The State Bar of Michigan presented Wade H. McCree Jr. Awards for the Advancement of Justice to 11 journalists at the 2015 Journalism Hall of Fame Induction Banquet on April 19 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. A photo gallery of the evening is available on the SBM Facebook page.
The first McCree Award went to a Michigan Radio team, including Jennifer Guerra, Sarah Alvarez, and Sarah Hulett. Their series, called "Finding Home: A Documentary about Foster Care in Michigan," investigated improvements made to Michigan's foster care system, which oversees the care of over 13,000 children and has been under federal oversight since 2008. The series of reports introduced listeners to the system by examining the lives of the Kley family, who adopted three foster children. The series also expanded in scope to inform and educate listeners about the difficult situations faced by the children in the foster care system, the role of the law and the courts in the system, a general overview of the state's child welfare system and suggestions to improve it, and legal and legislative efforts needed to update and modernize laws surrounding broken adoptions in the foster care system.
The State Bar of Michigan Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program will offer a seminar, "Attorney Under-Earning: Signs, Causes and Solutions to Help You Start Earning What You're Worth," from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, April 24 at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City.
Attendees will walk away with knowledge of the seven successful methods for overcoming under-earning.
Speakers include Ann Guinn, a law practice management consultant and author of "Minding Your Own Business: The Solo and Small Firm Lawyer's Guide to a Profitable Practice," and Tish Vincent, program administrator of the State Bar of Michigan Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program, and a therapist and attorney.
The seminar costs $99 for those who register prior to April 15, and $114 for those who register on site. A bank of rooms is being held at a reduced rate of $99 for Thursday night and $119 for Friday night, but the room must be booked prior to April 15 by calling 866-962-9653. The reduced rate does include passes to the indoor water park.
Ann Arbor Community High School students claimed victory over University of Detroit Jesuit High School students in a very close contest at the 2015 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament State Championship on March 28 at the Veterans Memorial Courthouse in Lansing.
The state champions advance to the national championship on May 14-16 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The tournament, run by the Michigan Center for Civic Education, consisted of four regional rounds in Washtenaw, Kent, Macomb and Oakland counties. The top 10 teams moved on to the state championship, where they were judged by presiding judge, the Hon. Carl Marlinga, and scoring judges Steve Fox and Kandra Robbins.
Grand Blanc High School took third place and Ann Arbor Community High School B Team took fourth place. Anchor Bay High School, Clarkston High School, Cousino High School, Forest Hills North High School, and Mercy High School also competed in the final round. Three teams advanced to the finals for the first time.
The Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament is sponsored by the State Bar of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Foundation, and the State Bar of Michigan Litigation Section. The Macomb County Bar Foundation coordinated the Macomb Regional Tournament.
The State Bar of Michigan Pro Bono Initiative will sponsor the Annual Spring Pro Bono Workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 19 at the SBM Michael Franck Building in Lansing.
The training will help legal services providers access the tools they need to recruit pro bono attorneys and to successfully and efficiently manage pro bono programs.
Many topics will be discussed, including Future of Legal Services, ABA Pro Bono Standards, 2015 Update on Pro Bono Standards, Techniques for Recruiting Pro Bono Attorneys, Successfully Managing Your Pro Bono Program, Using Technology to Enhance Your Pro Bono Program, Planning and Preparing for Pro Bono Month.
The State Bar of Michigan invites all law firms of two or more attorneys to apply for the 2015 Pro Bono Circle of Excellence, which recognizes every firm that fully complied with the State Bar's Voluntary Pro Bono Standard during 2014. The application deadline is April 4.
Both volunteer legal services for low-income individuals and organizations and financial support for eligible nonprofit organizations providing free civil legal aid for the poor are included in the Voluntary Pro Bono Standard. The Pro Bono Standard calls for lawyers to annually take three pro bono cases, devote at least 30 hours of pro bono service, or make a monetary contribution to a legal aid provider organization. Contributions to the Access to Justice Fund count toward fulfilling the standard.
