Category Archives: News

Michigan Lawyers: Please Participate in 2017 Economics of Law Practice Survey

ELPsurveyThe State Bar of Michigan Economics of Law Practice Survey only happens once every three years, but the survey results get used daily throughout the state in courtrooms, law firms, and by lawyers in all occupational areas. Private practitioners can take the survey at surveymonkey.com/r/17private, and non-private practitioners can take the survey at surveymonkey.com/r/17nonprivate. This year’s survey should take no more than five minutes to complete.

In the 2008 Michigan Supreme Court decision Smith v. Khouri, the court referenced the SBM Economics of Law Practice Survey as the primary resource for trial courts in determining attorney fees. It provides the benchmark for more than 50 specific fields of practice by geographic location.

The survey is designed to capture information relevant to the various occupational areas of Michigan attorneys. Private practitioners will be asked questions about their specific practice areas, and those in non-private practice occupations, such as those working as in-house counsel, in government service, non-profit organizations, academia, legal services, and more, will be asked for information about salaries, benefits, hours worked, and job satisfaction.

When members participate in the survey, their privacy will be fully protected and their replies will remain strictly confidential. Results will be reported in the aggregate only—no individual results will be identifiable. The State Bar will not have access to any respondent’s financial information, and attorneys will not be asked to provide a P number or any other identifying information to take the survey. The survey will be conducted by a third-party vendor on an independent website. However, to help members find the survey, a link to the survey will be provided on the State Bar website.

To sweeten the pot and make participation in the survey a little more fun, participants will be eligible to enter a drawing for prizes, including two $500 Amazon gift cards, and five $100 Amazon gift cards.

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It's not too late to register for #SBMNext!

Cobo.waterfrontIt's not too late to register for the NEXT Conference, the largest legal conference in the state.

Among this year's highlights:

Dan Abrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News and founder and CEO of Abrams Media, will deliver the keynote presentation about "High Profile Trials and Clashes Between Lawyers and the Media" at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28. There is no charge to attend this opening keynote.

Members of the legal profession who have achieved the highest honors in the areas of leadership, professional integrity, and pro bono and community service will be recognized at the Awards Banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

World-class educational tracks, which can also be attended as a la carte sessions, will take place on Thursday, Sept. 28 and Friday, Sept. 29, featuring many helpful topics on the most up-to-date legal technology; judicial perspectives; marketing and managing your practice; updates in estate planning, criminal law, tax law, immigration law, international issues in marriage and divorce, and selling the small business; tips for health and disability planning; law firm branding; starting your own practice; and the balanced practice. The faculty includes these top-notch speakers and many more: Hon. David M. Lawson, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan Hon. Kurtis T. Wilder, Michigan Supreme Court Hon. Christopher Murray, Michigan Court of Appeals Hon. Lita Masini Popke, Third Judicial Circuit Court Barron K. Henley, Affinity Consulting Group LLC Ross Fishman, Fishman Marketing Paul J. Unger, Affinity Consulting Group LLC.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen J. Markman will swear in the 83rd president of the State Bar, Donald G. Rockwell, and other officers. In addition, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Michael J. Riordan will swear in the 2017-2018 chair of the Representative Assembly, Joseph P. McGill, and the Michael Franck and Unsung Hero awards will be presented at the assembly business meeting.

Also on Thursday, the All-Member Reception will take place at Cobo Center from 4-5 p.m., and the Celebrating Diversity Reception will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Punchbowl Social in Detroit. Hosted by the Justice Initiatives Committee, the reception will celebrate the diversity of the State Bar, and acknowledge the work accomplished over the past year in support of achieving greater diversity and inclusion in the legal profession in Michigan.

On Friday, the 50-Year Golden Celebration Luncheon will take place from noon to 2 p.m. This event honors lawyers for 50 years of membership in the State Bar of Michigan.

