GRBA & JFWM announce annual award recipients

The Grand Rapids Bar Association & Justice Foundation of West Michigan (GRBA & JFWM), will recognize the following individuals for contributions to the law, the legal profession and the cause of justice, during The Bar’s Got Talent virtual event. The emcees for the virtual event will be the Hon. Sara J. Smolenski (63rd District Court) and Benjamin H. Hammond (Hilger Hammond, PC).

The Greater Grand Rapids NAACP will receive the 2021 Liberty Bell Award for their ardent support and active participation in numerous community engagement initiatives. The Liberty Bell Award is presented each year by the GRBA to a non-legal professional or non-profit organization in recognition of outstanding contribution to the cause of justice or to advancing public awareness of the Constitution and our legal system. 

Julia A. Kelly (Willey & Chamberlain LLP) and Thomas P. Murray, Jr. (The Hanover Law Group) will receive the GRBA President’s Award for their dedication to and support of the Grand Rapids Bar Association.
Rodney D. Martin (Warner Norcross + Judd LLP) and Leslie C. Curry (Legal Aid of Western Michigan) will receive the Donald R. Worsfold Distinguished Service Award for significant achievements in the legal profession.

Carl E. Ver Beek (Varnum LLP) will receive the Justice Foundation of West Michigan’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes a GRBA member for special contributions in service and support to the mission of GRBA & JFWM, the community at-large and the practice of law in West Michigan, over the course of their career.

Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green will receive the 2021 Marion Hilligan Public Service Award, of Western Michigan University, Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The Marion Hilligan Public Service Award is presented to lawyers who reflect greater individual responsibility in promoting public health and welfare through law.

In addition, David L. Conklin, Robert DeJong, Robert L. Nelson, Dale S. Vennen and Joel S. Whetstone will be recognized for their 50 years in legal practice.

Awards will be presented at The Bar’s (virtual) Got Talent, 7 p.m., on May 13.


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