State Bar Annual Meeting Highlights

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 By

Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News 

The State Bar Annual Meeting and the ICLE Solo & Small Firm Institute, held at the Lansing Center, Lansing, September 18-20 offered a chance for lawyers across the state to reconnect at the networking events, to meet with members of their section, to visit the expanded vendor hall and to revitalize their practice with the variety of programs offered as part of the Solo and Small Firm Institute. 

The Awards Banquet, held on Wednesday evening, the first day of the Meeting, was opened with a welcome from Governor Rick Snyder. Gov. Snyder welcomed the lawyers present thanking them for assisting with the reforms taking place in Michigan. He commented on the importance and success of the specialty courts including Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, and Veteran’s Courts as well as the improvements in Indigent Defense. 

Fifteen individuals who achieved the highest honors in areas of leadership, professional integrity, and community service were called to the podium and recognized. The award winners included: 

Kurt E. Schnelz, Roberts P. Hudson Award

Hon. Donna T. Morris, Frank J. Kelley Award

Professor James J. White, John W. Reed Lawyer Legacy Award

Elizabeth A. Kitchen-Troop, Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership Award

Marge Palmerlee, Liberty Bell Award

Eugene Driker, Michele L. Halloran, Valerie R. Newman, Ann L. Routt, A. Kay Stanfield Spinks; Champion of Justice Award

Robert G. Mossel, John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono

Martin P. Krohner, Michael Franck Award, Representative Assembly

James E. Brenner, Elizabeth A. Stafford, Unsung Hero, Representative Assembly

Jesse M. Reiter, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, Respected Advocate Award

Chad C. Schmucker, Michigan State Bar Foundation, Access to Justice Award

Steven B. Galbraith, Michigan Association for Justice, Respected Advocate Award 

Brian D. Einhorn Sworn in as State Bar President 

Brian D. Einhorn, of Southfield, was sworn in as the 79th president of the State Bar of Michigan at the SBM Inaugural Luncheon. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. officiated at the ceremony. 

Einhorn is a founding partner of Collins Einhorn Farrell where he focuses his practice on insurance coverage and professional liability. 

Also sworn in as officers for 2013-2014 were President-Elect Thomas C. Rombach, of New Baltimore; Vice-President Lori A. Buiteweg, of Ann Arbor; Secretary Lawrence P. Nolan, of Eaton Rapids; and Treasurer Donald G. Rockwell, of Flint. 

Einhorn will lead an organization of over 43,000 members that works to improve the administration of justice, promotes the legal profession, and builds public understanding of our legal system. He has been involved in State Bar work for almost a decade and has served on many of its committees and groups. He was elected to the SBM Board of Commissioners in 2004 and has served as treasurer, secretary, vice president, and president-elect. He has also a served as president of the Association of Defense Trial Counsel, vice president of the Mediation Tribunal Association, and as a board member of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association. 

During his presidential year, Einhorn said he hopes to stress the importance of transparency in judicial campaign funding and increase confidence in the legal process. 

“I have a high respect for lawyers and what we do, and I plan to work hard to increase respect for the legal system and the profession,” Einhorn said. “Focusing on transparency in judicial campaign financing is an important start.” 

Justice Michael R. Cavanagh honored. 

Prior to the swearing in of officers, Justice Michael F. Cavanagh was honored by Hon. Michael  D. Petosky, Chief Judge, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, for his efforts in bringing the Indian Tribal Courts and the State Courts together as evidenced by the adoption of Michigan Court Rule 2.615, which provides for recognition and enforcement of Indian tribal court judgments. 

Justice Cavanagh was called to the podium to be wrapped in the Blanket of Honor and serenaded by Honor Drum Song. “I am extremely grateful for this honor,” said Justice Cavanagh, in accepting the recognition. 

Section Meetings 

SBM Section meetings, held all three days, were opportunities for the members to conduct official business and gain new information. 

The Military and Veterans’ Law Section, the newest State Bar section, held its meeting on Thursday, September 19th. LTC John Wojcik, General Counsel for the Michigan National Guard and Heather Spielmaker, Director of the Center for Ethics, Service and Professionalism, Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Service for Soldiers; Legal Assistance Referral Program Administrator, spoke of the goals and plans for the section. 

Wojcik mentioned the efforts to get a Veteran’s Designation for soldiers on their driver’s license. He explained that the designation is important because it will immediately notify police officers of the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that can trigger unlawful and unusual responses to stimuli. For example, the sudden and loud sound of a blown tire can make a soldier think he is back in Iraq or Afghanistan causing him to drive at breakneck speed to escape the supposed danger. 

Wojcik also described the legislative efforts being made to give returning soldiers credit for skills learned in the military with the crediting and licensing agencies, grant in-residency status for returning students and change some of the restrictive requirements of Powers of Attorney that adversely affect soldiers. 

Spielmaker described some of the services offered by the Service to Soldiers program saying that volunteers are always needed. She also described the need to educate lawyers on family law matters, for example, noting, for example, that the military has its own forms for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). 

Both lawyers and law students were urged to join the section and offer their services to assist the military personnel and their families. 

The Master Lawyers section held its meeting on Friday prior to the 50-year Golden Celebration luncheon. The meeting, chaired by Mary E. Crusoe Byrne, held its business meeting and then moved on to the topic of interest, Transitioning to Working Less. Presented by Cynthia Johnson, Attorney at Law, Ruthmarie Shea, JD, RN, (Registered Nurse) and Tish Vincent, MSW, JD,SBM Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program Administrator. Their discussion was well received and plans to repeat it are in the works.  

The Master Lawyers is comprised of active, inactive and emeritus SBM members in good standing who have reached the age of 60 or completed 30 years of practice. Bar Membership is automatic and free of charge for those who qualify. The section promotes the members interests by planning and offering programs, publications and activities of interest to its members. 

The 50-Year Golden Celebration Luncheon honored those lawyers who graduated from law school in 1963. Local 50-year honorees included George P. Campbell, Kenneth I. Smith, Webb A. Smith, Norman Otto Stockmeyer and Hon. Richard F. Suhrheinrich. 

Brian D. Einhorn, President, SBM, recognized the honorees and compared the practice of law in Michigan in 1963 to the present, 2013. The 50-year honorees were asked to stand when their names were called. Einhorn gave them a pin recognizing their many years of service. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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