The Pro Bono Standard now asks lawyers to make an annual financial contribution of $500 for those whose income allows a higher contribution. It continues to recognize lawyers who maintain the original (1999) recommended contribution of $300. Those firms whose aggregate contributions of 30 hours of service and/or a $500 standard were recognized last year in a new Leadership Level. The 2015 Circle of Excellence will continue to include two tiers of recognition – the higher contribution Leadership Level, and the original 30-hour or $300 standard.
"We are extremely proud of the increased number of law firms that appeared on last year's Circle of Excellence," SBM President Tom Rombach said. "Fifty four firms achieved that recognition, up from the previous year's 45 firms. We especially laud the 23 firms who achieved the new Leadership Level, and we continue to encourage firms to establish a presence on the Circle at either the original or the Leadership Level." Rombach also noted that individual lawyers who meet the Pro Bono Standard are celebrated locally through their Access to Justice programs, and in the SBM A Lawyer Helps program.
Four teams have won top honors in the State Bar of Michigan 41st Annual Wade H. McCree Jr. Awards for the Advancement of Justice.
The first McCree Award goes to a Michigan Radio team, including Jennifer Guerra, Sarah Alvarez and Sarah Hulett. Their series, called “Finding Home: A Documentary about Foster Care in Michigan,” investigated improvements made to Michigan’s foster care system, which oversees the care of over 13,000 children and has been under federal oversight since 2008. The series of reports introduced listeners to the system by examining the lives of the Kley family, who adopted three foster children. The series also expanded in scope to inform and educate listeners about the difficult situations faced by the children in the foster care system, the role of the law and the courts in the system, a general overview of the state’s child welfare system and suggestions to improve it, and legal and legislative efforts needed to update and modernize laws surrounding broken adoptions in the foster care system.
The second McCree Award goes to Detroit Free Press reporters Nathan Bomey, John Gallagher and Mark Stryker for a special report about Detroit’s bankruptcy, called “How Detroit Was Reborn.” The piece, marking the end of months of Free Press coverage of the historic bankruptcy, told the backstory of the behind-the-scenes conversations and deals that ended in Detroit’s Grand Bargain. A companion story profiled bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes and the role he played keeping the city’s survival in the spotlight as negotiations ensued. The reports served as the centerpieces of a multimedia experience that included photos, videos, infographics and other integrated content, and drew 70,000 desktop views and more than 3,500 shares on Facebook.
The third McCree Award goes to a team of WDET journalists, including Joan Isabella, Sandra Svoboda and Courtney Hurtt, for the website, NextChapterDetroit.com, and a series of broadcast reports and open community forums on Detroit’s historic bankruptcy case. The journalists at WDET and NextChapterDetroit.com created a valuable, easily understandable community resource about a very difficult topic that delivered breaking news about developments in the proceedings and daily updates about events in and around the courtroom. NextChapterDetroit.com will live on as a comprehensive archive of information for readers, legal researchers and attorneys seeking a better understanding of the largest municipal bankruptcy in history.
The fourth McCree Award goes to MLive Media Group reporter Brad Devereaux for a series, “Small Town, Big Problems,” that chronicled a number of legal actions involving a small town police chief and an unorthodox program to raise tens of thousands of dollars in unregulated funds. The alleged pay-to-play scheme has resulted in a small Saginaw County village of less than 300 residents having 100 reservist officers. The series examined the role and processes of local village government, local public policy issues, the role of courts in reviewing the actions of local government officials and how local police agencies interact with state agencies.
An Honorable Mention Award goes to Detroit News reporter Mike Martindale for a story, “Judge on leave to quit after re-election,” that brought to light a deal worked out among court officials to allow a district judge suspected of improper behavior in his official position to seek re-election and then quietly retire from the court system. Martindale uncovered emails indicating that city, court and state officials knew of the scandal and agreed to keep it from voters.
SBM President Tom Rombach will present the McCree Awards at the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 19 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. The McCree Awards are given each year to foster greater public understanding of the inherent values of the legal and judicial system.
The 2015 McCree Awards were judged by retired Detroit Free Press Editor Ron Dzwonkowski, Central Michigan University Journalism Professor John Hartman and former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh.
