Thelen, Bruce C.


Michigan State University

  • High Honor

University of Michigan Law School

  • cum laude

Bar Admission


New York

Bruce C. Thelen



Bruce Thelen has a wide ranging international business and finance practice in all regions of the world. 

He often acts as "international general counsel" for domestic and foreign clients throughout the world in cross border acquisitions and direct investments, joint ventures and strategic alliances, establishment of subsidiaries, branch offices and other facilities, distribution, marketing and licensing arrangements, cross border debt financing and trade finance, interest rate and currency swaps and derivatives, customs and international trade, supply chain compliance and risk management, export controls and international regulatory compliance.

Although his practice covers many industries, he has 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 taxi. For two years, while remaining a member of Dickinson Wright, he served as in-house international counsel for Chrysler Corporation.

Bruce chairs the firm’s international practice team composed of lawyers from all of its substantive practice groups. His career began as a corporate finance lawyer with Dewey Ballantine Bushby Palmer and Wood in New York. He is admitted to practice in New York, Michigan and the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Professional Involvement

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor and Advisory Committee Member, International Transaction Clinic, University of Michigan Law School
  • International Bar Association (London, England) - Governing Council Member; Officer, North American Regional Forum; Chair, International Sales Committee; Chair, Subcommittee on Financial Aspects of International Sales
  • Chairman, International Law Section, State Bar of Michigan
  • Appointed to serve on Michigan District Export Council by U.S. Secretary of Commerce
  • Founder, Chairman and Director, German American Chamber of Commerce of Michigan; Board of Directors, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Chicago
  • Member, French American Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, British American Business Council
  • Advisory Council, Center for International Business Education, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
  • External Advisory Committee, International Legal Studies Program, Wayne State University Law School
  • Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals
  • Advisory Board Member, Leading Lawyer Network

Community Involvement

  • Board of Directors, Living Business Models, a nonprofit corporation developing business models for self-supporting health care in emerging markets
  • Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce - Business Attraction Steering Committee; Detroit Regional Economic Partnership Advisory Board; Executive Committee, World Trade Club and International Business Council; Chairman, European Mission Committee; Leadership Detroit Program
  • Advisory Board, International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit
  • Board of Visitors, Office of the International Programs, Wayne State University
  • United Way Community Services, Southeast Michigan - Community Leaders Council; Strategic Planning Committee; Chairman, Research and Information Services Committee; Fund Allocation Panel
  • Member, Detroit Economic Club
  • Member, Detroit Athletic Club


  • Author, “Canada Relaxes Iran Sanctions - Making It Easier to do Business with Iran,” February 2016
  • Author, “Some Sanctions Relief for Iran, But Mostly Status Quo for the U.S. Auto Industry,” January 2016
  • Co-Chair and Moderator, Full Day Program, “The State of the Global Automotive Industry: How Restructuring, Regulation and Innovation will Affect the Industry’s Future,” Annual Conference of the International Bar Association (IBA), Vancouver, British Columbia


  • Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz) awarded in December, 2000 by President of Federal Republic of Germany 
  • Best Lawyers in America , International Trade and Finance Law
    • Detroit "Lawyer of the Year" 2017 - International Trade and Finance Law
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, International, Corporate and Banking
  • Martindale-Hubbell™ and American Lawyer Media, Top Rated Lawyer in Banking & Finance Law
  • Martindale-Hubbell™ AV Preeminent peer review rated
  • Recognized in Marquis Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World           
  • DBusiness Top Lawyer, Corporate, International Trade and Finance Law