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June 2020

The results are in for the 2020 State Bar of Michigan election

Five attorneys won contested seats in this year’s Board of Commissioners election. All will serve three-year terms expiring at the close of the September 2023 board meeting.

    David C. Anderson and Daniel D. Quick were elected to serve District I, representing Oakland County.

    James W. Heath, Hon. David A. Perkins, and Mark A. Wisniewski were elected to serve District H, representing Lenawee, Monroe, and Wayne Counties.

Two attorneys won unopposed races in the Board of Commissioners election.

    Bernhardt (Chris) D. Christenson, III, was elected to serve District B, representing Bay, Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac, and Tuscola Counties.

    Robert A. Easterly was elected to serve District E, representing Barry, Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Livingston, Montcalm, and Shiawassee Counties.

Read more about these attorneys, and see the full list of election results (including for the Judicial Tenure Commission, Representative Assembly, and Young Lawyers Section Executive Council), here.

Join other Michigan lawyers working to better the profession

Whatever areas of the law you’re passionate about, there’s a State Bar of Michigan committee for you. Volunteering with the State Bar is a great opportunity to protect the public, better the legal profession, and network with other lawyers from across the state. There’s no need to drive to Lansing to participate, you’ll be able to attend all meetings remotely.

Apply here to serve on a committee or work group during the 2020-21 bar year. Applications close on July 30 and appointments will be announced in mid-September.

Committee opportunities include Criminal Jurisprudence and Practice, Diversity and Inclusion, Judicial Qualifications, and many, many more. You can see the full list here.

Here’s what SBM volunteers have to say about the experience:

“SBM committee service has greatly expanded my awareness of SBM services to lawyers and the community. In addition, I have developed relationships with colleagues I would not have met otherwise, giving me a richer, more expanded network.”Julie Cotant

“I swore an oath to help people. The SBM committees that I serve on are force multipliers, because they allow me to work with passionate, selfless people who are dedicated to ensuring the administration of equitable justice.”Takura Nyamfukudza

Looking for a good read? Try our online lending library

As a Michigan attorney, you have complimentary access to the State Bar of Michigan’s online library, which features a wide variety of e-books and audio books. Whether you’re looking to brush up on a certain practice area, learn how to better manage your practice, or even get lost in a memoir, the library has something for everyone. And if you don’t find the title you’re looking for, simply email to request that the Practice Management Resource Center purchase it.

Here is a sampling of some titles that have been popular lately:

More information, including directions for accessing the library, can be found here. If you have any questions, or you’d like to schedule a virtual tour of the online library that’s tailored to your interests, call the PMRC helpline at 800-341-9715.

Where you bank matters—help improve access to justice with your IOLTA account

On Balance Podcast from the State Bar of Michigan

Did you know your banking choices can help improve access to justice in Michigan? The Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) program serves as a crucial source of funding for civil legal aid organizations throughout the state.

Interest rates paid on IOLTA accounts vary between .01% and 1%, with most financial institutions waiving all fees. Please inquire about the interest rate being paid on your IOLTA account, just like you would when opening a personal or business account.

Through its Leadership Bank program, the Michigan State Bar Foundation, which administers Michigan’s IOLTA program, recognizes financial partners that pay significantly more interest than others on IOLTA accounts. If every Michigan lawyer who holds an IOLTA account chose a Leadership Bank, based on current rates, it would mean an annual increase of approximately $1.8 million to provide free civil legal aid to people in need throughout the state.

More information, including names of Leadership Banks, can be found here.

Check out these new articles from Michigan lawyers

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we've published articles by Michigan lawyers related to the practice of law during the crisis. Recent additions include:

New On Balance Podcast: Wellness During Times of Crisis

On Balance Podcast from the State Bar of MichiganIn this time of stress and uncertainty, it is essential that we continue to examine and prioritize our own mental health. In the latest edition of the State Bar of Michigan’s On Balance podcast, Tish Vincent and JoAnn Hathaway talk with Molly Ranns and Katie Stanley about their tips for cultivating mindfulness and staying healthy in the midst of the pandemic. Ranns is a clinical case manager for the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program at the State Bar of Michigan. Stanley is a staff attorney and fair housing education manager for Legal Services of Eastern Michigan.

Listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Play.

A special offer from LawPay for Michigan lawyers

With 15 years of experience supporting the legal community, LawPay is the industry standard in online payments. Their user-friendly solution makes it easy for lawyers to securely accept client credit card and eCheck payments online. Plus, LawPay was built with input from bar association partners and their ethics committees to ensure all payments are processed in compliance with attorney trust accounting rules. Right now, LawPay has an exclusive offer for Michigan lawyers: open a new LawPay account by July 31st and receive 3 months with no monthly fee, plus a $100 credit towards processing fees. Find more information about the LawPay offer here.

Congratulations to the 2020 SBM award winners!

The following individuals have been selected to receive 2020 State Bar of Michigan and State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly awards.

