MLaw alumnus Avern Cohn to be honored with Archer Award


By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

Retired U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn is this year’s honoree of the Archer Award, joining an illustrious list of previous winners that has included the likes of former U.S. Senator Carl Levin, the late U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, and 2019 recipient Denise Page Hood, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The 16th annual event is named in honor of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, a past president of the American Bar Association.

Judge Cohn, after 40 years on the federal bench, announced his retirement from the judiciary in December 2019, capping a distinguished legal career that included a partnership role with one of Detroit’s premier law firms, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn.

A 1949 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Cohn spent 30 years in private practice before accepting an appointment to the U.S. District Court. The then-President Jimmy Carter made the appointment in 1979, setting the stage for a judicial career that would be marked by a number of high-profile cases and important rulings.

Before becoming a judge, Cohn served on the Michigan Social Welfare Commission, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, and the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners.

His longtime community involvement was highlighted in 2014 when Cohn and his wife, Lois, were honored with the Activist Award from the Jewish Community Relations Council. The Cohns were saluted for their “prolific legacy of commitment and contributions to the Jewish community, advancing social justice, and supporting Detroit’s arts and cultural institutions.”

In addition to his community activism, Cohn said he is continually enriched by the joy of legal learning. In particular, he said, “intellectual property cases, patent, copyright and trademark, are the most satisfying and interesting cases on my docket.”

Cohn – whose father, Irwin, was a prominent bankruptcy and corporate lawyer – gained a well-deserved reputation as a no-nonsense kind of judge, the type that can tongue-tie and intimidate even the most seasoned attorney.

Cohn has sticky notes tha lined the bench in his federal courtroom. Among his favorites: Always remember the lawyers have as much right to be in the courtroom as the judge; A problem well stated is a problem half solved; Keep cool; He who angers you controls you; No matter how high the throne, there sits but an ass!

This year’s Archer Award event will be held in the virtual realm.

The Nov. 19 ceremony will run 4:30-6 p.m. Tickets cost $50.

For information, contact Darlene Trudell at or (248) 408-6919.


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