State Bar Representative Assembly to honor three award winners


The State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly will present its Michael Franck and Unsung Hero awards to three outstanding members of the legal community on Thursday, September 22 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. The presentation will take place at 9:10 a.m. during the assembly’s general session, which is being held in conjunction with the SBM Annual Meeting.

Michael Franck Award
Lynn Chard’s dedication to meeting the needs of Michigan lawyers over the last 30 years, along with her unique vision and skill, have ensured that this state’s legal community is among the most advanced and prepared legal communities in the country. Perhaps her greatest accomplishment, and the best evidence of her visions and foresight, is the way she shepherded the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the legal community through the industry’s major shift from print to online resources. “Lynn envisioned online books, kits, and forms to help lawyers provide legal services to their clients more effectively and efficiently,” Jeff Kirkey of ICLE wrote in his nomination letter.

“Lynn led ICLE to collect all of these resources in a subscription ‘partnership’ that enhances effective access to all of ICLE’s online resources and better meets the legal research and practice support needs of Michigan lawyers.”

“Under Lynn’s leadership, ICLE has become arguably the best CLE operation in the nation, and certainly a model organization, to which all others (including mine) repeatedly look for guidance,” Jack Reilly, executive director of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education wrote in his letter of support. “She’s been a trailblazer and a visionary, always willing to push the envelope and take risks to improve the way lawyers (whom she refers to as her partners) learn and develop professionally.”

Unsung Hero Award
Jerrold Schrotenboer believes that the key to justice is the competence of those involved in the process. Because of this philosophy, he spends a great deal of time giving back to the legal profession through coaching, mentoring, and simply holding himself out as a resource to others, not to mention hundreds of hours of pro bono work and volunteerism. He has spent countless hours talking with, training, helping, and mentoring law students, paralegals, attorneys, and anyone else who wants to learn and get better.

Attorney Megan Smith is one of those people.  She noted in a letter that when she first began working as a law clerk for the court, Schrotenboer immediately took her under his wing, providing practice advice, assisting her with research, and giving her invaluable career contacts. “He always has time for young lawyers, and I can say for certain that I have learned more from Jerry about practical lawyering than than I ever did in law school. He was always more than willing to spend time with me. His wealth of knowledge and his drive to impart that knowledge on me is something for which I will be forever grateful.”

Unsung Hero Award
Tessa Hessmiller doesn’t just fight crimes against children, she also works tirelessly to prevent them. As an advocate for and board member of the Kent County Children’s Assessment Center, which provides a safe haven for children who are the victims of sexual violence, she helps educate the community on how to recognize and prevent such heinous crimes against children. As chairperson of the Kent County Human Trafficking Task Force, which provides help to victims of human trafficking, she teaches community leaders how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

As a board member of the Grand Rapids Junior League, which exists “to improve children’s physical health by increasing access to safe, cooperative play for children in situations or neighborhoods where it is needed most,” she helps the staff understand the dangers of human trafficking and how they can become advocates in their daily lives for children’s safety. She can also be seen on a regular basis leading the organization’s efforts to build safe play areas, educating children on healthy eating, and helping them improve their overall health. And although she can’t prevent everything, she’s there again when justice needs to be done.