Enhance your SBM NEXT Conference experience with the mobile app

NEXT-FB_714x470The State Bar of Michigan is offering an app to help you create the perfect, personalized SBM NEXT Conference experience for you. The new app will allow you to create a custom schedule and set reminders for events and educational sessions, and also receive alerts about last-minute event changes. New features also allow you to take photos and notes during events and save them right inside the event in the app, automatically organizing them for you and making them easy to find in the future. A new, interactive map feature in the app will allow you to navigate from your current location in DeVos Place to the location of your next event. A social wall lets you share your experience on social media using the hashtag #sbmnext. You can network with others attending the event and connect with vendors in the app. And you can also navigate Art Prize, register for a city tour and even book an Uber from within the app.

SBM NEXT Conference will focus on the future of law practice by bringing Michigan lawyers together 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 an 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.

Visit https://crowd.cc/s/1Sb3S to download the app, then search for “NEXT” to find 2018 SBM NEXT Conference.

Save your spot at SBM NEXT Conference.

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MyCase Legal Technology Evangelist to Give Plenary Session at SBM NEXT Conference

Mycase_nicole_blackNicole Black, Legal Technology Evangelist for MyCase, will provide a plenary session for the educational tracks at State Bar of Michigan NEXT Conference at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28.

Black is an author, journalist and legal technology evangelist at MyCase. She is the nationally recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers,” and co-authored “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authored “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for The Daily Record, Above the Law and Legal IT Pros; has authored hundreds of articles for other publications and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile and cloud computing and internet-based technology.

Black’s plenary presentation, “Artificial Intelligence and the Law,” will demonstrate how AI has the potential to save lawyers time and money. AI technologies hold the promise of automating the mundane aspects of practicing law, allowing lawyers to focus on more interesting, high-level analytical tasks. Hear about exciting new AI software that, although in its infancy, will soon impact a number of different aspects of your law practice. Plus, learn about a host of automation tools already in existence that will streamline your law firm's processes, whether you’re looking to automate document assembly, billing and invoicing processes or case to-dos and deadlines.

Don’t miss Nicole Black’s plenary session at #SBMNext. Save your spot at SBM NEXT Conference.

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Become a Better Advocate at the SBM Next Conference Judicial Perspectives Track

NEXT-FB_714x470Get the top tips for presenting your summary disposition motion, learn to effectively write your appellate brief and make your argument and see the view from the criminal bench directly from some of Michigan’s top jurists. Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates, Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge Jon Hulsing and Muskegon County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Hicks will give you best practice advice for presenting summary disposition motions. John Bursch and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement will provide smart drafting techniques and strategies for presenting your best arguments in appellate briefs. Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah and Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Pamela Lightvoet will teach you how judges view criminal matters and what they expect during the pendency of your case to help you improve your advocacy.

SBM NEXT Conference will focus on the future of law practice by bringing Michigan lawyers together 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 an inclusive “All Member” lunch and reception. With two-day, one-day, and ala carte pricing options, it’s the conference that fits your schedule. Your conference, your way.

Don’t miss the judicial perspectives track at #SBMNext. Save your spot at SBM NEXT Conference.

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Clio CEO to Give Keynote Address at SBM NEXT Conference

CliojacknewtonJack Newton, CEO and Founder of Clio, will kick off the State Bar of Michigan NEXT Conference with a keynote address at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 27.

Newton is a pioneer in cloud-based practice management with more than 150,000 legal professionals in 130 countries depending on Clio’s software every day. Newton has been recognized as EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and Clio has been named to Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies, the Deloitte Fast 50, Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures and more. Newton has spearheaded efforts to educate the legal community on issues surrounding cloud computing, including security, ethics and privacy, and has become an internationally recognized writer and speaker. He is cofounder and president of the Legal Cloud Computing Association, a consortium of leading cloud computing providers with a mandate to help accelerate the adoption of cloud computing in the legal industry.

