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Julie I. Fershtman

T 248.785.4731
T 248.785.4731
F 248.538.2093


A practitioner for 38 years, Julie Fershtman represents clients in a broad range of business, contract, personal injury, and insurance coverage litigation pertaining to several industries. Her clients range from major insurance companies and businesses to individuals. Her work includes trials, arbitrations/ADR and appeals. Julie previously served on the firm's Executive Committee as former Vice President of the Southeast offices.

Additionally, she is widely considered one of the nation's leading practitioners in equine law. She has handled matters for a national clientele involving contract disputes, fraud, association liability, partnership disputes, and personal injury liability. She has also helped draft and advocate for legislation impacting the industry.

She has achieved numerous courtroom victories and successfully tried cases before juries in four states. Clients have retained her to serve as pro hac vice (specially admitted out-of-state) counsel in state and federal courts in Florida, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

In addition to her law practice, Julie is active in bar associations. She was the 77th President of the State Bar of Michigan, a 45,000-member mandatory bar, and was only the fifth woman in the bar’s history to be elected to this role. The State Bar appointed her to serve on the ABA House of Delegates, representing Michigan. She is well-known to judges and lawyers across Michigan through her bar leadership and her co-chair work in 2015 and 2016 for the State Bar of Michigan’s 21st Century Practice Task Force. She is Vice President of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, past Director of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society and a fellow of the American, Michigan, Oakland County and Detroit bar foundations. Fellow membership is typically reserved to approximately 1 percent of lawyers.

A frequent author on legal issues, she has written more than 400 published articles, eight ABA law journal articles (co-authored), two blogs, and four books. The ABA published her last two books. Her latest book, Equine Law and Horse Sense, received four national book awards since its publication in 2019, including a “First Place” in the NYC Big Book Awards, and a “Silver” Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association.

A highly sought-after national speaker in 29 states, her topics cover issues involving law, liability, agribusiness, insurance, equine law, and risk management. Her speaking engagements include a law school commencement address, panels at three ABA Annual Meetings, conferences of the International Risk Management Institute, Property & Liability Resource Bureau National Claims Conferences in three states, as well as conferences of the State Bar of Michigan, New York State Bar Association, Kentucky Bar Association, and Washington State Bar Association.

Honors & Recognitions

Legal Ratings:

AV® Preeminent™ (5.0/5) Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory

Best Lawyers in America® 2013-2024 for Commercial Litigation, Insurance Law

Michigan Super Lawyers, ® Civil Litigation Defense, 2008-2023

“Top 50 Women Lawyers,” Michigan Super Lawyers, ® 2013-2023

"Top 100 Michigan Lawyers," Michigan Super Lawyers, ® 2019-2023

Michigan Leading Lawyer by the Leading Lawyers Network, 2014-2024

"10.0/10 - Superb" (highest rating) by avvo.com

"Top Lawyer," in Insurance Law, DBusiness Magazine 2009, 2010, 2015-2018, 2020-2024

Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America (2014 - )

America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®, 2023, 2024


Michigan Lawyers’ Hall of Fame,” Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2024.

“Notable Woman in Law,” Crain's Detroit Business, 2024

"Woman of the Year" Award in the Michigan Legal Profession, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2016

"Roberts P. Hudson" Award, State Bar of Michigan, 2018

"Jean L. King Leadership Award," Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, 2018

"Notable Women Lawyers in Michigan," Crain's Detroit Business 2017

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award," American Bar Association: TIPS Section, 2017

Michael Franck Award - State Bar of Michigan, 2014

"Respect for Law Award," Bloomfield Hills Optimist Club, 2012

"Michigan Top Lawyer (Insurance Law)", Dbusiness Magazine, 2009-2010, 2015-2018, 2021-2024

"Top 15 Women to Watch," Crain's Detroit Business, 2010

"Leader in the Law," Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2010

"Woman in the Law," Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2016

Inforum “Inner Circle” Award, 2010

"Metro Detroit's Most Influential Women," Crain's Detroit Business, 2007

"Professionalism Award," Oakland County Bar Association, 2000

"40 [Outstanding Business Leaders] Under 40," Crain's Detroit Business, 1996

"21 Young Lawyers Leading Us into the 21st Century," ABA Barrister Magazine, 1995

Industry Honors:

First Place, 2020 NYC Big Book Awards, Reference Book Category

First Place, American Horse Publications 2020 Equine Media Awards, Non-Fiction Book Category

Silver Award, 2020 Independent Book Publishers Association Book Awards, Pet Category

Finalist Medal, 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Animal/Pet Category

"Distinguished Service Award," American Youth Horse Council, 2013

"Equine Industry Service Award," Michigan Equine Partnership, 2013

"Partner in Safety" Award," American Riding Instructors Association, 2007

"Catalyst Award," Michigan Horse Council, 2002

"Outstanding Achievement Award," American Riding Instructors Association, 1998

"Associate Service Award," United Professional Horseman's Association, 1998

"National Partnership in Safety Award," Certified Horsemanship Association, 1997


Memberships & Affiliations

Legal Affiliations:

