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The Grand Rapids Lawyer

Judges help celebrate the kick-off of grab LAW. Details about this diversity collaborative inside.

Serve. Educate. Promote Justice. SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2013

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THE GRAND RAPIDS LAWYER is published by the Grand Rapids Bar Association Waters Building 161 Ottawa Ave., NW, Suite 203-B Grand Rapids, MI 49503 616.454.5550 / 616.454.7707 fax Editorial Mieke Stoub Anne Marks-Gaertner


Advertising Coordinator Debbie Kurtz

4 grab LAW is Live! By Joy Fossel

8 YLS Update By Peter Kulas


5 President's Message By Kristin M. Vanden Berg

9 Upcoming Events

Executive Director Kimberly Coleman/ext. 105 Executive Assistant/Membership/ Inns Administrator Debbie Kurtz/ext. 101 Communications Specialist/ grab LAW Administrator Mieke Stoub/ext. 109 Administrative Assistant/ Foundation Administrator Elaine Bugbee/ext. 100 Lawyer Referral Administrator Nancy King/ext. 107

13 Criminal Notes By Timothy K. McMorrow

18 Sustaining Justice by Giving Locally By Jon R. Muth

15 Mediation Works! By Christine P. Gilman


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

20 21 22 23 24 25 26

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

President Kristin M. Vanden Berg. . . . . . . . . . 616.456.2468


Solo & Small Firm Section University Club

President-Elect Thomas R. Behm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.235.5500 Vice-President Patrick F. Geary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.458.5358


Secretary Randall Velzen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.233.9160


ON THE COVER: (from left to right) Jeanine Nemesi LaVille, Kim Schaefer, Patricia Gardner, Kathleen Feeney, and Sara Smolenski

17 Congratulations! Judge Benjamin H. Logan


American Inns of Court University Club

Trustees David E. Bevins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.235.3500 Elizabeth Joy Fossel . . . . . . . . . . 616.336.6000 Benjamin H. Hammond. . . . . . . 616.458.3600 Sarah Riley Howard. . . . . . . . . . . 616.752.2541 Hon. William G. Kelly. . . . . . . . . . 616.554.0717 Edward P. Perdue. . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.458.1300 Courtney L. Quist. . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.454.9008 Brian K. Lawson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.235.3500 Marcus Jones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.787.5799

16 Member Notes



Immediate Past President T.J. Ackert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 616.831.1730

15 Welcome New Members

10 Photo Opportunity

7 The 3Rs: Rights, Responsibilities, & Realities… By Mark R. Smith


Treasurer Elizabeth K. Bransdorfer. . . . . . . . 616.632.8000

Sept/Oct 2013


Legal Aid Luncheon McKay Tower Constitution Day Grand Rapids Public Schools Criminal Law Update University Club

18-20 State Bar Annual Meeting Lansing Center 19

Board of Trustees Waters Building


ADR Section McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon


Probate/ Real Property Section University Club


27 28 29 30 31


American Inns of Court University Club



Solo/Small Firm Section Colley Law School

13 Ask-A-Lawyer Grand Rapids Public Library


Labor & Employment Section University Club

20 Probate Law Section University Club

American Inns of Court Cooley Law School

9 Ask-A-Lawyer Grand Rapids Public Library

21 Board of Trustees Meeting Waters Building

17 Board of Trustees Meeting Waters Building

27 Family Law Section University Club

23 Family Law Section University Club

28 & 29 Thanksgiving Holiday Office Closed

ed for

eed Volunteers n

Day, n o i t u t i t s n o C ber 17 Septem or www.grba 0 Sign up at ) 454-555 16 man at (6 le o C im K call

Family Law Section University Club


Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer




he Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative and the Grand Rapids Bar Association has launched a new campaign designed to attract women and minority attorneys to our great legal community. Styled “grab LAW,” this primarily web-based campaign focuses on the ability to practice in Grand Rapids and achieve success in your career and balance in your life. Hence, the g-r-a-b portion of the moniker. Check it out at You’ll see some familiar faces along with some new ones, all attorneys in town, and all offering the tales of their own personal journeys and the reasons why they all enthusiastically call Grand Rapids home. Grab LAW is also live on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (each of which is linked to the grab LAW webpage). The social media components will feature additional events, updates, discussion threads, and networking opportunities that go beyond the webpage. And coming soon: video clips that will highlight local attorneys on their views of Life 4

