Trading Suits for Suits

January 29 - February 2, 2016

at Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort



The Grand Rapids Bar Association presents its inaugural Destination CLE, intended to allow GRBA members to connect, learn, and discover the art of practicing law in West Michigan. 


Interactive sessions designed to share best practices, resources and ideas to improve your practice. Networking receptions, relationship-building and business development with GRBA judges and lawyers.


Eight sessions will provide useful information about areas of the law that impact your practice. Sessions are specifically tailored so that any GRBA member will gain value and insight from each speaker.


Lawyers and judges have commented for years that the practice of law in West Michigan is “different” in many positive ways. But has that changed? Hear from those who have mastered the art of practicing law in West Michigan and discover the secrets to keeping it a special place to practice. 


Seminar Registration

Register for the seminar using the link below.

  • Registration includes two half-day seminars (see the full schedule)
  • Hotel and travel accommodations may be secured after October 1. 
  • Seminar fees apply to members of the bench and bar only
    (guests not attending the seminar are not required to pay the registration fee)
  • By registering for this event, you agree to the Terms of Service 
  • Minimum number of registrants required, so register soon to show your interest and commitment to this new program



All-Inclusive Hotel Accommodations at Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort

Hotel accommodations may be reserved through Terri Nelson at Aspen Travel

(616) 785-9610 //

  • Family-friendly resort 
  • Rates ranging from $961 (for a 3-night deluxe room) to $1,377 (for a 4-night junior suite) for double occupancy rooms
  • Single, triple and quadruple occupancy room rates available for varying lengths of stay
    (contact Aspen Travel for more information)
  • Pricing does not include airfare

For questions or additional information, contact Terri Nelson at Aspen Travel

(616) 785-9610 //


 Day 1: Saturday, January 30, 2016

Session I:


Supreme Court Developments for the West Michigan Practitioner

Presented by the Hon. Christopher P. Yates, 17th Circuit Court & Janice Yates


Judge and Janice Yates will provide a practical and humorous overview of the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and how they impact the legal issues that routinely occur in West Michigan practice.


Session II:
9:00 - 9:45am

10 Best Ways to Get Sued for Malpractice

Presented by John Allen, Varnum


Round Table Discussion: Experts say that the best defense against ethical problems is a good offense. By looking out for potential conflicts and discussing them candidly with colleagues and clients, attorneys can avoid misunderstandings. They can also prevent hurt feelings and sticky situations that lead to hearings before ethics boards, lawsuits, loss of license or professional memberships, or even more dire consequences.


Session III:


Negotiation: Views From Both Sides of the Table

Presented by Tom McCarthy, Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge


This presentation will explore principles and techniques of negotiation from both plaintiff and defense perspectives. This presentation will also address the use of mediation as an important negotiation tool. 


Session IV:


Let History Repeat Itself: Why Civility and Collegiality Are Still Relevant For Effective Lawyering and Business Development

Presented by Bill Azkoul, Gruel, Mills, Nims & Pylman


Why does the history of the Grand Rapids bar matter for today's practice?  Trial lawyer Bill Azkoul will answer the question, and lead a roundtable discussion about the perennial topics of civility and collegiality, whether related to local practice or business development.


 Day 2: Sunday, January 31, 2016

Session I:


The Local Bench's Observations of Evidence Questions, Old and New

Presented by the Hon. George Jay Quist, 17th Circuit Court


Judge Quist will talk about his observations of changes to the Michigan Rules of Evidence and the thorny MRE issues that come up most often in the Kent County trail setting. Learn the details surrounding business records, medical charts, and hearsay testimony that you may be overlooking.


Session II:

9:00 - 9:45am

Social Media Discovery

Presented by Tom Behm, Gruel, Mills, Nims & Pylman & Sarah Riley Howard, Pinsky Smith Fayette & Kennedy, LLP


Understand the current state of the law in Michigan, and specifically in local courts, for advising clients on social media risk. Further, know what you can and cannot do to introduce those damning Facebook entries of the opposing party.


Session III:


The "Less Paper" Journey to a Small Firm Paperless Practice

Presented by Gary Springstead, Springstead & Bartish Law


Achieve "less paper" in your small firm with smart reliance on legal technology. Gary Springstead will talk about software programs, challenges associated with trading technology for the legal pad, and how to overcome them.


Session IV:


Medical Discovery: How to Get it, When to Get it, and What You Can and Can't Get

Presented by Dick Hillary, II, Miller Johnson


Round Table Discussion: Insightful information focusing on medical discovery. Learn what medical documentation is able to be discovered, how to ask for and obtain such information and what obstacles practitioners well face when seeking medical discovery. Share tips and workshop best practices concerning subpoenas, interrogatories, requests to produce, requests for admission, discovery motions, and more.




Seminar Topics

  • Supreme Court Update
  • Law Practice Management
  • Medical Discovery
  • Social Media
  • Evidence Update
  • Negotiations
  • Ethics
  • Bar History 

Quick Links 


Seminar Registration



All-Inclusive Hotel Accommodations

Ranging from $961 to $1,377