Schaefer endows chair in Matrimonial Law
John F. Schaefer recently made a multi-million dollar future gift, through an innovative charitable remainder unitrust, to fund the John F. Schaefer Chair in Matrimonial Law at the MSU College of Law. When his gift matures, it will ensure his desire to elevate the matrimonial law program at the college will continue in the years to come.
Schaefer, who has been a steadfast donor for many years, created this endowment to enhance the Law College’s reputation nationally and make it more competitive. “I am confident that students and faculty at MSU College of Law will uphold the tradition of excellence in the practice of matrimonial law,” Schaefer said.
Schaefer knows the importance of superb teaching and mentoring. He earned his law degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1969, and soon after became an adjunct professor in Family Law and taught for 30 years. Initially, he planned to practice business litigation, but joined the law firm of Frederick G. Buesser Jr., who handled high-profile divorce cases and who became a stellar mentor. After about six years of working with wealthy clients in complex divorce matters, Schaefer had an “aha” moment. He realized that his desire to practice business litigation no longer was relevant. His area of focus had found him: matrimonial law.
Schaefer is tops in his field. Worth Magazine has listed him as one of the top 100 lawyers in America for the past three years, and he has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for 25 years. He founded the law firm of John F. Schaefer in 1996. He has represented the former wives of Lee Iacocca (Peggy and Darrien), members of the Ford family, Bob Lutz, Jennifer Nasser and Katina Dart. The Dart divorce included a staggering billion-dollar case that spanned the United States and Britain.
Based in Michigan, with law offices in Grosse Pointe Farms and Birmingham, Schaefer has represented his clients in nine other state courts. He credits his education at DCL with enabling him to represent clients judiciously in court and also keep them out of court. He has given emotional support to clients during tumultuous times as they severed ties with 30-, 40-, and 50-year marriages. Yet, he has also helped save marriages.
He is the proud father of four adult children. His daughter, Kimberly Schaefer, is a 2008 graduate of the MSU College of Law and now works at his law firm.
Schaefer served as trustee at the Law College for more than 10 years, including the time during which DCL affiliated with MSU in 1995. He was involved in the operation of the Law College, its affiliation talks with other universities, and its move to East Lansing. “We’ve had a proud heritage. Some have called DCL a streetcar law school, but it has educated a wonderful array of graduates who have distinguished themselves mightily as lawyers and judges,” Schaefer said. “It was a difficult transition to go from being a free-standing university in Detroit and one of the oldest independent law schools in the country (since 1891) to assimilating that identity with another institution. The affiliation has worked out enormously well.”
To explore and learn more about the stream of income, charitable deduction and estate tax benefits for you and your heirs through a charitable remainder unitrust while providing a future gift to the MSU College of Law, contact Director of Development Tina Kashat Casoli at (517) 432-6842.