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Monday, March 26, 2012

Diversity Celebrated

The March 15 event in Detroit was entitled "Celebrating Diversity," and the mood was decidedly celebratory.  Members of 26 bar associations joined together, and all tickets were sold.   A great time was had by all, and the event's message was never lost in the excitement.

Lori T. Williams, Esq., one of the attendees (who is also co-Chair of the Membership Committee of the Oakland County Womens Bar Association), reported on "Celebrating Diversity" in an article as well as her blog.  I couldn't have done a better job myself so I encourage you to utilize the links to check out Lori's report of this unforgettable and important event.

For those who missed it, please visit the State Bar of Michigan website's page devoted to diversity and inclusion.  There, you can become a signatory to the Diversity Pledge and will find links to several resources.

Thanks, Lori, for becoming today's unofficial guest blogger.
11:00 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Please Protect Your Health
Ribbon.jpgMy personal life should not be the focus of entries on this blog, but I would like to utilize it today to clear up any rumors or misinformation.  

I am now a breast cancer survivor.  In late September 2011, two weeks after being sworn in as the newest SBM President, I underwent a routine, annual doctor exam where breast cancer was suspected.  Tests soon confirmed stage 1 breast cancer.  On the advice of doctors, I received radical breast cancer surgery in late November followed by two months of chemotherapy that ended 3 weeks ago.  Doctors say my prognosis is very good. 

Throughout treatment, my State Bar presidential duties, travels (and, of course, this blog) continued in full force with few exceptions.  Other women handle their treatment and recovery differently depending on their personal circumstances. I thank my doctors, nurses, State Bar of Michigan staff, the Foster Swift law firm, my friends and “cancer mentors,” and especially my husband and daughter for their concern and support during these past few months. 

My strong suggestion for everyone: Please keep current with your annual medical exams, regardless of how busy you are.  According to a statistic, about 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Early detection, thanks to staying on schedule with my doctor, made a tremendous difference for me.
6:52 am edt          Comments

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Celebration of Our Diverse Bar
Question: What happens when you combine members of these bar associations together at one event tomorrow evening in Detroit? 

Albanian American Bar Association of Michigan
Arab-American Bar Association
Armenian-American Bar Association
Association of Defense Trial Counsel
Black Women Lawyers Association
Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan
D. Augustus Straker Bar Association
Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association
Federal Bar Association for the Eastern Dist. of Mich.
Hellenic Bar Association
Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan
Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers
Latin American Bar Activity Section
Macomb County Bar Association
Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Michigan Defense Trial Counsel
Intellectual Property Law Association
Oakland County Bar Association
South Asian Bar Association
Stonewall Bar Association
Washtenaw County Bar Association
Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association
Wayne County
Family Law Association
Wolverine Bar Association
Women LawyerAssoc. of Mich. – Oakland Region
Women Lawyers Assoc, of Mich. – Wayne Region

You get a sold-out event that celebrates the diversity of our bar. It also promises excellent networking opportunities for everyone.  To all of the bar associations throughout Michigan that worked hard to promote this event, thank you.  See you there!
9:55 am edt          Comments

Friday, March 9, 2012

Following Our Fathers

Sidney_Fershtman.jpgMy inspiration to enter the legal profession was my father, the late Sidney Fershtman (P 13394), who died in his Downriver (Melvindale) law office when I was a first-year law student in 1984.


Kara Tertzag Lividini is another Michigan lawyer who followed the profession of her father, the late Judge Kaye Tertzag (long considered an “icon” in the Downriver area) who was retired from the Wayne County Circuit Court bench before cancer took his life in 2009.  An attorney with Ford Motor Company, where her father once worked as a janitor to finance his college education, Kara is now President of the Downriver Bar Association and, at my encouragement, is a nominee to fill a vacancy on the State Bar’s Representative Assembly.


For the third consecutive year, Kara and a committee have organized the “Tertzag Tribute Dinner” that honors the memory of her father.  The event has brought together hundreds of lawyers and judges who knew and loved Judge Tertzag for an evening of remembrance, fellowship, and fun.  U.S. Senator Carl Levin was the keynote speaker at this year’s event on February 23.  The event annually recognizes someone with the “Purple Sport Coat Award”; Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Allen was this year’s recipient.  Southfield attorney Michael Butler’s blog discusses the event, with photos of Judge Tertzag sporting a purple sport coat.


Speaking of father-child SBM members, last year the State Bar of Michigan Blog shared a non-exhaustive list of father/child lawyers in Michigan, with a promise to update the list in 2012 as people submit omitted names. (Janet, we’ll be watching.)

6:35 am est          Comments

Monday, March 5, 2012

Advance Applause for WLAM's “Miss Representation” Screening

In the upcoming March 2012 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, the “President’s Page” offers my personal views on the “glass ceiling” that holds back women in our profession.   With this in mind, I commend the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan for co-hosting a screening of the documentary “Miss Representation” on Tuesday, March 6.  Here’s how the “MissRepresentation” website describes the movie:

Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (90 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.


In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.


Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.


Screening is at 7 p.m., at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor.  WLAM members can buy tickets for $15, non-members $18, students $12.  Here’s a link for more information on the documentary. 

Sorry I can’t join you at tomorrow's screening, WLAM friends, but you definitely get applause from me for this thought-provoking and inspirational program.
11:17 pm est          Comments

Friday, March 2, 2012

Camaraderie in Genesee: The Centennial Inns of Court
Michigan has seven Inns of Court so far, with more on the way.  In fact, the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association is forming one now.  The Inns of Court is loosely based on its English counterpart and brings together judges and lawyers who meet periodically to learn more about a variety of subjects involving ethics, professionalism, civility, and to develop skills to become better practitioners.  It also fosters valuable mentoring relationships.  Flint-area lawyers founded the Centennial Inns of Court a few years ago.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of joining the Centennial Inns of Court at one of its meetings at the Flint Golf Club.  The large group in attendance included local judges, bar leaders, experienced lawyers, and young lawyers.  For me, the event also offered an opportunity to spend time with past State Bar Young Lawyers Section Chair B.D. "Chris" Christensen and current State Bar Commissioner Don Rockwell -- two friends through bar service -- and to meet Linda Pohly, the Flint-area lawyer (and past Representative Assembly member) who handles its administration.

After dinner, the group allowed me to make a few remarks before launching its program with the theme "Managing Client Relations."  A well-prepared portion of the group, composed of young and experienced lawyers, presented two skits.  The first involved representing a divorce client, outraged over her cheating spouse, who inflexibly insisted on unrealistic settlement demands.  The second involved a "seriously injured" accident victim whose condition was later exposed by the defense's surveillance video.  Though we all laughed at times, the subject matter was unquestionably serious and, for several of us, familiar.  Everyone was invited to offer comments and suggestions at the end, and discusson freely flowed.  After the meeting adjourned, the camaraderie continued in the hallways.    

Thank you, Centennial Inns of Court, for an excellent meeting that easily demonstrated why the Inns of Court movement has become so popular. I strongly encourage local bars to consider forming one of your own.  Here's a link for more information
9:58 pm est          Comments

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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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