James J. Kobza retires after 53 years of practice

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By Diana Coleman

Legal News

 

The firm of Williams, Hughes & Cook,  PLLC, hosted an open house on March 31 in honor of the retirement of James J. Kobza from the practice of law. Kobza served as “Of Counsel” for the firm.

Kobza, a 1957 graduate of University of Michigan Law School, was admitted to the bar that same year. He spent his entire legal career practicing law in the Muskegon area. His practice included the areas of estate planning, eminent domain, contract, and other general practice issues.

Many members of the Muskegon legal community came to the open house to wish him well in his retirement. When asked if he thought there had been a good turnout of bar members, he said in his usually droll manner, “There have been quite a few, but I am keeping a list of those who did not come for future reference.”

The Muskegon County Bar Association (MCBA) Law Education Fund is known as Kobza’s brainchild. In 1995, when he was an officer of the MCBA, he had a dream to bring understanding of the law and its role in everyday life to the senior high school students of Muskegon County. The bar members were developing a student law education program at the time designed somewhat like that used in Kent County. The mission was “to encourage respect for the law among Muskegon youth.”

Kobza stated in an earlier interview, “Over 55 attorneys volunteered to take the message to the local students. It was a tremendous turnout of support from the bar members, but created somewhat of an administrative burden for the person coordinating the schedules of the schools and attorneys for the program.”

The MCBA Law Education Fund has grown to over $110,000. While the Law Education Program is no longer in place, local counsel and judges still assist the Muskegon Exchange Club with its annual program in the Muskegon County school system.

The MCBA is still strongly promoting education, but are using earnings from the fund to provide more and larger scholarships for student contest winners at the annual Law Day program.

Kobza also served as editor of the MCBA’s monthly newsletter The Obiter Dictum. He passed this job on to attorney Mike Walsh. “I enjoyed my time as publisher, but I guess I rankled the feathers of a few too many board members through the years with my editorials regarding bar member dress code and open bars,” said Kobza.

His colleagues and fellow bar members also honored Kobza in 2007 to recognize his fifty-year anniversary practicing law.

Kobza has been a prominent figure in the Muskegon legal community for many years and all wish him well in his retirement.