Outgoing WCBA president looks back over the past year

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News  

Attorney Matthew Jane has thoroughly enjoyed his year as president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, and meeting and socializing with members and colleagues at WCBA events.  “I’ve been fortunate to get to know and learn from other attorneys and members of the Bench through the WCBA,” he says.

Jane, who has served on the WCBA board of directors since 2003 and as president of the New Lawyers Section from 2003-2005, was honored by incoming president Greg Dodd at the April 16 WCBA Awards Dinner & Election Night for his work over the past year; and will now serve a year’s term as Immediate Past President, starting July 1.

As he looks back over his term as president, Jane is particularly pleased with ongoing technological improvements, such as making the WCBA Res Ipsa Loquitur newsletter available online and in full color, with members receiving notification via email. “We’re also improving the WCBA website, which will allow members to register and pay for events online, view court notices and member profiles will be featured. The updates should be completed in May,” he says.

The WCBA Board also is reviewing and updating the association’s strategic plan, he adds.

Under Jane’s leadership, the WCBA continued to offer social and networking events, such as speakeasies and trivia night, as well as excellent dinner programs. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Stephen Henderson from the Detroit Free Press was keynote speaker at the Bias Awareness Dinner in October; and the WCBA held its first Peacemaking Dinner in November, led by Judge Timothy Connors.  In June, the WCBA will host its first annual family picnic.

“A WCBA membership provides many benefits to enhance your practice and also gives opportunities to serve the community, such as through Law Day and the Modest Means Program – and I’m proud that WCBA members contributed nearly $2,000 for Summer Camp Scholarships at December’s Holiday Wine Tasting and $3,000 for the WCBA Law & Justice Fund at the Bar Revue and Silent Auction, in March” Jane adds.

An attorney in the Ann Arbor office of Bodman PLC, and listed in Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, and as a Top Lawyer by DBusiness magazine, Jane specializes in construction law. “I enjoy the technical aspects, including analyzing a project to determine where problems arose during the work and how to resolve the resulting claims,” he says. “I also like the fact that many construction cases involve different legal issues, such as delays, design, workmanship and environmental concerns.”

Jane recently completed a case for a school district in SE Michigan involving multiple claims relating to the construction of a new high school. “The project was plagued with delays, cost overruns, construction defects and significantly flawed mechanical systems,” Jane explains. “The dispute was submitted to arbitration and involved over 50 hearing days, 15 witnesses and nearly 600 exhibits. The school district received a multi-million dollar award in its favor at the conclusion of the arbitration.”

Jane’s career path took him from the links to the law. Caddying during summers in high school at Tam O’Shanter Country Club in West Bloomfield, he landed a full ride college Evans Scholarship awarded to golf caddies based on academic achievements and civic contributions, and earned his undergrad degree in history, with distinction from the University of Michigan. “I always enjoyed studying history. I like reading the stories and understanding why things happened and how past events and people shaped our current world,” he says.  “I also was intrigued by the ‘what if’ questions, such as ‘what if this event happened differently, how would things have changed?’

His passion for history drew him to study law. “I appreciated the significance of the law and the courts in this country in shaping events and changing lives, for better or worse,” he says. “I also realized how meaningful it is to have the opportunity to exact change and protect rights and liberties, whether private or public.”

Jane earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from Michigan Law in 2000, where he became a member of the Order of the Coif. As a student attorney in U-M legal clinics, he worked on an appeal for a family facing eviction from public housing, and the Michigan Court of Appeals eventually ruled in favor of the client; and on a post-conviction petition for a defendant convicted of murder in Illinois and sentenced to death.  In January 2003, Gov. George Ryan granted the defendant a full pardon, proclaiming his conviction was based on flawed evidence and the State’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence. “Those two cases demonstrated to me how valuable pro bono legal services are for people who cannot afford a lawyer,” says Jane, who continues to provide pro bono services.

The Minneapolis native enjoys working in “Tree Town” and living in nearby Saline. “I enjoy working in a progressive university town, where I’ve studied, lived and/or worked for the last 22 years,” he says.  “I also like the wide array of options for lunches and happy hours!”

Jane’s wife (and college sweetheart) Lauren Gold also works in Ann Arbor, as a pediatrician. Their sons Sam 11, Aaron 7, and three-year-old Benjamin keep the couple busy with a wide variety of interests, including riding bikes, sports, trucks and trains, Legos, and swimming. Jane also enjoys catching dinner and a movie with his wife, travel, golf and racquetball, and getting together with family members, who all live in SE Michigan.
 

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