Bridget M. McCormack, who, as chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, has been a leading voice on modernizing the court and justice systems to expand access to justice, is retiring from the court at the end of this year and in February will become president and chief executive officer of the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution (AAA-ICDR).

“We undertook an extensive and thorough search to find a leader who is not only an expert in the legal field, but who also possesses outstanding business acumen and shares our dedication to enhancing the alternative dispute resolution process and expanding access to it,” Kimberly Wiehl, chair of the AAA-ICDR’s board of directors, said in an announcement.

In recent years, McCormack has become a leading champion of initiatives to enhance access to justice, both within Michigan and nationally.

She is on the governing council of the American Bar Association Center for Innovation and is a strategic advisor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Future of the Profession Initiative.

In Michigan, she established and secured grant funding for Michigan’s Justice for All Commission, which is dedicated to building innovative solutions for Michiganders who can’t afford a lawyer to solve their legal problems. She also secured funding for and chaired the Michigan Judicial Council, which has issued a comprehensive strategic plan for the state judiciary.

In a letter to the judiciary announcing her retirement, she wrote:

“Over the past 10 years, I have always been inspired by your example and your courage to meet every challenge, to innovate, to engage our communities, and to model the values of independence, equity, and fairness that are the bedrock of our judicial system. I want to express my gratitude for your hard work and dedication to Michigan’s judiciary and the people it serves. Most of all, I am proud of our work together to make courts more accessible. You have proven that justice is not a place, but a process and that the process must be navigable to those whom our system of justice serves. Thanks to all of you, I am confident that Michigan will continue to be a national leader in access to justice.”

Regarding her move to AAA-ICDR, she said:

“I am honored to join the AAA-ICDR team and to serve those who rely on its many services and contributions. I very much look forward to working to advance AAA-ICDR’s critical mission and expand its reach. At a time when so much is changing in the legal profession, the AAA-IDCR’s mission and vision are more important than ever.”

My favorite quote from Chief Justice McCormack came during the plenary discussion at the Legal Services Corporation’s Innovations in Technology conference in January 2021, when she said:

“This pandemic was obviously not the disruption we wanted but I think it might have been the disruption we needed in courts to be able to accelerate change in a way that I hope can produce a justice system that’s more accessible and more transparent and more efficient.”

Congratulations to her on this move.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.