The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013


At Work as well as Life After Work, and the attributes of Grand Rapids and West Michigan that make “achieve” and “balance” the watchwords of our legal community. Why are we doing this? The answer is simple: cities compete for talent, including legal talent, and we want to distinguish Grand Rapids as clearly as we can. Studies have shown that millennials seek out the communities in which they want to live before they pursue employment. We want them to know that our community offers lifestyle choices and values that they can’t find anywhere else, as well as sophisticated legal practices. We also want potential candidates to know that we are committed to enhancing the diversity and inclusiveness of the bar as a means of strengthening our legal community as a whole. The Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative and the Grand Rapids Bar Association not only share that goal, but have committed time, talent, and resources towards its advancement. grab LAW is just the beginning. Watch what happens next!

president’s perspective

Looking Back & Moving Forward BY KRISTIN M. VANDEN BERG


s I embark on my year as President of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, I want to thank you for the honor of electing me. It is a privilege to follow the many exceptional individuals who have preceded me in this role. It is perhaps unsurprising that the writing of this first presidential message has prompted me to reflect on the last 21 years I have spent in Grand Rapids. For those of you who don’t know me, I moved to Grand Rapids in July 1992, to join the law firm of Rhoades McKee (Boer Goodrich & Titta). In September of 1995, the Hon. Douglas W. Hillman invited me to serve as his first career law clerk, and I remained in that position until he retired in 2002. Since 2002, I have continued to work at the federal court as a staff attorney to all of the federal judges. During all of these years, I have been active in the GRBA, having served, at one time or another, on most of the Bar’s committees, and having previously served as a trustee of the association. It is largely through my work with the GRBA that I became fully part of this community. I met my friends through the GRBA. I had the opportunity to work on important professional issues through the GRBA. And I have come to respect the strong sense of fair-mindedness and courtesy shared by the members of the GRBA and the wider community.

In particular, I have been dedicated to the work of the GRBA’s Diversity Committee, on which I have continuously served since 1995 and which I chaired for several years. Through that committee, the GRBA has undertaken numerous efforts to assist our member firms to recruit, retain and promote minority and female attorneys. Out of those efforts, including the Retention Roundtable the committee organized in March 2010, came the idea of forming a Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative. I take great pride in being part of a legal community that so promptly and eagerly embraced the idea of the Collaborative. The Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative Agreement was signed by twelve member firms in June 2011, six months after the first exploratory meeting. Only nine months later, in March 2012, thirteen member firms signed a five-year action plan, which detailed outcomes, strategies and action steps addressing three critical issues: Pipeline Development, Recruitment, and Retention. The managing partners of the signatory firms meet semi-annually, reporting on progress in implementing the plan and allocating funds to support it. As you read in Joy Fossel’s article in this newsletter, the Collaborative is rolling out its refreshing marketing program, grabLAW. You can take a look at the Collaborative’s Agreement and Action Plan on the GRBA


website ( You can find a link to grabLAW there, or you can go directly to the grabLAW website ( I encourage you all to take a look at this initiative being undertaken by your bar association and area law firms. We also will be rolling out a new Pipeline Development initiative in the Grand Rapids Public Schools – the 3Rs Civics Education Program. Mark Smith discusses the initiative in another article in this newsletter. The program is another reflection the hard work and energy devoted by our fellow GRBA members and area firms to build a better, stronger and more diverse professional community. Of course, fostering the work of the Collaborative is only a part of the work of the GRBA. With the help of our extraordinary staff and many volunteers, the GRBA continues to provide rich opportunities for personal and professional development, social engagement, community service, and legal education. I look forward in the coming year to continuing this Bar Association’s longstanding efforts “[t]o promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law, foster dignity and integrity of the profession, provide law-related services to the community, and serve the needs of our members.” Please join me.

Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Place of Luncheon Event:

Coming together is a b staying together is prog working together is suc

The Ballroom - McKay Tower 146 Monroe Center, 2nd Floor Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

One Billable Hour Luncheon Come have lunch with us!

Legal Aid of Western Michigan is a non-profit

L E G A L AlawI Dfirm which provides free civil legal services to OF WESTE R N eligible individuals and families in financially M I C H I G Kent A NCounty, as well as 16 other surrounding

Date: September 12, 2013 Time: 12:00 p.m.—1:00 p.m. Place of Luncheon Event:

WHY LEGAL AID? For the hu

counties in west Michigan. Legal Aid focuses its Coming together is a beginning, 89 Ionia, N.W.,and Suite 400 staying together is progress, who(domestic are facing priorities on cases area dealingalone, with safety working together success. MI 49503 Grand isRapids,

Come have lunch with us!

