Skip to main content
A Better Partnership

Matthew T. Nelson

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2539

    f. +1.616.752.2500


Grand Rapids appellate attorney Matt Nelson chairs Warner Norcross + Judd’s Appellate Practice Group. Matt has successfully represented clients in the United States Supreme Court, the Michigan Supreme Court, several federal courts of appeals, and the Michigan Court of Appeals. Matt successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of an individual against the federal government in a case regarding whether the individual could challenge the government’s decision to take land into trust to be used for a tribal casino.  Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, 132 S. Ct. 2199 (2012).

Matt’s appellate experience includes submitting amicus curiae briefs in the state and federal courts including briefs on behalf of the State of Michigan, the Defense Research Institute, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. Matt routinely works with trial litigators on dispositive motions, motions in limine, and preparing appellate strategy while a case is still in the trial court.

Matt also represents manufacturers, contractors, financial institutions, and other employers in employment disputes.  Matt’s trial experience includes obtaining and recovering treble damages plus attorneys fees in a case involving the theft of a corporate opportunity.

Matt’s legal accomplishments have not gone unnoticed.  He has been appointed to the Defense Research Institute’s national amicus committee, elected to the board of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, and twice been awarded a Distinguished Brief Award by a panel of jurists and professors for amicus briefs Matt has submitted to the Michigan Supreme Court. Three times, Matt has been named one of Michigan’s best appellate attorneys under 40, as chosen by the Michigan Super Lawyers/Thomson Reuters legal division.



  • University of Notre Dame J.D. 2002 magna cum laude
  • Dordt College B.A. 1999


  • 2002, Michigan


  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Washington D.C.

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • State Bar of Michigan


  • Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, 132 S. Ct. 2199 (2012):  Obtained 8-1 decision in favor of client, defeating claims of the federal government that sovereign immunity defeated client’s challenge to government’s agency action and that client did not have prudential standing.
  • Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014):  Submitted amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities supporting the successful religious employer.
  • Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 132 S.Ct. 694 (2012):  Submitted amicus curiae briefs at the petition and merits stages on behalf of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities supporting the successful religious employer.
  • Priority Health v. Commissioner of Office of Financial & Insurance Services, 489 Mich. 67, 802 N.W.2d 132 (2011):  Persuaded the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn state agency ruling against a health maintenance organization.
  • Tomecek v. Bavas, 482 Mich. 484, 759 N.W.2d 178 (2008):  Obtained 4-3 ruling favorable to clients in an easement dispute involving the Land Division Act.
  • O’Boyle v. Borough of Longport, 218 N.J. 168, 94 A.3d 299 (N.J. 2014):  Submitted amicus curiae brief on behalf of DRI—The Voice of the Defense Bar successfully urging limited approach to waiver of work-product protection.
  • Oneida Charter Twp. v. City of Grand Ledge, 485 Mich 859, 771 N.W.2d 785 (2009):  Retained to obtain review by the Michigan Supreme Court of a published Michigan Court of Appeals decision regarding municipal water-rate dispute; persuaded Court to grant peremptory reversal.
  • Winterhalter v. Dykhuis Farms, 2012 WL 2989238 (6th. Cir. July 23, 2012):  Successfully argued for affirmance in an employment discrimination case.
  • Mallison v. Haworth, Inc., 2012 WL 2580609 (6th Cir. July 3, 2012):  Obtained decision affirming district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer in an Equal Pay Act case.
  • Keiper, LLC v. Intier Automotive Inc., 2012 WL 833652 (6th Cir. Mar. 13, 2012):  Successfully argued for reversal of summary judgment in a million-dollar automotive-supplier dispute.
  • Chen v. Dow Chemical Co., 580 F.3d 394 (6th Cir. 2009):  Persuaded the Sixth Circuit to affirm summary judgment in favor of The Dow Chemical Company in an employment dispute.
  • Sherrills v. Beison, 242 Fed. App’x 332 (6th Cir. 2007):  Defended summary judgment in favor of a hospital system on a former employee’s race discrimination and retaliation claims.
  • Canvasser Heritage, L.L.C. v. Fifth Third Bank, 2012 WL 5853896 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 15, 2012):  Defended summary disposition in mortgage foreclosure case.
  • Thomas E. Woods v. JLG Industries, Inc., et al, 2011 WL 2342719 (Mich. Ct. App. June 14, 2011):  Defended jury verdict in a commercial contract dispute.
  • Fifth Third Bank v. Canvasser, et al, 2011 WL 2347707 (Mich. Ct. App. June 14, 2011):  Defended summary judgment in favor of bank in a mortgage case.
  • Denney v. Dow Chemical Co., 2011 WL 92964 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 11, 2011):  Obtained summary disposition on former employee’s sex discrimination and retaliation claims and defended ruling on appeal.
  • Old Republic National Title Holding v. First Metropolitan Title, 2010 WL 1056609 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 23, 2010):  Persuaded Michigan Court of Appeals to reverse summary disposition against client in a commercial contract dispute.
  • Foote v. Dow Chemical Co., 2010 WL 173777 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 19, 2010):  Obtained summary disposition on former employee’s breach of contract and tortious interference claims and defended ruling on appeal.
  • Day v. HME Inc., 2007 WL 3120942 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 25, 2007):  Obtained dismissal of former employee’s race-discrimination claims and, on appeal, obtained reversal of order denying sanctions against former employee for asserting frivolous claims.
  • Multiband Co. v. Block, 2012 WL 1843261 (E.D. Mich. May 12, 2012):  Obtained order enforcing arbitration agreement in employment dispute and imposing Rule 11 sanctions.
  • Graham v. Access Business Group, LLC, 2011 WL 3758726 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 25, 2011):  Obtained summary judgment on behalf of employer in a case involving FMLA retaliation and disability discrimination claims.
  • El Camino Resources, LTD. v. Huntington National Bank, 722 F. Supp. 2d 875 (W.D. Mich. 2010):  Obtained summary judgment on behalf of bank in case arising from $100 million Ponzi scheme.

