2020 SBM Election Information

image from www.michbar.orgVacancy information and nominating petitions are available on the State Bar Election Notice for the 2020 elections. Petitions are used to submit your name for one of the leadership roles at the State Bar of Michigan or Judicial Tenure Commission. Petitions must be filed with the State Bar between April 1, 2020, and April 30, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, please follow the following procedures for completing and submitting petitions:

  • Please scan and email your completed petitions, rather than fax or mail. They can be sent to mbossenbery@michbar.org or csharlow@michbar.org.
  • As a substitute for physical signatures, we will accept electronic confirmation of nomination support in the following format:

I support the nomination of [CANDIDATE ATTORNEY’S NAME] to serve on the [POSITION] for the [XX] District/Circuit.

My office is located in the [XX] District/Circuit.




Michigan lawyers are advised that the following elections will be held in June 2020:

  • A statewide election for a non-judicial member of the Judicial Tenure Commission
  • Elections for the members of the Representative Assembly in 38 judicial circuits
  • Elections for members of the Board of Commissioners in four commissioner districts
  • Elections for members of the Young Lawyers Section Executive Council in three districts

All ballots will be electronic and sent to all active State Bar attorneys by June 1, 2020, to the email address on file with the State Bar. To ensure you receive a ballot and notifications about the election, please make certain that the State Bar has your current email address on file. Ballots must be completed online no later than June 15, 2020.

If you have questions, please contact Marge Bossenbery at mbossenbery@michbar.org, or Carrie Sharlow at csharlow@michbar.org.

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Clio Pledges $1 Million to Help Legal Community During Pandemic

image from www.michbar.orgClio, the world’s most widely used, cloud-based practice management system and a State Bar of Michigan member benefit partner, has pledged $1 million to help lawyers and firms navigate the challenges they face in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to company co-founder and CEO Jack Newton, Clio’s COVID-19 Legal Relief Initiative is available to the entire legal community.

“If your firm needs to figure out how to maintain business continuity or collaborate across a newly remote workforce while still providing quality services to your clients, we’ll help you navigate that,” Newton said in a statement on the company's website. “If you are a legal organization or charity providing mental health support during this stressful time, we want to assist. If you are part of the legal community and have expertise to share or are looking for best practices from an industry leader, we want to help bridge that connection.”

The aid application can be found at clio.com/covid-relief.

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Breaking News & Critical Documents for Michigan Lawyers

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.

New Executive Order. Today, Gov. Whitmer issued an Executive Order directing all Michiganders to stay in their homes for at least the next three weeks, except for under very limited circumstances.

Here are the highlights for lawyers:

  • The order does not specifically exempt attorneys from the stay at home order as "critical infrastructure workers" necessary to sustain or protect life.
  • The order allows individuals to leave home to attend legal proceedings for essential or emergency purposes as ordered by a court.
  • For purposes of managing and maintaining a law practice, the members of your staff whose job it is to facilitate the ability of others to work remotely may carry out their work in person. You will be required to designate who those persons are in writing by March 31.
  • The order provides "nothing in this order should be taken to interfere with or infringe on the powers of the legislative and judicial branches to perform their constitutional duties or exercise their authority."

New Michigan Supreme Court Order. The Michigan Supreme Court issued an order extending all deadlines pertaining to case initiation and the filing of initial responsive pleadings in civil and probate matters during the state of emergency declared by the Governor related to COVID-19. The order does not preclude a court from ordering an expedited response to a complaint or motion in order to hear and resolve an emergency matter requiring immediate attention.

The Michigan Supreme Court’s earlier Administrative Order, limiting trial courts to essential functions, remains in effect. Chief Justice McCormack and Justice Viviano outlined the reasons why closing Michigan courts isn’t an option in an op-ed over the weekend.

New COVID-19 Resources. We wanted to share with you all the resources we have available to you during this unprecedented situation:

  • We understand that you need to know exactly what the law says. We’re compiling important primary documents here, so you can quickly access the exact language you need. We’re going to start including these crucial primary documents in our NewsLinks newsletter. Please sign up here to get it in your inbox each weekday.
  • We are answering questions from Michigan lawyers here. In some cases, the questions we're receiving have not yet been answered by the decision-makers involved. Know that we are in touch with them and will share answers as we have them. If you have a question that hasn’t yet been answered, please ask us here.
  • We also have guidance to help you keep practicing and keep your equilibrium during the pandemic here.

We know that what you need to best serve your clients and the public is changing by the hour, and we are doing our best to help. Keep telling us what you need and we pledge to do everything possible to provide it.

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Resources for Attorneys & FAQ About Coronavirus

image from www.michbar.orgThe State Bar of Michigan is committed to helping Michigan lawyers respond optimally to the developing COVID-19 coronavirus situation. Our recommendations are based on advisories from the CDC and other health agencies.

