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April 2021

Being a Counselor to Your Client: Recognizing Mental Health and Referring to Treatment

Mental helath

On March 18, 2021, the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section and the Ingham County Bar Association partnered to host, “Being a Counselor to Your Client: Recognizing Mental Health and Referring to Treatment” via Zoom. As an attorney, our job is often to research the law, advise the client regarding the law, and advocate on behalf of the client. In some practice areas, however, getting the best positive outcome under the law requires that we also counsel the client on areas to improve their life and the outcomes in the case. Particularly in cases involving criminal charges or family law, addressing an existing mental health disorder or substance use disorder may make a critical difference in the case, but also in the client’s life.

Presenting via Zoom on March 18, 2021 was Ms. Debra Willard. Ms. Willard is a supervisor within Adult Mental Health Services of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Community Mental Health. She presented on common mental health conditions and the symptoms associated with such as well as discussed how to refer clients to services. As a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Ms. Willard was able to describe common symptoms for common mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar, anxiety disorders, thought disorders, and substance use disorders. Ms. Willard shared the accepted consent form that is accepted for mental health treatment and discussed what steps a client should take if they have private insurance or whether they have insurance through a public program. She also discussed the different levels of care that exist within the adult mental health system and answered the questions of participants.

It was an excellent program and presentation and has been recorded for future viewing.To view the program in its entirety, please click here:

Important Disclaimer: None of the information contained within establishes a patient-client or attorney-client privilege and is intended for educational purposes for attorneys only. As a reminder, attorneys are not licensed mental health professionals and attorneys should refer clients to competent mental health professionals to address mental health and substance abuse problems.

Christopher Wickman

Nichols Law Firm

East Lansing

Deontology - Part II


"But now, I've come to the conclusion that the "dynamite behind the door" was in plain sight. It was trump himself. The oversized personality." - Bob Woodward in his book, Rage

I beg your pardon. This inquiry is directed to me regarding the legality and underlying intent of Donald Trump's wave of 41 Presidential Pardons to people adjudicated guilty of egregious crimes. In addition, Trump skirted the formal Justice Department process for pardons. The bigger question is Donald Trump guilty of obstruction of justice? I have to provide a lawyer-like answer - maybe or maybe not. Obstruction of justice is any willfull interference with the orderly administration of law and justice.

Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of justice is a possibility if Trump premised the pardons with the intent and understanding with the recipients not to testify against him for alleged criminal conduct. Ironically, Attorney Michael Cohen has not received a pardon. Did Michael Cohen, a convicted felon act on his own or at the direction and for the benefit of Donald Trump?

Civil RICO

It appears that the predicate acts of Michael Cohen and others performed in agreement constitutes a conspiracy. If so, we may have a criminal and civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case. The civil racketeering provisions of RICO involve three main sections of the statute: section 1961 provides the definitions, section 1962 describes the prohibited conduct and section 1964 (c) which creates the civil RICO cause of action. To determine who may bring suit under RICO has been liberally construed to include not only people, partnerships, corporations but also domestic state governmental units. See County of Oakland v. City of Detroit, 866 F. 2d 839 (6th Cir. 1989).

A showing of injury for a civil RICO claim requires proximate cause and proof of a concrete financial loss to the plaintiff's business or property. Money is a form of property. See Reiter v Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 332 (1979); Canyon County v Syngenta Seeds, Inc, 519 F. 3d 969, 976 (9th Cir.) cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 458 (2008). Can Trump's conduct affecting millions of people, businesses and domestic governmental units satisfy a concrete financial loss and standing to sue.?


The answer to these questions can be gleaned from my article, Civil RICO: A Tool of Advocacy, New York State Bar Association Journal, Nov/Dec 2016, Pgs. 11-14 and my link to published articles

James A. Johnson



Beating Zoom Fatigue

Zoom Fatigue

Probably by now it is safe to say, we’re all getting “Zoomed out.” So in the spirit of last week’s blurb, here are eight quick and simple ideas for beating Zoom fatigue.

  1. Make at least one day a week a “Zoom-free” zone. You say you are already taking one day off? Look to the second tip.
  2. Set up time blocks (every day) that are Zoom free. Take a walk instead. Play with your dog. Do yoga. BUT set time aside daily that are completely off limits for virtual interfacing.
  3. Meetings. Shorter. Everysingleone. One of our conscious goals when virtually meeting is to be efficient and engaged. This is good for our own personal wellbeing as well as our colleagues. By being mindful of the time we spend on Zoom, we can try to cut down how much we actually need to spend on virtual interfacing.
  4. Say no. It seems these days there is a video call for almost everything. And in so many ways, these are great opportunities. The trouble is, we often feel we have to be at everything all at once. So, learn to say no to less valuable Zooming.
  5. Take breaks during longer meetings or between virtual meetings. Some people spend 12 hours a day at their kitchen table with very little movement. Let’s mix it up and get some steps in around the house (or neighborhood).
  6. Minimize multitasking. We have become very accustomed to attending virtual meetings and doing about ten other things at once. While it may sound counterintuitive, stopping the multitasking may actually Remembering to stay engaged and present helps us focus better and to pay closer attention to the event at hand.
  7. Change your location. If you’re one of those folks who ends up spending 12 hours a day at your kitchen table, mix it up a bit. Take your laptop to another room in the house. Take it outside to the patio. The change of scenery may be a refreshing transition.
  8. Switch up your views. For some meetings, keep gallery on, others simply focus on the speaker. Turn your video off when appropriate. By switching up the views for different meetings/events can provide different dimensions to otherwise very similar meetings.

Please feel free to share additional ideas you found helpful. Happy (less) Zooming.

Kristina Bilowus

Michigan State University College of Law

East Lansing