Attorney James Spica appointed Uniform Law Commissioner

Dickinson Wright attorney James Spica was appointed by the Legislative Council of the State of Michigan to the State’s delegation to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (also known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC)).

By statute, the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Council elects three members to the Michigan Commission on Uniform State Laws, the commission that constitutes the Michigan ULC delegation. In addition to the three council-appointed commissioners, the Michigan delegation comprises two legislators appointed by the Senate majority leader, two legislators appointed by the speaker of the House, the director of the Legislative Service Bureau (or the director’s designee), and any Michigan commissioner recognized as a life member by the ULC. The vacancy Spica’s appointment fills was created at the ULC’s 2016 Annual Meeting when Professor James J. White of the University of Michigan Law School was elected a life member in recognition of 20 years of distinguished service to the ULC.

Spica is a member in Dickinson Wright’s Detroit office. He specializes in trust law and trust banking. He is the principal author of the Michigan Personal Property Trust Perpetuities Act of 2008 and of the multi-statute Michigan “trust decanting” regime enacted in 2012.

He is currently the American Bar Association (ABA) Advisor to the ULC’s Directed Trust Drafting Committee and served on the ad hoc committee of the ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section that drafted the Section’s response to the Treasury Department’s request (IRS Notice 2011-101) for comments on the tax implications of trust decanting.

He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a member of the ACTEC State Laws Committee, a past member of the Council of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan (2006-2015), and a current member of the Probate and Estate Planning Advisory Board of the Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education. He clerked for the Honorable Richard C. Wilbur on the United States Tax Court (1985) and taught jurisprudence, taxation, trusts, and decedents’ estates as an assistant/associate professor of law at the University of Detroit Mercy (1989-2000, tenured 1996). His most recent article is “Rights and Rites: Understanding the Fiduciary Obligations of Designated Funeral Representatives,” 62 Wayne L. Rev. (forthcoming Winter 2017).

As a Michigan commissioner, Spica will meet and confer with commissioners from other states to draft and promote the enactment of uniform and model acts in areas of law in which uniformity among the states is particularly desirable. Since its inception in 1892, the ULC has been responsible for more than 200 acts, among them the widely adopted (and therefore highly influential) Uniform Commercial Code, Uniform Probate Code, Uniform Trust Code, and Uniform Partnership Act. To date, Michigan has adopted more than 113 uniform laws, beginning with the Uniform Acknowledgements Act in 1895. Bills currently before the Michigan legislature propose the adoption or amendment of five different uniform acts, including the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act and the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.

On August 24, 1892, representatives from seven states—Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—met in Saratoga Springs, New York, to form what is now known as the ULC. By 1912, every state was participating in the ULC, and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also participate. There have been 125 Annual Conferences since 1892, convening at least once every year since the national organization’s founding, with the exception of 1945. Over the course of its history, the ULC has become known as a distinguished body of lawyers. Its members include judges, academics, practitioners, and legislators. President Woodrow Wilson became a member in 1901, and several Justices of the United States Supreme Court, including former Justices Brandeis, Rutledge, and Souter and former Chief Justice Rehnquist, have served as commissioners. Many legal scholars have also served, including Professors John H. Wigmore, Samuel Williston, Roscoe Pound, and George G. Bogert.