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Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween Diversion

Having a daughter who's an art fanatic brings us plenty of surprises this time of year.  Last year, she and her best friend dressed in true Jackson Pollock style, draping themselves in home made "paintings" in his classic, paint-tossed style that would make the artist proud (but would do nothing to fill our bank accounts, unfortunately).  

So how does a teenager top that?  This year, she dressed as Magritte's famous painting, "The Son of Man."  I had to share it with you on this blog, despite no connection to the law.

Next year she threatens to dress up again but won't divulge her artistic target.  Let's hope she doesn't select Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" ...


Happy Halloween, everyone. 

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Graying of Our Profession: What Does it Mean for Michigan Lawyers?

GratefulDeadBus.jpgEvery silver lining’s got a touch of grey.”  These words of a Grateful Dead song came up on my iPod this afternoon as I drove home from my firm’s shareholder meeting that discussed, among other things, the idea of succession planning.  Though the song’s lyrics likely refer to perseverance through hard times, its final words include: “Oh well, a touch of gray.  Kind of suits you anyway.” 

Those lyrics, from the moment I first heard them as a young lawyer in the late 80’s, evoked thoughts of coping with aging (and graying).  "Baby Boomers" (generally, people born 1944-1960) know this band well as do some "Traditionalists" (born before 1944).  Many “Gen-X’ers” (generally, people born 1961-1980), like me, know the band, too.  The song’s popular refrain is: “I will get by. I will get by. I will survive.”

The fact is, Michigan’s legal profession has been graying.  According to State Bar of Michigan statistics from 2010, 43.3% of active Michigan resident members are “Baby Boomers” and 11.8% are “Traditionalists.”  That’s 55% of us who were born at or before 1960.  And when we add in the older members of the “Gen-X” group, such as people like me who have reached 50, we quickly realize that the next 15 years will bring major changes for a very significant portion of our profession.
For younger lawyers, it could mean even more opportunity to advance as the “older” lawyers retire and possibly hand over their practices.  Mentor relationships between older/younger lawyers can potentially be brought to new levels as a younger practitioner becomes positioned to serve the retiring lawyer’s clients capably, competently, and comfortably.

• For older lawyers, it means that succession planning should move closer to the front burner.  The State Bar Practice Management Resource Center has a few links on career transitioning such as this and this.  And we can expect to see the State Bar’s new Master Lawyers Section tackle the issue with even more resources and suggestions.

 The State Bar, itself, has been on top of the issue.  Our Strategic Plan (Goal 4.2.1), in fact, involves “Employ[ing] a succession plan for critical [State Bar] positions.” We've made efforts internally. 

The State Bar can help you plan for your future. Utilize our resources, and please contact me if you have questions or ideas on how we can serve you better in this regard.

Photo originally appeared on


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Life After Leadership: Thank You, Fred Baker

If my blog can pay tribute to "the Eternal General," it can also pay tribute to the State Bar's "Eternal Committee Chair," Frederick M. Baker, Jr.


Fred is immediate past Chair of the State Bar's Publications and Website Advisory CommitteeIf you don’t know him, you've no doubt seen the work of the PWAC, which he chaired for 24 years.  Fred stepped down at the end of the 2010-2011 bar year, leaving me no chance to work with him.  Last month's issue of the Michigan Bar Journal honored and thanked him for his capable leadership of a very important State Bar committee.  Here's a link.

This afternoon, without ever having met me before, Fred sent a friendly e-mail wishing me well in my presidential term.  His e-mail was encouraging and, of course, eloquently written.  (We'd expect nothing less.)


With Fred's 24 years as the PWAC Chair, and with his deep commitment to communications, it would take a very powerful reason to motivate him to step down.  As it turned out, however, it took something weighing less than 9 pounds: his second grandchild.  Fred's e-mail explained: 

To give you some sense of what moved me to "retire" from the Publications committee after many years of Bar work, I attach a photo of my second grandchild in 10 months, little Soula, who was born October 12, 2011.  She is cute as a button, and every possible expression passes over her face as she sleeps, like wind over a wheat field. Last Sunday, a few days after she was born, I was so startled I almost dropped her when, while fast asleep, she laughed out loud, just as you or I would. What is funny to a two day old child?

Thank you for your service to the State Bar, Fred.  I also appreciated your e-mail today.  Our loss is your grandchildrens' gain.  (And will the PWAC try to include my blog within its jurisdiction ...?)

