SBM Encourages Michigan Attorneys to Volunteer on MLK Day


All Michigan attorneys are encouraged to participate in a day of service on the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The State Bar of Michigan has created an online resource guide to help you find community service and pro bono volunteer opportunities within your local communitiy on Jan. 15.

The new Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service resource guide will help you search for pro bono service opportunities by county. You can also find new attorneys to mentor on SBM's mentor board or look for community service volunteer opportunities in your local community. If you can't dedicate time to volunteer on MLK Day, we encourage you to donate money to the Access to Justice Fund.

If you participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, please consider submitting your activities to the A Lawyer Helps program to inspire other lawyers to participate in the program next year.

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Now Accepting Orders for the April 2018 Alphabetical & Resource Print Directories

2018AprilAlphabeticalRosterThe State Bar of Michigan online member directory contains the most up-to-date information and serves as the primary method for locating SBM members. The online member directory receives over 12,000 hits daily as more than 16,000 members have already opted out of receiving any printed directory information. Members are moving swiftly to online resources to meet a wide variety of their practice needs, including directory information. One reason among many, printed directories quickly become obsolete. The last time the State Bar printed member directory information, more than 19,000 member records (e.g., name, membership status, contact information) had changed as of the publication date. By contrast, online directories are constantly refreshed with up-to-date information.

For those members who still prefer to receive things in print, however, we have two options.The newly-formatted April Resource Directory is a sleek, portable, highly practical guide to information not easily found in other printed materials. Examples include contact information for circuit, district, probate, appeals, municipal, tribal, federal, and problem-solving courts; local, state, and federal agencies; law schools; lawyer associations; State Bar sections; fields of practice listings; and lawyer discipline summaries. The Resource Directory is sent to members who currently opt in to receive a print edition of the Michigan Bar Journal. Extra copies of the resource directory can be ordered for $10.

For those who wish to receive a membership list in print, we offer the April Resource Directory Plus Alphabetical Member Roster, which includes all the information found in the April Resource Directory plus a complete listing of all members of the State Bar of Michigan as of February 15—active, emeritus, inactive, and affiliate. Printed copies of the April Resource Directory Plus Alphabetical Member Roster may be purchased by members for $35, and by non-members for $60. Copies can be ordered online. A full PDF version of the printed Alphabetical Roster will be available for no charge in our member area following its publication in April.

Anyone interested in purchasing a printed April Resource Directory Plus Alphabetical Member Roster, or an extra copy of the April Resource Directory, must place an order by March 15, 2018.

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Representative Assembly Accepting Award Nominations

MichaelfranckNominations 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 Joseph P. McGill, is the final policy-making body of the State Bar.

The nomination deadline is Saturday, March 10, 2017. Apply online. For more information about the Representative Assembly Awards contact Carrie Sharlow at or 517-346-6317.

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Nominations Open for Major State Bar Awards

SBM-NEXT17-233Nominations are now open for major State Bar of Michigan awards that will be presented at the September 2018 Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.

The Roberts P. Hudson Award goes to a person whose career has exemplified the highest ideals of the profession. This award is presented periodically to commend one or more lawyers for their unselfish rendering of outstanding and unique service to and on behalf of the State Bar, given generously, ungrudgingly, and in a spirit of self-sacrifice. It is awarded to that member of the State Bar of Michigan who best exemplifies that which brings honor, esteem and respect to the legal profession. The Hudson Award is the highest award conferred by the Bar.

The Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award recognizes extraordinary governmental service by a Michigan attorney holding elected or appointed office. Created by the Board of Commissioners in 1998, it was first awarded to Frank J. Kelley for his record-setting tenure as Michigan’s chief lawyer.

The Champion of Justice Award is given for extraordinary individual accomplishments or for devotion to a cause. No more than five awards are given each year to practicing lawyers and judges who have made a significant contribution to their community, state, and/or the nation.

The Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership Award was established in memory of the 2006-07 SBM president, who died in January of 2008. This award will be presented to a recognized local or affinity bar association, program or leader for excellence in promoting the ideal of professionalism or equal justice for all, or in responding to a compelling legal need within the community during the past year or on an ongoing basis.

The John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award, named after a Grand Rapids attorney who was dedicated to making legal services available to all, recognizes a member of the State Bar who excels in commitment to pro bono issues. This award carries with it a cash stipend to be donated to the charity of the recipient’s choice.

The John W. Reed Michigan Lawyer Legacy Award was introduced in 2011 and is named for a longtime and beloved University of Michigan Law School professor and Wayne State University dean. This award will be presented periodically to a professor from a Michigan law school whose influence on Michigan lawyers has elevated the quality of legal practice in the state.

All SBM award nominations are due by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.

The Liberty Bell Award recipient is selected from nominations made by local and special-purpose bar associations. The award is presented to a non-lawyer who has made a significant contribution to the justice system. The deadline for this award is Friday, May 11, 2018. 

An awards committee co-chaired by SBM Vice President Dennis M. Barnes and SBM Secretary Dana M. Warnez reviews nominations for the Roberts P. Hudson, John W. Reed, Champion of Justice, Frank J. Kelley, Kimberly M. Cahill, and Liberty Bell awards. The SBM Pro Bono Initiative Committee reviews nominations for the John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award. These recommendations are then voted on by the full Board of Commissioners at its April meeting.

