Saturday, January 28, 2012
Does Groupon Fit, Ethically and Otherwise, With Lawyer Advertising in Michigan?
11:11 am est
My friends rave about
their deals on Groupon. And I can’t seem to avoid those pesky “Deal Chicken” ads on the
newspaper front page, offering their version of a discount program. Can Michigan lawyers offer services
through discount programs like these? Should we?
The discussion has already begun. As the State Bar of Michigan Blog reported on January 26, 2012, following a post
in the ABA Journal report, the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics conditionally approved lawyers in that state
Michigan has not weighed in on the
issue. But with the rapidly growing popularity of these discount programs, I am positive that many of our
members are interested.
What can we do when confronted
with these and other complex ethics questions involving how we serve our clients, whether we accept certain clients, and how
we market our services? We need not encounter these issues alone. The State Bar
offers free resources to help, such as:
Ethics Helpline - (877) 558-4760
· We can request a written ethics opinion
from either the Standing Committee on Professional Ethics or the Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics by sending a letter to the proper committee. Learn
An entire section of the State Bar’s website provides ethics resources, including past opinions and more.The State Bar’s Professional Standards Division, headed by Dawn Evans, works hard on numerous fronts to protect our profession and the public. Please take advantage
of the bar’s many ethics resources when you need them. And, please let me or Dawn Evans at the State
Bar know if we can serve you better.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Congratulations to Marietta Robinson
2:10 pm est
Post carries this story today about President Obama's appointment of Marietta Robinson to serve on the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. A trial lawyer who served
for eight years as a federally appointed trustee of the Dalkon Shield Trust, Marietta was nominated by the Democratic Party
to run for the Michigan Supreme Court in 2000. She was married for 27 years to James K. Robinson, past President of the
State Bar, a former U.S. attorney in Detroit, dean of the the Wayne State University Law School and assistant attorney general
in charge of the criminal division in the Justice Department.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Marietta last September when she accepted the posthumous award
of the State Bar’s highest honor, the Roberts P. Hudson Award, on behalf of her husband at the State Bar’s Annual
Awards dinner. Her remarks and their emphasis on public service, I think, illustrate why such honors come her way.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Professionalism in Action Orientation: A Weapon in the Battle Against Incivility
8:57 am est
Volunteer lawyers and judges introducing themselves to the Cooley Lansing law students at a January 2012 Professionalism
in Action Orientation Program.
Our profession has become increasingly uncivil. I hear this
in my presidential travels, and last year’s Member Survey seemed to confirm it. 35.4% of respondents
were “extremely concerned” about civility, and another 49% were “very” or “somewhat” concerned.
We can complain about the problem
or we can do something. Fortunately, the State Bar has been taking action, and the “Professionalism
in Action Orientation Program” is one shining effort. SBM past President Ed Pappas initiated it in
2009, and nearly every Michigan law school has replicated it ever since. Here’s how it works: Near
the start of the semester, the law school brings together the new first year law students along with a group of volunteer
lawyers and judges for a few hours. Seated at several round tables, with a ratio of about 1-2 lawyer/judge
volunteers for each 9-10 students, they review a series of hypothetical ethical scenarios and discuss what is expected of
members of our profession. Two of the scenarios were:
· The “Rambo” litigator who disrupts deposition proceedings and seeks to intimidate
opposing counsel and witnesses.
· The law student who accidentally receives
his law professor’s teaching and planning notebook that could hold valuable clues to future exam material.
program concludes with a friendly mixer, allowing the students and lawyers to develop valuable connections. Not
surprisingly, the program consistently receives high marks from students and volunteers alike. Everybody
benefits, and the discussions, mentoring opportunities, and lessons learned will stay with the students long into their careers.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The Time is Always Right to Do What's Right
7:46 pm est
"The time is always right to do what's right." These were the
simple, powerful words of Martin Luther King, Jr., during a speech he gave in 1964.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday is this Monday. I'm old enough to have watched
his funeral procession from the small black and white television in our living room. I'm old enough to have seen a segregated
water fountain. I'm old enough to have driven through a Livonia neighborhood where house after house posted signs stating:
"This family will not be bussed."
44 years after King's death, the pursuit of equality and inclusion still has a long way to go. For example, among law firms,
diversity is rarely seen in the ranks of equity partners and managing partners. Also, the State Bar's 2010 Economics of Law Practice survey confirms that pay disparities still exist.
Martin Luther King, Jr., gave us hope. He inspired peace and advancement
through tolerance, unselfishness, and non-violence. Very soon you'll receive the January 2012 Michigan Bar Journal, with the theme of diversity. My President's Page, entitled "A Little More Conversation, A Little More Action," lists 9 different efforts that the State Bar has
been undertaking to promote diversity. Let's keep pursuing the dream.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Show Appreciation: Nominate
3:07 pm est
|At last year's awards ceremony,
I had the privilege of
presenting the Roberts P. Hudson Award, the State Bar's
most prestigious award, to Marietta
Robinson, widow of posthumous award recipient, Jim Robinson.
you ever get the sense that these are the most under-used words in the English language? When lawyers volunteer considerable
time, the only compensation they might expect is these two words. But people rarely express them.
It doesn't have to be that way. Between now and
April 2, 2012, the State Bar of Michigan is accepting nominations for several prestigious awards. Here's a link to the
newest State Bar awards announcement and how to nominate for each award.
Do you appreciate someone's service, leadership, selflessness, and exemplary conduct? Please do something
about it. Let him or her know. Nominate him or her for a State Bar award. And please mark your calendar
to join me at the State Bar of Michigan Awards Banquet on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids
where we'll applaud the 2012 award recipients, meet them personally, and be inspired and energized by their efforts.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Happy 2012 – A New Year’s Diversion
10:42 pm est
Two weeks before 2011
ended, my 15 year-old daughter offered a head start on my #1 New Year’s Resolution: take myself less seriously in
2012. She didn’t convey the idea by preaching or arguing, but, instead, by sharing a holiday
cookie she just decorated in the style of an artist she loves: Mondrian. (Cookie on the left, below, and sample
Mondrian painting on the right.) Making sure that the State Bar stays on top of critical issues
affecting our profession, listens carefully, and stays steadfastly focused on our Strategic Plan are very serious matters.
Please continue to let me or the State Bar know how we can serve you better in 2012. And, by
the way, you won’t find many beautifully frosted cookies in my household this year … that’s another
New Year’s Resolution altogether.
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.