John P. Jacobs
Past President Questionnaire
1. What do you remember most about your MDTC Presidency?
In my year, I was privileged to be in the role of leading a temporarily successful, pitched battle in defeating the then brand new, insurance company billing protocols with published and authored ethics opinions based on the Unlimited Duty of Defense Clauses found in most insurance policies. Alas, this wisdom could not hold as economic forces compelled many defense firms to break ranks as a matter of inexorable necessity.
That same year, as MDTC President and as Counsel, I was proud to have conducted the Michigan Supreme Court argument (with Chris Oldani) on Atlanta v Bell which ruled in part that the defense lawyer owes an exclusive ethical duty of loyalty to the insured who is the ONLY client—this is now the rule followed by the American Law Institute and another dozen jurisdictions.
Finally, because I just hated the adulation and fawning that some Judges and lawyers heaped upon financially successful troglodytes whose appalling, Ramboesque trial tactics, winning at the trial level but reversed on appeal, made ethicists shudder. In my year, I planned and initiated the Respected Advocate Award to honor the Plaintiff’s side Advocates who achieved excellent courtroom results the Right Way. This Award was first bestowed on the most brilliant, honest and likeable Plaintiff’s Side Lawyer of them all, George Googasian. The Plaintiff’s Bar, to its great credit, picked up my challenge and also picked a Defense Lawyer to likewise honor. A worthy tradition was thence borne.
2. Which past president(s) influenced you the most or made the biggest impact on your involvement in MDTC?
First, there would not have been an MDTC if Jim Kohl hadn’t invented the thing in the first place and hoodwinked Robert Rutt—then very belatedly in the loveable stage of his later life—to become the First President. And unlike most Trial Lawyer Organizations, Jim made this Appellate Lawyer feel very welcome. I was proud when Jim described me as a “Trial Lawyer With Books”.
Second, Jim Lozier was the most fearless President I ever met. I loved him and his-roaring-not-a-shred-of-guile-metier. No Trial Lawyer in my experience has more heart.
3. What have you enjoyed most about your involvement in MDTC?
The dozens of camaraderie and social interactions springing up ubiquitously from MDTC have been a 35 year blessing and a lifetime gift, sometimes both at once.
4. What are you doing now?
I am still full throttle in the practice of Appellate Law on the Defense Side, exclusively.