Formerly known as the State Bar Annual Meeting and Solo & Small Firm Institute, the SBM NEXT Conference will focus on the future of law practice by bringing Michigan lawyers together in a whole new way to learn, share ideas, make connections, and more. Tailor the program to your needs by creating your own unique experience. Want to attend a section meeting, grab lunch, and catch an educational session or two? We've got you covered. Or maybe you'd rather focus on education and networking? You can do that too with a new, inclusive "All-Member" lunch and reception. With two day, one day, and a la carte pricing options, it's the conference that fits your schedule. Your conference, your way.

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Join 1,000 legal colleagues already registered for #SBMNext

Cobo.waterfront-1bsml_Date: Wednesday–Friday, September 27–29
Location: Cobo Center, Detroit

What do you have to do at SBM NEXT Conference to be eligible to win a ton of prizes, including a flat screen TV sponsored by the Paul Goebel Group, a Visa gift card, State Bar of Michigan merchandise and more?

Complete four easy steps:
1.Pick up a passport to prizes from the registration desk Thursday morning
2.Collect stamps from exhibitors at their booths throughout the day
3.Turn your completed passport in at the registration desk by 4:15 p.m. Thursday
4.Hang out, enjoy free food and drinks at the All Member Reception from 4-5 p.m. in the Exhibitor Hall to be present (and thus eligible to win) for the prize drawing

It's that easy.

Formerly known as the State Bar Annual Meeting and Solo & Small Firm Institute, the SBM NEXT Conference will focus on the future of law practice by bringing Michigan lawyers together in a whole new way to learn, share ideas, make connections and more. Tailor the program to your needs by creating your own unique experience. Want to attend a section meeting, grab lunch and catch an educational session or two? We've got you covered. Or maybe you'd rather focus on education and networking? You can do that too with a new, inclusive "All Member" lunch and reception. With two day, one day, and a-la-carte pricing options, it's the conference that fits your schedule.

Your conference, your way.

Register Now

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Need a better technology quotient? Boost yours at #SBMNext

Nextconference2 (1)We know you're an Instagram whiz, but in order to compete successfully in the legal marketplace, you've got to figure out how to harness technology to make your work more efficient and effective. Lucky for you, we're offering a brand new technology educational track at SBM NEXT Conference that will help you improve your productivity by utilizing Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant; gain proficiency with PDFs; master Microsoft Word; and get a rapid-fire 60 tech tips in 60 minutes, as well as become effective at paperless trial preparation, prepare a trial presentation on your iPad, and make your case to the jury with legal technology.

New, a-la-carte pricing on educational sessions will allow you to attend only the sessions most beneficial to you, while also fitting in section meetings and educational events, as well as other networking opportunities.

Formerly known as the State Bar Annual Meeting and Solo & Small Firm Institute, the SBM NEXT Conference will focus on the future of law practice by bringing Michigan lawyers together in a whole new way to learn, share ideas, make connections, and more. Tailor the program to your needs by creating your own unique experience. Want to attend a section meeting, grab lunch, and catch an educational session or two? We've got you covered. Or maybe you'd rather focus on education and networking? You can do that too with a new, inclusive "All Member" lunch and reception. With two day, one day, and a-la-carte pricing options, it's the conference that fits your schedule. Your conference, your way.

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Put your downtime to work in the new Learning Lounge @ #SBMNext

NEXT_Keynote17If you want to pick up some new skills at SBM NEXT Conference without having to sit through a structured seminar, we're offering just want you want in our all-new Learning Lounge, where you can join in a hands-on learning lab experience with a skilled expert in an informal setting.

The Learning Lounge, which will feature comfy couches and charging stations, will be in operation from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Friday in Room 250-A at Cobo Center.

Experts will walk you through these topics: "Speech Recognition—Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking in a Legal Practice," "Casemaker Legal Research Training for Beginners," "10 Questions: Things You Didn't Know You Could Get from the State Law Library and Library of Michigan," "Boundless Pro Bono with MI Free Legal Answers," "Building a Powerful Professional Network on Social Media," "Casemaker Legal Research 2.0 Training for Intermediate Users," "Road Warrior's Briefcase—What Do You Need to Carry to Stay Connected and Productive Wherever You Work?" and "E-Filing."

