Bruce Thelen, ‘77, is an adjunct clinical professor in the International Transactions Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School. He also is a member of Dickinson Wright PLLC, where he chairs the firm’s international practice team, composed of lawyers from all of its substantive practice groups.

Thelen represents domestic and foreign clients throughout the world in a wide-ranging practice, often acting as international general counsel in cross-border acquisitions and direct investments, joint ventures and strategic alliances, distribution, marketing and licensing arrangements, cross-border debt financing and trade finance, interest rate and currency swaps and derivatives, supply chain risk management, and international regulatory compliance.

In his practice, he also advises clients on customs and trade issues addressing regulatory compliance, fines, penalties, seizures and investigations, custom audits, advance rulings and challenge of US Customs and Border Protection decisions, preferential trade agreements, antidumping and countervailing duties, forced labor compliance, export controls and sanctions, and product sourcing and supply chain planning. 

Although his practice covers many industries, Thelen has an extensive background in the automotive sector, including representation of global vehicle and parts manufacturers and suppliers in manufacturing and distribution in all regions of the world, as well as specialty automotive projects involving amphibious vehicles, Formula 1 racing programs, start-up electric vehicle manufacturers, and the manufacturer of the classic London black taxi. For two years, while remaining a member of Dickinson Wright, he served as in-house international counsel for Chrysler Corporation.

Thelen has served on the governing council of the International Bar Association, as an officer of its North American Regional Forum, and as chair of the organization’s International Commerce and Distribution Committee and its subcommittee on Financial Aspects of International Sales. He has been a frequent lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and, in 1988, worked with Michigan Law’s late Emeritus Professor John Jackson in launching the Michigan Bar’s International Law Section; he later served as chair of the section. 

Since 1995, he has served by appointment of the US secretary of commerce on the Michigan District Export Council, a private sector advisory body for the Commerce Department’s export promotion programs. He was the founder of the German American Chamber of Commerce of Michigan, the largest in the United States, and received the Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz), the country’s highest civilian honor, from the president of the Federal Republic of Germany. 

Thelen began his legal career in New York with Dewey Ballantine Bushby Palmer & Wood. He is admitted to practice in Michigan, New York, and the US Court of International Trade.