Legal League 100 Leadership Convenes to Discuss Strategy Shift

On Wednesday, members of the Legal League 100Advisory Council met in Dallas, Texas, to discuss the state of the Legal League 100 and its subcommittees, and to create initiatives to reflect the concerns and needs of its membership.

A Five Star Institute professional association for law firms working in financial services, the strategy of the Legal League 100 has shifted along with changes in the default servicing industry,

At the Legal League 100 Spring Summit in April, Ed Delgado, Ex-Officio of the Legal League 100 and President and CEO of The Five Star Institute, told members of the Legal League 100 that the group’s focus going forward would be on advocacy as opposed to focusing on marketing.

“The abatement in defaults since the crisis has necessitated a shift in strategy for the Legal League 100,” Delgado said. “The primary objective of Legal League 100 is advocacy and on becoming a powerful voice for representations in decisions that affect the industry. Our focus will also be on helping default servicing law firms to be sustainable in today’s changing default servicing landscape.”

The meeting was led by Neil Sherman from Schneiderman & Sherman, P.C., who was elected Chairperson of the Legal League 100 Advisory Council in April, as well as Delgado.

Sherman spoke to the need for law firms to diversify their business strategies and explore cost containment strategies so as to remain competitive in a shifting marketplace. “We as an industry and a membership are at a crossroads. It is imperative through partnership and collaboration with the servicing community that we as attorneys aid in the development of solutions that support overall industry viability. In these challenging times in our industry it is our responsibility shine,” Sherman said.

“The abatement in defaults since the crisis has necessitated a shift in strategy for the Legal League 100.”

Ed Delgado, President and CEO, The Five Star Institute

Other leadership changes announced in April for the Advisory Council were the election of Michelle Garcia Gilbert of Gilbert Garcia Law Group, P.A., as Vice Chairperson; Roy Diaz of SHD Legal Group, P.A., and David G. Marowske of Potestivo & Associates, P.C., to general positions with the Advisory Council; and Stephen M. Hladik of Hladik, Onorato & Federman, LLP, as Government Affairs Subcommittee Chairperson. Re-elected to Advisory Council general positions in April were Jeffrey B. Fisher of BP Fisher Law Group; Erin M. Laurito of Laurito & Laurito, LLC; and Richard Nielson of Nielson & Sherry, PSC.

“I am excited in my role as Vice Chairperson to act as a liaison between Advisory Council and the Legal League Subcommittees to create initiatives to reflect the concerns of the membership as a whole,” Gilbert said. “Today’s meeting was an important first step to outlining these initiatives and putting thought into action.”

The newly-elected and re-elected members joined Advisory Council members Adam Codilis, Codilis and Associates, P.C., and J. Anthony Van Ness, Van Ness Law Firm, PLC.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Advisory Council discussed initiatives for 2016 and 2017 to advocate on behalf of the Legal League 100 membership at large and address important issues such as law firm viability sustainability, dealing with cost increases, entering new business arenas, and the creation of uniform procedures throughout the industry.

The Legal League 100 Fall Summit will be September 13 as part of the 2016 Five Star Conference and Expo. The conference will be September 11 through 13 in Dallas, Texas.



Best Homes Title Expands to Rochester Hills

For Release: June 1, 2015

Contact: Neil Sherman, 248-286-3800


New acquisition drives firm’s focus on offering the best in terms of in-person access as well as the latest in technology

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (June 1, 2015) – In its effort to become one of  Michigan’s largest and most experienced title- and escrow-services company, Best Homes Title announced today that it has grown with its acquisition of Rochester Hills-based Homeowners Title Agency.

This is the company’s largest Metro Detroit expansion, boosting Best Homes Title to 13 full-service offices across the state. Best Homes Title now has more than 75 employees, including an array of industry veterans in the areas of residential and commercial real estate.

The acquisition became official June 1, said Best Homes Title President Neil Sherman. Homeowners Title Agency owner Phil Campbell will be a key advisor, bringing his decades of experience to Best Homes Title and to his long-time clients during the transition, Sherman said. Eight Homeowners Title Agency employees will continue work from the Rochester Hills location.

Campbell, a real-estate attorney with more than 35 years of experience, founded Homeowners Title Agency in 2004 to provide client-centered real-estate transactions.

“In the past few years, we’ve added offices in Troy, Waterford, Big Rapids and Greenville. Now, we’ve got a presence in Rochester Hills. This not only increases our footprint, but it also increases our residential expertise,” Sherman said. “We will continue to look for new partnerships that are a match for our drive toward top-notch customer service and technical savvy.”

