GRBA President Joy Fossel honored at WMU-Cooley Law School reception



by Cynthia Price
Legal News

A roomful of Western Michigan University-Thomas M. Cooley Law School alumni and staff convened last Thursday to celebrate the success – ­and honor the hard work – of one of their own.

Joy Fossel, Varnum attorney, pro bono role model, and Grand Rapids Bar Association president, is also a WMU-Cooley Law School alumna.
So Professor Christopher Hastings and others pulled together a reception in her honor last Thursday to congratulate her and try to figure out how she makes it look so easy.

During his brief remarks, Hastings said, “For any students here, let me tell you that two major awards for pro bono work are the Barnes Award from Legal Aid of West Michigan and the State Bar’s John W. Cummiskey
Award, and Joy has won both.” He noted her long-time service to the GRBA, which resulted in her winning the 2013 President’s Award for an individual who has offered substantial help to the leadership during that year.
Hastings is now on the GRBA Board of Trustees, so he is well aware of how much time Fossel devotes to the job of president.

Despite that, Fossel’s previous commitments continue, not only to pro bono work, but to making both her firm and the community a better place through fostering inclusionary policies and practices. She is chair of
Varnum’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and has worked tirelessly on the GRBA Managing Partners Diversity Initiative.
Fossel attended Stanford University for her undergraduate degree in English; there she met her husband Michael, a doctor and specialist in the aging process. At Stanford, Fossel majored in English and did some

theater work, themes which have continued in her very interesting life.

When it was her turn to speak, Fossel thanked everyone and told those gathered about GRBA program, most notably the 3Rs partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools, in which attorneys come to the schools for hands-on teaching of the constitution and the law.

Afterwards, Pamela Heos, WMU-Cooley’s Director of Alumni Relations, gave a gift to Fossel as an indication of how proud people throughout the school are of its distinguished alumna.

With the GRBA presidency uppermost on her mind, Fossel said at the reception, “I’ve been on a lot of boards” – which is a bit of an understatement – “and I can’t tell you how great it is to work with the Grand Rapids Bar Association. The staff is terrific, and with my colleagues it seems like there’s always someone to step up and do what needs to be done.”

She has some updates for GRBA members:

First, progress is still being made on obtaining a space at the Kent County Courthouse for attorneys to use during downtime there, including helpful technology. With the hope that the space can be opened in 2019, she says, “Once county approval has been obtained we will begin working on the buildout process and the fund raising needed to support that... but as yet no firm time line is in place... Judge Yates has been spearheading the project and really has pulled the yeoman’s oar on the project.  We owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

In addition, she reports, GRBA is seeking to be the local provider of training for attorneys seeking indigent criminal defense appointments (more to come soon).

And, she adds, “The bar association will be hosting our newest Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Beth Clement, as our keynote speaker for Law Day 2018. We are so pleased that she will join us to address the topic of separation of powers.” The Law Day Luncheon is scheduled for May 1.