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The New Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights: Tribute to the Legendary Man and Mentor
JudgeKeith-Remarks-w.jpgYesterday I attended the dedication ceremony for the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School.  

Judge Keith is 89 years old (born on the fourth of July, interestingly).  Injustices he encountered early in his life fueled his desire to become a lawyer and, eventually, a judge to reverse them.  Yesterday, for example, we learned that while studying for the bar exam in 1950, he mopped floors at the Detroit News building.  One day, while mopping a bathroom, he was approached by a staff writer who asked why he carried such a large book.  Keith explained that he was studying for the Michigan bar exam.  The writer exclaimed: “A black lawyer! Keep mopping.” 

Judge Keith has no bitterness.  He has no arrogance.  Yesterday’s dedication ceremony could have been spent listening to the many highlights of his career.  But we knew plenty of them.  It could have listed the landmark decisions he issued throughout his career as a Federal judge.  But we were already aware of them.  It could have recounted his service as co-Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in the turbulent 60’s.  But we knew that.  It could have listed the many prestigious awards he has earned for his life-long commitment to civil rights, such as the NAACP’s Springarn Medal and the ABA Thurgood Marshall Award.  But that wouldn’t be news to us, either. 

Along with Judge Damon Keith yesterday, we celebrated a stunning new building that is a legacy of a great man; I saw another legacy, however, just by looking and listening.  I saw several men and women who clerked for him and have gone on - aided in no small part by his mentoring - to accomplish great things.  They include Governor Jennifer Granholm (Michigan’s first female governor, whom I first met shortly after her clerkship ended); Lani Guinier (first African-American female tenured professor at Harvard Law School); Spencer Overton (Principal Deputy Asst. Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy in the U.S. Dep’t. of Justice ); Judge Eric Clay of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Rashad Hussain (President Obama’s Deputy Assoc. Counsel); and my Facebook friend Jocelyn Benson (Assoc. Professor of Law at Wayne Law School and national election law expert). 

Yesterday’s dedication event also reminded us how far he and all of us have come.  From the man who grew up in a segregated society, he now lunches with the likes of billionaire A. Alfred Taubman (who contributed $3 million to the center and, we learned, willingly commits resources at Keith’s beck and call, like providing a furnished home for Rosa Parks in her last years).  Judge Keith’s friends include dignitaries world-wide.  He has dedicated his life to ensuring the change that we see and for which we hope in the years ahead.  

Judge Keith's remarks shared his personal goal to “give everyone an opportunity to do everything they can with their God-given talent.”  Judge Keith, your life, your mentees, and now the center that carries on your name will further your goal for many, many years.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Justice Initiatives Day Part II - Lansing Pro Bono Fair
ShaneGoodale-w.jpgPerfectly in line with the Justice Initiatives theme, today ended with a speaking engagement at a Pro Bono Fair serving the Lansing/Ingham County area.  Organized by the State Bar of Michigan with assistance of Cooley Law School (today's host), my law firm,  Foster Swift, was the sponsor.  Organizations provided staff and literature to discuss pro bono opportunities for those interested in volunteering.  This was the fourth and final Pro Bono Fair of the year, but Pro Bono Month continues in full force.  If you missed the fair, the State Bar's Pro Bono Initiative offers plenty of information.

While at Cooley today, I also met a standout 3L student, Shane Goodale.  Shane believes strongly in pro bono service and in 2009, as part of a class service project, initiated the idea of having students help the homeless. The project ultimately became Cooley's Homeless Assistance and Prevention Project. 

It’s hard to keep up with Shane (a wheelchair can’t slow him down) and he is enthusiastically considering future pro bono and community service projects.  Visit the Bar’s “A Lawyer Helps” page to learn more about what this dynamic law student has accomplished. 

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Justice Initiatives Kickoff Day in Lansing: Touchdown

JIKickoff-w.jpgToday was truly Justice Initiatives Day in Lansing.  It began with the State Bar’s Committee on Justice Initiatives’s Kickoff Meeting at the State Bar offices through which members of the Committee  ̶  some new, some returning  ̶ gathered for a day of reacquainting themselves with the work of the Committee’s 4 initiatives and planning possible activities for the year.  This year the Committee is chaired by Erika Lorraine Davis and Terri L. Stangl, both of whom are passionate about its mission.  Immediate past co-Chair, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Stephens, still plays a very active role.

