Sheldon Adelson Marks 50 Years as Attorney
In 1969, the first humans landed on the moon, the Beatles gave their last live performance, Richard Nixon was sworn in as president, and Sheldon M. Adelson passed the Bar Exam.
That was 50 years ago.
Shel was honored in the January edition of the Michigan Bar Journal for 50 years as a State Bar of Michigan Member, and will be invited to an awards luncheon this fall.
Despite his long legal career, Shel set out on a very different path …
- Did you know Shel has a degree in Mortuary Science from Wayne State University and embalmed 50 bodies to earn his Mortician License?
- Did you know he started mowing lawns in his neighborhood at 11 years old, and built a landscaping business that brought in $50,000 a year by the time he was 16?
- Did you know Shel headed up his own law practice for 26 years, and built a large firm on Northwestern Highway in Southfield, Mich.?
Fieger Law Attorney Sheldon Adelson grew up in Detroit and graduated from Mumford High School in 1962.
He passed the Bar Exam on his first try in 1969, after graduating from Detroit College of Law. He began his law career at Lebenbom, Handler & Morganroth, where he clerked and worked until 1971 when he opened his own private practice in Southfield, Mich., just two blocks down 10 Mile Road from Fieger Law.
Shel was a general practitioner, handling divorce, personal injury, collections, bankruptcy, real estate and more. He also scored corporate counsel positions with Lombardi Food Co., Emerald City Harbor Marina, and United Bureau of Credits, Inc. Keeping those lucrative accounts and narrowing his other cases to personal injury, he moved to the Travelers Tower on Evergreen Road in 1975.
In 1985, he invested in his own building on Northwestern Highway, which still stands today. Shel practiced there for a decade, expanding his business by running TV ads that raised his profile in the market.
In 1995, a colleague for whom he had done referral work recruited him to take over his pre-suit department, and Sheldon worked at the Sam Bernstein Law Firm for 19 years, settling over $130 million in cases until going into 'retirement' in May, 2014.
That didn't last long. After 8 months, Shel came to Fieger Law in 2015. Now 75, he works part-time at the firm, handling contracts and assigning memos on new cases and completing special administrative assignments as needed.
"I've always loved the law," Sheldon says. "I was raised by my mother and grandmother and I always felt that people were taking advantage of women. I made up my mind to go to law school not only to know how to protect myself, my mother and grandmother, but to help others who are not treated equally in society."
Sheldon's drive to take care of himself and his family led him to become an entrepreneur at age 11, and he has continued to have a wide range of business ventures his whole life. While still a child, he launched a landscaping business out of a wagon he built himself.
"I hauled a lawnmower, rakes and clippers and charged $1.25 regardless of the size of the lawn," he said. "Eventually I employed local kids and paid them 25 cents each lawn."
By the time he was 16, he made $50,000 a year, a lot of money at the time. Unfortunately, school took a back seat to his business venture and his grades suffered. When he graduated, his high school guidance counselor advised him to keep cutting lawns.
Instead, Shel took a career test at the Jewish Community Center that showed he had a proficiency to be a funeral director. Intrigued, he began a quest to learn more about mortuary science, job shadowing at the morgue and working at several funeral homes in Metro Detroit. He impressed admissions counselors at Wayne State University with a working scale model of the funeral home he hoped to build someday.
Yet upon earning his degree in Mortuary Science from Wayne State University, his father-in-law cautioned he was too young to be taken seriously as a funeral director. He suggested law school instead.
“He wanted me to get my law degree, and practice for a few years first,” he says.
A few years turned into five decades.
Shel has continued to pursue other ventures outside the law. He and his wife, Marsha, have three successful sons and eight grandchildren. He enjoys boating, gardening, golf and spending time at his cabin in Charlevoix, Mich.
Shel is licensed to practice law in Michigan, Florida and Ohio. He also has Series 7 and 63 licenses, a Michigan Builders License and a Real Estate Brokers License.
Shel is known for greeting everyone at Fieger Law and enjoys doing research to help the firm. He says he has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Shel estimates he has handled about 5,000 cases over the years.
“I love helping people. It’s a real challenge for me to take cases and determine a direction and method in which they need to be handled. Every case is a litte bit different,” he says.