Dan Abrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News and founder and CEO of Abrams Media, will kick off the State Bar of Michigan 2017 NEXT Conference by delivering the opening keynote presentation about "High Profile Trials and Clashes Between Lawyers and the Media" at 9:00 a.m. Thursday, September 28.
Mr. Abrams has a long and celebrated career in legal journalism, previously serving as co-anchor of Nightline, chief legal correspondent and analyst for NBC News, and general manager of MSNBC. In addition, he hosted The Abrams Report, a nightly legal affairs program, and the acclaimed Verdict with Dan Abrams. Dan is the founder of eight web properties including Mediaite, a news and media website; Runway Riot, a fashion site for women of all sizes; The Mary Sue, covering tech and geek culture; and LawNewz, which covers crime and legal news. All told, the Abrams Media Network serves close to 15 million unique visitors per month.

Formerly known as the State Bar Annual Meeting and Solo & Small Firm Institute, the SBM NEXT Conference will focus on the future of law practice by bringing Michigan lawyers together in a whole new way to learn, share ideas, make connections, and more. Tailor the program to your needs by creating your own unique experience. Want to attend a section meeting, grab lunch, and catch an educational session or two? We've got you covered. Or maybe you'd rather focus on education and networking? You can do that too with a new, inclusive "All Member" lunch and reception. With two day, one day, and a-la-carte pricing options, it's the conference that fits your schedule. Your conference, your way.

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SPECIAL ALERT: Dues Notice Will (Only) Be E-mailed This Year

Starting this year, the State Bar of Michigan will e-mail dues notices containing a link to annual dues invoices and disclosure forms to members. Making this change is not only more efficient and convenient for members, but it also allows the State Bar to devote bar dues to valuable member programs and services rather than paper and postage.

On September 20, members will receive an e-mail from the State Bar of Michigan inviting them to log into the member area and complete their annual disclosures online and pay their dues with a credit or debit card. If they prefer not to pay online, they can print dues invoices and annual disclosure statements, complete the statements, write checks for dues, and mail the statements and checks to the State Bar's lockbox. The State Bar will provide a phone number for members who experience any log-in difficulties to call to have a dues invoice and annual disclosure statement mailed to them. The State Bar will also send members several reminder e-mails to remind them to complete the dues invoices and annual disclosure statements well in advance of the November 30 deadline, after which a $50 late fee will be assessed.

For those who practice law at a law firm, legal aid office, government entity, corporation, or other entity with more than one attorney on staff with centralized payment processing, those members can access annual disclosure statements and dues invoices online on September 20, print the documents, complete the information requested, and then give the completed documents to an administrator. The administrator can then mail all documents for the attorneys in the entity, along with a check for the total amount of the dues, to the State Bar's lockbox for processing. In order to access their annual disclosure statements and invoices, and pay their dues quickly and easily online or print the documents to mail, members should upgrade their internet browsers to their newest versions.

Members who do not have a valid e-mail address on file will receive a paper dues invoice and annual disclosure statement by mail.

Members with questions should contact SBM Director of Finance & Administration Jim Horsch at 517-346-6324 or jhorsch@michbar.org. 

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A Lawyer Helps: Here, There, and Everywhere

Flooding_full_wWhen It Rains, Help Pours In. Use your legal skills to help flood victims in Michigan and Texas.

In Michigan: Midland, Isabella, Bay, and Gladwin Counties, Michigan Flood Disaster Relief Legal Services

Low income flood victims are in need of legal services for:

  • Counseling on landlord-tenant problems
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster
  • Assistance in consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems
  • Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits
  • Assistance with life, medical, and property insurance claims
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors

Volunteer Now 

Submit your completed Volunteer Agreement Form to michigandisasterlegalservices@gmail.com.

For more information, see the FAQs.

In Texas: Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Legal Services

The Texas emergency order permits out-of-state lawyers to provide legal services on a temporary basis in a variety of practice areas ranging from brief advice to full representation.