The Committee’s work is multi-faceted and grouped into four major initiatives: (1) Criminal Issues Initiative; (2) Equal Access Initiative; (3) Justice Policy Initiative ; and (4) Pro Bono Initiative. 
Few understand how hard this committee and the staff who support it work year-round.  Insiders like me have followed, admired, and relied on its work for years.  The sheer enormity of its workload becomes apparent when you take into account the many State Bar projects linked directly or indirectly to this Committee, a small sampling of which includes: Judicial Crossroads Task Force, advocacy for indigent criminal defense reform; Pro Bono standards; child welfare; diversity initiatives; Cummiskey Pro Bono Award; Pro Bono Fairs; malpractice insurance for pro bono work; Solutions on Self Help Task Force; the Uniform Collateral Consequences Act in Michigan; support for funding for the Legal Services Corporation, and more.  Please take a look at its 2010-2011 Annual ReportPossible actions for the coming year include the Indigent Criminal Defense Commission follow-up and assistance, improved access to interpreters in the courtroom, child welfare issues, and more.

Who needs Monday night football?  Today’s Justice Initiatives Committee Kickoff was a touchdown I look forward to working with all of you.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Improvements to Michigan's Public Defense System: The Governor's Commission is a Good Start

Yesterday, Governor Snyder issued Executive Order No. 2011-12 creating an Indigent Defense Advisory Commission.  This is an encouraging development.  With thanks to my good friends on the State Bar staff, I offer these comments: 

The deficiencies in Michigan’s public defense system have been well documented. Michigan’s public defense system is really not a system at all.  It is a patchwork of county funding arrangements, none of which meet all the requirements of adequate criminal representation and some of which fail in all regards. A 2008 study by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in partnership with the State Bar of Michigan and at the request of the Michigan Legislature concluded that “the state of Michigan fails to provide competent representation” to poor people facing potential incarceration in criminal courts. 

Michigan is blessed with countless dedicated and tireless lawyers devoted to upholding the Constitution and defending the rights of all who come before the courts. In fact in some ways, the very heroic efforts and sacrifices of defense counsel over the years and throughout the state have disguised the ways in which Michigan’s system is fundamentally broken.

The State Bar of Michigan is required under Michigan Supreme Court Rules to “aid in promoting improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence, in improving relations between the legal profession and the public, and in promoting the interest of the legal profession in this State.” From these words we take a clear directive to work to assure the Constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in all criminal proceedings throughout our state.
Our commitment to this mission has been long and steadfast. With the knowledge and tools now available to us, now is the time for immediate and significant action. We can finally accomplish an effective and efficient solution to remedy the problems that have been so fully documented in the state of Michigan. 

Governor Snyder's Order specifies, at paragraph II.C., that "[t]he commission may receive resources from the State Bar of Michigan.Rest assured, Commission members, that we're ready to assist you as best as we can.   Just ask.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Opportunities Abound During Pro Bono Month
October is Pro Bono Month. To help SBM members discover volunteer opportunities, the State Bar has launched a series of Pro Bono Fairs around the state.

On Thursday, October 6, just hours after returning from the UP, I attended the Oakland/Macomb fair hosted by Cooley Law School. If you missed it but seek information on pro bono opportunities, just visit the State Bar’s Pro Bono Initiative page or contact Rob Mathis, the State Bar’s Pro Bono Service Counsel.

The next day, on Friday October 7, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law’s Veterans Clinic held a day-long training session at the State Bar building for “Project Salute,”a pro bono program through which students and lawyers assist low-income veterans with federal veterans benefits. I welcomed the dedicated volunteer lawyers who attended the event.

To all who make a difference in helping the less fortunate through hands-on pro bono service or monetary donations, thank you.
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Day # 3 - Avoiding the Dreaded “Troll” Status Before Heading Under the Bridge
UP Trip – Day #3 – Cocktails in Marquette

MarquettePres-w.jpgWe saved the largest county for last. Our UP trip concluded in the city of Marquette, winner of numerous awards for its quality of life. Here, the Marquette County Bar Association delivered a large gathering of lawyers and judges at the historic Landmark Inn where we enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and great conversation.

