State Bar annual meeting returns to Grand Rapids



by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The State Bar of Michigan (SBM) holds its comprehensive annual meeting, now called the Next Conference, in Grand Rapids every other year. The well-attended 2018 conference not only took place here, but also honored a number of local attorneys and included the participation of many more.

There are meetings of the SBM Representative Assembly and Boards of Commissioners; the inauguration of incoming officers; keynote speakers and breakout-track keynoters; section meetings and education sessions; a large vendor hall; the annual awards banquet; a reception celebrating diversity; and, near the end of the three-day event, a luncheon honoring those who have been in practice in the state for 50 years. The Institute for Continuing Legal Education co-sponsors the Next Conference.

This year, West Michigan was well-represented in the SBM awards. Well-known Rhoades McKee attorney and former SBM president Bruce Courtade won the SBM’s highest honor, the Roberts P. Hudson Award, sharing it with his co-chair of the 21st Century Practice Task Force, Julie Fershtman of Foster Swift.

In addition, the Liberty Bell Award winner was The Grand Rapids Urban League, duplicating its honor from the Grand Rapids Bar Association. Urban League CEO Joe Jones gave a rousing pre-recorded speech, as did the ACLU Grand Rapids office’s Miriam Aukerman, who won one of two Champion of Justice awards. (The other went to Robert J. Heimbuch of Wayne County.)
The Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Service Award was split between two former Michigan Supreme Court Justices,  Marilyn Kelly and Robert P. Young Jr.  The Grand Rapids Legal News will have more on those two, along with other awardees, in future issues.

At Thursday’s inaugural luncheon,  local attorney Robert J. Buchanan of Buchanan and Buchanan Law Firm, moved up to the Vice President position, while Jennifer M. Grieco of Birmingham succeeded Donald G. Rockwell as President. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen J. Markman swore them in, along with President-Elect Dennis M. Barnes of Detroit; Secretary Dana M. Warnez, of Center Line; and Treasurer James W. Heath, of Detroit.

The opening keynote speaker was Jack Newton, CEO of the practice management firm Clio, on “The 2018 Legal Trends Every Michigan Lawyer Must Know.” There was a dizzying array of additional keynote speakers and sessions on such topics as “Water?Is Life” by Jeff Davis, now of the Barnes and Thornburg Grand Rapids office, for the American Indian Law Section to “Updates on the Equal Pay Act” to “Limited Scope Representation, A Primer.”


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