Last year's non-winning nominations will automatically carry over for consideration this year. Nominations should include sufficient details about the accomplishments of the nominee to allow the committees to make a judgment.

Any SBM member can nominate candidates for awards. To apply online or download application forms visit Cummiskey Award nominations can be directed to Robert Mathis at; all other nominations can be submitted to Joyce Nordeen at

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Please Take Economics of Law Practice Survey By Dec. 2

ELPsurveyThe State Bar of Michigan Economics of Law Practice Survey will close on Dec. 2. If you have not yet completed the survey, please do so. The survey has been streamlined and can be completed in approximately five minutes.

The Economics of Law Practice Survey is conducted every three years by the State Bar of Michigan. Every attorney in every occupational area is asked to participate. The survey results are used as the primary resource and reference by many Michigan courts to determine attorney fees. In order to provide the most useful information possible it is important that there is strong participation in the survey.

To encourage your participation and make it a bit more fun, you may enter a drawing for prizes that includes two $500 Amazon gift cards and five $100 gift cards.

Take the survey now: 

  • Private Practitioner Survey
  • Non-Private Practitioner Survey

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Face of Justice Program Introduces Students to Legal Profession

FaceofJusticeMentorswebThe second annual Face of Justice program introduced Lansing high school students to potential careers in the legal system on October 30 at the Hall of Justice in Lansing. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, State Bar of Michigan Commissioner and Ingham County Court Commissioner Shauna Dunnings, 29th Circuit Court Judge Michelle Rick, Michigan State Housing Development Authority staff attorney Kara Hart-Negrich, and SBM Director of Diversity and Inclusion Gregory Conyers kicked off the event with welcoming remarks.

A panel, including Judge Michelle Rick, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office General Counsel Kristina Robinson, Mt. Zion Church Associate Minister and law student Arturo Alfaro, and Michigan State Police Recruiting Coordinator Dwayne Gill, spoke to students about their experiences in the law. Students received a tour of the Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center led by coordinator Rachael Drenovsky, a courtroom tour led by Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Amy Krause, and “jet mentoring” with attorneys and judges.

Face of Justice mentors included Arturo Alfaro, Steven Beatty, Gergory Conyers, Darin Day, Shauna Dunnings, Jessica Fox, Jaqueline Freeman, Dwayne Gill, Helen Haessly, Judge Andrea Larkin, Daniel Levy, Kara Hart-Negrich, Amanda Page, Judge Michelle Rick, Kristina Robinson, and Jennifer Rosa.


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SBM Master Lawyers Section to Host Retirement Seminar

RetirementsavingsThe State Bar of Michigan Master Lawyers Section will host a seminar, "Managing Your Retirement Savings Through Life Stages" from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the State Bar of Michigan Michael Franck Building, located at 306 Townsend Street in Lansing. 

Chris Siwik, of American Bar Assoiation Retirement Funds will discuss how retirement is a journey that must adapt to the changing needs of each law professional through each of life's stages. Transitioning through life stages can be challenging to manage, but can also bring great opportunities for growth.

The seminar is free to attend for all members of the Master Lawyers Section and guests of the section. Register for the seminar by November 13. 

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Janet Welch to be Honored with Carolyn A. Stell Award at Reception in November

JanetWelchThe Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan will honor State Bar of Michigan Executive Director Janet K. Welch with the Carolyn A. Stell Award at the 25th Annual Stell Reception, from 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 8 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. 

Janet Welch is the executive director of the State Bar of Michigan. In this role, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the State Bar, implements policies set by the Board of Commissioners and the Representative Assembly, and directs the efforts of State Bar staff.

Ms. Welch, who joined the Bar in December 2000 as general counsel, is the first woman to head the more than 39,000-member statewide organization. A Michigan native, she is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Albion College and the University of Michigan Law School. She is also a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government State and Local Senior Executive Program at Harvard University and was a Fulbright Scholar in comparative literature at the University of Zagreb in the former Yugoslavia.

Before coming to the State Bar of Michigan in 2000, Ms. Welch served as Michigan Supreme Court counsel for four years. She has had an extensive career in state government that started as a legislative analyst for the Michigan House of Representatives. In 1980, she was chosen to create a nonpartisan legislative analysis office for the Michigan Senate, and served as its director for five years before attending law school.

After a clerkship with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert P. Griffin, Ms. Welch accepted a position as executive analyst in the Office of the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, where her work included analysis of legislative issues affecting the judicial system. In that capacity, she served as reporter for the Commission on the Courts in the 21st Century, and as staff to the Michigan Justice Project. In 1998, the Council of State Governments named her a Toll Fellow for outstanding achievement and service to state government.

The Stell Reception is named in honor of the first female judge on the Ingham County Circuit Court bench, Carolyn A. Stell. At the event, the Stell Award is presented to a local member of the bench or bar in recognition of his or her contributions to the legal community and to the advancement of women in the legal profession. The Carolyn A. Stell Scholarship, a $1,000 grant, will also be presented to a deserving female law student at the reception. Proceeds from the reception benefit the scholarship fund. 

Tickets to the reception cost $40. Register online. Email with any other questions. 

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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, and non-private practitioners can take the survey at 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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