Get to Know Ryan Zemke

By Julie Freer
Legal News

Ryan Zemke, magistrate and deputy court administrator for the 41B District Court in Clinton Township, began his one-year term as president of the Macomb County Bar Association on July 1, 2023. He was previously a criminal defense lawyer at ZemkeLaw PLLC where he served as part of the treatment team for the 41B District Court Drug and Sobriety Court Program, 41B District Court Veterans Treatment Court, and 40th District Court Drug Court.

A Clinton Township resident, Zemke is a past chair of the Young Lawyers Section for the State Bar of Michigan and its Criminal Law Section, and previously was a member of the SBM Representative Assembly. He currently serves as chair of the District D SBM Character and Fitness Committee and is a member of the SBM Professionalism and Civility Committee. 

In addition to serving as the President of the Macomb County Bar, Zemke is a past chair of the MCBA Young Lawyers Section. He is a member of the Michigan Association of District Court Magistrates and a graduate of Leadership Macomb where he currently serves as a member of its program council for the adult and junior programs. Zemke also serves on the board for Families Against Narcotics (FAN) and MyCare Health Center.

What would surprise people about your job? 
How much different things are working for the court as opposed to working at the court. The work of court staff is often thankless and goes unrecognized, but the clerks are truly the ones that make things operate as smoothly as they do.

Why did you become a lawyer?
To make a difference.

What’s your favorite law-related TV show, movie, and/or book?
Show: “Law & Order SVU” (but just finished “Suits” and that is high on the list for sure). Movie: “My Cousin Vinny.” Book: “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? 
Shohei Ohtani. I love my job, but I could get used to playing baseball for $700 million over the next 10 years.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
 Find mentors at every step along the way. Whether it is a teacher while in school or an attorney during an internship do not try to do it alone. Making connections, learning lessons, and getting advice from as many people as possible will help you find your own personal path.

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? 
When I was in private practice, I was heavily involved with specialty courts and being a part of the graduations was a moment to remember. There is no better feeling than watching someone change their life and being a small part of that.

What do you do to relax? 
I have two children who are active in sports, so most weekends after getting them to all their stuff, I am happy to be back at a desk on Monday and not have anywhere else to be for 8 hours (but I wouldn’t trade it for the world and am going to miss it in a few years). I may not have been able to see the world yet, but have seen a lot of hockey rinks, baseball fields, and swimming pools.

What other career path might you have chosen?
High school teacher and coach.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Everything happens for a reason even if it makes no sense at the time and just be yourself. Things will work out in the end.

Favorite local hangout?
Suburban Ice Macomb, Chippewa Valley and Dakota High School swimming pools, and various batting cages/indoor baseball training facilities.

Favorite website?

Favorite music?
I listen to just about everything. Just depends on what I am in the mood for at the time.

What is your most treasured material possession?
I have a collection of mini football helmets in every version that Michigan State has ever worn with only a few that I am still missing. Getting harder to keep up now that they wear a new helmet just about every other week, but what started with one or two for fun decorations is now a collection of nearly 50 that I’m committed to keeping complete.

What do you wish someone would invent?
 If I gave up my good ideas then I would be giving up my chance to be on “Shark Tank” someday.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you have ever been?
 Don’t get to travel a lot, but Niagara Falls was a lot better than I anticipated it would be.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 
To be able to read people’s minds. Could you imagine not having to have to ask your family what they want to have for dinner every day?

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?
Hit a golf ball 300-plus yards and straight consistently. 

What is something most people don’t know about you?
  In high school, I played varsity football, basketball, and baseball. That was more common back then as youth sports were not as specialized as they are now and my school was smaller in size, but I definitely stayed busy year-round.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
 Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, and Mark Cuban.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? 
You have to give it away to keep it.

Favorite place to spend money? 
Amazon. Everything you could want with no people to deal with and not having to travel anywhere.

What is your motto?
 Whatever you are, be a good one.

Which living person do you most admire?
 Tie between both of my parents. Literally wouldn’t exist without them, but you definitely appreciate your parents more as you get older and raise your own children.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My family. Family is everything. It is really that simple.

What is the most unusual thing you have done?
 Watched my beloved Chicago Cubs win the World Series in person in Cleveland in 2016. This only happens about every 110 years, so I suppose that qualifies it as unusual (like a Lions’ playoff victory).

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