Newton’s keynote presentation, “The 2018 Legal Trends Every Michigan Lawyer Must Know,” will uncover the findings that impact Michigan lawyers straight from Clio’s Annual Legal Trends Report, the most extensive data-driven report of its kind in the legal industry. Learn how you can build a data-driven law firm by leveraging key performance indicators, and review data from a large-scale consumer that reveals rapidly shifting consumer expectations. This talk will leave you inspired to deliver legal services in innovative and competitive ways, and will provide insights into how you can drive new business in an increasingly competitive world by adapting to rapidly shifting consumer behavior.

Don’t miss Jack Newton’s keynote speech at #SBMNext. Save your spot at SBM NEXT Conference.

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State Bar of Michigan Announces 2018 Election Results

ElectionresultsSBM Board of Commissioners

Five  attorneys — Lisa J. Hamameh, Thomas H. Howlett, Joseph P. McGill, Dana M. Warnez and Erane C. Washington — won contested seats in this year’s Board of Commissioners elections. All will serve three-year terms expiring at the close of the 2021 NEXT Conference.

Dana M. Warnez was elected to serve District D, representing Macomb and St. Clair Counties. She concentrates on probate and estate planning, drafting and administering trusts and real estate matters at Schoenherr, Cahill & Warnez in Center Line.

Erane C. Washington was elected to serve District G, representing Jackson and Washtenaw Counties. She owns and operates The Law Firm of Erane C. Washington-Kendrick in Ann Arbor, and provides services to businesses and individuals in real estate, business, personal injury and commercial litigation.

Joseph P. McGill was elected to serve District H, representing Monroe, Lenawee and Wayne Counties. He is a principal at Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip in Livonia, concentrating on complex litigation and transactions.

Lisa J. Hamameh and Thomas H. Howlett were both elected to serve District I, representing Oakland County. Hamameh is a shareholder with Foster Swift Collins & Smith in Southfield and practices municipal, zoning/land use and liquor licensing law. Howlett is a partner and chief operating officer of The Googasian Law Firm in Bloomfield Hills, where his litigation practice focuses on malpractice, catastrophic injury, wrongful death and pursuit of consumer class actions.


The SBM Board of Commissioners provides oversight to the State Bar on finance, public policy, professional standards and member services and communications.


Judicial Tenure Commission

Judge Brian R. Sullivan, of Detroit, won a contested election for a three-year term on the Judicial Tenure Commission that will commence Jan. 1, 2019 and will expire on Dec. 31, 2021. Judge Sullivan was elected to the Wayne County Third Circuit Court in 1998.

The JTC is a constitutionally created body that promotes the integrity of the judicial process and preserves public confidence in the courts. 


SBM Representative Assembly

Samantha J. Orvis, of Grand Blanc, won a contested race for a three-year term on the Representative Assembly in Circuit 7, representing Genesee County.   

Fifty-eight attorneys won unopposed races in the State Bar Representative Assembly. These new members are:

First Circuit—Hillsdale County
Karlye A. Horton

Second Circuit—Berrien County
Amber D. Peters
Mary Margaret-LaSata Spiegel

Third Circuit—Wayne County
Julia A. Gilbert
Susan L. Haroutunian
Christina B. Hines
Diane Hutcherson
Sean M. Myers
John C. Philo

Fourth Circuit—Jackson County
Terry J. Klaasen

Sixth Circuit—Oakland County
 Heather J. Atnip
James P. Brennan
Colleen H. Burke
John Chau
David J. Eagles
J. Scot Garrison
Karen R. Geibel
Dawn M. King
Mathew Kobliska
Brian D. O’Keefe
Ryan A. Paree
Margaret A. Scott
Louis A. Stefanic
Mark L. Teicher

10th Circuit—Saginaw County
Jennifer A. Van Benschoten Jones

11th Circuit—Alger, Luce, Mackinac and Schoolcraft Counties
Chad W. Peltier

13th Circuit—Antrim, Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties
James L. Rossiter

14th Circuit—Muskegon County
Jennifer J. Roach

17th Circuit—Kent County
Michael D. Adams
Nicholas V. Dondzila
Elizabeth J. Fossel
Patrick M. Jaicomo
Joshua Z. Kosmerick
Nicholas M. Ohanesian

