MAJ Annual Convention


The Westin Book Cadillac, Detroit
May 11 - 12, 2018


TRIAL ADVOCACY TRACK - Moderator Steven Gursten, Farmington Hills

9:00 am - Zichichi v. Mull: Strategies to Save Cases if the Auto Threshold Law Changes Again - Steve Gursten

Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation's top attorneys handling serious auto accident injury and wrongful death cases, and No-Fault insurance litigation. He is head of Michigan Auto Law, the state's largest firm handling car accident, truck accident, and motorcycle accident cases for more than 50 years. 

9:30 am - Winning with the Logical Core Truth of a Case - Michael Leizerman, Ohio

Michael Leizerman is the managing partner at Leizerman & Associates, a law firm that handles truck accident litigation across the United States. Michael works with clients and other attorneys across the country to help them make sure that every driver log is reviewed, all blackbox data is downloaded, and that he has performed a thorough review of all safety aspects of a truck company in his client's truck accident case. Michael speaks regularly to other attorneys to educate them about trucking laws and regulations. 

10:30 am - Networking Break (sponsored by Rosenfeld Insurance Agency) & Silent Auction

10:45 am - Winning Trials Through Focus Groups - Ken Levinson, Illinois

Ken Levinson is the founding partner of Levinson and Stefani, a Chicago firm concentrating in representing families in wrongful death and serious injury matters. He co-authored the current edition of Litigating Major Automobile Injury and Death Cases.

11:45 am - How to Talk to Conservative Jurors - Paul Byrd, Arkansas

Paul Byrd has been representing deserving injured victims for 25 years. His practice has has focused on civil litigation with an emphasis on representing consumers in product liability actions. He has tried tire failures and vehicle safety litigation in many states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

12:45 pm - Lunch featuring Arthur Bryant, Public Justice

Arthur Bryant is the Chairman of Public Justice, the only national public interest law firm in America created by trial lawyers. He and Public Justice use cutting-edge litigation to fight for consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, civil rights and liberties, environmental protection, the poor and the powerless, and access to justice for all. 

12:45 pm - (MAJ Women's Caucus Lunch, sponsored by Saponaro, Inc. and Fagan McManus will be held concurrently)

1:30 pm - Cross Examination of the Defense Medical Examiner - Turning the Tide - John Romano, Florida

John Romano has successfully litigated to a verdict nearly every type of civil and criminal case, including those involving failure to diagnose cancer, product defects, drug and vaccine defect litigation, vehicular collisions, personal injury, and wrongful denial of health insurance benefits. He lectures across America, has authored three textbooks, and has published more than 100 articles in national publications or papers for national presentation.

2:30 pm - Networking Break & Silent Auction

2:45 pm - Full Compensation for the Very Old and the Very Young - Jason Studinski, Wisconsin

Jason Studinski is recognized as an authority on nursing home abuse and neglect cases, having written several articles and lecturing across the U.S. and Canada about this and other legal issues. He authored the book, How to Keep Your Loved One Safe in a Wisconsin Nursing Home. 

3:45 pm - Winning Direct Examinations - Margaret Battersby Black, Illinois

Margaret Battersby Black is a partner at Levin & Perconti in Chicago. She has acheived a number of noteworthy results for clients in all types of personal injury and malpractice matters. Margaret is well-known for her work on behalf of individuals and families in lawsuiits involving nursing home abuse and negligence. She takes interest in mentoring law students and has spoken at several law schools about her experiences. 

4:45 pm - Business Meeting & Happy Hour

5:00 pm - Opening Party

SATURDAY, MAY 12 - Simultaneous Tracks

8:30 am - Registration & Exhibits

TECHNOLOGY TRACK - Moderator - MAJ Secretary Donna MacKenzie, Berkley

9:00 am - 12:15 pm - iPads in Litigation in 2018 and Beyond - Tad Thomas, Kentucky, AAJ Parliamentarian

Tad Thomas is the founding partner of Thomas Law Offices in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a nationally-recognized lecturer and has conducted seminars across the country on legal technology, social media, depositions and ethics. 

EMPLOYMENT/CIVIL RIGHTS TRACK - Moderator - MAJ President-Elect Debra Freid, Saginaw

9:00 am - Wage and Hour Law - Jennifer McManus and Jason Thompson 

Jennifer McManus of Fagan McManus in Royal Oak exclusively represents plaintiffs in employment related disputes. Her clients include employees from all fields, including whistleblowers, executives, managers, fast-food workers, clerical staff and medical assistants, and her areas of representation range from medical leave, sexual harassment, and all forms of discrimination including gender, race, age and disability to wage theft, overtime and collective action cases.

Jason Thompson of Sommers Schartz in Southfield represents clients in class action and multidistrict litigation involving consumer protection, employment rights, and mass tort cases in federal and state courts throughout the U.S.  He also teaches a course on class actions and MDL litigation as an Adjunct Professor at Michigan State University College of Law. 

9:45 am - Navigating Clients Through the Unemployment Process Following the UIA Fraud Revelations - Rachael Kohl, Ann Arbor

Professor Rachael Kohl is a clinical teaching fellow in the University of Michigan Law School's Unemployment Insurance Clinic. Prior to joining the Law School faculty, Professor Kohl was an attorney with the civil rights and employment law firm of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers, PC in Royal Oak. She worked on a variety of cases, including the firm's ongoing class action lawsuits against Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency. 

10:30 am - Advancing the Civil Rights of the LGBT Community - Sam Bagenstos, Ann Arbor

Professor Sam Bagenstos, the Frank G. Millard Professor of Law, specializes in constitutional and civil rights litigation. From 2009 to 2011, he was a political appointee in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, the No. 2 official in the Civil Rights Division. He has published articles in journals such as the Yale Law Journal, and has published two books: Law and the Contradictions of the Disability Rights Movement and Disability Rights Law: Cases and Materials.

11:30 am - A View from the Bench - Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, Ingham County Circuit Court

Judge Aquilina was elected to the 30th Circuit Court for Ingham County in November, 2008. In January of 2018, Judge Aquilina presided over the USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sex abuse scandal case. She was the first female JAG Officer in the Michigan Army National Guard and is an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School where she teaches classes including: Family Law, Advanced Trial Practice-Family Law, Defending Battered Women, and Child Abuse and Neglect. 


  • Keynote Speaker - Candidate for Governor, Gretchen Whitmer
  • Champion of Justice - MAJ Past-President Michael Pitt
  • Judicial Excellence Award - Justice Bridget Mary McCormack
  • A Toast Posthumously Honoring to MAJ Past-President The Honorable Richard M. "Dick" Skutt

Presented by the MAJ New Lawyers Division Featuring Live Music From The Band SpaceCat