By PAULETTE PARKER
The path Washtenaw Community College board of trustees Chair Richard Landau traveled to get to where he is today, is paved with location, career and life changes.
Born in Euclid, Ohio, Landau and his family moved to Ann Arbor when he was 6 years old. He attended Ann Arbor public schools and graduated from Huron High School.
After high school, Landau attended Brown University in Rhode Island where he obtained his bachelor’s in psychology. Landau received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
After practicing clinical psychology in the New England area for five years, Landau decided to go to law school. Landau’s interest for law arose while working at a psych hospital in Boston and learning about the practice of forensic psychology. He also became interested in the rights of individuals with mental illness.
“Since I had gotten my Ph.D. at a relatively young age, I thought, well, my style of advocacy was a little more active than sitting in therapy and talking to people,” Landau said. “So I decided to take a shot at going to law school, and then found that I became more interested in advocating for people with disabilities than being a treating professional,” Landau said.
The trustee graduated from the Boston University School of Law in 1985. He practiced law at a firm in Boston for about four years before deciding to relocate to Ann Arbor after having his second child.
Landau practiced at the Dykema firm in Ann Arbor for 17 years; 10 of which he was a partner. Here, he met his wife Kristin, who is an attorney. They blended a family of six children between the two of them. Despite having two parents practicing law, none of their children have yet expressed interest in going in the same direction.
“We’d welcome them; but none of them have,” Landau said.
Landau’s family was not available for comment. They’re private people, the trustee said.
In 2007, Landau left Dykema and, with his wife, co-founded RJ Landau Partners PLLC in Ann Arbor.
“I decided to start my own firm to focus on some other interests I developed, chiefly in the area of banking law and mortgage fraud,” Landau said. Landau’s clients run the gamut of large financial institutions all the way to small charter schools. He even represents the Ann Arbor public schools on certain matters.
He specializes in education-related issues, banking and real estate.
“Because of my background in psychology I have always maintained an interest in education law and the rights of people with disabilities,” Landau said.
Long before he became a trustee, his father, Henry S. Landau, held a seat on WCC’s board and was also a founding member of the WCC Foundation. He was also a building contractor who built more than 700 custom homes in Ann Arbor, as well as the building that houses Landau’s law firm.
“When you read real estate ads they will say, ‘was built by Landau,’ because he was really proud of the construction that he did,” he said. Landau is the WCC trustee liaison for Washtenaw Technical Middle College and has been a trustee since 2001.
“He’s not much different than what you see in the boardroom,” said WCC board secretary Christina Fleming.
“He’s a great guy, he’s fun to talk to, he’s got a wealth of experiences and knowledge and a great legal mind,” said WCC trustee Stephen Gill. “I think highly of him.”