20th Circuit—Ottawa County
Christopher M. Wirth

22nd Circuit—Washtenaw County
Mark W. Jane

23rd Circuit—Alcona, Arenac, Iosco and Oscoda Counties
Duane L. Hadley

25th Circuit—Marquette County
Patrick C. Greeley

29th Circuit—Clinton and Gratiot Counties
Cassandra R. Green

30th Circuit—Ingham County
Yolanda M. Bennett
Nicole A. Evans
Carmen G. Fahie
Christopher L. Jackson
Jessica L. Zimbelman

32nd Circuit—Gogebic and Ontonagon Counties
Anna R. Talaska

33rd Circuit—Charlevoix County
Kevin G. Klevorn

35th Circuit—Shiawassee County
Michael L. Herendeen

36th Circuit—Calhoun County
Adam D. Bancroft

38th Circuit—Monroe County
Anne M. McCarthy
Michael C. Brown

44th Circuit—Livingston County
Dennis L. Perkins

45th Circuit—St. Joseph County
John L. Barnes

48th Circuit—Delta County
Avery D. Rose

50th Circuit—Chippewa County
David E. Bulson

52nd Circuit—Huron County
Dallas Rooney

53rd Circuit—Cheboygan and Presque Isle Counties
Melissa Goodrich

55th Circuit—Clare and Gladwin Counties
Hon. Thomas R. Evans

56th Circuit—Eaton County 
Kristen L. Krol

The 150-member Representative Assembly was created in 1972 to increase the proportion of members who actively participate in State Bar policy; it serves as the SBM final policy-making body.

SBM Young Lawyers Section Executive Council

Two attorneys — Choi T. Portis, of Detroit, and Ryan Zemke, of Clinton Township — won uncontested elections in District 1, representing Wayne and Macomb counties, for a two-year term expiring in 2020.

Four attorneys — Angela L. Baldwin, of RochesterKristina A. Bilowus, of Royal Oak, Jerome Crawford, of Troy, and Brande N. Smith, of Farmington Hills — won uncontested elections in District 2, representing Oakland County, for two-year terms expiring in 2020.

Three attorneys — Samantha J. Orvisof Grand Blanc, Erica N. Payneof Marquette, and Christopher B. Wickmanof Okemos— won contested elections in District 3, representing all Michigan counties except for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb, for two-year terms expiring in 2020.

The Young Lawyers Executive Council governs the members of the Young Lawyers Section, one of the State Bar's largest sections. The section provides education, information, and analysis about issues of concern through meetings, seminars, public service programs, and newsletters. The section has won numerous awards for its public service and educational programs.

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SBM Solicits Member Comments on Proposed Ethics Advisory Opinion

The growth of online for-profit matching services raises questions about attorney ethics. A proposed advisory opinion by the State Bar of Michigan Professional Ethics Committee concludes that participation in a for-profit online matching service that matches prospective clients with lawyers for a fee is not ethically permissible if the attorney’s fee is paid to and controlled by a non-lawyer and the cost for the online matching service is based on a percentage of the attorney’s fee paid for the legal services provided by the lawyer.

The proposed advisory opinion says that a Michigan lawyer participating in this business model:

  • Violates Rule 6.3(b), which prohibits a lawyer from participating in for-profit lawyer referral services;
  • Violates Rule 5.4, which prohibits a lawyer from sharing fees with a non-lawyer;
  • Violates Rule 7.2(c), which prohibits a lawyer from giving anything of value to recommend a lawyer’s services unless it is a reasonable payment for advertising the lawyer’s services, the usual charges for a not-for-profit lawyer referral service, or payment for the sale of a law practice;
  • Subverts compliance with Rule 1.15, which requires a lawyer to safeguard legal fees and expenses paid in advance by depositing them into a client trust account until the fee is earned and the expense is incurred;
  • Impedes compliance with Rule 1.16(d) and its requirement that any unearned prepaid fees and unexpended advances on costs must be refunded;
  • Assists in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Rule 5.5(a) to the extent the online service holds itself out as a provider of legal services and guarantees satisfaction; and
  • Violates Rule 5.3 to the extent that the conduct of the matching service when performing administrative “back office” services traditionally done through the law firm does not comport with the professional obligations of the lawyer.

As the proposed opinion describes, a number of other states have addressed this issue.

Members of the State Bar of Michigan and the public are encouraged to submit comments on the proposed opinion and on whether the current rules should be modified by filling out an online form located at https://www.michbar.org/opinions/membercomments.

