Southeast Michigan Access to Justice Corporate Committee members with Attorney General Michael A. Cox. From left, Jon Bilstrom, Comerica, Inc; Reginald Turner, Clark Hill; Robert E. Gilbert, Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone; Thomas A. Gottschalk, General Motors Corporation; Attorney General Cox; Richard L. Manetta, Dow Chemical; Dennis E. Ross, Ford Motor Company
Continuing their tradition of generous giving and a commitment to help those in need of legal services, Southeast Michigan corporate and law firm leaders have again pledged financial support for the State Bar's Access to Justice (ATJ) Fund.
At a recent ATJ Corporate Committee reception in Detroit more than 80 people gathered and pledged over $150,000 for the ATJ Fund. The largest donation of $75,000 came from General Motors Corporation. General Motors General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Law and Public Policy, Thomas A. Gottschalk noted that t he legal system has been perceived to favor those with money, and especially corporations. "It is important and appropriate that corporations make room in their charitable giving for services that open the doors of justice to those who cannot afford otherwise to enter," he said.
DTE Energy Foundation and Dow Chemical announced gifts totaling $25,000. Corporate Committee chair Dennis E. Ross announced Ford Motor Company's new gift of $50,000, designated to Detroit Legal Services Clinic, Community Legal Resources, Legal Aid and Defender Association, and Elder Law of Michigan.
Special guest Attorney General Michael A. Cox, told the group, "The goals of the Access to Justice Campaign fit within the highest traditions of our profession and our humanity—never forgetting the least among us, always being willing to share what you have, and forever committed to making a difference in our society."
The audience also heard from Robert E. Gilbert of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, who encouraged continued financial support from law firms and urged lawyers to fulfill Michigan's pro bono standard, which asks that all attorneys contribute thirty hours, three cases, or $300 annually to the ATJ Fund.
The Access to Justice Campaign and the Pro Bono Initiative are programs of the State Bar's Standing Committee on Justice Initiatives. Contributions to the ATJ Fund are received and managed by the Michigan State Bar Foundation according to the Access to Justice Fund guidelines.