Wayne Law grad to receive 2020 State Bar Champion of Justice Award


Judge James (Jim) Fisher (retired) will receive one of the 2020 State Bar Champion of Justice Award.

The Champion of Justice Award is a very prestigious award presented by the State Bar of Michigan and is given to practicing lawyers and judges of integrity who adhere to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession who have demonstrated an extraordinary accomplishment that benefits the nation or our state. Fisher will be honored with the Champion of Justice Award at the Inauguration & Awards Luncheon on Sept. 17 in Grand Rapids.

Fisher is receiving this award primarily due to his efforts to improve indigent defense systems throughout the state of Michigan. Fisher is a member and the first chair of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, a commission that was created in 2014 from legislation recommended by Gov. Rick Snyder’s Indigent Defense Advisory Commission, which Fisher also chaired. The commission is mandated to adopt minimum standards for indigent defense systems throughout the state, recommend best practices to local courts, and fund grants to improve these services throughout the state. The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission is responsible for oversight of grants in excess of 100 million dollars each year for improvement of legal services to indigent defendants, and as a result Michigan is now considered a national leader in this area.

Fisher is Of Counsel in Dickionson Wright’s Grand Rapids office. He brings several decades of experience as a successful litigator and distinguished jurist to his active ADR practice, and he is a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. Trained as both a civil and domestic mediator, he provides skilled mediation and arbitration services to attorneys and their clients in all types of cases. He has successfully mediated more than 400 cases in the last eight years involving divorce, valuation of closely-held businesses, medical and legal malpractice, personal injury and wrongful death, construction and real estate claims, and estate disputes. He has also arbitrated dozens of disputes in these areas, and for the last two years has served as a special master assisting the trial judge with management of discovery disputes arising from the more than 200 cases filed against Wolverine Worldwide and 3M in Kent County involving contamination of water wells with PFAS.

Fisher is on the board of directors of Highpoint Community Bank and is a former board member of the Michigan Judges Association, Spectrum Pennock Hospital, the YMCA of Barry County, and the Kiwanis Club of Hastings. He was a consultant to the Michigan Supreme Court helping trial courts across the state improve their services and is the recipient of the 2012 Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award for leading Michigan’s Indigent Defense Advisory Commission. Fisher received his B.S. from Kettering University and his J.D. from Wayne State University School of Law.


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