Young lawyers considering a move to Marquette County needn’t worry about being thrust immediately into the bar presidency. By long-standing tradition, this bar draws its president from the most senior lawyer on the county’s swearing-in book. Current President, Joseph F. Lavey, II, is a seasoned lawyer who is enthusiastic about his association. Rightfully so. The Marquette County Bar Association is the UP’s largest and most active bar association. It meets quarterly, and its projects include a popular “Ask the Lawyer” TV Show that answers legal questions called in by viewers. Its meetings occasionally feature a guest speaker. Marquette is also the home of past SBM President Ron Keefe and his wife, Marilyn; both are good friends of mine through many years of State Bar service.

Back in May 1984, Marquette County Probate Judge Michael J. Anderegg wrote an article in the Michigan Bar Journal, p. 365, entitled “A Tourist's Guide to Upper Peninsula Etiquette.” It offered tips to help lower peninsula visitors “greatly reduce the likelihood of your being a ‘troll,’ an unpleasant sort of individual who lives below bridges.” Judge Anderegg attended Wednesday’s reception, and I’m pretty sure he never expected that a State Bar President (who happens to live hours below the Mackinac Bridge) would uncover and quote from his article 27 years later. But I did, and we all shared a good laugh.
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day # 3 - Copper Country Bar Association: A Hidden Treasure

UP Trip – Day #3 - Lunch



Our final day of the UP Trip began with an enjoyable lunch in Hancock, Michigan, with the Copper Country Bar Association.  Hancock
is Michigan’s northernmost city and is located on the Keewenau Peninsula.  Our meeting room overlooked Portage Lake and offered a breathtaking view of some of the most colorful trees we’ve encountered so far.

The miners who settled here over 150 years ago, you would imagine, were stalwart individuals who remained steadfastly dedicated to finding copper, even despite brutally cold and snowy Northern Michigan winters.  Today, as we discussed State Bar services, one member was brutally honest with us as he shared his disappointment with the Ethics Helpline
 when he tried to use it 20 years ago.  Bring it on.  Though criticism has been infrequent on this trip, we welcome it and take it seriously.  The State Bar, comparable to Hancock’s settlers, is focused and hard-working; we’re dedicated to serving members well and fulfilling the Strategic Plan  

Copper Country Bar President, Lauren M. Letto, ascended to her position in the same manner that we’ve seen before in the UP – newest lawyers first.  Lauren, a John Marshall Law School graduate and former Chicago lawyer who moved back to Hancock, is not exactly a new lawyer but qualified nonetheless.  The job her bar association has done would make much larger bars envious  ̶  last year’s holiday dinner brought a member turnout of about 100% and included a successful collection for Toys for Tots.  (Lauren: The Copper Country Bar Association is truly a hidden treasure.  Please let others know about its successful community service programs by posting them on the State Bar’s A Lawyer Helps website, which showcases the positive things that lawyers do.)
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day #2 - Where Everybody Knows Your Name (and Even the Name of the Steer on the Menu)

UP Trip - Day #2 – Dinner

Tonight we joined members of the Gogebic-Ontonagon Bar Association for a relaxing dinner  in Ironwood at the Gogebic Country Club, Elk & Hound.  A very congenial bar, the members were not only familiar with each other, but they also knew the name of the prize steer that supplied the steak on tonight's menu.

Geographically, this group is the farthest west of any other bar association in Michigan.  Ironwood is, I'm told, farther west than St. Louis, Missouri.  And since many of its members are also licensed in Wisconsin, our friends from Wisconsin Bar leadership – Executive Director George Brown and President Elect Kevin G. Klein ̶  joined us. 

President of the Gogebic-Ontonagon Bar Association, Michael Pope, leads a group that is diverse in age, type of practice, and location of practice.  Our discussion was interesting and free-flowing.  A judge expressed concern over the proposed reduction in judgeships based on the State Court Administrative Office’s Judicial Resources Recommendations that the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously approvedThe judge also discussed the added time commitment and effort associated with the increasing number of pro se litigants in his courtroom.

Among the many interesting lawyers in attendance was Paul A. Sturgul.  Paul has a very successful Elder Law practice based in Hurley, Wisconsin, with a sizeable staff.  He is licensed in Wisconsin and Michigan and has been very active in both associations.  He actually has the rare – and admirable - distinction of serving as Chair of the Elder Law sections of both bar associations; he’s immediate past Chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Elder Law & Disability Rights Section as well as past Chair of the Wisconsin Bar's Elder Law Section.  Active in the community, he’s also a Past President of the National Elder Law Foundation.  Paul’s work as SBM Elder Law Section Chair, in particular, is commendable; the section actually brought, and later settled, a lawsuit against the State of Michigan based upon the manner in which it was handling medical expense payments for those applying for, or on, Medicaid.   Great work, Paul!

