Ryan Stresses Bar Teamwork Statewide

June 5, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The year-long mission of Thomas Ryan is to emphasize cooperation and teamwork among members of the legal profession statewide.

"This isn't about egos and résumés," he said. "We have a Bar agenda, not a president's agenda."

Ryan, president of the State Bar of Michigan, made those comments at a recent meeting of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Board of Directors.

He told board members that the State Bar's purpose was to help all attorneys perform better and more efficiently, and to improve Michigan's justice system without becoming tangled in partisan politics.

"While other bars do that well, we won't do that. We will stay down the middle," said Ryan, a solo practitioner from Sylvan Lake.

Ryan said the state organization has to work closely with the local associations in order to make those improvements.

He said the Bar would do its part by offering assistance to the local groups whenever it can.

"We're here to serve the profession," he added.

Ryan's aversion to partisan politics is well known among attorneys across the state, and amply evident in one of his recent writings. In the January issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, he expressed his position on whether state judges should be selected or elected.

"If there is even the possibility that the (s)election of judges and justices of the Michigan appellate courts may be changed, discussion and debate should begin and be led by us, as members of the organized Bar.

"No other person or group is so involved and familiar with the day-to-day work of these important courts," wrote Ryan.

"This is not to say that we should decide the matter, even if we could," he added. "However, we can serve a vital role in beginning and leading the debate by providing to the public and government institutions our recommendations and rationale."

Ryan began his one-year term last September, and said it has been a wonderful experience for him. He was elected to the post after nearly 20 years of active participation in the State Bar.

Ryan told board members that when he steps down, much of the leadership of the Bar will be in the good hands of three local attorneys; Bruce Neckers, Scott Brinkmeyer and Bruce Courtade. Neckers is president-elect, Brinkmeyer is secretary, and Courtade chairs the Representative Assembly.

"The future of the Bar is here in Grand Rapids," he said.

As for the local Bar, Ryan said it was one of the brightest, best and largest in the state.

"I feel very comfortable being among Grand Rapids lawyers," said Ryan. "We work quite well together."

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