Raising the Bar

On Monday, lawyers Courtney Bollman and Brandon Blazo argued a motion for remand in front of Judge Stephen Murphy in the Federal Courthouse. They were so good it was hard to remember that Courtney is a first year lawyer and Brandon is a fifth year and they were not actually arguing in a real case.

Instead, they were part of Team 2's presentation Monday night in the Detroit Bar Association's new Inn of Court program. The only momentary giveaway was Judge Murphy's chuckle inducing admission that "in a highly unusual move" he was going to rule from the bench.

As I sat watching Team 2 present, I thought about ways we can keep developing the sense of community, visibility and credibility we have been working on this Bar year. I want us all to feel like past Bar President George Roumell does about being part of this legal community. In a rousing 2010 acceptance speech, George proclaimed that at the Pearly Gates he will proudly respond that he was a Detroit lawyer.

Then yesterday, as I sat as a commercial Case Evaluator for the morning with fellow Bar members Bill Giovan and Larry Saylor, I saw firsthand the contrast between lawyers who know and respect the profession and other members in it and those that don't.

It reminded me of what Susan Ford, daughter of the late President, recently said would help Congress get more done. She opined that if all the legislators regularly lived in D.C., spent weekends there too, and socialized together regardless of party affiliation, all like they used to, they'd be able to work together. They would know each other personally and thus see what is most important and compromise in order to get it done.

I don't know if this is a realistic vision for Washington but I do think a visible and collegial Bar association supports our members, the greater legal community and the clients we serve. A rising tide lifts all ships.

We have tried this year to create this sense of community in the Bar by bringing more value and fun into the process at the same time. And thanks in large part to members like board member Art O'Reilly, we have come a long way. Art drove our Inn of Court program from an idea last summer to reality last month. As a result, we have 100 members in the Inn and a waiting list.

At the "After the Gavel" gathering at the London Chophouse Monday night, Wayne Circuit Judge Larry Talon said he likes coming to DMBA events.

"I meet people I wouldn't have met otherwise, and it's fun. What's the point if we're not having fun?"

Come to our "Raising the Bar" annual celebration next week at the Gem Theatre and experience this for yourself!


Elizabeth Jolliffe is a certified career management and business development coach for lawyers. She practiced for 19 years as a business litigator and partner at Clark Hill PLC. Elizabeth helps her clients build their practice and take charge of their career. Elizabeth@YourBenchmarkCoach.com.

Published: Thu, May 24, 2012