Julie I. Fershtman has over 36 years of experience in the practice of law. An Equity Shareholder with the full-service law firm Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC, she is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading Equine Law practitioners. For decades, she has successfully tried cases, handled lawsuits, counseled, and drafted contracts for her clients. No other lawyer anywhere has generated more educational material on the law for the equine industry. She has written over 450 articles and 4 books. She is author of the firm's Equine Law Blog (equinelawblog.com). She is also the industry's most in-demand speaker, with engagements in 29 states.
The practice. Crossing all horse breeds and disciplines, she serves a national** clientele of stables, trainers, professionals, associations, businesses, show management, insurers, clinicians, instructors, equestrian programs, breeders, veterinarians, farm owners, and individual horse owners.
Unmatched Equine Law expertise. She has achieved numerous courtroom victories. One year alone, for example, she won jury trials in 3 states, 2 state court appeals, and a major Federal insurance coverage case — all on equine-related matters. She also drafts equine industry contracts with the goal of helping her clients avoid legal disputes.
Types of equine-related matters handled. Some examples include: equine sale disputes and/or sales contract drafting, equine lease disputes and/or lease contract drafting, ownership disputes, stablemen's lien enforcement matters, collection of past-due fees, defamation (slander, libel), business and partnership disputes, personal injury liability (typically, defending equine professionals, associations, show management and horse owners when they have been sued or threatened with a lawsuit), real estate disputes, employment matters, insurance disputes (typically representing insurance companies), and many more. Further below are more examples.
National experience.** Litigation experience in more than 20 jurisdictions including Florida, Illinois (4 cases), Missouri (2 cases), Ohio (3 cases), Georgia, Arizona, Kentucky (2 cases), Connecticut (2 cases), South Carolina, Pennsylvania (2 cases), Tennessee. Jury trials in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Connecticut. Arbitrations in 2 states.
Background. Graduate of Emory College and Emory Law School. Her law practice also includes business litigation, contract disputes, insurance coverage, fraud litigation, liability defense, products liability, and more.
Industry involvement. Several years of service on equine industry committees and boards.
Leadership. Extensive bar association involvement and leadership. Past President (2011-2012) of the 46,000-member State Bar of Michigan. Past Vice-Chair of ABA-TIPS Section Animal Law Committee. Member of the ABA House of Delegates.
National legal consulting for those who already have lawyers. Most lawyers lack experience in horse-related matters and do not understand the industry. Among Ms. Fershtman's services is legal consulting through which people hire her to assist their lawyers with contracts and/or lawsuits around the country **
COURTROOM DEVELOPMENTS: Julie Fershtman successfully defended a stable and riding instructor in a lawsuit, resulting in dismissal of the case in its entirety. When the dismissal was later appealed, Fershtman successfully defended the stable and instructor on appeal. That case will now be a published opinion, offering precedent for future equine liability cases.
Visit the Foster Swift Law Firm Web Site
Julie I. Fershtman, Esq.
Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, PC
28411 Northwestern Hwy., Ste. 500
Southfield, Michigan 48034
Direct Phone Line: (248) 785-4731
Main Office Line: (248) 539-9900
Legal Profession Honors - Partial List
- The Best Lawyers in America ® in 2013 and every consecutive year thereafter
- "Woman of the Year" in Michigan's legal profession in 2016 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
- "Leader in the Law" by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
- Listed in Michigan Super Lawyers® 2008-2023
- Listed among the "Top 50 Women Lawyers in Michigan" by Michigan Super Lawyers
- Listed among the "Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan" by Michigan Super Lawyers
- Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
- Rated “AV” (highest possible rating for abilities and ethics) by Martindale-Hubbell - www.martindale.com
- Listed in Who's Who in American Law for over 30 years
- Highest rating (10.0/10 "Superb") by www.avvo.com
Equine Industry Accolades
Recipient of these prestigious equine industry awards:
"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee
"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council
"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership
“Catalyst Award” - Michigan Horse Council
“Outstanding Achievement” Award - American Riding Instructors Association
"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association
"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horsemen's Association
"Partnership in Safety Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association
Results Delivered for Clients - Partial List
No lawyer can guarantee results, but we work hard to achieve them for clients. Some examples:
- Successfully defended a horse stable and riding instructor in the trial court and court of appeals. Molnar v. Tenacity Farm, Inc.