Comments should be submitted by July 16. After the period for comment has closed, the State Bar Board of Commissioners will consider whether to approve or modify the opinion.


The Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) were adopted effective Oct. 1, 1988, by the Michigan Supreme Court. The MRPC comprise the Supreme Court’s authoritative statement of a Michigan lawyer’s ethical obligations.

Consistent with its jurisdictional mandate and rules, the SBM Professional Ethics Committee drafts ethics opinions when requested to do so by the SBM president, the Board of Commissioners, the Representative Assembly, the Attorney Discipline Board, the Attorney Grievance Commission, the SBM executive director, or individual members of the State Bar inquiring about their own contemplated conduct. The committee may also draft opinions on ethical matters its research indicates need clarification or resolution.

Informal advisory ethics opinions, designated with an “RI” before the opinion number, are issued by the committee without review and approval by the Board of Commissioners and are intended to provide informal guidance on the MRPC. Informal advisory opinions must be approved by at least two-thirds of the committee membership.

The committee may also draft proposed formal advisory ethics opinions, designated with an “R” before the opinion number, for consideration by the Board of Commissioners. These proposed formal opinions must be approved by at least two-thirds of the committee membership before they are presented to the Board of Commissioners. Formal advisory ethics opinions are intended to deal with matters of general and substantial interest to the public, address situations which affect a significant number of members of the Bar, or modify or reverse prior formal opinions. The Board of Commissioners may approve or modify the proposed formal opinion and direct its release as an informal or formal advisory ethics opinion, or it may reject the opinion and direct that no opinion be issued on the matter.

Neither informal opinions of the SBM Professional Ethics Committee nor formal advisory ethics opinions have the force and effect of law. They provide guidance only and may not be relied upon as an absolute defense to a charge of ethical misconduct.

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Lawyer Trust Accounts Seminar Will Take Place in June

TrustaccountsJune 19, 2018 • Michael Franck Building, Lansing

This half-day ethics seminar features presentations on how to manage lawyer trust accounts, including how to effectively use forms, checklists, and other recordkeeping resources. The seminar, which is open to lawyers and their staff, is an excellent way to learn how to comply with Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 and 1.15A. Participants will receive practical information as well as materials prepared by presenters: SBM Professional Standards Division Director Danon Goodrum-Garland, SBM Assistant General Counsel Nkrumah Johnson-Wynn, Professional Standards Assistant Division Director Alecia Ruswinckel, and Attorney Grievance Commission Senior Associate Counsel Rhonda Pozehl. More Information

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On Balance Podcast: Check Out the Latest Episode

On BalanceThe latest episode of the State Bar of Michigan’s On Balance podcast features Lea Ann Sterling, a Traverse City attorney who owns and manages Sterling Law Office in Empire and Gaylord and wrote award-winning pictorial guidebooks Historic Homes of Olde Town, Columbus, Ohio, and Historic Cottages of Mackinac Island. Hosts JoAnn Hathaway and Tish Vincent discuss with Sterling how she took her law practice from survival mode to a stage-one business.

On Balance delivers useful and entertaining ideas on managing life as a lawyer. To subscribe in iTunes, follow two easy steps: 1. Using your mobile device, click on this link or enter this link in your browser: http://ow.ly/HOOZ30hZOy1. 2. Click the "Subscribe" button that shows up right under the name of the podcast. To access On Balance in Google Play, follow these three steps: 1. Using your mobile device, click this link or enter this link in your browser: http://ow.ly/GDas30hYSEy. 2. Click the subscribe button (located just beneath the On Balance logo). 3. Click the subscribe button that appears in the pop up.

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Volunteer to Serve on a State Bar Committee Today

VolunteersneededNote: If you tried to volunteer and experienced technical issues, please try again! Complete the application before June 7 in any web browser except Internet Explorer. The application is not fully functional in Internet Explorer.

You are invited to apply to serve in one of the many volunteer opportunities offered by the State Bar of Michigan. We offer short-term, fast-moving opportunities to serve on innovative work groups and longer-term, more in-depth opportunities to serve on traditional standing committees. We have revised the volunteer application process to make it more streamlined, straightforward, and deliberate in order to help you quickly and easily find the right opportunity to help us continue to advance our core mission of promoting the professionalism of lawyers; advocating for an open, fair, and accessible justice system; and providing services to members that enable them to best serve clients.

