The State Bar of Michigan congratulates Executive Director Janet K. Welch for being named 2011 Woman of the Year by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
Welch was presented the award at the annual Women in the Law luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy. Woman of the Year was the highest honor presented at the luncheon, which also recognized 19 other women, including SBM Commissioner Jennifer Grieco, for making meaningful and inspiring contributions to the legal community. Honorees had to meet a number of other criteria, including committing to excellence in the practice of law, serving as inspiring and accomplished leaders in the profession, mentoring other women, and contributing significant time to volunteering and pro bono efforts.
Welch became the first woman to lead the State Bar as executive director in 2007, after serving as SBM's general counsel for six years. Lawyers Weekly said her most visible effort as executive director has been her hands on work organizing the Judicial Crossroads Task Force, which was comprised of 29 voting members, and four committees, with a combined total of 98 voting members. The four committees did in-depth analyses of access to justice, business impact, court resources and structure, and technology, and made reports back to the overall Task Force, which used that information to create a report filled with concrete, practical, and innovative recommendations for the future of Michigan's justice system. The report is recognized nationally as a model for reforming the justice system in the face of changing economic and demographic conditions.
Welch credits the success of the Crossroads Task Force to its co-chairs, Barry Howard and Edward Pappas, and to a "remarkable ensemble of volunteer lawyers, judges, and staff."
Prior to joining the State Bar, Welch served as Michigan Supreme Court counsel for four years and as an analyst for both the Michigan Senate and the Michigan House of Representatives. She worked as an executive analyst in the Office of the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and in that capacity served as reporter for the Commission on the Courts in the 21st Century, and as staff to the Michigan Justice Project. In 1998, the Council of State Governments named her a Toll Fellow for outstanding achievement and service to state government.
She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Albion College and the University of Michigan Law School. She is also a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government State and Local Senior Executive Program at Harvard University and was a Fulbright Scholar in comparative literature at the University of Zagreb in the former Yugoslavia.
SBM Blog Post by SBM Staff About the Award, Complete with Video
SBM Blog Post by Janet Welch, Thanking All for Award