pro bono service
Ann Arbor can be a tough place for an Ohio State graduate. Thanks to the work of Ann Routt—deputy director of Legal Services of South Central Michigan—the city, its surrounding counties, and the state are better off.
Not long after graduating from the Ohio State University with her law degree in 1985, Routt joined Legal Services of South Central Michigan, became its managing attorney in 1991, and ascended to her current post in 1996. During her nearly three decades with the organization, Legal Services has grown from an organization serving four counties to one covering thirteen counties and overseeing five statewide programs—the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, the Michigan Poverty Law Program, Farmworker Legal Services, Michigan Law Help, and the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative.
Her career arc and the organization's growth during that time are certainly impressive; even more inspiring is Routt's work on behalf of domestic violence survivors, low-income parents, and others who would otherwise fail to get the legal representation they desperately need. In her tenure with Legal Services, she has represented more than 1,200 clients, concentrating in cases dealing with third-party custody, termination of parental rights, and domestic violence cases.
"She is a resource not only for legal-aid attorneys, but for community organization and private attorneys who call her for assistance in developing cases," wrote Legal Services board member Delphia Simpson, who spearheaded Routt's nomination for the award. "[She] always challenges attorneys to dig deeper and help the client not only solve the problem they might describe, but also look at other legal issues that might be a barrier to employment, housing, and safety."
Routt's dedication to domestic violence victims and low-income families extends beyond the boundaries of her job. In a volunteer role, she helped found the Ann Arbor-based Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan—which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary—and Family Counseling and Shelter Services, Monroe County's domestic violence shelter. She has also been active in state and local bar associations and nonprofit agencies.
"Routt is well known for her patience, integrity, respectful treatment of everyone, and quiet, even temperament at the same time she is a vigorous advocate," Simpson wrote. "She always makes time to listen to clients, opposing counsel, and staff. Quite simply, Routt embodies what is best about the legal profession."
—Mike Eidelbes, Lynn Ingram, and Samantha Meinke
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Ann L. Routt
The Champion of Justice Award is given to practicing lawyers and judges of integrity and adherence to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession, superior professional competence, and an extraordinary professional accomplishment that benefits the nation, the state, or the local community in which the lawyer or judge lives.