The Ballroom - McKay Tower 146 Monroe Center, 2nd Floor Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

a life

violence divorce and preservation of custody), response often includes some ki housing, housing (landlord/tenant, foreclosures, etc.)

knowledgeable guidance throug LEGAL AID RSVP required: Lacy pm Cook September 12, 2013 • 12:00 –consumer 1:00 pm benefits. income, and government income consumer, benefits

WESTERN Phone: 616-774-0672, ext. 122 Help us invest in our local com M I C H I G A N The Ballroom – McKay Tower Email : LEGAL AID? For the hundreds of thousands of LOW INCOME FAMILES in colleagues atour thisservice year’s event, w 146 MonroeWHY Center, 2nd Floor • Grand Rapids, MI 49503 89 Ionia, N.W., Suite 400 OF

area alone, who are facing a life crisis of some sort every day, the most powerful and effective

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

RSVP Required

response often includes some kind of legal help – not just the work of a lawyer in a courtroom, but

The luncheon is free. However, it is our hope that after learning how great the nee knowledgeable guidance through unfamiliar rules and procedures outside of a courtroom. Lacy Cook RSVP required: Lacy Cook Phone: 616-774-0672, ext. 122 invest122 in our•local community—a place we call home. Please be sure to join friends and Help us ext. 616-774-0672


colleagues at this year’s event, with Mayor George Heartwell as our keynote speaker.

The luncheon is free. However, it is our hope that after learning how great the need is for your participation, you will consider contributing to our efforts. The luncheon is free. However, it is our hope that after learning how great the need is for your participation, you would consider contributing to our efforts.

Protecting your health. Today. You plan every detail of your practice to ensure its success. Nothing is left to chance. Don’t take chances with your health insurance. You and your staff deserve a quality Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Michigan health plan. • Group plans • Individual plans • Recognized worldwide • Solutions tailored to your needs To learn more about the affordable BCBSM plans, contact Member Insurance Solutions. Call 800.878.6765 or visit today. Protecting tomorrows. Today.

Member Insurance Solutions is a marketing name of MDA Insurance & Financial Group. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation and independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.


The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013



3Rs Rights, Responsibilities & Realities GRBA LAUNCHES CIVICS EDUCATION PROGRAM:

In August 2011, I authored my first article as President of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and proposed that the Association start a civics education program. At the time, I noted: “Anyone that has followed the evolution of education in the No Child Left Behind years where schools teach to tests that emphasize reading, math and science realizes that civics education has been left on the sidelines. Half the states do not even require high school students to take civics classes. A large percentage of our population cannot name the three branches of Government or explain in any meaningful way the relationship amongst the branches. As a consequence, we are increasingly exposed to anger about broken government from people with no clue how it works. To combat this national trend, a number of Bar Associations have developed programs to address this problem by putting lawyers in schools to serve as guest lecturers over the course of a school year to give students the tools to be productive engineers of change. I’d like to add our Bar Association to the growing list of those offering such programs.” I am pleased to report that after two years of hard work by our Executive Director, Kim Coleman, and a committee made up of a broad cross section of Bar Association members and Grand Rapids Public School staff, the Bar Association is partnering with the Grand Rapids Public Schools

to present an innovative Civics Education Program to all Freshman Social Studies Students at Ottawa High School. The program, entitled “The 3Rs,” provides education regarding Rights, Responsibilities and Realities and is designed to address fundamental issues facing the students and, ultimately, our city and region. Based on the highly successful model created by the Cleveland Bar Association, the program uses a real-world curriculum focused on the U.S. Constitution and addresses such things as Freedom of Expression, the Fourth Amendment, Due Process and Equal Protection. The 3Rs program calls upon teams of volunteers to go to the socials studies classrooms for seven separate sessions between November and May of each school year to work with small groups of students to: • Improve understanding of and respect for the rule of law and our Constitution; • Provide practical career counseling to focus students on their potential beyond high school; and • Improve the “pipeline” of minorities flowing into legal careers in the region. Each classroom will have a team leader and five group leaders who will each have five to six students throughout the seven-month program. Ottawa Hills has five Freshman Social Studies classes and so we will be working with at least 30 volunteers. The volunteers will receive training and will utilize a prepared lesson plan for each


