Monday Profile: Michael Burns


Michael Burns is executive vice president of the American Society of Employers, and president of HR Management Group, Inc and its subsidiary, ASE Professional Staff Management in Livonia. He has been an adviser on human resource and employment law since joining ASE in 1983.

Burns is a licensed attorney and private investigator in the State of Michigan. His areas of specialization include employment law, policy, affirmative action, compensation and equal employment opportunities.

He received his Juris Doctor degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1987 and a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University in 1982. He received his Certified Compensation Professional designation in 2008.

Burns served on the Southeastern Michigan Industry Liaison Group Planning Committee since it was reorganized in the early 1990s, and was its Chairperson in 1999. 

He and his wife have three daughters.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

What’s a typical day? I like to take advantage of “morning energy,” so I get in the office about 7:15 to 7:30 a.m., and for the next hour or so review human resource, legal, legislative and other developments that come our way each day.

Which part of your job most excites you?
I enjoy the business development side as well as the human resources consulting and counseling work ASE does for our members.

What would surprise people about your job? That it impacts so many employers. Associations as a rule do impact more persons than if a business engaged with one company or client at a time. Associations, if actively engaged with their members, are addressing policy and practice issues and situations many times per day and in turn all employees in those members.

What is your most treasured material possession? My spouse would say my golf clubs. But possessions are not as important as the memories and experiences that I can bring up. And though not material, are treasured.

Favorite local hangouts: There are many favorites but they all depend on who is there with me.

What is the most exciting thing about your personal life today? My oldest daughter announced her engagement recently so we have a wedding in our future. My middle daughter will be graduating from U-M next spring and my youngest daughter will be graduating from Marian High School next spring. There are many great events to look forward to.

What’s most exciting in your professional life right now?
Working with a lot of employers to get them in compliance on the Fair Labor Standards Act changes and also employee handbooks are being revised due to changes wrought by the National Labor Relations Board.

What are you better at than everyone else you know? 
I spend a couple of hours a day just keeping up on changes to employment and labor law and regulation. The employment environment is so complex that I would not want to claim any special status in the arena of employment compliance. That said, I have had to stay ahead of things surrounding employee handbook update and development and FLSA compliance due to instructing a new class on it that ASE offers.

What do you wish someone would invent?
A better golf putter.

If you weren’t an attorney, what would you be doing? I think I would be picking stocks.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? Off Cozumel, Mexico, the Santa Rosa Wall: 100-plus feet down under the ocean, crystal clear water, looking into a dark 5000-foot abyss.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
As an in-house counsel to an ASE there are not really “home runs” such as a big case win. But there are daily satisfactions in providing solid advice and counsel that are good “singles and “doubles” that add up.

What’s your favorite charity, and why?
My daughter’s high school, Marian High School. They teach strength and discipline along with a good education. The high school next door is Brother Rice, my alma mater. They get all the money.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
  Golf pro.

How would your fifth grade teacher describe you?
She was a strict Catholic nun. I do not want to know how she would describe me.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do? Re-learn (correctly) how to play the piano.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I used to surf and I love watching surfers ride.