The most rewarding work is often the work we do for free. Like you, I have friends who do the unsung work of the volunteer—those who deliver “meals on wheels,” those who volunteer at their churches and places of worship, and even one friend who recently developed a free smartphone app called “I Need a Hand” that connects those “who can” with those “who need” (shout-out to fellow Athens High School alum and buddy, Michael VanMiddlesworth).
Michigan judges and lawyers have a long tradition of performing pro bono service for low-income persons and charitable groups, as well as volunteering to help advance the law. This unpaid service-to-others is built into Michiganders’ DNA, and it is a tradition that I have embraced over the years, including:
- Pro bono legal work for various public-interest groups, including the National Association of Counsel for Children.
- Voluntary presiding judge for Michigan Adoption Day ceremonies in Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties.
- Judicial member of the Michigan Court of Appeals’ Attorney Development and Education Committee.
- Advisory board member for the Judicial Education Program, Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
- Editor-in-Chief and editorial board member of the ABA’s Appellate Practice Journal.
- Co-author of chapter in ABA treatise, Business & Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts.
- Panel participant during various State Bar of Michigan appellate conferences.
- President and Vice-President, University of Michigan Alumni Club of Greater Lansing.
- Mentor to Michigan State University Law School students and young lawyers.
I don’t need to tell you that we live in contentious times—politically, culturally, financially, etc. One way we can find common ground is to work with others for the common good.
As we approach November 3rd, I ask that you help me #BrockTheCourt on our Michigan Supreme Court. But, more importantly, I ask that you continue to embrace ways to help our communities and professions—it will do us all some good!