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December 2018

SBM Launches Pro Bono Honor Roll
The State Bar of Michigan recently launched a new initiative to recognize Michigan attorneys for pro bono service. The A Lawyer Helps Pro Bono Honor Roll will recognize Michigan attorneys who provide 30 or more hours of pro bono legal services in a calendar year. Individual attorneys, law firms, and corporations will be recognized at one of three recognition levels for providing 30, 50, or 100 or more hours of pro bono service in the previous calendar year. The State Bar of Michigan will publicize attorneys on the A Lawyer Helps Pro Bono Honor Roll through postings on the web, in the Michigan Bar Journal, and through other printed and electronic methods.

Individual attorneys and designated staff members, on behalf of their affiliated law firms and corporations, are encouraged to complete and submit an A Lawyer Helps Pro Bono Honor Roll online application. The application will be available on the State Bar of Michigan A Lawyer Helps website in early February 2019. After 2019, eligibility in the honor roll will be determined annually. Attorneys can report their own pro bono work or their pro bono work can be reported by SBM Pro Bono partner programs. The provision of pro bono legal services to low-income people plays an essential role in providing access to justice for those in need. In 2014 alone, Michigan attorneys provided over 32,000 hours of free legal help for low-income clients, making a significant impact toward increased access to justice.

For more information about the A Lawyer Helps Pro Bono Honor Roll, the application process, and how you can find pro bono volunteer opportunities, contact SBM Pro Bono Service & Justice Initiatives Counsel Robert Mathis at

Access to Justice Campaign Launches New Initiative to Honor Financial Donors
Access to Justice CampaignThe Access to Justice Campaign launched a new initiative to recognize Michigan attorneys who invest in access to justice through financial donations to the ATJ Fund. Beginning in 2019, the Access to Justice Campaign will publish three new annual statewide lists to recognize donors to the ATJ Fund, which supports civil legal aid services to low-income individuals and plays an essential role in increasing access to justice. The Access to Justice Campaign will recognize law firms and corporate legal departments on a tiered basis, starting at $1,000. Individuals and solo practitioners will also be recognized on a tiered list, starting at $300. In addition, leadership firms that achieve a per-attorney average donation of at least $300 will qualify to be recognized on a tiered list that will include levels of $300, $500, $750, or $1,000 per lawyer.

Michigan is ranked 44th in the country in per-attorney giving to civil legal aid. Based on successful models from other states, the campaign has recently transitioned to a collaborative, centralized fundraising effort to increase resources for fifteen civil legal aid programs. Financial donations make a meaningful difference in the ability of legal aid to help low income families in Michigan. The Michigan State Bar Foundation and State Bar of Michigan will widely publicize recognition on all lists through web posts, in the Michigan Bar Journal, and through other printed and electronic communications. The program will be featured on the A Lawyer Helps web page.

Please visit the Access to Justice Campaign for more information, or contact ATJ Campaign Coordinator Laura Musachio at

Nominations Open for Major State Bar Awards
Nominations are now open for major State Bar of Michigan awards that will be presented in 2019. Awards include:

  • Roberts P. Hudson Award
  • Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award
  • Champion of Justice Award
  • Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership Award
  • John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award
  • John W. Reed Michigan Lawyer Legacy Award
  • Liberty Bell Award

All award nominations except the Liberty Bell nominations are due by 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 15, 2019. The Liberty Bell Award deadline is Friday, May 10, 2019.

An awards committee co-chaired by SBM Vice President Robert J. Buchanan and Secretary Dana M. Warnez will review nominations for the Roberts P. Hudson, John W. Reed, Champion of Justice, Frank J. Kelley, Kimberly M. Cahill, and Liberty Bell awards. The SBM Pro Bono Initiative Committee will review nominations for the Cummiskey Pro Bono Award. These recommendations are voted on by the full Board of Commissioners at its April meeting.

Any SBM member can nominate candidates for awards. To apply online or download application forms visit the Events & Awards page. Cummiskey Award nominations can be directed to Robert Mathis at; all other nominations can be submitted to Anne Smith at

Representative Assembly Accepting Nominations for Annual Awards
Nominations are being accepted for two State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly awards. The Michael Franck Award is given annually to an attorney who has made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of the legal profession. The Unsung Hero Award is presented to a lawyer who has exhibited the highest standards of practice and commitment for the benefit of others.

Nominees for both awards must be State Bar members in good standing and their contributions may have been made either during the past year or through cumulative effort or service. Materials submitted should include complete details about the nominee's accomplishments. The Assembly's Nominating and Awards Committee will review the applications and make awards recommendations to the Representative Assembly. The Representative Assembly, chaired by Richard L. Cunningham, is the final policy-making body of the State Bar.

The nomination deadline is Friday, March 15, 2019. Apply online. For more information about the Representative Assembly Awards, contact Carrie Sharlow at or (517) 346-6317.

SBM Dedicates 41st Michigan Legal Milestone: “First to Abolish the Death Penalty”
41st Michigan Legal MilestoneOn November 6, the State Bar of Michigan, in partnership with the Detroit Bar Association, dedicated the 41st Michigan Legal Milestone, commemorating Michigan on becoming the first government in the English-speaking world to outlaw capital punishment for murder and lesser crimes in 1847. Then, in 1962, under the leadership of young attorney Eugene Wanger, a bipartisan majority of delegates to the state’s constitutional convention voted to add a new constitutional ban stating, “No law shall be enacted providing for the penalty of death.” Michigan is the only state in the Union whose constitution bans the death penalty.

The dedication ceremony took place at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in Detroit, and featured emcees Jennifer Grieco, SBM president, and Janet Welch, SBM executive director; and speakers Brian Summerfield, president of the Detroit Bar Association; David Chardavoyne, law professor and author of A Hanging in Detroit; Eugene Wanger, lawyer, author, and delegate of the 1963 Michigan Constitutional Convention; and Robert Sedler, Wayne State University Law School professor.

The milestone plaque is now on display in the lobby of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Special thanks to the State Bar of Michigan Public Outreach and Education Committee, the Detroit Bar Association, the Third Circuit Court, and the Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority.

State Bar Building Closed
The State Bar of Michigan offices will be closed December 24, 2018, through January 1, 2019.

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