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Bar association names award winners

May 3, 2017
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Jon March
Jon March. Courtesy Miller Johnson

The local bar association and a law school in the region have presented four awards to members of the legal profession.

The Grand Rapids Bar Association and Western Michigan University Cooley Law School honored three attorneys and a nonprofit for their service and community impact at the annual Law Day last Friday at the University Club in downtown Grand Rapids.

2017 award winners

Donald R. Worsford Distinguished Service Award
Jon March, member, Miller Johnson

The award recognizes a member of the Grand Rapids Bar Association for a career of service to the bar, the profession and the community. It is presented when the association wishes to acknowledge and honor the contributions of a member whose service stands out for its extraordinary impact on the life of the community.

Marion Hilligan Public Service Award
Ann Cooper, attorney, Drew Cooper & Anding

The award is presented to lawyers who have taken individual responsibility to promote public health and welfare through law. It is given in honor of Marion Hilligan, former associate dean of the Grand Rapids campus of WMU Cooley Law School, who died in 2007.

President’s Award
Benjamin Hammond, attorney, Hilger Hammond Attorneys at Law

The award is given to recognize special contributions by a GRBA member in service and/or support to the GRBA board of trustees, executive committee and executive director.

Liberty Bell Award
Fair Housing Center of West Michigan

The award honors a non-lawyer or a nonprofit that has made an outstanding contribution to the cause of justice or advancing public understanding of the constitution and the legal system.

Jon March

With more than 45 years of experience as a trial lawyer handling a wide variety of employment, commercial and general civil litigation, March has successfully mediated cases involving nearly every area of the law.

March volunteers at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Grand Rapids Student Advancement Fund and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, serving in leadership and advisory roles.

He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Michigan and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, International Society of Barristers, American Bar Foundation and State Bar of Michigan Foundation. March is also a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals.

March was honored as a “Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly and received the Hillman Award for his devotion to advocacy.

Ann Cooper

Cooper is an of-counsel attorney at the Grand Rapids firm Drew Cooper & Anding.

She has practiced in Michigan courts, in the eastern and western districts of Michigan’s federal courts and served on the U.S. 6th Circuit Judicial Merit Selection Panel in 1998.

Cooper graduated from Michigan State University, Byrn Mawr College and the University of Michigan Law School. She was a Fulbright Scholar in France. She is a member of local, state and federal bar associations and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

She has served as a member of the Michigan Supreme Court Task Force on Gender Issues in the Courts, State Bar’s Open Justice Commission and Equal Access Initiative of the State Bar. She was also a member of the Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission and a trustee and board chair of the Grand Rapids Foundation.

Cooper continues to work in civics education programs for Grand Rapids high school students and on diversity and inclusion issues with the Grand Rapids Bar Association.

Benjamin Hammond

Hammond practices construction law, commercial and residential real estate transactions, business law and commercial litigation at Hilger Hammond Attorneys at Law.

He is a graduate of Cornerstone University and the Michigan State University College of Law.

A member of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan and Eastern and Western District of Michigan of the U.S. District Court, Hammond has served as Grand Rapids Bar Association secretary, past trustee and former president of the Young Lawyers Section.

He was named an “Up & Coming Lawyer” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly and a 40 Under Forty business leader by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Hammond is a pro bono volunteer at Legal Aid of West Michigan, secretary of the 49 Monroe Center Condo Association and a board member at Ada Bible Church.

Fair Housing Center of West Michigan

The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan in Grand Rapids is a nonprofit committed to providing comprehensive fair-housing services, including education, outreach, research, advocacy and enforcement. 

Through education, research and advocacy, the organization aims to prevent housing discrimination, remove barriers that allow it to persist and restore housing choice when discrimination happens.

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