session that places an emphasis on student participation. The students will be evaluated on their achievements in the program. In addition to the important benefits that flow from the educational component of the program, the program will assist in the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative’s pipeline development activities by placing every freshman student in frequent contact with a member of the legal profession. Two of the sessions are entirely devoted to practical career counseling. The students will learn much more about the opportunities available in the legal profession than they may know from television or from encounters with the law enforcement or domestic relations sides of the system most typically encountered in their day to day life. Furthermore, they will learn that one does not have to come from a family of lawyers or professionals to become a lawyer and that regardless of their roots there can be a place in the practice of law for them. It is our hope that a successful first year at Ottawa Hills High School will lead to expansion of the program to the rest of the Grand Rapids Public Schools. Applications for lawyers interested in teaching in the 3Rs program are or will soon be available from the Bar Association. Please consider lending your talents to this vitally important program. Together, we have a chance to change some young lives in a meaningful way. Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer




Howdy readers! My name is

Peter Kulas of Kulas Law Office, PLLC and the last article I wrote was as the Social Chair for the Young Lawyer’s Section. Now I am the Vice-Chair and by the time I write my next article, I’ll be the Chair for YLS. It is this rapid transition of my positions within YLS that caused me to reflect on the past year or so of my solo practice and my involvement with the Grand Rapids Bar. During this reflection I realize that no one, whether you are in a large firm, medium size firm, or a solo attorney can make it in this profession without a strong network of friends, colleagues, and mentors. With that said, this article is dedicated to all those who have helped me and my practice grow. Thank you! As a Michigan transplant (I apparently did not get the memo that one moves to Arizona from Michigan, not from Arizona to Michigan) I ran into the difficulty of establishing a solo practice without the advantage of a strong communal network that those attorneys who grew up here generally benefit from. But like every other obstacle that has been placed in front of me, I accepted the challenge with open arms and strived to overcome it – and I did. But I had help. Let me first say that navigating through the labyrinth of life as an attorney can easily be overwhelming. However, thank the Maker that the GRBA has a great support staff that 8

The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013

“... be humble enough to ask for help, be open enough to accept the assistance and/or criticism offered and above all get involved!” assisted me and continues to assist all the fledgling new attorneys. So thank you GRBA Staff for partnering me with an amazing mentor, Ric Roane of Warner Norcross & Judd; assisting me in finding office space; and specifically thank you to Debbie Kurtz for helping me remember all the names of all the attorneys I met at various Bar functions (think of how Anne Hathaway assisted Meryl Streep’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada.” And that’s basically what happened. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, rent the movie. It’s amazing! It has Meryl Streep!) Most importantly, Debbie was also an ear to listen to me and a voice of encouragement when I thought it wasn’t going to work out. I also became involved with YLS – a decision, to this day I do not regret. Aside from all the amazing social events that were planned over the past year – monthly happy hours and luncheons, euchre tournaments, BBQs, a progressive dinner, a bowling night, an ArtPrize pub-crawl, and an end of the year party, to name a few, the friendships made are ones that will carry on through my practice. It is comforting to know that as a solo practitioner I have a personal relationship with other attorneys that practice in areas of the law that l

I don’t. With a quick text – yes I am of that generation – I can get an employment, immigration, or bankruptcy question answered. And the exchange is reciprocal – I am happy to offer what advice I can on family law matters to my fellow young lawyers. So thank you YLS! One of the best rewards of my involvement was that the GRBA and YLS together helped me find a mentor. Ric Roane was quick to assist me with his experience and expertise not only in the area of family law, but also about the importance of one’s reputation in the community – the legal community and the Grand Rapids Community. Which, again I am speaking to the recent graduates, your reputation is like your GPA, once it takes a hit it will take forever to recover. So thank you Ric for ensuring that I remember that all my actions, words spoken, or facial expressions made are at the forefront of my mind. So the take away from this is: be humble enough to ask for help, be open enough to accept the assistance and/or criticism offered and above all get involved! Get to know the Bar you serve! Get to know the State Bar. And above all else give back a little of your time.

Upcoming Events etc. Constitution Day September 17, 2013 Want to be part of Constitution Day 2013?

Contact Kim Coleman at 616-454-5550

Criminal Law Update Timothy K. McMorrow of the Kent county Prosecutor's Office will present an update on decisions that impact the practice of criminal law in Michigan.

