Get to Know Randy A. Musbach

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By Teresa Killeen
Washtenaw County Bar Associaiton

Randy Musbach has been practicing law since 1982, and limits his practice to truck, commercial vehicle and auto accident cases.

His office is in downtown Chelsea in the Steinbach Block Building, built in 1896 where Musbach’s father lived in an upstairs apartment during WW II. Musbach now share the building with his son and son-in-law who have a financial planning business.

Musbach was president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association 1992-1993.

Other memberships include: State Bar of Michigan (past Chair District G, Character & Fitness Committee, past member of the Special Committee on Electronic Filing Task Force); past Chair of the Washtenaw County Trial Court Case Evaluation Committee, Washtenaw Association for Justice (past “Lawyer of the Year”); member of the ICLE Technology Law and Training Advisory Board; The Million Dollar Advocates Forum; The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 for Michigan; Brain Injury Association of Michigan; Brain Injury Association of America; Michigan Association for Justice; American Association for Justice (Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group & Trucking Litigation Group) and Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys.

He is a lecturer, commentator and author for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education on insurance law, legal practice and technology; and for various other state, trial and local bar associations on representing individuals with traumatic brain injuries, litigation practice, technology and insurance law matters.

Could you tell us a little about your family? I’ve been married for thirty-seven years and we have four children. Our oldest daughter is a partner in a law firm in Chicago; our second oldest daughter is labor and delivery nurse by training, who is raising three active boys; our youngest daughter is in software sales in Chicago; and our son is a financial planner for medical professionals in his own firm with our son-in-law. So, everyone is finally “off scholarship” and occasionally buys us dinner. We’re also fortunate to have five grandsons and our first granddaughter will be born in December. I now have my own basketball team to coach!

How has the practice of law changed since you started? Technology. When I started in 1982, the practice of law was essentially the same as it was one hundred years earlier (except for the telephone). Today, we have e-filing and Zoom hearings, with artificial intelligence and virtual reality not far beyond. I appreciate technology because I’ve seen it all come into use during my career: computers, email, cell phones and the Internet. The first desktop computer my law partner and I considered buying was $25,000 (1983) and the first notebook computer I purchased cost $10,000. My practice today is “paperless and wireless,” using almost entirely Apple products, particularly a 12.9” iPad Pro with Apple’s “Magic Keyboard.” I use “TrialPad” for organizing exhibits and presenting them in a deposition, mediation or trial from an 11” iPad Pro with an Apple TV. TrialPad is an app that costs $130. A similar but much more difficult to use software program for trial presentation in the “PC only” computer era cost over $10,000.

What is your most interesting experience as a lawyer? My most interesting experience wasn’t as a lawyer, but as a juror. I was the foreperson on a murder trial in Washtenaw County involving Paul Cashman a/k/a John Burns, who was the first person caught as a result of the television show (“Unsolved Mysteries”). Mr. Cashman fled the Ann Arbor area in September 1970 after the murder of Eleanor Farver and was arrested in Pennsylvania on May 25, 1987, five days after the show aired.
I saw the television show, but I was still allowed to sit on the jury. The case was tried by William Delhey, longtime Washtenaw County Prosecutor, and Lloyd Powell, longtime Washtenaw County Public Defender. We convicted Mr. Cashman of second-degree murder on December 3, 1987, and he died on January 7, 1988, before he could be sentenced.  After the trial, Judge Ross Campbell replayed a tape of the episode “Unsolved Mysteries” and allowed us to talk with the attorneys and retired detectives who testified in the case. If you Google “John Cashman and Unsolved Mysteries” there are several articles.
The lesson I learned from the trial is that you never know what jurors are thinking. Each juror seems to have a different perspective. The deliberation was a fascinating process.

What jobs did you have before you became an attorney? The 3 F’s: farming, factory and fast food. I worked on a farm one summer and it was the hardest work I’ve ever done. I worked in a factory one summer (heat treating) and it was the most dangerous work I’ve ever done. I worked in fast food one summer and got so tired of the food that
I haven’t eaten a hamburger since. My mom was correct, the “3 F’s” were great encouragement to stay in school and get a law degree.

Any words of wisdom to pass on to new lawyers? Your reputation is everything so guard it carefully. It’s important to treat everyone with respect, like you want to be treated. It’s a privilege that a client has asked you for help. The friendships you will make in the practice of law are truly amazing. It’s important to find an area of law or niche that you enjoy. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every day practicing law; however, like most things, some days are better than others.
Some practical advice is to not only join the Washtenaw County Bar Association but get involved with a committee or volunteer for a project. It’s a great way to meet people with a common interest and you can call almost any member to ask a question. We truly have a great bar organization. When I was President of the WCBA we started Bias Awareness Week and it’s more important now than ever today.

What do you do outside of the law? Since four of our grandsons live locally, we’re really involved in their activities. Pre-COVID we were traveling and we hope to resume that soon. I’ve always enjoyed fitness: running, biking and weight lifting. I’m terrible at golf, but that’s on my bucket list. I like to read but I believe the heavy use of my iPad is limiting my attention span! I think the Ann Arbor area is a great place to live and there is always a lot to do.

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Reprinted with permission from the Washtenaw County Bar Association’s newsletter, Res Ipsa Loquitur


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