Monday, March 26, 2012
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.
11:00 pm edt
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 Examiner.com 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.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Please Protect Your Health
My 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
6:52 am edt
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.
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?
9:55 am edt
Bar Association of Michigan
Arab-American Bar Association
Armenian-American Bar Association
Association of Defense Trial Counsel
Women Lawyers Association
Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan
D. Augustus Straker Bar Association
Detroit Metropolitan Bar
Federal Bar Association for the Eastern Dist. of Mich.
Hellenic Bar Association
Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan
Society of Irish American Lawyers
Latin American Bar Activity Section
Macomb County Bar Association
Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Michigan Defense Trial Counsel
Michigan Intellectual Property
Oakland County Bar Association
South Asian Bar Association
Stonewall Bar Association
Washtenaw County Bar Association
County Criminal Defense Bar Association
Wayne County Family Law Association
Wolverine Bar Association
Women LawyerAssoc. of Mich. –
Women Lawyers Assoc, of Mich. – Wayne Region
Answer: 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!
Friday, March 9, 2012
Following Our Fathers
6:35 am est
My 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
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.)
Monday, March 5, 2012
Advance Applause for WLAM's “Miss Representation” Screening
11:17 pm est
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:
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
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.
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.
9:58 pm est
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.
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.