- Defended a horse boarding stable in a lawsuit brought by a horse owner who claimed a boarded horse was injured due to the stable's negligence. Case against client, the stable, was dismissed when court granted the defense's motion to dismiss the case.
- Represented defrauded horse buyers in a trial against sellers. Horse buyer clients/plaintiffs won the trial, and the court ordered the defendants (losing parties) to reimburse the plaintioffs' damages as well as 100% of their legal fees.
- Lead counsel in Hauser v. Great American Assurance Company, 971 F. Supp.2d 824 (N.D. Ill. 2013)(affirming denial of coverage on an equine mortality insurance policy, representing insurer).
- Lead counsel in Jahn v. Great American Assurance Company, 2004 WL 765240 (N.D. Ill. 2004)(affirming denial of coverage on an equine mortality insurance policy, representing insurer).
- Rivera v. R.P. Gordon, Inc., 2004 WL 1109153 (Mich. App. 2004)(defending horse trail ride operation that was sued by a customer injured during the ride, securing dismissal of the case at trial court level, affirmed on appeal).
- Mounts v. Van Beest, 2004 Mich. App. LEXIS 2062 (Mich. App. 2004)(defending individual horse owner who was sued by friend who was injured when horse bucked him off, securing dismissal of the case at the trial court level, affirmed on appeal).
- Successfully defended individual horse owners who have been sued for personal injury by others riding or near their horses. Successfully defended stables that have been sued for injuries to horses.
- Lead trial counsel in defense of an Illinois trail ride operation at a state park that was sued by an injured customer seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Case proceeded to a week-long jury trial. Won the trial, with the jury unanimously issuing a "no-cause" verdict in the stable's favor.
- Falmouth Cooperative Co. v. Bontekoe Farms, 2020 WL 6110928 (Mich. App. 2020)(defending manufacturer/seller of custom livestock feed against claims that the feed caused death of livestock. Secured dismissal of all claims against the client at the trial court level; court of appeals affirmed dismissal).
- Counsel for stable in a complex equine business dispute involving claims of theft and conversion and seeking return of horses from a horse breeder. Won a nine-day trial, and client recovered possession of its horses through the lawsuit.
- Defended a horse boarding and riding lesson stable against a lawsuit brought by a visitor who was injured in the barn. All claims against the stable were dismissed by the court after court granted stable's motion to dismiss the case.
- Defended horse owners in a lawsuit brought against them by their horse trainer who was injured while training their horse. All claims against the clients/horse owners were dismissed by the court, after court granted horse owners' motion to dismiss the case.
- Drafted a boarding stable's contract, but a customer later sued the stable. On the strength of the contract, the trial court dismissed the case against the client, and the court of appeals affirmed dismissal.
- Defended a horse breeder against claims of defamation (slander/libel) by another horse breeder. All claims against the client were dismissed by the court, after court granted horse breeder's motion to dismiss the claims.
Published Works on Equine Law - Books
Equine Law and Horse Sense (ABA Publishing, 2019). This book has received 4 national book awards. More information and order information can be found further below.
Co-author/co-editor, Litigating Animal Law Disputes: A Complete Guide for Lawyers (ABA Publishing, 2009).
MORE Equine Law & Horse Sense (Horses & The Law Publishing, 2000).
Equine Law & Horse Sense (Horses & The Law Publishing, 1996).