Please include your resume or CV and links to your online professional bio and social media sites to help us find the perfect fit for you. Please note that in order to serve as a volunteer, the State Bar requires you to have an email address on record. If you have questions, email sbmcommittees@michbar.org or call (517) 346-6330 during regular business hours. If you are a current committee member and have any questions, contact your staff liaison. Find out more about SBM committees and work groups. View an invitation from SBM President-Elect Jennifer Grieco to serve as a volunteer.

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In Memoriam: Wallace D. Riley, 38th SBM President

Wally_Dorothy_Comstock_RileyThe State Bar of Michigan mourns the loss of its 38th president, Wallace D. Riley, who died May 17 at the age of 90.

“Wally Riley leaves a legacy of extraordinary accomplishments,” SBM Executive Director Janet Welch said. “To most people, his service as president of the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan might stand out as his signature achievements, but to those who knew him best, his most defining legacy was his devotion to his cherished wife, Dorothy, and his partnership with her on her path to becoming a pioneering icon in her own right in Michigan legal history. They became, and will always remain, the ‘First Couple’ of the Michigan legal profession.”

"All of us are so saddened by the news of the passing of Wallace Riley,” SBM President Donald G. Rockwell said. “Wally was a true pillar in the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Association. He was greatly loved by all who knew him and he will be deeply missed."

Riley was elected president of the State Bar of Michigan for the 1972-1973 bar year, and was elected president of the American Bar Association for the 1983-1984 bar year. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1947 from the University of Chicago, where he also earned letters in basketball and baseball; earned three degrees from the University of Michigan, including a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1949, a Master of Business Administration in 1952 and a Juris Doctor in 1952; and he also earned a Master of Laws Degree in 1954 from George Washington University. He had a long and very distinguished legal career in Detroit, and founded the legendary law firm of Riley and Roumell in 1968 with his wife, Dorothy Comstock Riley, and friend, George T. Roumell. Prior to founding that firm, he practiced law with Burke, Burke and Smith in Ann Arbor, served as a first lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the United States Army, a member of the special counsel staff of Special Counsel to Secretary of the Army Joseph N. Welch in connection with the Army-McCarthy Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the United States Senate, and practiced law in Detroit with Dykema, Jones & Wheat. He also served as an instructor at the University of Michigan, teaching labor relations, taxation and real estate valuation and finance.

Riley was a very active volunteer with the State Bar of Michigan, Michigan State Bar Foundation, Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, Detroit Bar Association, Federal Bar Association and American Bar Association. He served as president of the Michigan State Bar Foundation from 1974 to 1982, and a founding member of the Foundation Fellows Program. He served as president of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society and president of the Michigan Historical Center Foundation. He chaired the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board from 2000-2002. He served as chair of the Young Lawyer Section of the State Bar of Michigan and the Detroit Bar Association. He was national director and chairman of the Continuing Legal Education Committee of the ABA Young Lawyers Section. He served as president of the Federal Bar Association Detroit Chapter and 6th District National Vice President of the FBA. He also co-wrote the “Wayne County Practice and Procedure Handbook” with Allan Neef.

Riley was also very prominent in other civic activities. He served as a member of the City of Detroit Commission on Community Relations. He served as a lifetime member of the NAACP, on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Chapter of the American Cancer Society, on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, on the Board of Directors of SJS Bancorp Inc. and as Chairman of the Board of TechTeam Global Inc. He also served on the Michigan Board of Canvassers. For his outstanding achievements, he received many awards, among them the State Bar of Michigan Roberts P. Hudson Award and the Michigan State Bar Foundation Founders Award.

“Wally is a lawyer’s lawyer, a Bar person through and through, a civic leader, a scholar. He is politically savvy, a person of principle, a sports buff and a delightful friend,” George T. Roumell wrote in a 1983 Michigan Bar Journal when Riley became ABA President. “Few understand Bar activities the way Wally does. The hours and hours he has devoted to the interest of the Bar are legendary among those of us who practice with him.”

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