By: Hilary A. Ballentine, Plunkett Cooney P.C.
The MDTC: A Place for Positivity
We have all heard the negative statistics: lawyers are at a greater risk of developing depression, show higher rates of alcohol and illicit drug use, and have an increased likelihood of divorce. The media has certainly grasped onto this, focusing its news reports on those few lawyers who have abused the system, rather than on the vast majority of lawyers who conduct themselves with integrity and according to the rules of law and ethics. This is unfortunate, as it leaves the public, and sometimes even ourselves, with a negative taste.
To counteract this negativity, we must make a concerted effort to increase positivity in our personal and professional lives. One might not automatically associate a legal organization as synonymous with positivity, but that is exactly what the MDTC is - a place for positivity in the legal profession.
The Dalai Lama has said that "in order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision." During my decade-long involvement with the MDTC, I have found this to be undeniably true. The MDTC is a forum for defense attorneys to share their legal experiences with one another, learn from other attorneys, and raise the professional and ethical bar - all in a positive environment. If you have been to an MDTC event before (if you haven't, please remedy this immediately!), you know that you are among colleagues who do not want to tear you down, but build you up. We may practice different types of law and have different approaches to handling cases, but we share a common positive vision: achieving excellence in civil litigation.
While much of the negativity we see on the news is fueled by unacceptance of differing viewpoints, the MDTC does not exist to cut down those on the opposite side of the "v." To the contrary, the MDTC recognizes, through its annual Respected Advocate Award, a member of the plaintiff's bar who has made a positive contribution to the legal profession through exemplary standards of legal and ethical practice. This year, the MDTC is pleased to announce that it has selected Jules B. Olsman of Olsman MacKenzie & Wallace as the Respected Advocate Award recipient. We congratulate Jules for his positive contributions to the bar.
Our annual events, both formal and informal, continue to foster this idea of positivity in the legal profession. At our bi-annual Meet the Judges Event, which will be held this year on October 6, 2016 in Novi, we invite members of both the bench and bar to come together to talk informally, share ideas, ask questions, and collectively discuss ways in which we can better the legal system in our state.
Our November 2016 winter meeting, which will focus on debunking reptilian trial tactics, is another prime example of how the MDTC is working to educate its membership in a positive forum.
Finally, the MDTC is unveiling, for the first time ever, its Legal Excellence Awards event which will be held at the Detroit Historical Society on March 9, 2017. This event will honor a judge, an experienced practitioner, and a young lawyer who has each made a positive contribution to the practice of law.
This concept of positivity is not synonymous with some Pollyannaish ideal. I am not saying that practicing law in Michigan is always a bed of roses. The never-ending billable hour, unreasonable client demands, and conflict with opposing counsel has no doubt left every one of us feeling negative at some point or another. But the point is not to let this negativity overshadow the positive impact we can have on the legal profession. We cannot eradicate all the nasty in the world; but we can take affirmative steps to make the legal system in Michigan a more fair, just, and positive one. And the MDTC is just the place for that.
I sincerely hope you will join us at our upcoming events this year. It is going to be a great year! I'm positive.