Volunteer Now

The Supreme Court of Texas emergency order, which permits out-of-state lawyers to provide legal services for a 6 month period beginning August 30, 2017, serves as a national call for action to the legal profession, and another opportunity to show Michigan lawyers in action.

Submit the form to the State Bar of Texas, which serves as a clearinghouse for out-of-state lawyer volunteers. Out-of-state lawyer volunteers must also submit the State of Texas Registration for Temporary Practice of Texas Law form before or shortly after providing legal services to Hurricane Harvey victims.

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SBM Alternative Dispute Resolution Section to Host Mediating Attorney Fee Disputes Teleseminar

SmartphoneThe State Bar of Michigan Alternative Dispute Section will host a teleseminar about mediating attorney fee disputes from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Registration is required by Sept. 8, and dial-in instructions will be provided on participants’ registration confirmations.

The teleseminar will be moderated by Grand Rapids attorney and mediator, Robert E. L. Wright. Byron P. “Pat” Gallagher Jr., who serves as a mediator of attorney fee, business, real estate and probate disputes at his East Lansing firm, The Gallagher Law Firm, will discuss the challenges attorney fee disputes can present to mediators. Attorney fee disputes are difficult to resolve because of perceptions, personalities, pride and sometimes bad behavior by one or more participants. To be effective, the mediator must have a basic understanding of attorney fees, fee agreements and related legal and equitable issues. The mediator must be able to marshal this understanding to identify the issues, build trust, build consensus where possible and develop a workable solution.

Participants will learn how the nature of the dispute impacts the mediation; the impact of claims of malpractice, ethical violations and fraud on negotiations; how to deal with attorney-client privilege claims and waivers; authority to settle affected by these variables; factors parties need to address in fee disputes; when attorney fees may be recovered by law or court rule and prevailing standards; common objections mediators are likely to encounter; and answers to questions about dealing with these disputes.

The teleseminar is free for sitting judges, costs $10 for Alternative Dispute Resolution Section members and law students, and $40 for non-section members. To register online or download a copy of the mail-in registration form, visit http://connect.michbar.org/adr/home. For more information, contact Robert Wright at bob@thepeacetalks.com or (616) 682-7000.

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Free Legal Assistance Available for Flood Victims in Midland, Isabella, Bay and Gladwin Counties

FloodA toll-free legal aid hotline is now available to victims of Michigan’s recently declared flood disaster in Midland, Isabella, Bay and Gladwin Counties. The service, which allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer to aid in flood-related matters, is a partnership between the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the State Bar of Michigan, the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section, Lakeshore Legal Aid and Legal Services of Eastern Michigan.

Flood victims facing legal issues who are unable to afford a lawyer may call 1-800-418-8315 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday, to request assistance. When connected to the hotline, callers should identify that they are seeking disaster-related legal assistance, brief details of the assistance needed and in which county they are located. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with Michigan lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal assistance.

The type of legal assistance available includes:

  • Assistance securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster victims;
  • Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims;
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster;
  • Assistance in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures;
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems; and
  • Counseling on landlord-tenant problems.

Flood victims may also visit https://mi.freelegalanswers.org/ to receive free legal assistance online. Individuals who qualify for this service can ask a volunteer attorney questions online and receive a written response.

Background:

When the President declares a major disaster, FEMA, in cooperation with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, establishes a toll-free number for disaster victims to request legal assistance. Funding for the toll-free line comes from FEMA under the authority of Section 415 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-107). The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, in turn, partners with state bar associations and other legal organizations to recruit volunteers in affected areas to handle victims’ cases.

Victims should be aware that there are limitations on disaster legal services. For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee (e.g., those cases where attorneys are paid part of the settlement by a court). Such cases are referred to a local lawyer referral service.

Currently, disaster relief services are available to flood victims in Midland, Isabella, Bay, and Gladwin Counties. Low-income flood victims seeking legal assistance outside and surrounding Midland, Isabella, Bay, and Gladwin Counties may contact Legal Services of Eastern Michigan 1-800-322-4512 to find out if they qualify for free legal assistance. For all other flood victims, contact the State Bar of Michigan lawyer referral service at 1-800-968-0738.

