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My first legal business development book was Jay Foonberg’s How to Start and Build a Law Practice . I read it cover to cover while waiting for my bar results. Since then I have read and collected many books, articles, and lists about getting clients and running a legal practice. There is a lot of repetitive stuff out there, but these 10 ideas stood out and made a lot of sense to me. Keep a business development journal so you can remember what you did and whether it worked or not. A personal journal is helpful for the same reason. Let your clients make appointments and handle payments with you as easily as they do with their doctor, bank, pharmacy, and ...
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​ As lawyers, we often believe that because we speak authoritatively, we also excel at making persuasive arguments. But science seems to indicate that there is much more to the art of persuasiveness. Well-known psychologist Robert Cialdini identified six principles of persuasion over 30 years ago. Since then, others have taken those principles and put their own spin on the factors that help with persuasion . How to Say It For instance, the article Using the Science of Persuasion in the Courtroom suggests that to be believable, arguments have to be delivered from a credible source and credibility can be communicated through the type of language used. ...
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Dan Quick , who served on the State Bar of Michigan Committee that reviewed the Michigan Court Rules on civil discovery and proposed the amendments effective January 1, 2020, is spending the fall helping Michigan lawyers prepare for the changes. (See my prior post for a rundown of the major amendments.) This morning Dan presented at the Oakland County Bar Association, along with Judges James Alexander and Shalina Kumar . In a few weeks, Dan will join Judge Christopher Yates at ICLE to film an On-Demand Seminar in collaboration with the SBM. In the meantime, here are a few takeaways from this morning’s discussion: Take responsibility for operation ...
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On August 26, 2019, President Donald Trump signed the Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA), to take effect in February 2020. SBRA is intended to offer small businesses with “ aggregate liabilities that do not exceed $2,725,625 the opportunity to resolve their outstanding debts through a condensed and price-conscious Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding.” Small businesses are often unable to navigate the complex Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedures, which make it difficult and costly to get a confirmed plan. This frequently forces them to liquidate. SBRA was created to streamline the process.  SBRA includes the following provisions :  Appointment of a ...
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Creative works in what’s known as the “public domain” exist outside the realm of intellectual property protection and can be used freely . Think the “Star Spangled Banner” or photos of the Mona Lisa . The public owns these materials either because the copyright expired, the owner didn’t follow statutory renewal and copyright notice rules, the type of work isn’t protectable, or the copyright owner voluntarily dedicated it to the public domain. Because of changing U.S. copyright laws, the publication date of a work often determines whether it is in the public domain. Before 1964, a copyright owner had to mail in a form to renew copyright protection after ...
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Two years ago, my colleague John Swift blogged about civil asset forfeiture. At the time, courts were starting to question whether these proceedings comported with due process. In Michigan, for example, property seized under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) could have been forfeited within 20 days of seizure, without recourse—even if there was no conviction and even if the property was extremely valuable. To many lawyers, forfeiture laws like Michigan’s seemed vulnerable to a host of due-process challenges. In February 2019, this argument gained traction when SCOTUS issued Timbs v Indiana . In Timbs, Indiana sought to have Timbs forfeit his $42,000 ...
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In June, Michigan amended its Youth Tobacco Act to prohibit the sale or furnishing of vapor products or alternative nicotine products to a minor. 2019 PA 17 , 18 . Since 2016, the FDA has been treating e-cigarettes like tobacco and banning sales to anyone under 18 years of age. There was a subsequent push for state legislation to support better enforcement. Michigan was one of the last states to adopt this type of ban. The governor is concerned that this law does not go far enough, i.e., to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping products as tobacco products, but it does offer penalties to support enforcement. The fines for selling e-cigarettes to minors are up ...
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By now you’ve surely heard about mindfulness as a tool for reducing stress and being present in the moment. And while almost everyone can benefit from incorporating elements of mindfulness into their daily lives, it seems lawyers are particularly well suited to benefit from a mindfulness practice. A recent article in the ABA’s Law Practice Today points out that, by nature or training, lawyers are constantly overthinking, reflecting, and planning for negative outcomes that may never arise. This causes stress, anxiety, and even general pessimism. Lawyers are taught to “stick to the facts,” advise their clients on the risks and realities of the situation, ...
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Hon. Annette J. Berry was elected to the Wayne County Circuit Court bench in November 2000 and reelected in 2006, 2012, and 2018. Since 2013, Judge Berry has served in the Civil Division, after serving in the Criminal Division from 2001 to 2013. Judge Berry received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her JD from Michigan State University Law School, formerly the Detroit College of Law. In 1988 she joined the Office of the Michigan Attorney General after being appointed as an assistant attorney general by Frank J. Kelly. During her distinguished career with the Department of Attorney General, Judge Berry served as legal counsel ...
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Michigan has more than 188 problem-solving courts , which address drug addiction, mental health treatment, and veterans issues. The purpose of these courts is to “offer an alternative to imprisonment for nonviolent criminal offenders by using a therapeutic jurisprudence model.” PSCs target frequent offenders who are in and out of the criminal justice system largely due to various underlying issues contributing to the initial crime and recidivism. The approach is much more holistic. Eligibility to participate and possible treatment plans in a PSC vary depending on the type and focus of the specialty court. Here are some examples of PSCs: Veterans treatment ...
