It is easy to become active in the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. The Business Law Section is funded and operated entirely by its members. As is true with many volunteer organizations, the time and effort put into the Section by its officers, Council members, Committee chairs, and other active members directly correlates to the viability of the Section and its worth to all Section members.
The Business Law Section was formed in 1965, and currently has over 3,500 members, making it the second largest elective Section of the Michigan State Bar.
The mission of the Business Law Section is to foster the highest quality of professionalism and practice in business law and to enhance the legislative and regulatory environment for conducting business in Michigan. To fulfill this mission, the Section (a) provides a forum to facilitate service and commitment and to promote ethical conduct and collegiality within the practice; (b) expands the resources of business lawyers by providing educational, networking and mentoring opportunities; and (c) reviews and promotes improvements to business legislation and regulations.
The Section's Council governs general supervision and control of the affairs of the Section. One-third of the Council's members are elected to serve a three year term at each Annual Section Meeting (held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the State Bar of Michigan). The Council also includes all past chairs of the Section. There are currently 15 elected Council members (their names appear on this website—click on the "Council Members" button under the heading "Council Information"). The Council meets several times each year and those meetings are open to all Section members. Persons are usually elected to the Section's Council after they have spent some time assisting with Section activities.
The Section's Executive Committee consists of the Section's chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer, and is elected by the Section's Council at the first yearly meeting of the Council (held immediately following each Annual Section Meeting). Each officer position has a one year term. Typically, to promote continuity among Section leadership, persons serve on the Executive Committee for four years, beginning as the treasurer, and moving on to the secretary, vice-chair, and then chair. The names of the current members of the Executive Committee appear on this website—click on the "Officers" button under the heading "Council Information".
In addition to the Council and the Executive Committee, the Business Law Section has Committees and Directorships—click on the "Committee Chairs" button under the heading "Council Information". The primary functions of the Section are completed through Committees. Accordingly, one of the best ways to become involved in the Business Law Section is to contact the chair or co-chair of a Committee that covers one or more areas of interest to you. The work and activities of the Committees varies. In general, Committees do one or more of the following: draft new legislation, assist the Michigan legislature with legislation concerning business law issues, hold meetings and/or forums on topics of interest, organize and hold seminars, circulate information of interest to Committee members, and the like. Committee chairs welcome your participation and ideas for future Committee activities. Please contact a Committee chair if you are interested in participating.
The Section is currently involved in a wide variety of activities. As you may know, the Section's biggest event of each year is the Business Law Institute held each year in May or June. The Business Law Institute provides many opportunities to meet other Section members and discuss pertinent business law issues. There are plenty of opportunities for speakers and assistance with planning for future Business Law Institutes.
The Annual Meeting event typically includes a short program, the Section business meeting, presentation of the Stephen H. Schulman Outstanding Business Lawyer Award, and a reception. More information on the event can be found under the "Calendar" section of this website.
The Section established the Stephen H. Schulman Outstanding Business Lawyer Award in 2006, to be presented annually. The award honors Michigan business lawyers who consistently exemplify the characteristics the Business Law Section seeks to foster and facilitate: the highest quality of professionalism, the highest quality of practice, an unwavering dedication to service, ethical conduct, and collegiality within the practice of law. The Section honors the Award's recipient at its Annual Meeting in September.
The Michigan Business Law Journal provides a great opportunity to publish articles. If you have had to research a business law issue recently, chances are other Section members would benefit from that research. If you have written a memorandum or brief on the topic, then converting that into an article for the Michigan Business Law Journal should be easy. Please contact Richard McDonald, Publications Director, if you are interested in submitting an article for the Michigan Business Law Journal (click on the "Publications" button under the heading "Directorships" on this website). The Section publishes an e-newsletter which is E-mailed to section members each month. The e-newsletter informs Section members of recent topics of interest to business lawyers and upcoming events.
Several Committees are responsible for keeping track of current Michigan legislation, commenting on proposed legislation, and drafting general statutory amendments. These include: (i) Corporate Laws Committee—Michigan Business Corporation Act, (ii) Nonprofit Corporations Committee—Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act, (iii) Financial Institutions Committee—various legislation concerning financial institutions, (iv) Regulation of Securities Committee—Michigan Uniform Securities Act, (v) Michigan Uniform Commercial Code Committee—Michigan Uniform Commercial Code, and (vi) Unincorporated Enterprises Committee—Michigan Limited Liability Company Act. Please contact the appropriate Committee chair if you would like to assist with any of these legislative activities, or if you have any recommendations for any legislative changes. These Committees present a wonderful opportunity for members of the Business Law Section to impact the legislation that affects their business and their clients.
The Section's Ad Hoc Committee on Legal Opinions in Business Transactions has been revised under the name "Michigan Ad Hoc Committee on Legal Opinions". The Committee developed and published an August 1, 1991 document entitled "Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan on Standardized Legal Opinions in Business Transactions". The revived Ad Hoc Committee will study and report on closing opinion matters in the wake of the substantial activity in this area at the state and national level since the issuance of the 1991 Report. The Committee does not intend to issue a new comprehensive report but rather will attempt to further the goal of development of national standards for delivery and interpretation of opinions while identifying Michigan-specific issues that state lawyers should consider.
The Section's Ad Hoc Committee on Climate Change and Sustainability was established in 2008 with four goals in mind: (1) to gather information regarding climate change/sustainability regulations currently affecting Michigan businesses; (2) to gather information regarding the current state of Michigan businesses' awareness of and readiness for climate change/sustainability initiatives; (3) form recommendations regarding what Michigan businesses should do to prepare for climate change sustainability issues; and (4) report back to the Council at its September 2009 meeting. The Committee found that Michigan businesses are lacking in the areas of awareness and readiness and that additional work needs to be done. The Committee, in conjunction with the Environmental Law Section, developed a program on climate change which was presented on Earth Day in 2009. The program will be held annually on Earth Day.
The Small Business Forum was established in 2006 and specifically caters to business owners, attorneys, accountants, and other professionals who work with closely-held businesses. The Forum hosts several highly productive, time efficient and fun educational events throughout the state during the year. event includes a networking portion.
The Section has many other activities and projects which need the help of Section members. Please contact one of the Section's officers or Section Development Directors, if you have any ideas or comments on what the Section is, or should be doing, or if you want to participate in any of the activities outlined on this page.
Tania E. (Dee Dee) Fuller