Partner Members:

The following organizations have joined forces to establish a toll-free phone line for Midland, Isabella, Bay and Gladwin, Michigan disaster victims to request free legal assistance and to provide volunteer attorneys to handle cases arising from recent flooding.

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division: The ABA YLD is the largest national organization of young lawyers that provides leadership in serving the public and the profession, and promotes excellence and fulfillment in the practice of law. Its parent organization, the American Bar Association, is the national voice of the legal profession and is the largest voluntary professional membership group in the world.

State Bar of Michigan: Established in 1935, the State Bar of Michigan is composed of more than 45,000 practicing attorneys and judges. The mission of the State Bar is to improve the administration of justice, promote the legal profession, and build public understanding of our legal system. For more information, visit www.michbar.org. Follow SBM on Facebook and on Twitter @MIStateBar. If you are a member of the State Bar, join our group on LinkedIn.

State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section: The State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section is a professional membership organization. The Section’s mission is to sponsor activities of interest and value to young lawyers in Michigan; coordinate activities of the various local young lawyer groups in Michigan; cooperate with, and serve as an integral part of the State Bar of Michigan; cooperate with various local bar associations in the State of Michigan, and the American Bar Association, including its Young Lawyer Division, in the promotion of their programs.

Lakeshore Legal Aid: Lakeshore Legal Aid takes pride in providing Southeast Michigan with excellence in advocacy and civil legal counsel since 1966. Our attorneys offer professional legal advice and counseling, document review and preparation, negotiation, mediation, and representation in court to improve the legal status of the men, women, and families we serve. 

Legal Services of Eastern Michigan: LSEM delivers free civil legal assistance to people with limited means. Its mission is to use legal skills to address the causes and effects of poverty. Special emphasis is placed on those issues that affect the survival needs of low-income people. LSEM provides services in 14 Mid-Michigan counties including, Arenac, Bay, Clare, Genesee, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Lapeer, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac, St. Clair, and Tuscola.

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ABA joins SBM, State Bar Associations and CloudLaw, Inc. to Expand Online Legal Network

OnlinemarketThe American Bar Association has joined the State Bar of Michigan, CloudLaw, Inc. and several other state bar associations to create a national online legal network that consumers can trust to find lawyers.

By joining together for the first time in this type of effort, the ABA and other state bars will leverage their combined expertise to create a dynamic, comprehensive, national online network. The network will offer easy-to-use lawyer search, topical legal information and quick connections between legal professionals. The lawyer search platform hosts some 90,000+ lawyer profiles and receives half a million quarterly visits. Combined with the ABA partnership and the scheduled participation of additional state bars, the network expects to reach over half a million lawyer-members by the end of 2018.

"While the online market for legal services has been exploding with confusing and in some cases very questionable options for consumers, CloudLaw has been carefully building the foundation for a credible, convenient alternative backed and developed with the collective input of state bar associations," SBM Executive Director Janet Welch said. "The current CloudLaw network has quietly been benefiting Michigan lawyers and the public for over two years, and its value will increase tremendously over time. The addition of the expertise of the American Bar Association is a crucial step forward."

"The American Bar Association is excited by the opportunity to collaborate with state bars to provide consumers with greater access to lawyers," said Linda A. Klein, President of the American Bar Association. "Technology can only do so much and people still need lawyers to help them solve their problems. We believe that the CloudLaw directory will allow potential clients to find the lawyer they need."

The expanded network will function as a central, searchable hub, while offering the same ethically focused and user-friendly features as the current CloudLaw network. In connection with the launch, CloudLaw will also rebrand the site domain name from zeekbeek.com to cloudlawyers.com.

"Today is a significant step forward in bar associations revitalizing their traditional role by providing a credible and ethically compliant marketplace to deliver legal services on the Internet," CloudLaw, Inc. CEO and President Robert Aicher said. "CloudLaw is proud to be the provider facilitating this online evolution."

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