open to solutions that work best for each client. Clients also value the creative and carefully-constructed strategies that she tailors to each matter. Kathleen has yet to encounter an issue in business litigation that she finds boring. 

In the commercial arena, Kathleen has litigated individual claims and class actions involving credit defaults, secured transactions including mechanics’ liens, and ships’ mortgages under maritime law, as well as violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and other federal consumer lending statutes. She also represents creditors in Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy proceedings in equipment lease and adversary actions. 

In real estate matters, Kathleen has brought and defended suits over property ownership, easements, and adverse possession. Her intellectual property experience encompasses U.S. and international registration, protection, and enforcement of trademarks and copyrights. Kathleen’s work in the employment area includes reviewing employment contracts and employee handbooks, and litigation of employment contract breaches and Family and Medical Leave Act claims. She assists corporate clients with structure and governance including bylaws and operating agreements. 

Before earning her law degree at the University of Notre Dame Law School, Kathleen served as a legislative director for the Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. Prior to joining McShane & Bowie, she practiced in the Chicago office of a London law firm, where, in addition to commercial and class action defense, she handled contract and treaty matters for French-speaking clients.

Representative Matters

When a Belgian national sought the return of her son after the boy’s father took him to the U.S. during a custody dispute, Kathleen argued for his return under international child abduction laws and obtained an expedited ruling for the immediate release of the son to his mother.

Bar Admission:

  • Michigan
  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan 
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan  
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois 
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois 
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana


  • University of Notre Dame Law School, Juris Doctor, 1997 
    • National Moot Court Team 
    • A. Harold Weber Moot Court Award 
  • Providence College, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, cum laude, 1992 
    • Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society 

Professional Associations and Membership:

  • State Bar of Michigan 
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association 
  • Chicago Bar Association 
  • Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce 
    • Member, Workforce Development Committee 

Community Involvement:

  • Grand Rapids Community College 
    • Member, Board of Trustees 
  • Gerald R. Ford  Presidential  Museum
    • Member, Friends of Ford  
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum 
    • Member 


  • “Class Action Lawsuits – A New Wave of Litigation Against Insurers and Policyholders,” Shand Morahan & Co., Evanston, Illinois (October 1998)


  • “How the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Can Apply to Creditors and Other Non-Third Party Collectors,” 54 Consumer Fin. L. Q. Rep. 211 (2000)