September 18, 2013 at Noon University Club

• • • •

with two chairs Fully carpeted expo hall Four exhibit personnel name badges Company description listing in on-site program and mobile app Post-conference attendee roster

State Bar of Michigan ANNUAL MEETING &▶icLe SoLo & SMaLL firM DIAMOND GAVEL SPONSOR $3,000 | (choose one) INSTITUTE 1. State Bar Awards Banquet, Wednesday Evening

 2. State Bar Inaugural Luncheon, Thursday  3. Cyber Café located in Exhibit Hall Center, Lansing September 18-20 Lansing PACKAGE INCLUDES:  Double exhibit booth space ($1,900 value)  Company name and logo on the convention web page ($500 value)  Company name and logo in all preconference marketing ($500 value)  Complimentary full-page black & white ad in the onsite program ($400 value)  One approved marketing or collateral piece inserted in conference tote bag ($300 value)  Event sponsor signage where applicable ($100 value)  Sponsorship acknowledgement in the Michigan Bar Journal following the event.





$3000 or SUPPLY 1500 BAGS

Each registrant receives a conference totebag.



$2000 or SUPPLY 1500 LANYARDS

Each registrant receives a conference lanyard.

Cost is $25 per person and includes materials and a buffet lunch.

QUESTIONS? Contact Stacy Marciniak (517) 346-6315 R E A C H H U N D R E D S O F D E C I S I O N Mor KERS IN ONE PLACE Presented by the GRBA Criminal Law Section.

OFFICE SPACE FOR RENT IN HERITAGE HILL: Office space for rent at 330 East Fulton Street, Grand Rapids. Office is available for immediate rental. All office infrastructure, the use of one conference room and parking is included. Please call Kim Van Gessel or Troy Haney at 616/235-2300 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.



Joseph E. Budnick Limited License Psychologist


Sept/Oct 2013

and Executives

616.250.4736 l

The Grand Rapids Lawyer


GRBA Golf Outing

GRBA Summer Clerks Reception

10 The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013


Judges & Women Lawyers Basebal l Gam e

May Admissions Ceremony


Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Independent Valuation & Litigation Support Services

Save the Date


Holiday Mixer

December 5, 2013 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Amway Grand Plaza Hotel 12 The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013



A Busy, and Significant, Term from the Michigan Supreme Court BY TIMOTHY K. McMORROW • KENT COUNTY PROSECUTORS OFFICE


he Michigan Supreme Court finished its term on July 31, 2013. As always, many of their decisions were in criminal law cases. While a thorough description of all those cases is impossible in this article, I did want to briefly discuss a few of those decisions, in the hope that I can dispel the notion that the Michigan Supreme Court is somehow a prosecution rubber stamp. A few of the decisions issued generally favorable to criminal defendants were: People v Smith-Anthony, decided July 30, 2013. The crime of larceny from a person has in recent years been interpreted to cover a larceny of property taken from the “immediate area of control” of the victim. The Supreme Court restricted this crime to cover only property taken from the person or the person’s immediate presence. For example, stealing a purse from a shopping cart when the victim walked ten feet away used to be chargeable as larceny from a person. Now it is not. And the result is that certain 10-year felonies are now chargeable only as 4-year felonies. People v Burns, decided June 18, 2013. If a sexual abuse perpetrator tells a child prior to disclosure of the abuse “not to tell” what happened or the child will “get in trouble,” does that constitute forfeiture by wrongdoing of the right to confrontation, to permit the victim’s prior statement to come into evidence when the victim refuses to testify?

The Supreme Court said no, since it is not conduct directly intended to prevent the child from testifying – probably a correct ruling and consistent with United States Supreme Court precedent, but certainly a ruling that is in the generic sense of the term pro-defense. People v Musser, decided July 12, 2013. Recorded statements of police detectives in the course of an interrogation that state their belief a victim is credible and is telling the truth must be excised from the recording unless they truly do provide a context for a specific answer of the defendant and are not otherwise excludable under MRE 403. (Full disclosure: Musser was my case in the Michigan Supreme Court. My position was that the statements of the detectives were necessary to provide context to the defendant’s answer, and that any error was harmless anyway. Given that the Supreme Court’s decision was 7-0, the Court was evidently not impressed.) People v Hardy and Glenn, decided July 29, 2013. The prosecution won these two consolidated cases, on whether the defendants acted with excessive brutality to justify a higher guidelines score. That was hardly surprising; the Court of Appeals opinions (that striking victims with a gun barrel, or racking a shotgun during a robbery, were not conduct designed to increase the fear and stress of the victims) were difficult to defend. More important than those immediate holdings, the Court also

