Of Interest

Michigan State Bar Foundation Names 2023 Award Winners


Michigan Bar Journal


The Michigan State Bar Foundation has announced its 2023 award recipients. Edward Pappas, chairman emeritus and consulting member at Dickinson Wright, is receiving the Founders Award, which recognizes a lawyer who exemplifies professional excellence and outstanding commitment to serving the community. Karen Tjapkes, director of litigation at Legal Aid of Western Michigan, is receiving the Access to Justice Award, which honors an individual who significantly advances access to justice for low-income individuals in Michigan.

“The Michigan State Bar Foundation is pleased to recognize the contributions of Edward Pappas and Karen Tjapkes,” MSBF President Craig Lubben said, “Their leadership and commitment to access to justice are inspirational.”

The awards will be presented during the MSBF Fellows Reception on Sept. 13 in Grand Rapids.


Pappas has provided significant leadership on important legal issues including professionalism, civility, and access to justice.

He was State Bar of Michigan president in 2008-2009 and served as MSBF president from 2018-2022. In 2015, received the Robert P. Hudson Award, the State Bar of Michigan’s highest honor. Pappas is a secretary for the MSBF Fellows Program, serves on the steering and fundraising committees for the foundation’s Access to Justice Campaign, chairs the SBM Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, and is leading efforts to encourage mediators to volunteer with community dispute resolution centers and legal aid programs. He sits on the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School Board of Directors and is a fellow of the American Bar Association and the Oakland County Bar Foundation.


Tjapkes has been an attorney with Legal Aid of Western Michigan for 23 years. As director of litigation, she oversees the program’s advocacy and service delivery, establishes litigation goals and strategies, manages staff training and professional development, and assists with grant management. She represents low-income and elderly clients in housing law, foreclosure, consumer law, bankruptcy, and public benefits matters. Tjapkes co-chairs the Michigan Supreme Court Justice for All Commission Summary Proceedings Improvement Workgroup, sits on the steering council of the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness, and is an SBM Consumer Law Section council member. She has also served as an expert advisor with the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice on consumer rights for domestic violence survivors.

The Michigan State Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides leadership and grants to improve access for all in the justice system, including support for civil legal aid for low-income households. For more information, visit www.msbf.org.