NIKKIYA T. BRANCH
Municipal Law, Employment Law, General / Civil Law
Attorney Nikkiya T. Branch, a native Detroiter, has long had a passion for giving back to the community. A successful lawyer in her own right, she recalls going to church in Detroit years ago and seeing teenage girls in dire need of a role model. Some didn’t look very presentable, with their hair unkempt, and they needed tips on everything from hygiene to communication to doing their nails.
So she started a charm school for teenage girls, which conducts seminars three to four times a year. “We try to teach about lifetime experience and try to give them a foundation so they go into the work world,” she says. “We try to teach them to do their own hair. We try to teach them a spirit of excellence whether they have money or not.” Branch says she brings that same passion and care to her work as an attorney.
“I have this overarching motivation to operate with a spirit of excellence,” she says, sitting behind her desk of her office on the 4th floor of the Ford Building in downtown Detroit. “A lot of people are lackluster and don’t give it their all. I strive to give my best in every undertaking.”
A graduate of Cass Tech High School, Branch went south to Clark Atlanta University in Georgia where she studied political science. “I knew I wanted to go to law school,” she says. After graduating, Branch headed to Touro College, Jacob Fuchsberg Law Center, which at the time was in Huntington, N.Y. Branch had a keen interest at the time in doing entertainment law. So during law school, she worked at some major movie companies in California, Lions Gate Films and New Line Cinema. She also worked for BET Networks in Los Angeles. After a while, she wanted to explore other aspects of law.
The pull of Detroit brought her home, where she landed her first job in the area of real estate law, for the Oakland County firm, Trott & Trott, that represented financial institutions in foreclosures. From there, she moved on to a big downtown Detroit law firm, Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook, where she represented title companies in foreclosures. She then returned to school to get a masters in entertainment and media law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.
Then in 2009, she returned to Michigan and worked on the campaign of Saunteel Jenkins, who was running for Detroit City Council. Jenkins won and ended up hiring Branch as a policy analyst in her office. Branch loved the job. “I worked 2 ½ years and I realized I was really fulfilled doing it. Everything I did went toward something meaningful, something that made a difference. I could have done that job 24 hours a day without complaining. “
But by 2012, she realized that she really missed being a lawyer. “I wanted to do government work and I wanted to do litigation.” So she found the perfect way to wed the two. She joined the Perkins Law Group, where she has dedicated a good part of her time to representing the city of Highland Park in litigation, labor issues, lawsuits, employment and sexual discrimination and harassment. “ I love the work,” she says.
She also represents individual clients and is running the pro-bono department for the law firm where she offers free legal services for civil cases for people who are economically challenged. What’s more, she feels strongly about addressing the pervasive problem of human trafficking, and sits on the board of Adults & Adolescents in Motion, a non-profit that serves the Metro area and raises awareness of the issue. The program provides inpatient and outpatient services.
“A lot of victims of sex trafficking have low self esteem,” she said. “We try to help them with that issue and many others.” Branch said her passion for caring about people always comes through for her clients. “I give them my all, just like I would a family member,” she said.
Clark Atlanta University, B.S. Political Science.
Touro College, Jacob Fuchsberg Law Center, J.D.