My Presidential Year

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Term of Office 
My term began on September 15, 2011, during the State Bar of Michigan's Annual Meeting and ended on September 20, 2012, when the State Bar held its Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What is the State Bar of Michigan? 
As set forth in Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan: 
The State Bar of Michigan is the association of the members of the bar of this state, organized and existing as a public body corporate pursuant to powers of the Supreme Court over the bar of the state. The State Bar of Michigan shall, under these rules, 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 interests of the legal profession in this state. 
Membership includes men and women engaged in a wide variety of business pursuits.  They are practicing lawyers, judges, professors, legislators, executives, in-house counsel, association executives and staff, administrators, entrepreneurs, members of the armed services, and numerous others.  The State Bar takes pride in the diversity of its membership and actively strives to provide services and benefits for them.
What Will I Do As State Bar President? 
As President, I will serve as a spokesperson for the State Bar and help it fulfill its Strategic Plan.  I will also preside over meetings of the Board of Commissioners, appoint and work with the Bar's many standing and special committees, continue fostering strong, positive relationships with the Bar's many sections, and work with the State Bar's Representative Assembly (which I chaired in 2001-2002).  I'll also have the distinct privilege of working with Janet K. Welch, the State Bar's very capable Executive Director, as well as the State Bar's staff at its headquarters in Lansing. 
Of particular interest to me is to represent the State Bar to the public and the profession in a positive way.  Many people are unaware of the tremendous efforts the Bar undertakes daily to improve the profession and protect the public such as our attention to justice initiativesAccess to Justice Campaign,  and Client Protection Fund, to name a few.  Many are unaware of our member service programs and benefits.  The Bar currently offers valuable and free services that include, for example, the Practice Management Resource Center, Career CenterEthics Helplinelegal ethics resources, Public Policy Resource Center and weekly updatesSBM news linkspublications, and the daily e-journal that many members — myself included — can't live without. 

As a former solo/small firm practitioner for 17 years, I am especially sensitive to members who operate small firm practices and look to the State Bar to offer more resources to help with practice management.  

In addition, the Michigan State Bar Foundation, on whose Board I have served as a Trustee, provides grants supporting civil legal aid to the poor, education, and conflict resolution. Also, the public is often unaware of the substantial contributions of time and money that lawyers undertake in pro bono and community service; the Bar's "A Lawyer Helps ™" effort spotlights some of these activities and offers our members opportunities to make contributions, but thousands of others are unrecognized each year.

Also of particular interest to me as I began my year was to listen to our membership and to be a highly accessible State Bar President.  This blog was part of that effort. 
Unfinished Business as My Presidential Term Ended 
Is there unfinished business?  Definitely. Here's a link to my last "President's Page" column, which appeared in the September 2012 Michigan Bar Journal at page 24.  Its title was "Unfinished Business."  
After my presidential year, three more women were elected State Bar of Michigan presidents and had outstanding terms:  Lori Buiteweg, Jennifer Grieco, and Dana Warnez.  My friend Lisa Hamameh is now an officer of the State Bar.

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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