Sara K. MacWilliams

Top rated Business Litigation attorney in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Doerr MacWilliams Howard
Sara K. MacWilliams
Doerr MacWilliams Howard

Practice Areas: Business Litigation, Business & Corporate, Real Estate; view more

Licensed in Michigan since: 2004

Education: The University of Michigan Law School

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2013 - 2023 Selected to Rising Stars: 2010 - 2012

Doerr MacWilliams Howard

838 W. Long Lake Road
Suite 211
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302 Visit website


Sara K. MacWilliams is a partner at Doerr MacWilliams Howard in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and represents select private for-profit and nonprofit businesses, frequently acting as outside general counsel to provide quick, honest and highly specialized advice for business owners. She also works closely with business consultants to help give growing companies a legal tune-up before they go to market for sales, new investment and product launches. She takes a proactive, solutions-based approach to problems, with an eye toward long-term success. 

Completing her undergraduate studies at Kalamazoo College in 2001, Ms. MacWilliams majored in history and Chinese language and received her Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude. Later, she pursued her legal education at the University of Michigan Law School. While she was there, she served on the Michigan Journal of International Law and received the Book Award in Immigration Law before receiving her Juris Doctor in 2004.

Admitted to practice in Michigan and Oregon, Ms. MacWilliams is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Western and Eastern Districts of Michigan, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th and Federal Circuits.

Ms. MacWilliams is knowledgeable in many areas of business law, such as complex commercial litigation, where she has distinguished herself as a strong and quick-on-her-feet advocate, as well as business transactions – including commercial real estate deals, sales and purchases of businesses, supply and vendor agreements, and governance for small to mid-sized businesses. 

Highly regarded by her fellow professionals for her successful track record in and out of the courtroom as well as for her high degree of ethics, Ms. MacWilliams holds a perfect “10.0” rating on Avvo and hosts many positive testimonials on the site as well. In addition, she was named an Up & Coming Lawyers in 2013 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly and has been named one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Michigan by Hour Detroit Magazine since 2017.

Outside her law practice, Ms. MacWilliams holds close affiliations to prominent legal organizations such as the State Bar of Michigan, the Oakland County Bar Association’s Real Estate Committee, the Eastern District of Michigan Federal Bar Association and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

Practice areas

Business Litigation, Business/Corporate, Real Estate: Business

Focus areas

Business Organizations, Contracts, Mortgage & Refinance, Non-Compete Agreements

First Admitted: 2004, Michigan

Professional Webpage:

  • Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2010-2012
  • Hour Detroit Magazine, Top 50 Women Attorneys in Michigan since 2017
  • Michigan Lawyers Weekly, Women in the Law, 2021
  • Avvo, Top Rated Attorney
  • dBusiness Magazine, Top Woman Lawyer
  • Ms. MacWilliams was chosen as one of the 2013 "Michigan Lawyers Weekly Up & Coming Lawyers.", Michigan Lawyers Weekly Up & Coming Lawyers, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2013
  • Super Lawyer, Business, 2013-2023
  • Avvo, Client’s Choice Award, 2017
  • Ms MacWilliams has been honored to be selected as a Super Lawyer every year since 2011 and has also been listed as a top Michigan women attorneys in Hour Detroit Magazine for business litigation every year since 2013, Hour Detroit Top Women Attorneys, Hour Detroit
  • Super Lawyers, Top 50 Woman Lawyer, 2017-2023
  • ​Fellow, Michigan State Bar
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Women Lawyers Association
  • State of Oregon
  • United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • Oakland County Real Estate Law Committee, Member
  • State of Michigan
  • United States District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Oakland County Bar Association
  • Oakland County Inns of Court
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana
  • United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Educational Background:
  • Kalamazoo College, B.A., History and Chinese, summa cum laude, 2001
  • One Year Foreign Student Degree, Beijing Language and Culture University, 2000
Representative Clients:
  • Litigation counsel for large trucking company
  • General counsel for multi-family housing complex with multiple investor owners 
  • Macley Auto Group, LLC, 2018
  • General counsel for real estate investment group 
  • Wright Steel 
  • Page Toyota Imports, Inc., 2018
  • ANYI Management Company, LLC 
  • The Rest Institute, LLC, 2018
  • TheraMatrix, Inc. and TheraMatrix Physical Therapy Network, LLC
  • Page Toyota and Page Honda of Bloomfield 
  • GRL Properties, LLC 
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Co-authored ICLE publication regarding rules for attorneys moving between law firms, Co-Author, Changing Law Firms Ethically, ICLE, 2017
  • "Recovering Attorney Fees and Costs," Michigan Bar Journal, September 2014, Co-Written with Todd Mendel 
  • Balancing Act: profile of Sara MacWilliams, Macomb County Legal News, 2014
  • "Distinguishing Breach of Contract and Fraudulent Inducement," Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), Co-Written with Derek Howard, March 2021 
  • "Stuck in a Bad Contract? You May Have Options." Crain's Detroit, Co-Written with Derek Howard, March 15, 2021
  • "Protecting Shareholder Rights with Sara MacWilliams," The Litigation War Room Podcast, June 2022
  • Together with Todd Mendel of Barris, Sott, Denn and Driker, Ms. MacWilliams published an article in the Michigan Bar Journal addressing how to recover attorney fees pursuant to fee-shifting rules, contract provisions and statutes, Co-Author, Recovering Attorney Fees and Costs: What You Need to Know, 2014
  • Sara K. MacWilliams and Jason D. Killips jointly published an article in the Fall 2016 Michigan Business Law Journal entitled Court-Appointed Receivers: Clarification of Powers. The article addressed an appeal that the two attorneys successfully took to the Michigan Court of Appeals in November of 2015, Co-Author, Court-appointed Receivers: Clarification of Powers, 2016
  • Article regarding managing disputes between co-owners of commercial property, Author, Shareholder Disputes in the Commercial Property Context
  • Co-author (with Anissa Hudy), Choices...Choices...Choices: Who is the Right Receiver, Feb. 16, 2018, 2018
  • Co-author (with Anissa Hudy), Placing Control of Your Property with a Receiver: What Business and Property Owners Need to Know, Part I, Feb. 9, 2018
  • Co-author, Changing Law Firms—Ethically, Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Sept. 2017
  • Author, The Executive’s Testimony: Hot Topics in Litigation, ExecSense, 2015
Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Birmingham Covington School Elementary Team Coach, Destination Imagination, 2017
  • Nominated for and accepted into Fellows of the Michigan State Bar 
  • Case evaluator for Oakland County Circuit and District Courts
  • Represented foreign machinery manufacturer in the process of preparing to do business within Michigan, obtaining an appropriate commercial building, and finalizing a line of credit to fund new operations, 2018
  • Negotiated and closed sale of franchise, 2017
  • Negotiated and finalized sale of commercial property for medical marijuana business, 2018
  • Managed and closed commercial property re-finance of mortgage and simultaneous settlement of multiple guaranty obligations, avoiding foreclosure and managing numerous shareholder disputes, 2018
  • Negotiated and finalized commercial property sales agreement for international supplier and prepared company for business operations within Michigan, 2018
  • Closed settlement of mortgage foreclosure/shareholder/alleged mismanagement dispute with over $15 million net to shareholders, 2018
  • Negotiated and closed sale of commercial property portfolio, 2017
  • Managed and closed commercial property re-finance and settlement of multiple guaranty obligations in commercial property with mature mortgage and looming foreclosure, 2018
  • Negotiated and prepared independent sales representative agreements for mid-sized company with numerous trade secrets and issued patents, managing business interests and the critical protection of valuable company information, 2018
  • Negotiated and closed sale of LLC interests in various commercial properties, 2016
  • Negotiated and finalized lease of commercial property re-zoned for marijuana use, 2018
  • Negotiated and prepared sales representative standard form agreement for medical company with sales nationwide, 2018
Verdicts/Settlements (Case Results):
  • Obtained $1.3 Million arbitration award in complex business dispute involving cannabis consulting company that marketed specialized consulting services but failed to manage project to completion., 2022
  • Obtained $825,000 buyout for shareholder of Delaware company, 2020
  • Obtained $3.25 million settlement in business fraud case, 2020
  • Settled $1,000,000 in various claims against defunct business and its principal without bankruptcy or protracted litigation., 2019
  • Settled dispute representing buyer of business who still owed $100,000 of the purchase price with a walk-away, saving client $100,000., 2019
  • Closed on complex real estate transaction involving mulit-family property., 2019
  • Settled commercial contract dispute wherein Plaintiff sought $350,000 for $15,000., 2019
  • Settled $100,000 shareholder dispute., 2018
  • Successfully obtained full payment on multiple claims by large Toyota dealership, 2018
  • [Party names withheld] In July of 2016, Ms. MacWilliams was part of a team that negotiated a $3.6 million settlement of a complex litigation involving three interrelated lawsuits and five parties, which was originally filed in 2013. The favorable settlement was paid over six months, with the transaction successfully closing in January of 2017, 2016
  • Successfully represented real estate owner against six figure challenge by former partner for damages related to lost opportunity. Obtained order refuting all claims., 2018
  • Settled $500,000 shareholder and related contract dispute for corporation at substantial discount and without litigation., 2019
  • In April of 2017, Ms. MacWilliams successfully resolved a $60,000 collection suit with the case dismissed and her client receiving legal fees, 2017
  • Local counsel in merger and acquisition dispute involving eight law firms around the country and which settled favorably within three months of the original filing, 2018
  • On July 22, 2010, a jury in Oakland County Circuit Court awarded $4.5 million to Young & Associates' client, TheraMatrix Physical Therapy. Ms. MacWilliams was second chair counsel throughout the case and trial. The case has since been covered in numerous media outlets. On December 2, 2011, Young & Associates won an aggressively fought commercial contract suit on behalf of Coupled Products, LLC against Navistar, Inc. Navistar counterclaimed for extensive damages, but Coupled Products won all damages claimed plus attorney fees and costs. Ms. MacWilliams was third counsel and responsible for extensive trial preparation, including witness preparation, motions in limine, jury instructions and arguments, verdict form argument, and trial motions, 2010
  • In September of 2017, Ms. MacWilliams resolved a $5.5 million foreclosure and related shareholder dispute with a settlement involving the successful sale of six commercial properties and related business, 2017
  • Settled and collected full payment on commercial property dispute involving complex machinery, where contractors failed to timely and competently complete a build-out and the ultimately successful business was delayed in opening for six months, 2018
  • Represented multi-million dollar company in threatened shareholder litigation, settling case before any pleadings were filed and keeping dispute fully confidential, 2018
  • [Names withheld] In January of 2017, Ms. MacWilliams successfully settled a partnership dispute with no written partnership agreement, for $300,000, 2017
  • In May of 2017, Ms. MacWilliams was part of the team that successfully resolved two class actions involving breach of fiduciary duties, 2017
  • Successfully represented an accounting firm in breach of contractual non-compete case where the business seller breached a non-compete commitment mid-way through the term and the defendant refused in two facilitations to put money on the table, 2018
Industry Groups:
  • Business
  • Real Estate

Office location for Sara K. MacWilliams

838 W. Long Lake Road
Suite 211
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

Phone: 248-876-0340

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