Attorneys E. Christopher Johnson Jr. of Detroit and Dean Allen Robb of Empire have been named this year's Michael Franck Award winners. Henry Lukowiak of Detroit has been selected as the recipient of the newly created Unsung Hero Award. All three recipients will receive their awards from the State Bar Representative Assembly during the Bar's 69th Annual Meeting in Lansing.
The State Bar Representative Assembly presents the Michael Franck Award annually to a lawyer in good standing who has made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of the profession; it presents the Unsung Hero Award to a lawyer who has exhibited the highest standards of practice and commitment for the benefit of others. A Distinguished Service Awards Banquet will be held Thursday, Sept. 30, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Lansing Center ballroom to honor all State Bar of Michigan award winners.
E. Christopher Johnson, the Vice President and General Counsel of General Motors North America, is being recognized for his commitment to diversity issues and for helping to advance opportunities for racial and ethnic minority lawyers.
In particular, he is being honored for his efforts in organizing the "Minority Outside Counsel Networking Conference," held in October 2002, which was a two-day national meeting in Detroit that helped promote diversity in the legal profession by building relationships between corporations and minority lawyers. For his work, Johnson was also the recipient of the ABA Spirit of Excellence Award for 2004. In his current position at General Motors, Johnson manages the delivery of all legal services that impact the firm's North America Region and its hundreds of attorneys, support staff, and outside law firms. Before joining General Motors, Johnson worked as an attorney search consultant and an associate attorney with the New York firm of Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander and Ferdon. Johnson has served in many organizations, including the American Bar Association, the United Negro College Fund, and the Detroit Bar Foundation.
Dean Allen Robb, of the Dean Robb Law Firm, is a well-known liberal activist and trial attorney who has been committed to the issues of civil rights and justice since his career began in 1949. A Traverse City-area attorney who first practiced in Detroit (1949-1971) and was a founding partner in the firm of Goodman, Crochett, Eden and Robb, he is widely recognized for his efforts to help disadvantaged and oppressed people and for fighting against discrimination and intolerance. A lifetime member of the NAACP, Robb was active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and provided legal services in the South. He is a member of and has served numerous organizations including the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association (past president), the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (past governor, sixth circuit), Michigan ACLU (past state officer and director), and he was a founder and past president of the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a national public interest law firm. Robb is also known for one of his hobbies, acting, through both community theater and his one-man Mark Twain shows. He was a recipient of the State Bar Champion of Justice award in 1994.
Henry Lukowiak, a staff attorney for the Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc., which works in partnership with Wayne State University Law School, is recognized for dedicating his career to serving the underprivileged and acting as a guide for generations of law students as the lead attorney and advisor to the Free Legal Aid Clinic. Since 1979, Lukowiak had directed the activities of up to 30 law students per semester in their representation of indigent clients in civil matters, which was the clinic's past focus, and family law matters, which is the clinic's current focus. He has served as a mentor and teacher to many Michigan lawyers, and they have acknowledged that he provided them with their first hands-on experience with the law and affected their career paths significantly. He has been commended by many lawyers who he supervised as students for his teaching ability, good humor, integrity, patience, calmness, and kindness when working with them; his unyielding and tireless dedication to and respect for his clients; and for his ability to make the most of a "shoestring" budget.