What’s in a name?

When Michigan Lawyers Weekly put together its last special “Bar Passers” section, our Cracker Jack editors combed through the list of the names of Michigan’s newest lawyers, looking for any obvious typographical errors or names that may be misspelled.

And one of the names on the list was one Samuel J. Bernstein. We wondered if this guy is related to the other Samuel Bernstein.

The younger Bernstein (pronounced “Bern-stine,” not “Bern-steen“) has known since he was in elementary school that he wanted to be a lawyer. So somewhere around the time he entered the fifth grade, he was often asked if he’s related to the personal-injury lawyer who has advertised his way into being a household name.

He’s not. But he might not have minded if he found out that there is some family connection, especially if it means he could go into the family business.

He’s drawn to the idea of working on personal-injury cases or medical malpractice, but will consider just about anything. The MSU Law School grad is staying busy and sharpening his skills by working as a solo guy for now. He’s helping friends and friends of friends to form LLCs and operating agreements, and answering questions about trademarks and logos.

All that’s just fine, but what he really wants, he said: “I want to find a job with a firm.”

He’s not sure if his recognizable name will work for him or against him. But he’s never considered trying to capitalize on it, nor has he ever considered changing it.

Though that would make things easier to market himself on the internet, as some newly minted professionals do. He could certainly set up a webpage, or launch a blog, but when he ran a Google search on his own name, the first 10 pages were occupied by the other better known Bernstein.

“Yeah,” he said casually. “That’s got to be a pretty common name.” Maybe it is. But among lawyers in Michigan, there are just two. And I do hope the younger will stay in touch and let us know where he lands. With a name like that, I’m hoping for something interesting.


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