Attorney's pro bono appointment brings wide range of benefits


 by Cynthia Price

Legal News
Warner Norcross and Judd encourages and supports its attorneys in service to the community, recognizing that there are so many indirect benefits it would be difficult to count.
But for Madelaine Lane, recently appointed to the Federal Court’s Criminal Justice Act Panel, there are also some overriding direct benefits to her law practice.
“It’s a great opportunity to get experience in Federal cases, to get exposure to types of cases I haven’t so far in my practice... to be able to provide clients with pre-litigation advice.”
The Federal Public Defender’s office draws from the  Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel’s private attorneys in certain cases to represent clients who cannot afford a lawyer. The panel, which is chosen by Federal Public Defender Ray Kent and the Western District of Michigan court’s Criminal Law Committee, consists of 55 attorneys. An administrator within the Federal Public Defender’s office assigns counsel, and attorneys who are called
upon must provide services “equivalent to those rendered if
counsel were privately retained by the client.”
Lane clerked in the Federal Public Defender’s Office when she was a student at Wayne State University Law School (from which she graduated magna cum laude). About the experience, she says, “It’s invaluable to me even now. It was sort of a wonderful exposure to the Federal courts, all the stages a Federal criminal case will go through. I helped on appellate opinions, visited jail with the attorneys to speak with clients, helped with motions, and a lot more.”
That experience had firmly convinced Lane she wanted a career in trial law as she had suspected all along — “I think it sort of ingrained in me that I really did want to do litigation,” she says. However, after joining Warner Norcross in September 2007, she was required to experience the broad spectrum of practice types before making her decision, a policy Warner Norcross shares with many other local
law firms.
Before attending Wayne State, where she also was Assistant Editor and Senior Articles Editor of the Wayne Law Review, Lane went to Grand Rapids City High School and the College of the Holy Cross.  There she was able to study at Trinity College in Ireland. She is a member of the Holy Cross Lawyers Association.
As part of WNJ’s Litigation, Criminal and Appellate Practice Groups, she specializes in litigation and trial services, including pre-litigation counseling, criminal defense, and appellate law.
Lane’s community activity is not limited to the CJA panel. She is also involved with Frederik Meijer Gardens as a member of its young professionals group, which was set up to get the next generation of philanthropists interested in the gardens and sculpture park. “I think this is particularly important as less and less money goes to arts organizations,” Lane says.
She is also a member of the Art Advisory Committee of the City of Grand Rapids, which approves any artwork on city property, including ArtPrize entries. “It’s been a good opportunity to keep that connection,” Lane says, noting that she was involved in the arts, particularly music and theater, as she grew up and interned at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
So far Lane’s CJA Panel cases have all involved immigration and been fairly routine. She has had clients accused of re-entering the country after deportation. She has been pleased to have won some of her clients “supervised release,” which she says is the Federal criminal justice version of parole.
However, she hopes to get involved across the spectrum of Federal court cases “from guns and drugs type cases to Medicare fraud,” especially gaining more experience in white collar crime. “For our clients, we want to make sure they stay in compliance with the growing numbers of regulations in a large variety of fields, and this will help me with that.”
Another interesting facet of Lane’s professional life is her contributions to the One Court of Justice Blog, the leading blog analyzing Michigan’s appellate courts. In fact, Lane says, it is the only web site that provides in-depth coverage of all order and opinions of the Michigan Supreme Court and all published opinions of the Court of Appeals, occasionally including unpublished ones.
Members of WNJ’s Appellate Practice Group are the contributors to the blog, which started in December 2008. That group has had its members go on to Court of Appeals judgeships, and it includes former Federal appellate clerks from the 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Circuits. The group’s attorneys have appeared in the U.S. Supreme Court 15 times over the past five years.
Lane covers all opinions released on Wednesdays, as well as other decisions. Her latest blog concerns a fairly complex case about appropriate county court venue, where Justice Hathaway wrote the majority opinion.
Her posts, and others of her Appellate Practice Group colleagues, can be found at
She has also written an article, “Cohabitation after Smith v. Smith,” published in Michigan Family Law Journal.
Lane is part of the local Progressive Women’s Alliance and has been a member of its fund-raising committee since 2008. She was admitted to the Order of the Coif at Wayne State, and received bronze and silver key certificates. She has also been a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society for college students. At Holy Cross, Lane studied political science and history.
The term of attorneys on the CJA  Panel is three years, but Lane affirms, “My goal is to be able to reapply.”