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers' Grand Rapids Appellate Practice Lawyer of the Year, 2022 and 2018
  • A Lawyer Helps Pro Bono Honor Roll, State Bar of Michigan, Tier 3, 2020-21
  • Best Lawyers in America, Appellate Practice, 2016-Present
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, 2013-Present
  • Top Lawyer in Appellate Law, Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019-21
  • 20 Up & Coming Lawyers, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2012
  • Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star, 2010-12
  • Awarded Michigan Distinguished Brief Award, 2010, 2012 and 2017
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation



  • Michigan Appellate Handbook (ICLE, 3d ed. 2014)
  • The Federal Pleading Standard:  A Year After Bell Atlantic v. Twombley

One Court of Justice Blog


Professional Affiliations

  • DRI—The Voice of the Defense Bar
    Chair of the National Amicus Committee
    Vice-Chair, Appellate Committee Program Subcommittee
  • Michigan Appellate Bench Bar Conference Foundation
  • Michigan Supreme Court Advocates Guild
    Board Member

Community Affiliations

  • Conductive Learning Center of North America
    Board Member (2021-24)
  • Dordt College
    Member of National Advisory Committee
  • Kuyper College
    Past Chair of the Board

Speaking Engagements

  • “Michigan Supreme Court: New Members and New Rules, Attorney Client Privilege, Litigation and Discovery,” 2019 West Michigan Spring Symposium, Warner Norcross + Judd Seminar, May 22, 2019, Grand Rapids, Michigan


“Matt (Nelson) represented us on several very important litigation matters and also provided valuable advice on non-litigation matters. He was always very responsive to requests for assistance and was a clear communicator in all of his writings and conversations. Our litigation results with Matt were positive – they provided municipal officers the opportunity to effectively carry out their duties in a constitutionally and statutorily appropriate manner. Matt is an excellent attorney.” - Retired corporate counsel for a Michigan municipality

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.



+ -