A practitioner for 37 years, Julie Fershtman represents clients in a broad range of business, personal injury, contract, 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, 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.
Books and Websites:
- Julie's personal website: http://www.fershtmanlaw.com
- Julie's State Bar President blog: http://www.sbmpres2012.com
- Equine Law Website and Blog: www.equinelaw.net and www.equinelawblog.com (Equine Law Blog)
- Author, Equine Law and Horse Sense, ABA Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781641054935.
- Contributor, The Road to Independence, ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, ABA Publishing, 2011. ISBN 978-1-61632-084-3.
- Co-author, co-editor, Litigating Animal Law Disputes: A Complete Guide for Lawyers, ABA Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-60442-001-02.
- Author, MORE Equine Law & Horse Sense, Horses & the Law Publishing, 2000, ISBN 0-9648430-1-3.
- Author, Equine Law & Horse Sense, Horses & the Law Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0-964-8430-0-5.
- Contributor, Marketing Success Stories, ABA Law Practice Management Section. ABA Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-57073-399-6.
- Contributor, Marketing Success Stories, Second Edition. ABA Law Practice Management Section. ABA Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-59031-251-1
- Contributor, American Bar Association Legal Guide for Dog Owners, ABA Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1-62722-915-9.
- Contributor, Horse Industry Handbook, American Youth Horse Council, 2008.
Honors & Recognitions
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, 2014-2023
"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
"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
Listed in Crain's Detroit Business "Notable Women Lawyers in Michigan," 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
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
- 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
- Board of Trustees 2003-present
- Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, Board of Directors, 2015-Present
- 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
- 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
- Won a product liability/negligence/UCC case for a product retailer client, resulting in dismissal of all claims. Won appeal of case.
- Won summary judgement on behalf of transportation and delivery contractors who were sued for wrongful death after explosion at delivery site.
- Representing plaintiff in sales fraud/Uniform Commercial Code/Deceptive Trade Practice trial, won on all counts and won 100% attorney fee award for clients.
- Co-counsel at trial on adverse possession/quiet title lawsuit, resulting in ruling in clients' favor.
- Defended wrongful death case, securing dismissal of all claims against clients in State court as well as related Federal court proceedings.
- Secured summary judgments for insurers in defense of complex first-party property insurance coverage cases in Illinois federal court.
- Obtained multiple summary judgment rulings in favor of equestrian facilities, horse rental stables, and equine professionals and won subsequent appeals to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
- Won a directed verdict in favor of a defendant in a jury trial in defense of a personal injury case.
- Won directed verdict for insurer at jury trial in defense of first-party insurance coverage case in Ohio.
- Won a unanimous defense (no cause) verdict in equine liability case in Illinois after four-day jury trial.
- Successfully representing plaintiff in a nine-day trial for breach of contract against non-paying buyer and defeating buyer’s counterclaim asserting defamation.
- Secured summary judgments for sporting and recreational business operators in personal injury cases.
- Won appeals in the Michigan Court of Appeals.
- Won bench trial defending premises owner against claims of intentional injuries to patron by security staff.
Recent Blog Posts
Equine Law Blog
- Review Your Liability Insurance on Insurance Awareness Day
- Latest Word on “Dangerous Land” Under State Equine Activity Liability Acts
- Common Characteristics of Equine Sale Disputes—And Ways to Avoid Them
- How Equine Professionals Can Avoid Payment Disputes and Handle Them Legally if They Occur
- Equine Event Liabilities – Plan Ahead
- Legal Ramifications of Providing Veterinary Advice Online
- Plan Ahead When Lending or Borrowing a Horse Trailer
- Our State Has No Equine Activity Liability Act – Are We Worse Off?
- Equine Health Maintenance Programs at the Boarding Stable – What’s Best?
- What’s the Problem with Verbal Contracts?
- Michigan Supreme Court Announces Seismic Shift in Premises Liability Cases, Insurance Regulatory News E-blast, August 2, 2023
- Liability Releases for Agritourism Activities – Don’t Fall Prey to Myths, Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, March 31, 2020
- Animal Law for Insurance Lawyers, American Bar Association: Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, February 4, 2020
- Equine Law and Horse Sense, American Bar Association (ABA), October 29, 2019
- The Art of Mentoring, DBusiness, February 2019
- Who Signs a Liability Release at Your Facility?, Riding Instructor Magazine: Spring 2019 issue, February 25, 2019
News & Events
- Disputes Involving Equine Leases and Avoiding Them, National Conference on Equine Law, May 1, 2024
- Hosting Events Off-Premises: Risk Management and Coverage Issues, IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference, March 13, 2024
- Liabilities When Horses or Livestock are in the Care of Insureds, IRMI Emmett J Vaughan Agribusiness Conference, March 12, 2024
- Enforceability of Liability Waivers/Releases in Sporting, Recreational, Farm, and “Agri-tainment” Activities, Agricultural Claims Association, February 21, 2024
- Livestock Mortality Insurance and Coverage Issues, Agricultural Claims Association, February 20, 2024
- Combatting Incivility with Civility, Oakland County Bar Association, November 9, 2023
- Fershtman Named to the 2024 DBusiness Magazine “Top Lawyer”, DBusiness, November 1, 2023
- Foster Swift Attorneys Named 2024 Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers in America, August 17, 2023
- 17 Attorneys Selected to 2023 Michigan Super Lawyers and “Rising Stars”, Michigan Super Lawyers, August 11, 2023
- Fershtman Elected Vice-President of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, Michigan State Bar Foundation, September 15, 2022
- Foster Swift Attorneys Named 2023 Best Lawyers in America©, Best Lawyers in America, August 18, 2022
- 21 Attorneys Selected to 2022 Michigan Super Lawyers and “Rising Stars”, Michigan Super Lawyers, August 12, 2022
- Insurance Awareness Day: Foster Swift Highlights Importance of Reviewing Your Coverages, Yahoo! News, June 28, 2022
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