Episode 55: On User-Friendly Equine Law, Avoiding Liability & Horse Sense with Julie Fershtman (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 55: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Attorney at Law, Freelance Journalist and Author Julie Fershtman. You'll learn ...
Watch Julie Fershtman's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Attorney at Law Julie Fershtman
Julie Fershtman is a Shareholder with the Michigan law firm of Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. A lawyer for 34 years, her practice focuses primarily on business litigation, insurance litigation, and equine law.
She is a past president of the 35,000-member State Bar of Michigan and has been listed for several years in The Best Lawyers in America. With the national equine law practice, she has tried equine-related cases before juries in four states and has handled equine matters in 18 jurisdictions around the country.
A frequent speaker on Equine Law, her speaking engagements span 29 states. In addition, she has written more than 400 published articles and four books. Equine Law and Horse Sense, Her newest book, was published by the American Bar Association and has won two national awards.
Julie Fershtman Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: Tell us how your love affair with horses began.
Julie: As a girl growing up in the city, my first introduction to horses was pony rides in the city of Detroit. I didn’t want to stop so I began taking riding lessons around age 8. Two years later, my father bought me my first pony, and horses followed after that.
First and foremost, I am a practicing lawyer. However, I absolutely love writing as well as horses. For approximately 30 years, I’ve been writing equine law articles. About 15 years ago, somebody contacted me about a highly contentious equine-related lawsuit that she was involved in as a party. She was unhappy with her lawyer, but the matter resolved. I asked why she didn’t hire me to represent her. To my surprise, her response was: “I thought you only wrote articles for a living.”
Carly: Talk to us about your recent book.
Julie: My newest book, published by the American Bar Association, is called Equine Law and Horse Sense, This is the most comprehensive book I’ve written in my career. It combines and updates much of the material from my first two equine law books (published in 1996 and 2000), but then it goes much further. The book provides descriptions of important court cases involving horses, such as cases involving liability, releases, insurance. The book also has a concluding section addressing requirements, state-by-state, under equine activity liability acts. All states differ, and this illustrates how.
Carly: You've written over 400 articles on equine law. How did you start your freelance writing career?
Julie: I’ve always enjoyed reading horse magazines. It’s still my favorite pastime. About 30 years ago, I began thinking of legal topics that intrigued me in writing articles on them. Back then, magazine readership was at its all-time high as the Internet hadn’t been invented.
Very few attorneys wrote articles for magazines so mine were in high demand. It was through the articles I wrote that certain organizations invited me to speak at their conventions, and I discovered that I enjoy speaking on equine law as much as I enjoy writing.
I’ve had speaking engagements on various Equine Law topics in 29 states around the country. Conventions where I’ve spoken include Equine Affaire, United States Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, United States Hunter/Jumper Association Annual Meeting, United States Pony Clubs Annual Meeting, Equitana USA, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, Certified Horsemanship Association Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, and several others.
Carly: What compelled you to become a writer of books?
Julie: What compelled me to write horse law books was the fact that so little material was available for people in the horse industry involving the law. As I began writing articles for magazines (and eventually, writing 4 books), I tried hard to adopt a writing style that I would want to read if I were a non-lawyer looking for legal information. It’s succinct, direct, and to-the-point. It doesn’t talk down to the reader but, rather, helps the reader understand the issues.
Carly: What do you wish you had known when you started out?
Julie: To remember my audience. My earliest articles included a biographical offering information on certain achievements I earned showing horses. On the advice of a very esteemed equine author (Cherry Hill – author of several books on horses), I removed that part of my biographical. I realize that the horse industry is large, but it’s also fragmented. People may not have appreciated my horse breed or discipline preferences and, as a result, might have written me off as a potential attorney for their legal matter.
Carly: What are you curious about right now?
Julie: Whether there’s a way to develop an article or two involving the impact of COVID- 19 in the horse industry and suggested practices for equine businesses such as trainers and boarding stables. I’ve seen one lawyer, in particular, attempt this, and her writings were sensible. The problem is, her writings received intense criticism from some people based on the precautions she recommended. Seeing that convinced me to stay out of this. Besides, different states, even different counties, have varying types of regulations involving COVID-19 precautions for businesses.
Carly: How do you reach your readers?
Julie: Articles. I still write articles, but less frequently. Websites. My websites have been ranking high on the search engines, which might help people learn more about my books when they seek information on Equine Law. Speaking engagements. COVID-19 took away several of my speaking engagement scheduled for 2020, but speaking engagements offer an opportunity to meet people, provide information on my books.
Carly: What is your favorite book marketing tool?
Julie: Not sure I have a favorite. If the question is what would I consider to be the most effective marketing tool, I would say speaking engagements at major conventions such as Equine Affaire. I’ve never forgotten the days in the mid-90s, when I’d leave the podium from a speech on Equine Law to head back to my speaker booth to see a long line of people patiently waiting to buy my books and get an autograph.
Carly: What is the hardest part about being an author?
Julie: For some, the hardest part may be financial. Fortunately for me, that’s not the case. I’m a lawyer who does some writing on the side. Another hard part is the realization that no matter how hard you work on the book, there will be someone disappointed that something is missing from the content. That happened years ago when somebody asked if my book covered an extremely unusual issue involving legal aspects of tethering horses while riding on the beach.
Carly: What is the best part about being an author?
Julie: A few things: As an author of non-fiction books, I would say that the best part is learning to communicate directly and effectively. Remember, my books write about legal topics (which can be very complicated) in a direct manner so that anyone can understand them. Often, it’s very hard to do this, but it’s very rewarding when you’re able to break down a complicated issue And write about it.
The other is the belief that what we write could positively impact others. My books devote considerable attention to strategies for people to avoid liability. I don’t know if my books have provided that extra “nudge” to encourage people in the horse industry to put safety first, and, in the effort, prevented even one lawsuit from being filed. I hope so.
Finally, another great part is when the book gets recognized. I’m so happy to share that my book just received a First Place award from American Horse Publications at its 2020 Equine Media Awards. Earlier this year, it received a Silver award from the Independent Book Publishers Association at its Benjamin Franklin Book Awards.
Connect with Julie Fershtman
Buy Equine Law and Horse Sense on Amazon here.
Other resources mentioned in Julie's interview:
American Horse Publications
Tell them Carly Kade and Julie Fershtman sent you!
AHP website: https://www.americanhorsepubs.org/
Fellow lawyer, author and AHP member Milton Toby.
Visit the podcast episode directory to tune into his Equestrian Author Spotlight Episode or simply by clicking here.
New Equine Author Interviews Each Week!
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Thank you for joining us this week on the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast I hope you enjoy these Q&A sessions with wonderful equine authors who love all things horses and writing just like me.
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About Podcast Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's award-winning In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
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Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!