This Michigan-centric expansion is part of Best Homes Title’s desire to be an industry leader in the state, both in terms of the services it provides and the kind of technology it offers, Sherman said. Having 13 locations allows Best Homes Title to give its clients in-person access across the state to its team of real-estate attorneys, title and escrow experts and staff.

Its industry-leading technology also serves clients who want fast, reliable information to close a deal. That includes Best Homes Title’s Client on Demand service, giving brokers and Realtors online access to documents, as well as its new customer-friendly app.

“It’s quite unusual for a title agency to have an independent app,” Sherman said. “We think it’s a great thing for realtors and mortgage officers. It allows them to run estimates directly from their phones and send them to their customers. It’s complete interconnectivity and sets a new standard for the marketplace.”

Best Homes Title was founded in 2006 by real-estate attorneys Peter Schneiderman and Neil Sherman. Under their direction, Best Homes Title has grown from four people in Farmington Hills to more than 75 employees in 13 Michigan locations, averaging a monthly volume of more than 1,000 transactions.

The longtime business partners, who offered title services to their national clients, saw an opportunity to combine their industry experience and focus on customer service through the creation of Best Homes Title, an independent agent within the escrow and title industry. Best Homes Title is underwritten by First American Title Insurance Co., Fidelity Insurance Co. and Old Republic Insurance Co., providing expanded insurance solutions to its clients.

The two real-estate attorneys began working together at Schneiderman & Sherman P.C., a Michigan law firm serving the mortgage industry for more than 35 years. Mr. Schneiderman has continuously represented clients in the real estate and mortgage banking industry since 1975. Mr. Sherman, who serves as its Managing Attorney, joined the firm in 2002.

About Best Homes Title Agency LLC

Founded in 2006, Best Homes Title Agency, LLC, provides comprehensive title insurance, title examination and closing services throughout the state of Michigan. Best Homes Title is headquartered in Farmington Hills, Mich., with offices in 12 other locations, including Troy, Waterford, Saginaw and Grand Rapids. For more information, visit or call the main office at 248-286-3800.

Estate Planning Variations and Deeds – One Popular Option, the Lady Bird Deed

Through the years people have sought economical ways of streamlining succession plans of owning real estate and avoiding the prospect of probate court upon the owner’s demise.  Often this resulted in a parent or parents deeding property to themselves and their heirs or desired successors, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.  In many cases that achieved the desired goal, passing title to the designated survivor(s) and voiding the time and expense involved with probating an estate.

But such a practice was not without potential issues or problems.  What if: (1) the grantor changed his or her mind as to who should get (or share) the real estate after his or her death?  Of course, there could be numerous factors that might change the relationships or appropriate nature of the grantees.  Perhaps one of the heirs (grantees) moved across the country and thus had no need or interests in the real estate.  What if one of the heirs had been the principal care giver in recent years and was deserving of a greater share?  Or what if there was a falling out between the grantor and one of the heirs?  How could the grantor change his or her mind and undo what had been previously put in place?

With such “joint tenant” deeds, it would take the cooperation of all of the grantees to re-convey into the configuration now desired by the original grantor.  That might be simply undertaken.  But there is certainly no guarantee.  Equally problematic might be the scenario where the original grantor now wishes to take out a mortgage on the property or refinance.  Of course, that mortgage will need to be signed by ALL the title holders (even though they are not the “borrower”).  The same would apply should the grantor decide to the sell the property.  All this ties the original grantor’s hands, in exchange for avoiding probate.  Is there a better way?

Perhaps, yes.  A different estate planning tool, developed 40+ years ago by U.S. President Lyndon Johnson to transfer property to his wife “Lady Bird” Johnson, seems to have gained popularity in recent years.  Simply put, the grantor conveys his or her (or their) interest in the property, while at the same time retaining a life estate, coupled with the full power to convey, mortgage or otherwise alienate the property during the grantor’s lifetime.  If the grantor does not exercise this power during his or her lifetime, the grantee(s) (remaindermen) become vested in fee title without any further action or probate court process.

There are variations as to the language and style that can achieve this end result.  And, as always, estate planning and the drafting of such specifically worded deeds should only be done by a real estate attorney after the necessary counseling with the grantor/client.  But it is another estate planning tool.  This form of conveyance and reservation is supported by Michigan Land Title Standards 9.3 and 9.9, and Michigan Compiled Law 565.114.