Friday, April 18, 2014

Affirmative Action and the U of M - the debate continues

A long-time opponent of the use of affirmative action in college admissions is challenging a black Detroit student to a public debate.

Article here. 

Jennifer Gratz, who sued the University of Michigan and helped lead a successful drive to get Michigan voters to ban the use of the affirmative action, in a news release Thursday issued the challenge to University Preparatory Academy senior Brooke Kimbrough.


The issue of race is boiling at U-M. It is the centerpiece of a second Supreme Court case looking at the constitutionality of Michigan’s ban on the use of race in admissions. That decision is likely to come this spring. The school’s Black Student Union has been protesting the lack of minority students on campus and has been meeting all winter with administrators about the issue. The two sides recently announced a series of agreements the student group called small victories.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

State Bar of Michigan seeks membership applications for committee service

Assist your State Bar by being active in a committee! Applications are due by April 25, 2014.

This link has applications & committee lists. I applied for a committee, hopefully I will get on it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What does "the new normal" mean to current legal scholarship?

Law schools, and the legal profession, are wondering how to adjust since law school enrollment is steeply declining. There's definitely been a period of adjustment since 2009/10, when enrollment was at its recent high. Law schools are cutting costs by asking faculty to retire, or offering merit-based tuition, and in rare cases, cutting tuition amounts.

But what does this all mean for the current quality of legal scholarship? This article explains more.  (via TaxProf blog).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Choosing a family law attorney, Part Three

Part Three 

Welcome back. In Part One, ways to search for your family law attorney were covered. Part Two addressed phone contact with your potential attorney. Part Three will cover what to expect in the in-person consultation.

Frequently asked questions: 

1. Should I bring anyone with me? What about things I should bring with me?
A: It depends. Some attorneys would prefer if you attend the appointment alone. There are reasons for this: for example, you will feel less embarrassed discussing personal details. And, any conversation with your attorney is privileged, but once a third party joins that conversation, where's the client's confidentiality?
However, if you feel you need moral support to go into the consultation, or that you are likely to forget things the attorney talked about, bringing another person might be a good idea.

As far as things to bring: any thing that has been filed with the court so far, if anything. And anything your attorney requests you to bring (tax statements, for example).

2. What kinds of questions should I ask? 
Feel free to ask anything you would like of your attorney about your situation. If your attorney brushes past your questions, ask yourself if you feel that your concerns will be treated with the importance they deserve or not. After all, the consultation is a decision for both you and the attorney- to decide whether you will continue this relationship.  If it feels as if your attorney is trying to offer you a "one-size-fits-all" case, don't continue after the consultation.

3.What kinds of topics will we cover? Why is this so personal?
Anything that affected your married life, and more, will be covered. The reason is because the court will have to make decisions on some of them as your case progresses

For example:
Topic:                                                                     Reason:
When were your children born?                              Eligibility for Child Support
How much is your house worth?                             If it is considered marital property, it will be divided
Where do you and your spouse work                     Which spouse might be ordered to pay support
       and how much do you earn?

4. What happens next? 
That depends on your situation. If you're just starting a divorce, initial filing with the county court where you live will be next. If you're already somewhere past the initial filing, a motion might be next to decide some of the open issues in your case.This is where the rubber hits the road, and your attorney gives you legal advice about your options in your current situation.

There are a lot of online resources about family law in various states. Some of them will not apply to your situation, so as with so many things you read online, take them with a grain of salt. If you still have questions about your situation, call your attorney again to ask.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Does Michigan's Right-To-Work law apply to State Bar Membership? Hearing Scheduled

The Task Force on the Role of the State Bar of Michigan will hold a public hearing regarding the Task Force’s charge described in Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 2014-5.

The hearing will be held Friday, May 2, 2014 at the Michigan Hall of Justice, 925 West Ottawa Street in Lansing, beginning at 9:30.

Article here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Legal Technology: What a solo law practice needs

What does a solo law practice need, in terms of technology?

Read this article for one lawyer's opinion (via the Lawyerist). It's a fairly complete list, and covers a lot of law-specific technology needs

My office set up ideally has: 2 cell phones (I have one for work and one for non-work); a printer, a wireless connection, a laptop, some spreadsheets (I am trying to move to Quicken but haven't yet), some specific software (I bought Marginsoft's "Support 2014" to calculate child support & spousal support), and (eek!) some notebooks for tracking my time (not recommended, I know.)

Choosing a family law attorney, Part Two

In Part One, we discussed ways of getting information on attorneys. Part Two will talk about the initial phone contact with the potential lawyer's offices.

Frequently asked questions: 
1. Who answers the phone and how do they answer it? 
A: Many attorneys do not answer their own phones. His or her schedule won't permit it perhaps, or the attorney prefers to have a gate keeper between himself or herself and the general public. Either way, you are a potential paying client, so you should feel welcomed, and not that you're an intrusion on otherwise valuable time. It's possible that you will have to leave a voice mail. If so, make sure you state whether the attorney can call you back, or not.

2. What kinds of questions should I ask? What kinds of questions should I be ready to answer?
A: Be prepared with a list of questions about your specific situation. For example, "I am thinking about filing for divorce, and I have three minor children." Or: "My ex-girlfriend left the state with our child, can I start a custody hearing?" Be specific, as the attorney can only answer what they are aware of. Don't be afraid to ask about costs.

If you have a specific date coming up, make sure you mention that, or it may not be addressed. For example, "I just left a custody hearing this morning, and the judge said to come back for an evidentiary hearing . . . "

Remember, attorneys are smart, not psychic! And it's entirely possible that some of your questions will need more time before they can be answered. This is why there is no "one-size-fits-all" divorces.

On the other hand, try to answer any questions that are asked. My office has a list of questions used for when a potential new client calls, so that I am aware of what next steps need to be taken for that case. We will always ask where you live, how long you've been married, and the ages of the children.

3. Scheduling the initial appointment and other matters.
It's possible that you'll be scheduled for either a phone consultation, or an in-office consultation. I prefer in-office consultations. I feel that it's easier, less rushed than a phone call, and allows the potential client (and attorney) feel more at ease with one another.

Please consider where your attorney is located, your own location, and the courthouse you'll be using. If you plan on making your attorney drive long distances, that's fine, but that might impact your cost overall.

4. The appointment is scheduled, now what?
It's possible the attorney will mail you information to fill out, or have you fill it out in the consultation. This information will help them start your case, and give you some legal answers. Either way, keep your appointment, or call to reschedule it if necessary.

Set aside enough time to drive to the appointment, depending on the time of day.

Bring any necessary documents with you, for example, anything you've received from the court, or that you feel will help the attorney to serve you better.

5. How much should I expect to pay?
A: This is a difficult question to answer. Attorneys have rules of professional ethics to guide them in setting fees. (MRPC 1.5)  That said, a basic retainer could range from $850 to $5000, depending on the complexity of the legal issues involved, the experience of the attorney, and the novelty of the legal issues involved (more complex or unique issues can take longer to be addressed).  And, the retainer may or may not cover your entire cost of the case, depending on how long it takes, and the nature of the parties involved (who will argue more over issues, you or your soon-to-be-ex?) Also, additional experts may be needed, from child psychologists to business valuation experts, depending on your situation.

Coming Next: Part Three: What to Expect in the Initial Consultation.