Local legal professionals appointed to Justice for All Commission

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Rob Buchanan Courtesy Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court named Rob Buchanan, State Bar of Michigan president and Grand Rapids attorney, and Deborah Hughes, Kent County Legal Assistance Center’s executive director, to its newly created Justice for All Commission.

The commission is designed to implement a Justice for All (JFA) Strategic Plan that works toward the goal of 100% access to the civil justice system. The plan aims to help more individuals solve civil legal problems such as landlord-tenant issues, family law disputes such as parenting time or custody, and access to benefits.

“I am honored to work closely with Rob on the JFA Commission,” Justice Brian Zahra said. “His extensive legal expertise and leadership in the profession make him uniquely qualified to help Michigan take steps toward opening the doors of justice widely for our neighbors, our communities and people statewide.”

Debora Hughes Courtesy Michigan Supreme Court

Buchanan and Hughes will serve terms ending Dec. 31. Hughes will represent legal self-help centers on the commission.

Zahra said Hughes’ immense experience in assisting self-represented litigants will make her a valued addition to the commission.

A JFA Task Force was created in 2019 to develop a strategic plan and its 2020 report “highlighted important desired outcomes” and recommended steps that need to be taken to achieve them.

The steps include:

  • Simplify, streamline and create uniform processes to improve the ability to navigate the court system.
  • Improve the triage and referral systems through usability testing so that individuals can be connected to the resources they need.
  • Provide education for parties on remote access to court resources, expand use of text messaging and other convenient technology, use plain language to explain procedures and processes.
  • Test and implement new ways of providing affordable legal services, educate public and stakeholders on available resources.
  • Improve technology and access at legal self-help centers and increase public awareness of these tools.

The commission will be supported by the State Court Administrative Office, State Bar of Michigan and the Michigan State Bar Foundation. Justice Zahra will serve as commission chair, and Michigan Legal Help Director Angela Tripp will serve as vice chair.

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