The Wade H. McCree Jr. Awards for the Advancement of Justice are named for one of the most venerable lawyers and judges in Michigan's history. During his remarkable career, Wade H. McCree Jr. served as a federal judge, University of Michigan law professor, and solicitor general of the United States. For more information about the awards, visit SBM McCree Awards.
State Bar of Michigan President Thomas C. Rombach has appointed distinguished legal leaders to a new 21st Century Practice Task Force to recommend how the State Bar can best support lawyers’ professional development in a rapidly changing legal marketplace. The task force will also look at the potential for modernizing Michigan’s attorney regulation in response to those changes. SBM Past Presidents Julie Fershtman, of Farmington Hills, and Bruce Courtade, of Grand Rapids, will co-chair the task force. Some of the other members of the task force include three other past presidents of the State Bar, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly, the deans of all five Michigan law schools, former American Bar Association President Robert Hirshon and former Judge James Redford, Governor Snyder’s legal counsel.
“The willingness of such exceptional leaders to serve on the task force reflects the growing awareness in Michigan of how technology and globalization are profoundly changing the world in which lawyers practice and the importance of meeting the challenges these changes present,” Rombach said. He emphasized that the task force will focus on recommending concrete, practical steps to keep Michigan a leader in legal initiatives.
The 21st Century Practice Task Force will build on the work of the State Bar of Michigan Judicial Crossroads Task Force. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. has credited the 2011 Crossroads report as making valuable contributions to a number of transformational and cost-saving changes now underway in Michigan’s court system.
The task force will work for a year and release a public report in March of 2016. Meetings of the task force will be held in open session so that State Bar members and the public can follow its work and offer comment on the 21st Century Practice Task Force website.
The task force recommendations will be developed from the work of three committees comprised of prominent Michigan attorneys, judges, academicians and public officials. The three committees are Affordability of Legal Services: New Tools for Breaking through the Access Barrier, Building a 21st Century Practice: Developing and Maintaining Professional Excellence in a Dynamic Marketplace and Modernizing the Regulatory Machinery: Building Resilience and Capacity in the Delivery of Legal Services.
The foundation for the new task force was laid in November of 2014 at a forum on the future of legal services convened by the State Bar in Lansing. The forum was held in conjunction with the American Bar Association Commission on the Future of Legal Services. ABA President William Hubbard told those gathered at the forum that the justice system is at an inflection point, and he challenged the legal profession to develop a new model to meet the needs of the underserved while enhancing the opportunities for lawyers to thrive in their practices.
Do you know a lawyer who always goes above and beyond the call of duty? A lawyer who has exhibited the highest standards of practice and commitment for the benefit of others?
Please nominate him or her for an Unsung Hero Award today. The deadline for submitting your nomination is March 13.
The State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly gives out Unsung Hero Awards each year at the SBM Annual Meeting. Last year's winner, Susan Reed, believes everyone deserves quality legal defense regardless of the horrific crimes they are accused of committing. She has represented drug dealers, serial rapists, and murderers. Recently, she represented a notorious handyman-turned-alleged hitman in a very tough case since the defendant gave multiple stories to police and details of the murder have been leaked to the media. The judge said he assigned the case to Reed because he believes she does an exceptional job with clients in challenging situations. Beyond representing clients other attorneys may not want, Reed works to improve the work of all defense attorneys. A longtime active leader in the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar, she currently serves as the organization's president.
The State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section has launched a new “Everyday Justice” Instagram photo competition. There is a separate contest for middle school students (in grades six through eight) and high school students (in grades nine through 12).
To enter the contest, middle school students must take a photo that illustrates what people in their community can do to exemplify justice every day, then upload the photo to Instagram on or before March 14 with the hashtag #SBMjusticeeverydayMS.
High school students must take a photo that illustrates what people in their community can do to exemplify justice every day, then upload the photo to Instagram on or before March 14 with the hashtag #SBMjusticeeverydayHS.
For both contests, participants can enter the contest as many times as they wish. They must keep captions to photos within 140 characters in length. They must also obtain a parent or legal guardian’s permission before submitting their entries.
A panel of young lawyers will select four finalists and one winner for each contest. Each finalist will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The winner for each contest will receive a lunch with a legal leader in his or her community, as well as the $25 Amazon gift card and copy of the novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”