Wednesday is the final day of our U.P. trip, with visits to Houghton and Marquette, and plenty of driving in between.  To help you understand and appreciate the sheer beauty of Ironwood, here's a picture I took of the Gogebic Country Club grounds shortly before our dinner. 

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day #2 – Youth Reigns (and Even Reins) at the Dickinson-Iron County Bar

UP Trip - Day #2 - Lunch


In my travels, I sometimes try to remind bar associations – especially those with an “older” membership base – to be ever-mindful of the next generation of leaders and to help move them up the ranks.  Some groups, like the Dickinson-Iron County Bar Association, need no reminder.  Its tradition is to assign its newest lawyer to head the association for a year.   For this year, that meant Andrea Mashak became the President.  Andrea is a 2010 graduate of Cooley Law School with a general law practice in the firm Finch & Finch, PC.  Her favorite hobby, like me, is horseback riding.  (She’s now an up and coming Equine Law practitioner, thanks to my prodding today.)


ChrisNinomiya3.jpgToday’s lunch also offered a chance to connect with an “old” friend  ̶  namely Judge Chris Ninomiya of Iron Mountain.  He’s living proof that distance is no barrier to State Bar service.  As members of the State Bar Representative Assembly several years ago, he and I served together on committees, and he traveled from Iron Mountain to our meetings (usually in the Lansing area).  Back then, he was a fairly young lawyer, himself.  Today, he's back on the Representative Assembly and serves on the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics.


Andrea and Chris: Thank you for your hard work.  We’re separated by geography but connected through common interests.  I’m sure we’ll keep in touch for a long time.

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Day #2 – Breakfast in Menominee County

UP Trip - Day #2 - Breakfast

Menominee.JPGMenominee County has 19 SBM members; and since the county borders Wisconsin, many of them also belong to the State Bar of Wisconsin.  Joining us for our breakfast gathering in Menominee today was Executive Director of the Wisconsin Bar, George Brown (its President, Jim Brennan, was in meetings).  Both bar associations are mandatory and share similar issues.  One common issue is the Unauthorized Practice of Law.  Much of our discussion was devoted to how each bar is positioning itself to protect the public and stop violators.

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Day #1 - Dinner, Drinks, and Dialogue in Delta County

UP Trip – Day #1 - Dinner

Located three counties west of Chippewa county is Delta County, home of the Delta County Bar Association.  Its membership is nearly identical in size to our lunch host, the Chippewa County Bar Association. 

Delta County showed us great hospitality for dinner at Stonehouse Restaurant in Escanaba. President Jessica Pelto works with the Delta County Friend of the Court; sometimes mistaken for a teenager because of her youthful appearance, she’s a capable leader.  The Delta County Bar can also boast that its membership includes the immediate past Chair of the State Bar’s Representative Assembly, Victoria Radke of Escanaba.

Over dinner and drinks, our discussion was informal, relaxed, and frank.  Among the topics we discussed were:

-          Unauthorized practice of law.  Concerns were raised that the State Bar should do more to combat the unauthorized practice of law (“UPL”).  We learned how the Representative Assembly will debate a proposal next year to define the practice of law; an established definition could potentially pave the way for the Bar to approach the Michigan Supreme Court or the legislature to create law.  We also discussed how the State Bar is, among other things, expanding its resources to investigate UPL complaints and will attempt to educate the public.

 -         Mandatory continuing legal education ("CLE").  An Escanaba doctor with a law degree, Ralph Blasier, MD, JD, holds a “day job” as an orthopedic surgeon but does occasional legal work on a pro bono basis.  Drawing on his medical license requirements, he asked whether Michigan planned to reinstate a CLE requirement for lawyers.  Several other state bars require this.  Mandatory CLE, we discussed, was unlikely any time soon in Michigan, but some form of specialty certification (with related CLE requirements) is being explored.

-          State Bar programs and services.  Technology was the topic of great interest.  We discussed the Practice Management Resource Center (“PMRC”).  Nino Green, a lawyer for 47 years, shared that he frequently uses voice recognition software.  We discussed Casemaker, a valuable State Bar member benefit that provides federal and state cases and statutes in all 50 states, as well as other research tools.  The basic program is free to SBM members.  State Bar Director of External Development Candace Crowley brought literature for all and offered details.  PMRC staff will gladly answer questions.