This page will be updated regularly during this rapidly evolving situation. Please check back often for the latest guidance from the State Bar of Michigan.

Resources about risk management, working remotely, and emergency planning are available from the Practice Management Resource Center.

Questions & Answers

Have any State Bar of Michigan services been disrupted by the coronavirus?

The State Bar of Michigan continues to offer all services as usual. Lawyers and the public will be notified if any changes to services are necessary.

Can I still hold a meeting at the State Bar of Michigan building?

The State Bar of Michigan building remains available for lawyers who wish to use it for meetings. We will promptly notify any participants scheduled to attend a meeting at the State Bar building if this changes. Additional hand sanitizer stations have been set up around the building. Lawyers, sections, and committees are encouraged to offer dial-in numbers for people who would prefer to attend meetings remotely.

Will the July bar exam be held as usual?

The Board of Law Examiners, which oversees the investigation and examination of State Bar of Michigan applicants, plans to administer the July 2020 bar exam as usual (as of March 9), and says it will have a contingency plan if needed.

How should my firm prepare for a potential outbreak in my community?

The American Bar Association offers disaster guidance for legal professionals, much of which could be applied during an outbreak or pandemic. The ABA offers a preparedness checklist, including questions that attorneys should be able to answer, such as:

  • Can you access critical client records remotely?
  • Have you prioritized your firm’s functions by criticality?
  • Do you have a “go kit” of office items you would need if you could not access your primary office?

Employers should also revisit their emergency preparedness plans and be ready to respond to varying levels of severity were an outbreak to occur. The CDC advises employers to prepare for the possibility of:

  • Widespread absenteeism, especially if employees need to care for sick family members
  • Many, or all, employees needing to work remotely
  • The need to suspend some business operations

What special legal needs might the public have during an outbreak?

Attorneys would face unique concerns during a severe outbreak as they would need to work to ensure that the rule of law is respected and protected. Attorneys should be prepared to work with clients whose employers’ emergency policies aren’t consistent with existing workplace laws.

What precautions can I take now to help prevent an outbreak?

The top three Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization preventive recommendations are:

  • Encouraging sick employees to stay home
  • Reminding all employees to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer often
  • Regularly cleaning all office surfaces that are frequently touched

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Economics of Law Practice Survey 2020

image from www.michbar.orgWe ask for five minutes of your time for a very important initiative. We are now collecting responses to the 2020 Economics of Law Practice Survey, and we need your help.

The State Bar of Michigan conducts the survey every three years to update a comprehensive database that’s used by many courts to determine attorney fees. We’re asking every attorney in every occupational area to participate, so we can capture information that’s relevant to all Michigan lawyers. The 2020 Attorney Income and Billing Summary Report & Desktop Reference Report will be available on the State Bar of Michigan website in late spring and you’ll be able to access this valuable resource anytime.

We take your privacy very seriously. Your secure response will be anonymous, and all results will be reported in aggregate only—no individual responses will be identifiable.

By participating, you’ll be eligible to enter a drawing for prizes, including two $500 Amazon gift cards and five $100 Amazon gift cards.

  • Private Practitioner Survey
  • Non-Private Practitioner Survey

Thank you for taking a few minutes to participate in this very important undertaking.

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Attorneys Cautioned Against Improper Use of Social Security Programs

image from www.michbar.orgThe Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General is warning members of the legal profession about the consequences of fraudulent use of its benefits programs to lure potential clients.

According to Sotiris Planzos, SSA acting counsel for investigations and enforcements, there has been an uptick in this type of activity, which includes:

  • Websites, billboards, and print or television advertising that gives the false impression that an attorney or law firm is endorsed or recommended by the SSA
  • Signs that falsely convey a law office is an official SSA field office or otherwise associated with the agency
  • Correspondence giving the false impression of originating from the SSA
  • Telephone scripts or recorded messages that mislead callers into believing they have reached an official SSA office

Section 1140 of the Social Security Act prohibits using SSA program words and/or symbols in advertisements, solicitations, or other communications. It also outlaws charging for reproduction, reprinting, or distribution of SSA forms, applications, and other publications without the agency’s consent and offering fee-based assistance for products or services the SSA provides for free. Financial penalties for violating the Section 1140 range from $10,705 to more than $53,500 per incident.

Questions or requests for more information on this subject can be directed to SSA Deputy Counsel for Section 1140 Enforcement David Rodriguez at (410) 965-3498 or david.rodriguez@ssa.gov.

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Administrative & Regulatory Law Section Luncheon with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission

The Government Law and Young Lawyers Sections are invited to this informative program.

Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Time: Noon–2:00 p.m. (Lunch served at 12:30 p.m.)
Location: Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Michigan State University, 219 S Harrison Ave, Red Cedar Room, East Lansing
Cost: $25 for section members, as well as for members of the Government Law and Young Lawyers Sections; $15 for law students; and $40 for all other registrants

Register: online or by mail form
Registration deadline is March 20, 2020.

The Administrative and Regulatory Law Section will be hosting a luncheon with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission that includes a panel discussion to gain the expertise, experience, and perspective from members of the Commission. The panel will be addressing the topics and questions that you have about practicing before the Commission.

Attendees are invited to submit questions in advance to our Council Chair, Tony Snyder at SnyderA1@michigan.gov.

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Representative Assembly Accepting Award Nominations

GettyImages-1066310534Nominations are being accepted for two State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly awards. The Michael Franck Award is given annually to an attorney who has made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of the legal profession. The Unsung Hero Award is presented to a lawyer who has exhibited the highest standards of practice and commitment for the benefit of others.

Nominees for both awards must be State Bar members in good standing and their contributions may have been made either during the past year or by virtue of cumulative effort or service. Materials submitted should include sufficient details about the nominee's accomplishments. The Assembly's Nominating and Awards Committee will review the applications and make awards recommendations to the Representative Assembly. The Representative Assembly, chaired by Aaron V. Burrell, is the final policy-making body of the State Bar.

The nomination deadline is Saturday, March 14, 2020. Apply online. For more information about the Representative Assembly Awards contact Carrie Sharlow at repassembly@michbar.org or (517) 346-6317.

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Annual Spring Conference

The Probate & Estate Planning Section is invited to attend this informative conference.

Date: Friday, March 20, 2020
Time: 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Location: Inn at St. John's, 44045 Five Mile Rd, Plymouth
Costs: ELDRS Section Members: $150; Non-Section Members: $200; First ten new lawyers (P81800 or above): Free, contact Maria Wiersma at (248) 799-2711 to obtain a password to allow you to register for free—Limit first 10 new lawyers; Legal aid office, no charge for program, contact Maria Wiersma at (248) 799-2711 to obtain a password to allow you to register for free; luncheon event with buffet, $30.

Register: online or by mail form
Registration deadline is March 17. Limited onsite registration available. (Only checks or money orders will be accepted at onsite registration.)

The conference will begin with registration and continental breakfast from 8:30–9:00 a.m. The main program will begin at 9:00 a.m.

Agenda as of February 5, 2020

8:30 a.m. Registration

9:00 a.m. Mental Health Advocacy
Attorney Julie McCowan

9:45 a.m. Gaslighting: Does It Make You Crazy?
Attorney Sanford J. Mall

10:30 a.m. Break

10:45 a.m. Probate Litigation—New Discovery Rules
Attorney Douglas Chalgian & Attorney Harley D. Manela

11:30 a.m. Lunch—Aging in Michigan
Dr. Alexis Travis—Senior Deputy Director of Aging and Adult Services Agency—Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

1:00 p.m. Elder Abuse Task Force
Attorney Christopher Smith
Georgia Callis—Professional Guardian, Guardian Care, Inc.
Attorney Alison Hirschel

2:45 p.m. Break

3:00 p.m. Medicaid, Universal Caseload, and SBO Updates… Oh MI!
Attorney Kelly Quadorkus
Attorney Don Rosenberg
Attorney Rosemary Buhl
Attorney Ryan Reck
Attorney Audra Woods
Attorney David Kerr

Reception following conclusion of conference.

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Lawyer Trust Accounts Seminar: Management Principles & Recordkeeping Resources

TrustAccountsDate: Tuesday, February 25, 2020; 1:15–4:45 p.m.
Cost: $50 for lawyers; $25 for non-lawyers, law students, & unlicensed graduates
Location: State Bar of Michigan, 306 Townsend St, Lansing
Participants can register online or by mail form. Advance registration is required.

Registration deadline is Friday, February 21. No "walk-in" registrations will be accepted.

View Faculty and Agenda

This half-day ethics seminar will feature 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 staffs, 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 the presenters: SBM Professional Standards Division Director Danon Goodrum-Garland, SBM Assistant General Counsel Nkrumah Johnson-Wynn, SBM Professional Standards Assistant Division Director Alecia Ruswinckel, and Attorney Grievance Commission Senior Associate Counsel Rhonda Pozehl.

The registration fee is $50 for lawyers and $25 for non-lawyers, including law students and unlicensed graduates. Payment and the completed registration form must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 21, 2020.

For more information, contact the State Bar of Michigan ethics helpline at (877) 558-4760 or by email at ethics@michbar.org.

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