2020 Awards2020 State Bar of Michigan Award Recipients

    Roberts P. Hudson Award: Barry L. Howard

    Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award: Ronald J. Frantz and Anita L. Hitchcock

    Champion of Justice Award: Thomas P. Boyd, Hon. Susan L. Dobrich, and James H. Fisher

    John W. Reed Michigan Lawyer Legacy Award: Prof. Paul D. Reingold

    John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award: Heidi A. Naasko

    Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership Award: ATJ Mid-Northern Michigan Expungement Project

    Liberty Bell Award: Timothy Skubick

2020 State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly Award Recipients

    Michael Franck Award: William C. Buhl

    Unsung Hero Award: Clark A. Andrews

More information about each award recipient will be released at a later date. Read more about the awards here.

We’ve added a new feature to this newsletter to help you stay up to date on news from the Michigan Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office. If you have any feedback, or suggestions for other things you’d find useful in this newsletter, please email SBM’s Director of Communications, Elizabeth Couch, at

Updates from the Michigan Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office

The online dispute resolution tool is expanding to all 83 counties

As of July 1, MI-Resolve, the nation’s leading online dispute resolution tool, will be live in all 83 counties. MI-Resolve provides an efficient and accessible way of resolving disputes that are typically filed as small claims, general civil, or landlord-tenant cases in the district court. Through MI-Resolve, parties can go online to negotiate directly with the other party, or have a Community Dispute Resolution Center mediator help them resolve their dispute at no cost. If the dispute is resolved, the system produces the necessary court forms for filing in the individual courts.

See where a court’s reopening stands with the directory of Local Administrative Orders

In early May, with Administrative Order No. 2020-14, the Supreme Court provided detailed guidance to local courts regarding a carefully-phased return to full capacity, based on local public health conditions. Courts can only enter the next phase after passing specific gating criteria that include no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the courthouse and a downward trajectory of documented cases in the area, among other requisite milestones. Courts in Phase 1 and Phase 2 remain largely closed to the public, while courts in Phase 3 are open with continuing guidance to practice social distancing, and to take other steps recommended by the CDC to protect the public and staff. In Phase 4, courts can operate without restriction. All courts must adopt a local administrative order detailing their plans to return to full capacity. An online directory of those LAOs includes a plan from every county and virtually every court.

The MSC updated its orders regarding court operations

With Administrative Order No 2020-19, the Supreme Court recognized the progress courts statewide are making in moving proceedings online and in adopting a careful, phased approach to reopening facilities. In particular, the order rescinds Administrative Order No. 2020-2 with the expectation that courts will continue to process “essential” cases as well as other cases as they return to full capacity under guidelines adopted by SCAO. For example, Courts in Phase 3 are allowed to begin holding jury trials, while courts in Phase 2 can only do so with plans approved by their regional administrator. The order also encourages the expansion of remote participation technology to reduce backlogs and dispose of new cases efficiently and safely.

50,000 Zoom meetings—and counting

Throughout the pandemic, SCAO has provided extensive support to trial courts to encourage remote proceedings. As a result, since April 1, judges and other court officers have held well over 50,000 Zoom meetings and more than 350,000 hours of online hearings. Many attorneys have noted the benefits of remote proceedings since they allow them to participate in multiple hearings on the same day without having to travel. To maintain public access to court proceedings, virtual hearings conducted by Zoom are being livestreamed to YouTube. To make public access to those livestreams easy, the Virtual Courtroom Directory features a clickable map so that users can click on a county, find a judge, and watch live hearings. This directory has been used more than 25,000 times in the past month alone. The Michigan Judicial Institute has provided training to help court staff and attorneys learn how to use Zoom.

The MSC has a pioneering new approach to landlord/tenant cases

With Administrative Order No. 2020-17 and subsequent revisions, the Michigan Supreme Court recently defined an innovative approach for trial courts to resume processing landlord/tenant cases.  The order focuses on making sure that the health of all participants is protected, cases are filed and disposed of in a reasonable period of time, and defendants are made aware of their right to legal counsel and of the availability of resources to help pay rent. In every case, as long as the defendant appears at the initial pretrial hearing to be advised of their rights, the court will adjourn the case for one week so that the defendant has time to exercise those rights; and defendants must be informed of the availability of rental payment assistance, including $50 million in federal resources provided by the CARES Act.

Michigan’s Problem-Solving Courts are seeing strong results

The Michigan Supreme Court recently released the FY 2019 Problem-Solving Courts Annual Report. The report found that graduates of Michigan’s 199 drug, sobriety, and mental health courts are much less likely to be convicted of a new offense within three years of admission to a program. Also, unemployment dropped dramatically among graduates of all PSC programs, including veterans’ treatment courts. Problem-solving courts focus on providing treatment and intense supervision to offenders as an alternative to incarceration. The Supreme Court, through SCAO, assists trial court judges in the management of these courts by providing training, education, operational standards, monitoring, certification requirements, and funding. Recently, SCAO has provided extensive guidance to PSCs to support them in maintaining operations during the pandemic.