Our People

Biography

Charissa has secured life changing compensation for individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries and families who have lost loved ones due to wrongful conduct of others.  Her experience in this regard includes vehicular accidents, premises liability, and products liability cases. Charissa’s frequent representation of clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims is grounded in her passion for empowering people and their families during the worst times of their lives through advocacy, strategy, and humanity.  

 

Charissa has served as counsel for a variety of businesses in complex commercial litigation matters involving breach of contract, tortious interference with business relationships, defamation, and fraud. Charissa also represents both individuals and employers in employment related matters involving sexual harassment, hostile work environment and whistleblower claims, retaliation, and discrimination on the bases of race, gender, disability, and age.  Charissa tailors her approach to these cases based upon the specific needs of each client, which means in some cases, obtaining confidential and expeditious settlements, and in other cases, aggressively pursuing or defending claims through litigation in state and federal courts. Charissa’s clients in employment disputes have included numerous individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds, businesses both large and small, and governmental entities.  

 

Charissa joined Smith Haughey as a summer associate in 2010 and as a full-time associate in 2011.  Prior to joining the firm, Charissa served in various positions, including as a teaching assistant for Negotiation courses at Northwestern University School of Law, a judicial extern for The Honorable Robert H. Cleland, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, and a court appointed mediator for the Cook County Circuit Court through the Center For Conflict Resolution in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Currently, Charissa serves as a co-chair for Smith Haughey’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and as a Trustee of the Grand Rapids Bar Association.  


Experience

Working in conjunction with other members of her legal team, Charissa achieved a jury verdict in the amount of $14,450,683 for the estate of an individual who was killed in a catastrophic automobile crash with a garbage truck.

Working in conjunction with other members of her legal team, Charissa achieved a settlement in the amount of $950,000 on behalf of the estate of an individual who was killed in a catastrophic automobile crash.

Working in conjunction with other members of her legal team, Charissa achieved a settlement of $10.3 million less than the claimed damages against three former shareholders of a business in a complex dispute arising from the sale of a manufacturing company.

Working in conjunction with other members of her legal team, Charissa obtained a quick settlement of $61,000 in less than 60 days for a victim of workplace sexual harassment.

Working in conjunction with other members of her legal team, Charissa obtained a settlement of $135,000 for a victim who suffered personal injuries in a slip and fall incident.

Working in conjunction with other members of her legal team, Charissa obtained complete summary dismissal with prejudice for individuals in collection suits brought by successors in interest to a large, national bank.

In conjunction with Matt Wikander, Charissa was successful in obtaining a settlement of $650,000 on behalf of a client who suffered numerous injuries after his car crashed into a backhoe. The defendant was operating the backhoe illegally, at night and without sufficient warning flashers or markings. The defendant’s insurance company refused to offer any money prior to litigation, instead blaming our client for the crash. Shortly before trial, the defendant’s insurance company agreed to the settlement.

Previous Experience

Summer Clerkship, Hon. Robert H. Cleland, U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Michigan

Teaching Assistant (Negotiation), Northwestern University School of Law

Mediator, Center for Conflict Resolution

Student Attorney, Roderick MacArthur Justice Center

In-House Legal Intern, Nuveen Investments

Senior Immigration Assistant, Paul Hastings

Reviewer, Art & Entertainment, Kalamazoo Gazette

Affiliations

  • Member, Judicial Review Committee, State Bar of Michigan
  • Trustee and Member, Grand Rapids Bar Association
  • Member, Emerging Leaders Council, D.A. Blodgett – St. Johns
  • Resume Coach and Mock Interviewer, Women’s Resource Center
  • Member, Grand Rapids Young Professionals
  • Member, West Michigan Cooperative
  • Member, Northwestern University Club of West Michigan
  • Past Member, Board of Directors, West Michigan Cooperative
  • Past Member, Board of Directors, St. Cecilia Music Center

Education

  • University of Michigan  (B.A., English Language & Literature; B.M., with honors, Piano Performance 2006)  
  • Northwestern University (J.D., 2011): Senior Articles Editor - Journal of Law and Social Policy; Vice President - Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Society; Heritage Month Chair - Asian Pacific American Law Students Association  

Admitted

  • State Bar of Michigan , 2011
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, 2011

Accolades

  • Listed in Michigan Lawyers Weekly's Women in the Law, Class of 2015

  • Listed as a "Rising Star" in Michigan Super Lawyers 2016 -- Personal Injury General: Plaintiff

News and Publications

;