NYU Law Women presented Bridget McCormack ’91, Chief Justice at the Michigan Supreme Court, with the group’s 2022 Alumna of the Year award at a virtual event on February 10. A student organization whose mission is to help women succeed in law and to advocate for women’s rights, Law Women annually honors a distinguished alumna who has broken new ground in the legal field.
Attendees first heard from Law Women co-presidents Tina LaRitz ’23 and Ayo Osobamiro ’23, as well as Dean Trevor Morrison, who spoke about McCormack’s career and achievements.
McCormack began her legal career in New York City, where she served as trial counsel at the Legal Aid Society and the Office of the Appellate Defender. After teaching at Yale Law School, she moved to the University of Michigan Law School, where she created a range of new clinics addressing domestic violence, pediatric health advocacy, and human trafficking, among other issues. She joined the Michigan Supreme Court in 2013, and was appointed Chief Justice six years later. In 2021, she delivered the Convocation address at NYU Law.
In her Law Women remarks, McCormack discussed her work to increase access to justice and improve service in Michigan’s courts. The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, which she co-chaired, had already developed a number of important reforms when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, prompting more innovation.
“It was the disruption we needed,” McCormack said. “We had to figure out how to innovate and collaborate with people we don’t normally collaborate with… And despite all the difficulties, we’ve seen more change in our courthouses and our courtrooms in the last two years than in a century, by a lot.” She cited an online dispute resolution platform, expanded from 17 counties to cover all 83 counties in Michigan, and the Justice for All task force, which has created what McCormack calls “the most innovative and exciting access to justice plan for the state that I think exists in the country.”
“It’s a really exciting time to be starting out as lawyers,” McCormack told her audience. “There’s so much up for grabs, so much that feels possible right now that didn’t feel possible 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or even three years ago. And so much that needs to be done. There is so much room for new, big ideas about how we might deliver better justice to more people.”
Watch the full discussion on video:
Posted on March 9, 2022. Photo credit: Michigan Supreme Court.