rejected the view that a guidelines score would be upheld when there was “any evidence” to support it, instead held that a finding of fact to support a guidelines score would be reviewed, as any other finding of fact, for clear error. That is still a hurdle for a criminal defendant to overcome, but nowhere near as difficult as the former “any evidence” standard. And there were others, particularly orders peremptorily reversing convictions on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. To be sure, there were many where the prosecution did prevail: People v White, holding that a police officer’s statement after an arrested suspect, a defendant, invoked his right to counsel was not “interrogation;” People v Elliott, finding that a parole officer’s interview of a parolee at jail after the parolee was arrested and invoked his right to counsel did not constitute “interrogation;” People v Duncan, permitting the testimony of a 3-year-old child sex abuse victim taken at preliminary examination to be used at trial when the child, qualified as a witness at the examination, could not be qualified as competent at trial, and the several medical marijuana cases (People v Green, People v Koon, and State v McQueen) were all cases decided in favor of the prosecution. The results were mixed, but those results should be a caution to anyone who still thinks that prosecutors will always prevail in the Michigan Supreme Court.


Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer


14 The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013



Mediation Works!


Nearly 70% of all cases that are sent to mediation settle on the day of mediation, compared to only 17% acceptance rates for case evaluation. Compliance with mediated agreements is impressive: Voluntary compliance with mediated agreements is 90% compared to only 53% of non-mediated agreements. Participant satisfaction with mediation is notable: 90% of participants are satisfied with mediation even if the case is not resolved.1 Why join the ADR Section of the Grand Rapids Bar? If you are an ADR practitioner, nothing can be lonelier than being the sole neutral in a case. Often you find yourself faced with ethical dilemmas, complicated issues, warring parties, and/or sparring attorneys. The ADR Section is

here to help you conquer these demons. We can offer you a chance to network with local ADR practitioners and receive high quality low cost advanced mediation training credits. If you are a litigator, chances are you often represent a client in an ADR session. So you should know that our programs can help you to represent and prepare your client and your presentation more effectively. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to keep up with the ADR Section of the Grand Rapids Bar, I’d like to take this opportunity to fill you in on happenings and invite you to help us plan for the future. In 2012, we brought you two fabulous advanced mediation training opportunities: Martin Weisman and Jennie Boldish Bryan presented on the cutting

edge topic of Med/Arb; and, Anne Bachle Fifer presented on the ever-intriguing and pertinent issue of Malpractice Issues in Mediation. Our current Chair, Tom Saxe of Rhoades McKee is very busy developing programs to bring you in the future. Please join us at our next meeting, September 26, 2013 at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. We want to find out what issues are important to you – breaking standoffs? Practice building? Preparing clients for ADR? What topics do you want to learn about – domestic mediation? Civil rights mediation? Restorative justice? What speakers would you like to hear? Come to the next meeting and collaborate to develop our agenda.

See you there!

Statistics taken from “Letting Litigants Know that MEDIATION Really Works!,” The ADR Quarterly, May 2013.


WELCOME New Members

Nancy Ballast

Ryan Felber

Laurie Longo

Patrick Sickels

Victoria Benavidez

Alexander Gallucci

Genevieve McKenna

James Sterken

Jacob Bloemers

Brendan Geary

Steven Phillips

Mike Toburen

Joseph Bonventre

Joel Helder

Ronald Pierce

Eric Wiscovitch

Jacob Droppers

Joshua Hessmiller

Jonathan Rea

Clayton Wittman

David Elmore

Craig Jackson

Nicholas Romer

Michael Wolin Marc Woolery


Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer


thank you! Event Sponsor:

The GRBA's Young Lawyers Section and the Justice Foundation of West Michigan extend heartfelt thanks to the following sponsors of the 2013 GRBA Golf Outing.

Adamy Valuation Advisors

Golf Galaxy

Miller Johnson

Avanti Law Group, PPLC

Grand Rapids Law Group

Newton Law Offices PLC

Barnes & Thornburg, LLP

Gruel Mills Nims and Pylman LLP

One Quest Capital Managment

Keller & Almassian, PLC

Price Heneveld LLP

Bienenstock Court Reporting & Video Bratschie Burmania Gunn & Stoddard, P.C.

