State's chief justice featured on LSC' Talk Justice' podcast

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Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack joined LSC President Ron Flagg to discuss access to the courts in the wake of the pandemic, lessons learned from the bench, and her next chapter in access-to-justice advocacy on the latest episode of the Legal Services Corporation’s “Talk Justice” podcast released recently.

McCormack was elected to the state’s top court in 2013 and appointed chief of the seven-member bench in 2019.

Before her election to the court, she was a law professor and associate dean of clinical affairs at the University of Michigan Law School and taught at Yale Law School. She spent the first five years of her legal career in New York, with the Legal Aid Society and the Office of the Appellate Defender.

In Michigan and nationally, McCormack has been a leading voice in calling for action to close the justice gap — advocating for additional resources for civil legal aid, promoting the use of technology to leverage scarce judicial resources, supporting reform of the civil dispute resolution system, and the regulation of the legal profession.  

McCormack recently announced that she will be retiring from the bench this year at the end of her two-year term.  

“I’m a believer that there is an obligation for those of us in my generation to make way for the next generation of leaders, and a more diverse group of leaders,” McCormack said. “The Michigan Supreme Court is one of, I believe, 27 state Supreme Courts with no justices of color and Michigan is a state [where] more than 20 percent of its residents are people of color.

“I think our courts should reflect the people they serve if they care about growing public confidence,” she said.

McCormack is taking on two new positions. She will become CEO of the American Arbitration Association — a leading organization in the field of alternative dispute resolution — and is joining the
Penn Carey Law School’s Future of the Profession Initiative as strategic adviser. She will continue to advocate for big changes to the civil legal justice system.  

“I really believe we have to rethink how we make sure people have access to legal information, legal services, legal help, from the ground up,” she said. “It's hard to construct a brand-new building, but I think a brand-new building needs construction at this point.”  

“Talk Justice” episodes are available online and on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and other popular podcast apps. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council.  

The next episode of the podcast will feature non-traditional legal services — from justice buses to legal kiosks to kayak court.  

LSC is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. It currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. 

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