Jessica Karmasek Aug. 19, 2015, 1:28pm


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - Michigan Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly announced this week she will be leaving her seat on the state’s high court to return to private practice.

Kelly, who joined the court in January 2011 after serving as a judge on the Wayne County Circuit Court, will join the Detroit law office of Bodman PLC. She will step down, officially, from the court Oct. 1 and join Bodman Oct. 15.

At Bodman, Kelly will become vice chair of the firm’s Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group. She will focus her practice on business litigation, government relations and public affairs. She also will become an active participant in Bodman’s pro bono and community service programs and other leadership initiatives.

The justice said she is grateful for the opportunity to serve on the court, but is eager to help families and children in other ways.

“It’s an exciting time to re-enter private practice, particularly at a firm like Bodman where the culture and service philosophy fit me perfectly,” she said in a statement Monday. “During my years on the bench, I feel that I have achieved all of the public service objectives I set out to achieve when I first became a judge.

“My work at Bodman will allow me not only to enter a new phase in my career but will also open many community service opportunities that I could not pursue as a Supreme Court justice.”

Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. had high praise for her.

“Justice Kelly has written important opinions and made her presence felt on this bench,” he said in a statement. “In particular, my colleagues and I have appreciated the experience and insights she brought from leading the state’s largest circuit court.”

He continued, “Justice Kelly is a good friend, and I will miss her presence on the court. I wish her well in the next phase of her career.”

Bodman Chairman Ralph E. McDowell said Kelly brings an “exceptional mix” of legal expertise, professional integrity and personal commitment to causes that promote the welfare of children and families and an “equitable” juvenile justice system.

“Her vast experience, keen legal insight, leadership abilities and impeccable reputation will enrich our firm,” he said in a statement.

“Justice Kelly will be an invaluable resource to our clients and our attorneys.”

Before her election to the Supreme Court in November 2010, Kelly served as a judge on the Wayne Circuit Court from 1999 to 2010, including three terms as chief judge. She is the only woman to ever serve as chief judge of the court.

Prior to becoming a judge, she worked as a lawyer and commercial litigation partner in the law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC in Detroit from 1987 to 1999.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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