West Michigan businesses and law firms have contributed more than $156,000 to the State Bar Access to Justice (ATJ) Fund. The money was raised Sept. 22, 2004 in Grand Rapids at a West Michigan Corporate Reception to benefit ATJ. Over 50 business and legal leaders attended the event.
The ATJ Fund, one of the State Bar's justice initiatives to ensure that a strong civil legal system is available to all regardless of their financial means, supports legal aid programs such as the Legal Assistance Center of Kent County, Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project, Inc., and Western Michigan Legal Services, through donor-designated contributions and annual grants. It is estimated that more than 46,000 low-income people received legal help last year from the 40 programs in Michigan that are eligible to receive ATJ Fund donations.
In response to the call for corporate support, event sponsor the Paul Goebel Group became the newest ATJ "President's Club" donor club member with the company's gift of $25,000.
Additional contributors included several personal gifts and donations from the law firms of Howard & Howard, Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones, Miller Johnson Snell & Cummiskey, Pinsky Smith Fayette & Howlett, Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett, and Warner Norcross & Judd.
"Civil legal aid is important to all of us, not just lawyers," said Judge Alfred M. Butzbaugh during his remarks that evening. "If a low-income person can satisfactorily resolve their civil legal issues, it will assist them in continuing to be reliable, productive, and long-term employees. This assistance will also help these individuals to be self-supporting and allow them to be regular purchasers of the goods and services which businesses offer," Judge Butzbaugh said.
Donors to the ATJ Fund can designate gifts to a specific program or may choose to have their donation support needs throughout the state. All contributions to the ATJ Fund are received and managed by the Michigan State Bar Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization.
From left to right: Candace Crowley, State Bar of Michigan; Jon Muth, Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey, PLC; Meg Goebel, Paul Goebel Group; Bruce Courtade, Rhoades McKee; Jeff Elble, Paul Goebel Group; and Lisa Allen-Kost, State Bar of Michigan.