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Meeting Minutes

From The Chair

    The Council has been struggling with whether or not to undertake a lobbying campaign on behalf of the Section members. This issue has been addressed at various times during the past 7 years of my involvement with the Council. Legislative changes have significantly impacted the practice of negligence law in the past decade. The State Bar of Michigan is restricted in its ability to lobby. Thus, lobbying on behalf of or in opposition to legislation impacting negligence law has been left to the voluntary lawyers organizations. We believe that the Section cannot remain silent. The Negligence Law Section must become involved in lobbying in order to promote and protect our practice area and the rights of our respective clients. The Council has decided to endorse Section lobbying efforts and to contribute Section resources toward the establishment of an agenda and plan of action.

    In an effort to further investigate how and why lobbying made sense for the Section, we invited Darrell Tennis of Capital Services, Inc. and David Haynes of Public Affairs Associates, Inc. to speak at the January meeting of the Council. Both have extensive experience and are well respected in Lansing. We were also privileged to have Tom Lenga, President of the State Bar of Michigan in attendance. Tom advised as to the topics upon which the State Bar of Michigan may actively lobby, areas that voluntary sections may lobby, defined the procedure to be followed so the section does not violate any rules of the State Bar and provided general encouragement and enthusiasm for our dedication to lobbying on behalf of section members.

    In order to begin a lobbying effort, the first order of business will be the establishment of an agenda. This will define the fundamental legal issues of interest to the Section as well as help us define the role the Section is willing to assume. For example, will the Section work toward supporting new legislation. Should we instead work only when it is appropriate to oppose proposed legislation. It is more appropriate to refrain from assuming a proactive position and instead should we monitor the intent of and language in proposed bills and make recommendations designed to assist in avoiding unintended consequences to legislation which is enacted? The Section has limited resources and we want to focus our attention in the most productive manner. The Council will also remember that we represent attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant. While we may, on occasion, address an issue that is of major significance to either plaintiff's or defendant's attorneys, we will only do so when it involves legislation which will have a direct impact on one of the fundamental legal issues our agenda supports.

    Your support and participation is essential to establishing an effective lobbying agenda. Please feel free to relay your opinions and advise to any member of the council. Additionally, attend our spring seminar and volunteer your services when time permits.



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State Bar of Michigan
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