Kluczynski, Girtz & Vogelzang

Brian Lawson

Law Weathers

Drew Cooper & Anding, P.C. Foster Swift Collins and Smith Gardner Linn Burkhart & Flory

Kulas Law Office

Plunket Cooney, P.C. Quist Hansen Ryan, Podein & Postema Varnum LLP

Legal Staffing Melanie DeStigter Mika Meyers Beckett & Johnes PLC

Velzen Johnson & Wikander Wheeler Upham Willey & Chamberlain LLP

MEMBER NOTES Chief Operating Officer of Law Weathers Steve Edison is the new President of the West Michigan Association of Legal Administrators. Edison also serves on the East Grand Rapids Board of Education and is a past Michigan chapter president of the Association for Accounting Administration and former Mayor of East Grand Rapids.

Even & Franks, a Muskegon based law firm, will join Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge in October 2013.

Todd Neckers has joined the law firm McShane & Bowie PLC. His practice areas include Small Business, Estate Planning, Family Law, Litigation and Real Estate.

Nineteen attorneys at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge were recently selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2014.

Thomas J. Hillegonds has joined the law firm McShane & Bowie PLC. His practice areas include Business Law, Taxation, Estate Planning, and TaxExempt Organizations. Craig Noland has joined McGraw P.C. as a managing shareholder of its Grand Rapids office. He has more than 30 years of experience including successfully litigated cases in Michigan’s state and federal courts and courts of appeal. His practice focuses on municipal, civil rights, employment, zoning, and school law and litigation.

Pamela S. Lisner has joined the law firm Rhoades McKee as a paralegal. Kisner has 25 year of experience as a registered nurse and will assist the Insurance Defense Team by reviewing medical documents and technical research.

Rodney Martin of Warner Norcross & Judd has been appointed to Inforum’s DiversityNEXT Steering Committee. Martin will serve a two-year term on the committee. Richard L. Halpert has been selected for the Delwyn Breslau Award from the Grand Rapids bases Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. This is the highest distinction that the society bestows. Charles E. Burpee has been elected president elect of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre & Schools of Theatre Arts. He will serve a two-year term before becoming president of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

Visit our website for more news from your fellow Bar members • 16 The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013









“to pause and honor those whose courage, intellectual accomplishments, professional achievements and community contributions deserve the highest recognition.”

The National Bar Association

Founded in 1925, the National Bar Association (NBA) is the nation’s oldest and largest association of African American lawyers and judges. The NBA’s network has made significant strides in expanding the opportunities for its membership of over 20,000 lawyers, judges, educators and law students. The NBA has concerned itself with a wide range of projects, including: • Established the NBA/ Carleton College Scholarship, a four-year scholarship awarded to as many as four deserving African-American students. • Established The National Bar Association Crump Law Camp, designed to provide students between the ages of 14 and 17 and/or entering the 9th, 10th, or 11th grade with a comprehensive introduction to the American judicial and legal system. • Provided legal assistance to elderly African-Americans through the NBA Black Elderly Legal Assistance Support Project (BELASP). After its inception in 1986, BELASP conducted a variety of programs designed to improve the Black elderly’s access to legal assistance. It provided many training and continuing legal education seminars for lawyers, including “Saving the Home and Defending Against Fraud and Scams.” • Used a grant received from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging to study the means of improving the delivery of legal services to the African American elderly poor and to develop a process to recruit African American lawyers for providing pro bono and reduced fee services to this growing segment of the population.

The Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 1986 by then President Fred D. Gray, Sr., to honor those lawyers who have been licensed to practice for 40 years or more and who have made significant contributions of the cause of justice. The induction ceremony is held during the NBA Annual Convention and is an opportunity “to pause and honor those whose courage, intellectual accomplishments, professional achievements and community contributions deserve the highest recognition.” Several prominent NBA members have been inducted into the Hall of Fame over the past few years. These inductees include: Hon. Thurgood Marshall, Civil Rights Leader Benjamin Hooks, Esq., Hon. Louis Stokes; Cora T. Walker, Esq.; Hon. William Cousins, Jr.; and Hon. L. Clifford Davis. On July 31st, District Court Judge Benjamin Logan was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the NBA’s 88th annual convention at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel in Florida. This is a prestigious award given to members of the Bar who have served chivalrously in the pursuit of justice and equality before the courts of the United States of America. Judge Logan has served many years in the practice of law and given significant contributions that have impacted the cause of justice, the African American community and the legal profession.


Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sustaining Justice by Giving Locally BY JON R. MUTH · MILLER JOHNSON

“The practice of law is a privilege. If the concept of the rule of law is to exist, it has to be available to everybody who needs it. It has to have the respect of everybody, whether they need it or not. Unless you have that respect for the rule of law and access to it when you need it, the whole system will collapse. As a lawyer, I am a gatekeeper. I guard the door to justice. That is a tremendous responsibility.” ~ John W. Cummiskey MICHIGAN BAR JOURNAL, OCTOBER 1999


shared these words at the dedication of the Legal Assistance Center in 2002. John Cummiskey believed that as lawyers we are the gatekeepers of justice. He lived his life committed to assuring that even the least among us have the opportunity to use our courts when they need to and that, as lawyers, only by taking the responsibility to keep the doors open to everyone can we preserve the justice system that we love and serve. We live in a world of new realities. The middle class is shrinking and the gap between the “justice” that can obtained by the rich and poor is widening; and people are representing themselves in increasing numbers. Legal issues touch the lives of ordinary people with greater frequency than ever before. The ability to resolve basic legal problems, even when the only way to do that is on one’s own, is vital to our community. The services of our Legal Assistance Center in Kent County mean that in our community the resources to understand and solve basic legal problems are available to everyone. I would like you to join me in supporting this service. If you are unfamiliar with the work of the Legal Assistance Center, let me 18 The Grand Rapids Lawyer


Sept/Oct 2013

tell you briefly about this vital service. Located on the 5th floor of the Kent County Courthouse, the LAC is open to the public on a walk in basis Tuesday to Friday of each week. Everyone is welcome. A few staff and many volunteers offer basic legal information, resources including forms and handouts, and community connections to lawyers, dispute resolution and other community resources. Operating on a shoestring, the LAC serves increasing numbers each year, 17,000 people in 2012 and on track to serve 18,000 in 2013. Of those served, 98% live in Kent County; the rest have matters pending in Kent County courts.

pro bono standard. This guideline encourages each lawyer to make a contribution of $500 per year to make sure that low income legal services are available in Michigan. You also have the opportunity to make sure that your contribution comes back to Grand Rapids by designating the organization that will receive your donation dollars. You have choices. Undesignated dollars go to the Access to Justice Fund of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, which supports low-income legal services across the state. You can also designate your gift to a particular organization. One such is Legal Aid of Western Michigan, an important and worthy partner providing lawyer representation to low income people in west Michigan who qualify for their services. Another is the Legal Assistance Center, which largely serves the greater Grand Rapids community without limits on qualification.

We all benefit from this service. Our courts function more effectively and efficiently. People who are able to use the courts have more respect not only for the courts but for government generally. Less time is lost from work and families. Children and families have more stability and more predictability in their lives. Our community is a better place.

The voluntary pro bono standard recently increased from $300 lawyer per year to $500 per lawyer per year. Please consider meeting the voluntary standard and please also think about keeping your money in your community. If you choose to do so, clearly mark the line below your gift with the name of the entity of your choice, such as “designated to the Legal Assistance Center”.

In a few short weeks, you will receive your dues statement from the State Bar of Michigan. Along with your dues, you will be given the opportunity to make a contribution under the voluntary

Justice for All, in equal measure, remains an oft-elusive dream. Please join me in a collective effort to make it a bit more of a reality in the communities in which we live and work.



c n y S p i L y Celebrit Ready to flap your lips and shake your hips in support of the Justice Foundation? Call Kim Coleman at 616.454.5550 for information on performing.

February 20, 2014 7:00 pm

Wealthy Theatre

Save the Date! April 17, 2014 Bench Bar Conference The next Bench Bar Conference is going to take place the afternoon of April 17, 2014. The exact details will be worked out by the Court Liaison Committee over the next few months. Who will speak and on what topics have yet to be determined, and the committee welcomes your ideas. Feel free to send an e-mail, letter, or note to one of the following: James Brady, Perrin Rynders, Co-Chairs, Court Liaison Committee The committee promises a lively, honest, and constructive event.


Sept/Oct 2013


The Grand Rapids Lawyer





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Grand Rapids Bar Association Newsletter - Sept/Oct 2013