R.J. Cronkhite

Principal | Birmingham, MI

rj@cronkhitelaw.com | T: (248) 220-6031 | F: (248) 220-6031 | LinkedIn: View

R.J. serves as a strategic partner and counselor to his clients and their business needs across multiple industries, including automotive, finance, health care, leasing, property development, real estate development, staffing, technology, and telecom. He prioritizes developing an intimate understanding of his clients’ unique goals and challenges and applies his deep knowledge of the law to ensure proactive and results-based legal counsel. A formidable and accomplished advocate, R.J. also acts as lead trial counsel when legal disputes arise after exhausting preventive measures. Clients describe R.J. as an engaged litigator whose attention to detail, tenacity, and professionalism set him apart from other counsel. He obtains cost-effective results by quickly digging into the facts and leveraging the results in favor of his clients. R.J. previously served as chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s 2,300-member Litigation Section. Michigan Super Lawyers® has consistently recognized him as a Rising Star in Business Litigation, an award granted to only 2.5 percent of Michigan attorneys under 40. R.J.’s peers have elected him to the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, an honorary society comprising one percent of each jurisdiction’s attorneys, judges, law faculty, and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the highest principles of the legal profession and welfare of their communities. He is a founding member of his community’s Rotary Club.
Education
  • University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 2011)
  • Eastern Michigan University (B.A., magna cum laude, 2007)
Bar Admissions
  • Michigan
  • Illinois
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Indiana
  • U.S. Tax Court
Affiliations/Memberships
  • Michigan State Bar Litigation Section, Past Chair
  • Fellows of the American Bar Foundation
  • Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA), Member and OCBA Fellow
Distinctions
  • SuperLawyers, Rising Star, Business Litigation
  • Best Lawyers, Ones to Watch, Real Estate Law
  • Best Lawyers, Ones to Watch, Labor and Employment Law – Management

Early Life

R.J. grew up in a working-class family on the outskirts of Detroit. His father cleaned schools for a living while his mother contended with raising four boys who made it a habit to raise hell.

His blue-collar roots shot a streak of realism through him. R.J. saw his neighbors and peers struggle through various challenges that persisted in Southeastern Michigan for most of his childhood and early adulthood. He understood at an early age that not everyone has equal footing, opportunities, or advantages. But his parents also taught him that being behind the eight ball doesn’t justify shortcuts or easy outs. He learned to counter disadvantages with intelligence and hard work.

Early in life he also learned the importance of grit, resourcefulness, tenacity, and follow-through—hallmarks that define his legal practice today.

R.J. ended up the first (and only) college graduate in his family.

After graduating from college, he attended the University of Chicago Law School. Annually ranked as one of the top five law schools in the nation, he learned what it meant to be in the deep end of the pool: sink or swim.

New Opportunities 

While R.J. learned from the best how to “think like a lawyer,” what he really sought was how to fight like a lawyer and win for his clients.

That opportunity came after graduation, when he returned home to Michigan and cut his teeth apprenticing under an accomplished commercial litigator in Ann Arbor. R.J.’s first year in practice, he helped defend a corporate client from $200,000,000 in claims against a multi-state real estate investment portfolio. The case went to trial and ended in total victory. He was hooked.

After a few years in practice, he joined former Michigan attorney general, Mike Cox, in his private practice. There, he worked for national clients and continued to hone his craft and expand his legal toolkit working for a sophisticated clientele and tackling complex legal challenges.

Recent Years

In 2017, R.J. joined one of Michigan’s preeminent law firms, Maddin, Hauser, Roth & Heller, P.C., where his skills continued to accelerate. At Maddin, clients repeatedly called on him to address non-compete, non-solicit, and trade secret issues, and the misconduct that often accompanies those challenges. He quickly formed expertise by helping clients solve these issues in a variety of industries and contexts. This experience allowed him to understand how different judges in Michigan’s business courts view non-competes and other issues found in competition law.

In 2020, R.J. became a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP—a national Am Law 200 firm with 700+ attorneys and 31 offices in 13 states. At Dinsmore, R.J. expanded and elevated his practice, plying his trade coast-to-coast., including in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, New York, Utah, and California.

Where is R.J. today?

In 2024, R.J. established his own legal practice—Cronkhite Counsel PLLC.

After 13 years in practice, he had developed a particular philosophy for practicing law. Cronkhite Counsel allows him to fully implement that philosophy for the benefit of his colleagues and clients.

Allied in purpose.

Unparalleled in commitment.™