Attorney spearheads SBM Young Lawyers Section

Attorney spearheads SBM Young Lawyers Section

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

As a boy, Mark Jane wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Matt, who planned on becoming a lawyer. Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” provided a further nudge.

“Then as a University of Michigan undergrad, I discovered how close the prospect of thinking like a lawyer tied in to the type of analytical thinking I had to perform as a history major,” says Jane, now a senior attorney in Butzel Long’s Ann Arbor office, with a practice focusing on ERISA, employee benefits, and executive compensation.

He first became aware of this field as a 2L student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where he earned his law degree cum laude. While working as a law clerk at a small Chicago firm, he drafted a fairly ambitious memorandum surveying the state of ERISA preemption with respect to subrogation in all the federal circuits in the aftermath of the 2002 Supreme Court decision Great West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson. 

“I was very proud of that memorandum, but I had little idea at the time as to how vast and far-reaching ERISA could be – ironic, considering the underlying issue of the assignment was preemption,” he says. “I placed a description of that memorandum front and center on my resume detailing the work I performed as a law clerk.”

Named a “Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers, Jane finds the ever-changing field of benefits law keeps him on his legal toes.

“I always have to be cognizant of new developments when advising a client,” he explains. “It’s a field in which all actors involved have a primary goal of ensuring participants and beneficiaries are protected.  No one wants plan assets or benefits to be unnecessarily taxed or improperly used, and companies, attorneys, insurers, and administrators all seek that common goal.”

Currently serving as secretary of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, Jane appreciates the camaraderie of the organization.

“It’s a very welcoming bar association, progressive, and provides great programming,” he says.  “All involved are close-knit and friendly. I’ve met so many members who want to help other attorneys succeed. While it can be a contentious profession, everyone in the WCBA wants to meet on great terms.”

In his second year as an attorney, and new to practicing in Washtenaw County, he took the advice of his brother who had previously chaired the WCBA New Lawyers Section.

“At my first meeting I discovered attendees all were in the same situation – seeking kinship and help in making the transition from law school to practice. It was, for lack of a better phrase, a ‘support group’ in that we could all talk about what we were going through and seek advice from mentors,” says Jane, who went on to co-chair the Section and was honored with the 2010 Outstanding Young Lawyer Award in recognition for his service.

Jane has served on the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section Council for seven years, and in October became Chair of the group.

“I’ve made friends with a great group of peers – all of us united over the common bond of serving the bar and the public,” he says. “Since we’re spread out around the state, I would not have met most of the members on Council had it not been for YLS. I’m grateful for that opportunity.”

 As the new chair, Jane’s primary goal – a goal the Council enthusiastically supported at the annual retreat – is to host a program in every major Michigan region. 

“We want to bring YLS to the entire state to show all members what we can do for them, and how becoming involved in the bar enriches the practice of law,” he says.  “I also want to continue the great work of my predecessors in hosting the 9th Annual Young Lawyers Summit, June 3, 4 in Novi.”

Jane has served on the SBM Board of Commissioners since September 2014.

“I enjoy working with a great collection of attorneys from across the state,” he says. “In my practice, I normally don’t have much daily interaction with attorneys outside of my office except through the bar associations.
Serving on the Board of Commissioners has been a great opportunity for me to do so. I feel we all do a lot of good work for the bar and that we’re all trying to place the profession in the best position possible.”

Last year, Jane shared his expertise with students at Cooley Law School, teaching an elective class, “Transitioning to Practice,” with tips for law students in preparation of the first years of legal practice.

He also spent a year as Cooley Law’s Career and Professional Development Coordinator, advising students and alumni on career options and offering assistance with job searching by reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews, producing programs, and finding networking opportunities.

Although Jane attended high school in Massillon, Ohio, about an hour south of Cleveland, his heart lies in the Wolverine state. 

“Because no self-respecting Wolverine ever wants to freely admit he or she is from Ohio, I usually say my hometown is my birthplace – Robbinsdale, next door to Minneapolis. Now I live in Ann Arbor – Go Blue!”

Needless to say, he loves U-M sports of any variety; and enjoys golfing, travel, camping, and family activities with his wife Heather Garvock –  an immigration attorney with the Troy-based law firm of Ellis Porter that has a satellite office in Ann Arbor – and their 4-year-old daughter Genevieve.

The couple met at a WCBA event in 2009.

“I often tell people that’s another reason to get involved in a bar association, because you never know who you might meet,” he says with a smile.