Published Works on Equine Law - Articles (Partial List)
EQUUS Magazine (3 articles)
Horse Illustrated (5 articles)
Stable Management Magazine (12 articles)
Riding Instructor Magazine (regular/monthly column contributor since the 1990s)
American Quarter Horse Journal (4 articles)
International Arabian Horse Magazine (2 articles)
AHSA Horse Show Magazine
Saddle and Bridle Magazine
Michigan Bar Journal
American Bar Association-TIPS Animal Law Committee Newsletter (15 articles)
American Bar Association-Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Law Journal (8 survey of the law articles)
Contributor, American Youth Horse Council Horse Industry Handbook
400+ articles appearing in equine industry publications nationwide since 1993.
Featured in (Partial List)
"Horse Sense: Fershtman Brings Legal Knowledge to the Equine Industry," Michigan Super Lawyers Magazine.
"Equine Lawyers: A breed apart," Lawyers Weekly USA.
"Equine Lawyer Represents a New Breed of Clients," Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
"ABA Profiles in the Profession" (online)
"The Galloping Lawyer," Detroit Free Press.
"Galloping to Glory," Texas Bar Journal.
"Riding High," The Oakland Press.
"21 Lawyers Leading Us Into the 21st Century," ABA Barrister Magazine
"Lawyer Clears Liability Hurdles," Chicago Tribune.
"The Horse Lawyer," WJBK TV-2 News.
"Horses in the Morning" Podcast.
Legal Talk Network
Quoted In (Partial List)
New York Times
CBS News Newspath
RECENT: "Equestrian Legal Pitfalls," Horse Illustrated (May 2022).
Horse & Rider Magazine
The Blood-Horse Magazine
Stable Management Magazine
American Paint Horse Journal
American Quarter Horse Journal
Quarter Horse News
International Arabian Horse Magazine
Hoof Beats (USTA) Magazine
Miniature Horse World
Performance Horse Digest
Horses USA Magazine
Examples of Several Types of Equine Industry Contracts We Can Draft
• Waivers/releases for individual horse owners, stables, trainers, riding instructors, businesses, and others
• Waivers/releases for equine associations and clubs
• Boarding contracts (full board, self-care board, or boarding with optional training)
• Equine leases (either lessor-oriented or lessee-oriented)
• Equine shared use contracts (also referred to as "half-lease" or "share board" contracts); lessor or lessee oriented
• Equine lease with option to buy contracts
• Mare lease and foal transfer contracts
• Training contracts (on-site or visiting trainers)
• Training and instruction contracts for roving professionals without a home base who travel to clients
• Breeding contracts for different types of breeding arrangements, including live cover, AI, frozen semen, ICSI
• Stallion purchase/sale contracts with or without retained breeding rights to seller
• Equine partnership agreements
• Stallion management contracts
• Equine facility use contracts (rental of some or all of the stable facility to an independent professional)
• Equine clinician contracts
• Specialized boarding for lay-ups, retirement, etc.
• Hauling contracts
• Sales contracts (buyer-oriented or seller-oriented), with numerous optional clauses and provisions
• Equine agency contracts
• Installment sale contracts (buyer or seller-oriented)
• In utero foal purchase agreements (buyer-oriented or seller-oriented)
• Pre-sale equine trial period contracts
How can you become a new client?
Ms. Fershtman is busy but welcomes new clients. If you would like to hire her, please note that we strictly follow ethical regulations.** Please do not e-mail, fax, mail, overnight, or deliver details of your legal matter. (She might already represent the other side.) Instead, please call Ms. Fershtman [Direct line: (248) 785-4731; main office: (248) 539-9900]. She or her assistant will check for conflicts and determine if she can help on your matter.
** Julie Fershtman cannot work all alone on legal matters and cases in all states. Here's why:
Regulations and ethical restrictions prevent lawyers from working all alone in states where they are not licensed. Ms. Fershtman's license is in Michigan. Clients will likely need to hire a local lawyer to work in some capacity with her. For contracts, she will send a draft to your local lawyer for review.
