Senior Lawyers Section dead; long live the Master Lawyers Section

The last meeting of the Senior Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan took place this morning, but it wasn’t a wake by any means.

Rather, the group members were all smiles as they looked ahead to making a giant leap as charter members of the newly formed Master Lawyers Section.

It really wasn’t much of an actual leap; all the group had to do was walk from their meeting room — at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, site of the annual SBM meeting — to the one right next to it, where the Master Lawyers Section would be recognized by newly inaugurated State Bar President W. Anthony Jenkins.

But as section chair Edgar W. Pugh Jr. explained to the quorum, the new section would be a prototype for the ABA and statewide bar associations to follow.

“We’re at the groundswell start of it,” he said of Master Lawyers.

The section is made up of all Bar members who are age 60 and older or have been members for 30 years or longer. It was spearheaded by Ronald D. Keefe of Marquette — who, as 2007-08 president of the State Bar, launched planning efforts for the section — and Grosse Pointe Woods attorney Gregory L. Ulrich.

Pugh, a Bloomfield Hills-based estate planning attorney, said that committees will be formed throughout the year, as the section needs to figure out what to do for the legal and public communities. (The section’s post-meeting presentation on pro bono work certainly offered strong food for thought.)

As well, he said, The Mentor, which is the section’s newsletter, will touch on topics that more seasoned attorneys will need to know, such as how to handle Medicare issues and changing a firm’s policy for health insurance, as well as retirement options.

Because Pugh is the final Senior Lawyers Section chair and the inaugural Master Lawyers Section chair, a shirt was presented to him noting the former designation on the back and the latter on the front.

But when the other members were transitioned in as officers, John M. Barr received distinction: as past president of the old section, he was named past president of the new one, too.

Hmm — half the work and twice the credit? Nice work if you can get it.

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