Jessica Karmasek Oct. 1, 2015, 2:10pm


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - Joan Larsen, a law professor and special counsel to the dean at the University of Michigan Law School, has been appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement Wednesday.

Larsen will fill the seat left behind by former Justice Mary Beth Kelly, who announced in August she would be leaving the bench to return to private practice.

“Joan is a superb attorney who brings experience from the highest levels of government, private practice and academia to the state’s highest court,” Snyder said in a statement. “She is highly regarded by her peers, and is a nationally recognized constitutional scholar.

“I’m confident she’ll be an invaluable addition to the Michigan Supreme Court.”

Before her time at the university, Larsen was deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. She also has taught at Northwestern University School of Law.

She began her career as a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then served as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for two years.

She followed her clerkship into private practice with the law firm Sidley & Austin in Washington, D.C.

Larsen, who earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and her law degree from Northwestern University, has written extensively on the U.S. Constitution, international law, the judicial system and separation of powers.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young couldn’t be more ecstatic with Snyder’s selection.

Young said in a statement Wednesday that she is “a perfect fit.”

“Joan Larsen is an accomplished, nationally recognized legal scholar, successful teacher and keen legal thinker,” the chief justice said. “My colleagues and I welcome her to a collegial court that is ready to work with her in building on our successful record of making Michigan’s judiciary a model for the nation.”

Larsen said she looks forward to her time on the state’s high court.

“I have practiced law, taught the law and enforced the law,” she said. “Public service has always been my calling.”

Larsen succeeds Kelly, who will join the Detroit law office of Bodman PLC Oct. 15. The new justice will have to stand for election in November 2016 to fulfill the remainder of Kelly’s term, which runs through the end of 2018.

Michigan Supreme Court justices serve eight-year terms. If elected in 2016, Larsen could run again in 2018 for a full eight-year term on the court.

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

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