Following graduation from Spring Arbor University (‘79) and the University of Michigan Law School (’82), Dale Stephenson pursued a wide range of legal opportunities to become a distinguished environmental attorney and international legal consultant. With a particular focus on the Middle East region, environmental law issues and complex dispute resolution, Mr. Stephenson most recently served as a general partner with the international law firm of Squire Sanders (now Squire Patton Boggs) where he successfully handled numerous and diverse matters for more than three decades. As the firm’s founding Managing Partner – Middle East Region, Mr. Stephenson was resident in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the majority of his time from 1993 – 2012 where he defended a large Saudi company in an international dispute resolution (IDR) proceeding before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); served as counsel for the creation of a new Islamic finance institution, Bank Al-Bilad, a US$1 billion capitalization project involving a 50 percent initial public offering (IPO) that attracted the highest investor participation ever experienced in Saudi Arabia (more than half of the entire local population); and helped the Saudi Arabian government design the legal structure and systems for 178 new municipal councils and the first public elections in that country. Other projects throughout the Middle East region included a variety of corporate, regulatory, finance and IDR matters. Mr. Stephenson also represented other foreign governments, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, to create new federal environmental authorities and draft comprehensive national environmental laws and regulations.
In the domestic environmental area, Mr. Stephenson has been involved in virtually all aspects of state and federal litigation, corporate and governmental counseling, administrative law practice before state and federal agencies, and the general development and enhancement of corporate environmental, health and safety programs. He served as lead trial and appellate counsel in numerous high-profile cases, including a landmark environmental case favorably resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Aviall Services, Inc., 543 U.S. 157 (2004).
Following his 31-year career with Squire Sanders, Mr. Stephenson continues to consult on select international and environmental matters. He and his wife, Carol (SAU ’81), relocated last year to their rustic retreat in northern Michigan where he appears occasionally as a country lawyer in Kalkaska or Antrim County, and they both are deeply involved with Pathway Community Church in Mancelona. He also is the General Counsel of Dan’s Gourmet, a new start-up business based in Nashville, Tennessee featuring artisan-crafted Macaroni & Cheese products. Mr. Stephenson is an active member of the Spring Arbor University Board of Trustees, where he has served in a variety of positions since 1995, currently as Chairman of the Governance and Long-Range Planning Committee and a member of the Executive Committee.
I love taking on challenges and solving problems -- whether global institutional reform, complex litigation, local environmental initiatives, or just helping someone at church where my professional expertise or guidance can be of assistance.
My latest accomplishments
It was a significant accomplishment for us to complete the relocation to Michigan from Ohio after having been based there for 31 years (and living and working primarily in Saudi Arabia for the previous decade). Completing our whole-log-and-stone home which we began several years ago also has been a continuing challenge and with "milestone" accomplishments along the way. More importantly, however, I have been able to slow down a bit and shift from international policy development and institutional reform for foreign governments to creation care in my own back yard and plugging into the body and ministry of a new faith community.
Next big goal
I am excited about the future for Spring Arbor University and look forward to playing an active role through continuing service on the Board of Trustees. I have also been helping my son's new food business, Dan's Gourmet (www.dansgourmet.com), ramp up from its start-up in local Farmer's Markets in the Nashville area to 3,000 grocery stores today and continued growth into the future. The entrepreneurial world is fascinating and exciting, and I've really enjoyed the opportunity to work on a regular basis with my 30-year-old son.
Why is choosing your own path important?
I have never been afraid to try something new or pursue a unique path, which has led to many unique experiences around the world. Much of my professional life over the past 20 years has been spent in the Middle East resident in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Beirut, Lebanon. I have had the privilege of working on a diverse array of fascinating projects throughout the region including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Oman and Egypt. In that setting I have been able to clearly contrast my Christian experience and worldview with a very different religious and cultural context – at a turning point in history when Islamic fundamentalism and global energy policy have come to drive much of the international agenda. I have also handled projects involving the development, legal structure and establishment of governmental institutions and environmental policy beyond the Middle East in the Caribbean, Europe and South America and had the privilege of handling a high-stakes environmental case through the United States Supreme Court where my client’s victory established a key national legal precedent. Spring Arbor University helped provide the grounding necessary to take on these challenges, and the reward from pursuing my own path and reinventing myself on a regular basis has been very satisfying.
Favorite place on campus
The renovated Student Center, with fabulous new cafeteria and expanded areas offering beautiful campus views.
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