  • American Bar Association
    • Michigan Delegate, ABA House of Delegates, 2010-2012; 2019-2023
    • Vice-Chair, ABA-TIPS Animal Law Committee, 2005-2014
  • American Bar Foundation, Life Fellow
  • State Bar of Michigan
    • President, 2011-2012
    • 21st Century Practice Task Force, Co-Chair, 2015-2016
    • Task Force on State Bar Scope of Operation, Structure, and Governance (2019-2020)
    • Chair, Representative Assembly (final policy-making body), 2001-2002
    • Chair, Young Lawyers Section, 1995-1996
    • Board of Commissioners, 1994-1997, 1999-2002, 2003-2012
  • Michigan State Bar Foundation
    • Board of Trustees 2003-present
      • Vice President, 2022-Present
      • Secretary, 2021-2022
    • Fellow
  • Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, Board of Directors, 2015-2024
  • Oakland County Bar Association
  • Oakland County Circuit Court Co-Ombudsperson, 2020-Present
    • Board of Directors, 2001-2008
    • Secretary, 2007-2008
    • Professionalism Committee 1995-2002, Chair, 1998-1999
    • Inns of Court Committee, Secretary/Barrister, 1995-1999
  • Oakland County Bar Foundation, Life Fellow
  • Detroit Bar Foundation, Life Fellow

Community Activities:

  • Advisory Board, American Riding Instructors Association, 1998-present
  • Advisory Board, Equine Land Conservation Resource, 2008 – present
  • Director, American Youth Horse Council, 2003-2007
  • Director, Equine Land Conservation Resource, 2004-2007
  • Commissioner, Franklin Village Planning Commission, 1993-1995
  • Appointee, Franklin Village Charter Committee, 1993-1994


Representative Matters

Business Litigation

  • Won a product liability/UCC/negligence case for a product retailer client, resulting in dismissal of all claims. Won appeal of case.
  • Representing a plaintiff in the trial of a sales fraud/Uniform Commercial Code/Deceptive Trade Practice case, won on all counts and won 100% attorney fee award for clients.

General Liability

  • Won summary judgment on behalf of transportation and delivery contractors who were sued for wrongful death after explosion at delivery site, dismissing all claims against them.
  • Defended a foster care placement agency in a wrongful death case, securing dismissal of all claims against it in State court as well as subsequent Federal court proceedings.
  • Won bench trial and secured dismissal of lawsuit against premises owner and its security staff involving claims of serious injuries to patron.

Real Estate Litigation

  • Co-counsel at trial on adverse possession/quiet title lawsuit, resulting in a ruling in clients' favor.
  • Counsel for historic building owner and manager in adverse possession, acquiescence lawsuit.

Agribusiness and Equine Industries

  • Representing a national crop insurer, won an arbitration proceeding on a crop loss claim.
  • Won a unanimous defense (no cause) verdict in equine liability case in Illinois after four-day jury trial.
  • Won a directed verdict at trial in favor of defendant farm owner in defense of a personal injury case arising out of serious injuries sustained from a runaway horse.
  • Successfully represented plaintiff in a nine-day trial for breach of contract against non-paying buyer and defeating buyer’s counterclaim asserting defamation.
  • Obtained multiple summary judgment rulings in favor of equestrian facilities, horse rental stables, and equine professionals and won subsequent appeals at the Michigan Court of Appeals.
  • Defending sporting and recreational business operators, stables, equine industry professionals and stables, secured numerous summary judgment rulings, which resulted in dismissal of all claims.
  • Represented horse buyer in litigation against sales agent involving fraud, secret commissions, and breaches of fiduciary duty.

Agribusiness and Equine Industry Transactional Work

  • Drafted several hundred contracts involving equine industry transactions, including sales agreements, leases, boarding agreements, and waivers.
  • Drafted a seven-figure sale contract involving the sale of a major champion stallion with retained breeding rights to seller.
  • Drafted breeding contracts involving champion show horses addressing a variety of reproduction technologies.
  • Served as counsel for the Michigan HBPA and for Michigan’s largest equine breed association.


  • Secured summary judgment rulings for insurers in defense of complex first-party property insurance coverage cases in State and Federal Illinois, Arizona, and Michigan courts.
  • Won directed verdict for insurer at jury trial in defense of first-party insurance coverage case in Ohio.


  • Won several appeals in the Michigan Court of Appeals and briefed two cases in the Michigan Supreme Court.



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Emory Law School, J.D. 1986

Emory College, B.A. 1983

Bar and Court Admissions

State Bar of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Pro hac vice bar admissions on cases in 20 jurisdictions