Please contact Ms. Fershtman to learn how we can help as lawyer, co-counsel, or consultant.
Equine Law Speaking Engagements in 29 States (and Counting)
No other lawyer has produced more educational material to benefit the equine industry.
Speaking engagements include:
- National Conference on Equine Law - speaker by invitation nearly every year since 1994
- Equine Affaire Convention (Ohio, Massachusetts, California)
- American Horse Council Annual Convention
- American Youth Horse Council Annual Convention
- U.S. Dressage Federation Annual Meeting
- Hoosier Horse Fair
- All-American Quarter Horse Congress
- American Riding Instructors Association Annual Convention
- Equine Nutrition & Physiology National Symposium
- Midwest Horse Fair
- Cornell University Equine Conference
- U.S. Pony Clubs Annual Convention
- Carriage Association of America Convention
- U.S. Hunter/Jumper Association Annual Meeting
- Equestrian Professional National Teleconferences
- Equine Land Conservation Resource Teleconference
- International Paso Fino Horse Assoc. Convention
- United Professional Horsemen's Assoc. Nat'l. Convention
- North Amer. Riding for the Handicapped (PATH Int'l) Conv.
- American Paint Horse Association Annual Convention
- Carriage Operators of North America Annual Convention
- Michigan Horse Council International Stallion Exposition
- AM Best National Equine Insurance Podcast
- National Dude Ranchers Association Annual Convention
- Washington State Bar Association
- New York State Bar Association
- California Dressage Society Annual Convention
- Equitana USA (California and Kentucky)
2021 Speaking Engagements. National Conference on Equine Law (April 28, 2021 - virtual ); American Youth Horse Council (March 2021 - virtual); Horses in the Morning/Horse Radio Network; Cornell Cooperative Extension (March 25, 2021 - virtual); Agricultural Claims Conference (April 20-21, 2021 - virtual); United Professional Horsemens Association webinar (April 6, 2021 - virtual); "Agri Con" - IRMI Agribusiness Conference (May 2021 - virtual); Ag Law Today podcast (May 2021); Georgia Bar Assoc. Equine Law Section (May 2021 - virtual).
2022 Speaking Engagements. National Conference on Equine Law (Lexington, Kentucky - in person); "Agri Con" - IRMI Agribusiness Conference (Sacramento, California - 2 in-person presentations); New York State Bar Association (virtual); Equestrian Professional national webinar (virtual); Tennessee Master Horse Program (virtual); American Horse Council Conference (Washington, DC- in person); American Horse Council webinar (virtual); Otterbein University, Equine class (virtual).
2023 Speaking Engagements. National Conference on Equine Law (Lexington, Kentucky - in person); University of Kentucky College of Law (virtual); Michigan Horse Council Annual Expo (in person); "AgriCon" - IRMI Agribusiness Conference (Sacramento, California - 2 in-person presentations).
The one Equine Law book everyone in the industry should own is Equine Law and Horse Sense, written by Julie Fershtman. Order it today!
This book was written for non-lawyers and lawyers. It helps individuals, businesses, and organizations in the horse industry understand common legal disputes and learn how to avoid them.
A 372-page paperback, this book covers numerous topics, including contracts, liabilities, equine activity liability acts, loose horse liabilities, zoning and land use laws, business structures, risk management, debt collection and state lien laws, sales disputes, insurance and how to avoid disputes with insurance companies, association liabilities, veterinary malpractice, and numerous others.
WINNER OF FOUR NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS!
- 1st Place - 2019 American Horse Publications Equine Media Awards.
- "Silver Medal" - Independent Book Publishers Association at its 2020 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards.
- 1st Place - 2020 NYC Big Book Awards.
- "Finalist Medal" - 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
If you have Ms. Fershtman's first two Equine Law books (published in 1996 and 2000), you'll definitely want this comprehensive book.
On Amazon.com. Click here for order information.
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Equine Law Blog: www.equinelawblog.com