Most of the time, when you think of a lawyer, you probably think of the TV show lawyers that grace our screens every week. They fight for their clients on the big screen and keep us on our toes as we follow their drama through each case. The lawyers are normally in high rises and fancy suites, but this week we are going to explore a different kind of lawyer - an equine lawyer. There is no specific definition of equine law, but it is often thought of law that involves equine in some aspect. We are diving into learning more about what it is to be an equine lawyer from one of the top equine lawyers in the country - Julie I. Freshtman. Julie is a shareholder with the law firm Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith, PC in Southfield, Mich.. She specializes in equine law, but practices in a variety of other areas including insurance coverage, agricultural law and liability, real estate litigation and much more.
Julie got her start at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. She earned her Bachelor’s degree as well as her Juris Doctor from Emory. Julie grew up in Michigan and met her husband in high school, which is why she decided to base her career out of Michigan. She decided that being a lawyer was where she belonged because her father was a lawyer and always enjoyed watching him argue in court and meet his clients. She also had the opportunity to work with him in his own law office throughout high school and college.
“Working with him in his law office for many years showed me firsthand,” Julie said, “the importance of the work that lawyers do helping their clients on matters that are extremely personal and important.”
She has tried equine-related cases before juries in three states other than Michigan and has handled equine law matters across the country. Julie is the author of many books, including two on equine law (Equine Law & Horse Sense (1996), MORE Equine Law & Horse Sense (2000)). She also maintains a blog that is all about equine law, www.equinelawblog.com.
“The ability to combine part of my law practice with a personal interest is a dream come true,” Julie said.
Julie has always been involved in the equine industry to some capacity. She has owned several horses throughout her life, as well as stabled horses at her own barn. Julie has also dabbled in showing horses. She has been a lawyer for 32 years and practicing equine law since 1992. Julie has been able to achieve the ultimate goal of combining her love of being involved with horses with her unique career. She has had the opportunity to serve on several equine related boards including being on the board of advisors for the Certified Horsemanship Association, the legal adviser for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.
The equine industry is a diverse and unique industry to not only be a part of, but to practice law in as well. With a diverse and unique industry comes its challenges. One challenge that arises for equine industry clients are emergencies that call for immediate action. One example that Julie gave of this situation is a trainer might find that a horse in his barn is colicing and requires very expensive colic surgery, but the owner cannot be reached to consent to the surgery, so the trainer may want to know his rights in this situation.
Another challenge, is the handshake agreement. Julie said when a handshake agreement occurs, it can be hard to dissolve a contract dispute because there’s nothing in writing. Always make sure that it is in writing, even if the state honors the verbal agreement law.
If you enjoy solving challenges and preparing research to back up arguments, then maybe being a quine lawyer is for you. It may be a challenge to just work with equine law but some law firms in Kentucky have specific equine law departments. Julie has been able to combine her equine law specialty with her law practice, which is why she practices in more areas of law like insurance coverage, real estate, contract disputes, and much more. Figuring out what you want to practice as a lawyer is important to knowing what experiences you will need to gain.
No matter what type of law you decided to practice an important thing to prepare for is the LSAT, a standardized test administered across the country similar to the ACT and SAT. Taking college courses that are not specifically law related is not a make or break deal for law school. In today’s world many lawyers recommend taking non-law courses that you enjoy so you have a variety of experiences. Law schools enjoy a well-rounded student, so extra-curricular activities can be a good thing if you are able to be successful in balancing school work and the activities.
To learn more about Julie and being an equine lawyer, visit her website at http://www.fershtmanlaw.com/.
Make sure to stay tuned next week to learn more about more careers in the equine industry.