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​ Everyone uses online reviews to make decisions about everything—from choosing a restaurant to picking out a new appliance. The same is true with consumers of legal services. A potential client is much more likely to hire a lawyer with a five-star average as opposed to one with only three stars. And it only takes one disgruntled client to bring that high average down. Managing your online reputation can be tricky, especially because reviews are usually couched in the form of an opinion. However, claiming something is an opinion doesn’t necessarily make it so. The key to suing for defamation, according to lawyer Justin Kelton in When Leaving a Bad Review ...
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In 2016, the Michigan Legislature enacted the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act (WICA), 2016 PA 343 , allowing individuals convicted and imprisoned “for 1 or more crimes that he or she did not commit” to seek compensation to the tune of $50,000 for each year of imprisonment. MCL 691.1751-.1757 . ICLE contributor Dave Moran was involved in WICA’s drafting process, but he states that the act has “ not worked as it was intended .” One of his critiques—that sufficient money had not been allocated to actually pay compensation—has been rectified in 2019 PA 10 , which allocated $10 million to the compensation fund. Before this allocation, several claims ...
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I have three children, ages 8, 5, and 11 months. I am regularly dazed by the amount of information they have access to, literally in the palms of their hands. Gone are the days of going to a library and finding a card catalog, Readers’ Guides to Periodical Literature (I loved those), or an encyclopedia. Information is a search term and keystroke away. There are over 3.5 million Google searches conducted every minute of every day. And the amount of information is growing at an exponential rate . However, over time, much of what we think we know changes and loses its value. Samuel Arbesman states in his book The Half Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know ...
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What's in My Water?

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When I was a kid, we lived in Muskegon for a while, which was home to the Sappi Fine Paper Mill. I clearly remember waking up many mornings to the stench of that mill, built directly upwind of the city. Sappi was finally shut down in 2009 and is now a brownfield project that is being redeveloped as a mixed-use residential waterfront complex . They even named it Windward Pointe, as if to finally acknowledge the poor location for a smokestack belching toxins into the community. Generally, air and water quality have improved over the last 20 years. The issue now seems to be just how long some of the chemicals we produced for so long actually take to biodegrade. ...
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What’s in My Water?

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When I was a kid, we lived in Muskegon for a while, which was home to the Sappi Fine Paper Mill. I clearly remember waking up many mornings to the stench of that mill, built directly upwind of the city. Sappi was finally shut down in 2009 and is now a brownfield project that is being redeveloped as a mixed-use residential waterfront complex . They even named it Windward Pointe, as if to finally acknowledge the poor location for a smokestack belching toxins into the community. Generally, air and water quality have improved over the last 20 years. The issue now seems to be just how long some of the chemicals we produced for so long actually take to biodegrade. ...
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Charlene M. Elder has served as a judge for the Wayne County Third Circuit Court since 2005. She currently sits in the Family Division of the court, handling a variety of domestic relations cases involving divorce, child custody, and personal protection matters. Judge Elder is one of three judges who helped initiate the Domestic Violence Prevention Court, designed to offer a wide range of services to victims of domestic violence who obtain personal protection orders against their perpetrators. When is your motion call?  Wayne County motion call day is Friday; however, I will hear motions on other days of the week as well. The number of motions ...
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It finally happened. Effective June 11, 2019, the legislature amended the No-Fault Act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., via 2019 PAs 21 and 22 . Here at ICLE, we’re bustling to create new and updated resources to help you navigate these changes. In the meantime, it may be helpful to read what some of our contributors have had to say so far about the amended act: New Michigan No-Fault Law Passes: What You Need to Know . Steven Gursten of Michigan Auto Law posted this helpful piece summarizing the salient changes before the act was even signed by Governor Whitmer.  Navigating the Chaos: The New No-Fault Legislation . Partners at Sinas Dramis, George ...
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We all knew that big changes to the Michigan Court Rules on civil discovery were coming, and ready or not they’re here now! The Michigan Supreme Court adopted the amendments on June 19, 2019, with an effective date of January 1, 2020. The SBM Civil Discovery Rule Review Special Committee developed these broad amendments with an eye toward modernizing the discovery process and improving efficiency and access to justice . The amended rules parallel many of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on discovery, including mandatory initial disclosures, a requirement that discovery be proportional to the needs of the case, and a seven-hour limit on depositions. ...
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Last year I wrote about the emerging tort of “ reproductive negligence ,” designed to compensate plaintiffs for destruction of frozen embryos, ineffective vasectomies, and other acts that rob them of their “ ability to determine the conditions under which to procreate .”  But the tort realm is hardly the only legal area where assisted reproductive technology issues arise. Consider a recent New York case in which the judge allowed parents to retrieve their unmarried 21-year-old deceased son’s sperm. The judge later ruled that the parents could use the sperm for reproductive purposes. While the deceased had not provided written consent before his death, his ...
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​ Effective March 29, 2019, Michigan has a new legislative scheme for separating trustees’ powers, duties, and liabilities. 2018 PA 662 added MCL 700.7703b to the Michigan Trust Code. This new section allows the duties of distribution and investment to be assigned to a separate trustee or trustees and provides for a “resultant trustee” to have any remaining powers, duties, and liabilities. Michigan is in the forefront of trust law with this new legislation. No other state has a similar provision. Some features of the legislation include the following: Separate trustees are generally not cotrustees (but see MCL 700.7703b(2)(c)). If a trust has a ...
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