Profile in Brief
By John Minnis
As corporate counsel, Bloomfield Hills attorney Jeffrey Paulsen once had the ear
of Chairmen and CEOs. As a partner in a leading Detroit law firm, he was a top producer.
Today, Paulsen, 52, faces perhaps his toughest challenge of all: that of a solo
“I longed for the day I could have more freedom,” Paulsen says of leaving the
high-powered worlds of global business and big-time law firms.
In 1984, fresh out of Detroit College of Law, Paulsen went to work in the
litigation section of the National Bank of Detroit, now JPMorgan Chase, but after two
years, he left to become corporate counsel at Hiram Walker, the Windsor distiller.
Hiram Walker had offices in Farmington Hills and Livonia, but it was his office
in the 1890s building in Walkerville along the Detroit River east of Windsor that Paulsen
liked the best.
“There was a lot of marble and beautiful glass,” recalls Paulsen, a history buff.
“That was the best office I have ever had in my life. Some of the offices had fireplaces in
Allied Domecq of Bristol, U.K, bought the distiller during Paulsen’s 6 ½ years at
“That’s what really exposed me to handling international work,” he says.
There were a lot of management changes at the time, with many functions being
transferred to England.
“Before I was asked to move to England,” Paulsen says, “I sought and took
another job with Brunswick Bowling & Billiards in September 1993.”
Headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, Brunswick is a $5 billion
global conglomerate. Not only is the company the leader in bowling and billiards, it also
has its own lines of fitness equipment and is the world’s leading pleasure boat
Those were heady days for Paulsen, working at first out of Brunswick’s
Muskegon office and then in Lake Forest, Illinois helping to modernize the bowling
industry and helping turn the bowling business into a global powerhouse.
“As General Counsel of Brunswick Bowling & Billiards, I reported to the
President of the Division and had a dotted line (on the org chart) to the Corporate General
Counsel’s office in Illinois,” Paulsen says. “We changed the image of bowling from a
shot-and-a-beer establishment to a more family-friendly atmosphere.”
During 10 years with Brunswick, Paulsen traveled extensively to China, Japan,
Singapore, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary, Hong Kong and Brazil. But by
2003, with the bowling and billiards industries shrinking, Paulsen once again saw an
opportunity to grow.
“I negotiated my own departure from Brunswick,” he says.
Paulsen joined Dykema Gossett’s Bloomfield Hills office as a partner and brought
Brunswick’s book of business with him.
“I managed the Brunswick account, the Brunswick relationship,” Paulsen recalls
of the move to Dykema.
But, again, after five years, Paulsen felt change coming.
“The end result was Dykema had a different strategy,” Paulsen says. “I was priced
right out of my own clients’ business.”
In July 2008, Paulsen hung his own shingle, the Paulsen Law Firm. If he needs
counsel, he has his wife, Diane Margosian Paulsen, who has her own firm, the Paulsen
Law Office, to advise him. The Paulsen’s have three children: two boys in college and a
daughter, a junior in high school.
Paulsen figures that with his experience, his middle-market clients are getting top-
corporate, big-firm representation at very reasonable and competitive prices.
“Also having been to China 15 times and handling China matters for over 15
years,” he says, “I feel I have experience that not a lot of attorneys in this town have.”
Even though Paulsen has been around — and on top of — the world, he is not
dismayed at taking a new direction.
“Whatever happens to you is the best thing that can happen to you,” he says.
“You take whatever life offers you.”