Just as in Sault Ste. Marie, discussion in Escanaba centered on the recent State Court Administrative Office recommendation to eliminate judgeships in the UP.  Janet Welch discussed it as well as the Judicial Crossroads Task Force report that was issued earlier this year by a group of judges and practitioners.

Spirited DiscussionSorry you missed tonight’s discussion and dinner here in beautiful Delta County, which boasts 211 miles of Great Lakes shoreline.  (Photo at the left shows some of us at the table.)  Still, you can learn more about State Bar services online by clicking here: member services orientation Look for me on the home page (but without the seafood and steaks).



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Monday, October 3, 2011

Day #1 – Sault Ste. Marie

UP Trip – Day #1 - Lunch

The skies couldn’t be clearer.  The leaves showed sporadic color.  The roads were traffic-free.  We were off to a good start, which began with lunch at Antler’s in Sault Ste. Marie with the 50th Circuit Bar (which recently became the Chippewa County Bar Association since Mackinac County is no longer in the 50th Circuit). 

If State Bar statistics are correct  ̶  showing 61 SBM members in Chippewa County  ̶  our delegation met just about 25% of them today, including a public defender, two judges, a friend of the court, 3 of the local prosecutors, and solo/small-firm private practitioners.  Easily half of the members we met worked in government jobs (consistent with a statistic offered today that 60% of UP residents are government workers).

Sole practitioner Michael Bryce Winnick of Sault Ste. Marie (a transplanted New Yorker, interestingly) is President.  Its members meet only about 3 times a year, including its annual holiday gathering.  With members so varied in their practices, CLE programming has not been an option.  And with a predominantly “older,” more seasoned lawyer/judge membership, it offers no formal mentoring programs.

Those considering private practice here should take caution.  For one thing, your car will become your law partner and will, of necessity, carry you long distances and across counties each day.  And plan to be civil; counsel might request permission to hold a motion hearing telephonically, and the court might agree.

New YorkersPictured  are three transplanted New Yorkers, now bar leaders (from left): SBM Representative Assembly Chair Steve Gobbo, SBM Commissioner Jim Erhart, and Chippewa County Bar President Michael Bryce Winnick.




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About Me

Thank you for visiting my blog.  My name is Julie Fershtman, and I was the 77th president of the 42,000-member  State Bar of Michigan from September 2011 through September 2012.  A member of the State Bar for over 26 years, I practice with the law firm Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC, in its Farmington Hills office, where I'm a Shareholder.  My areas of practice include commercial litigation, insurance defense and coverage, sporting and recreational liability, agribusiness law and liability, and equine law.  As a lawyer, I especially enjoy trial work; I've tried cases before juries in 4 states (Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Connecticut) and have been admitted as pro hac vice counsel on cases in 12 jurisdictions nationwide.  Business will continue during my State Bar presidency, with assistance of lawyers in my firm and the cooperation of fellow counsel and judges.  

Aside from my law practice, I also enjoy speaking and lecturing on liability, insurance, and risk management at seminars, conventions, CLE programs, and conferences across the country, including the Insurance Skills Center.  In 2011 I spoke on a panel at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto; I also spoke as a panelist on ABA webinars in 2011 and 2012.  I also love writing.  I've written 2 books and have contributed to or co-authored 4 ABA books, most recently in 2009 and 2011, as well as 5 law journal articles for the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section.  My writings include about 200 articles on legal subjects.

I grew up in the Detroit area and graduated from Emory College in 1983 and Emory Law School in 1986.  On a personal level, my father (the late Sidney Fershtman) was a Michigan lawyer, and my husband is a lawyer.  Although work, family, and bar activities leave little time for hobbies, my favorite hobby is horses.  With an empty horse barn on our property in the Detroit suburbs, chances are good that I'll be riding horses some time after my service as State Bar President concludes.

Law Books

It has been a pleasure writing this blog to chronicle many of my travels and experiences as the 2011-2012 President of the State Bar of Michigan.  My one-year term ended in September 2012.  Throughout my presidency, your comments and suggestions were always welcome.  Please contact me at any time if you would like to discuss your own involvement in a bar association.

Julie I. Fershtman, Esq.• Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC • 28411 Northwestern Hwy. • Ste. 500 • Southfield, MI 48034
Direct Line: (248) 785-4731 • E-mail:

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