Wayne Law to honor 7 at Treasure of Detroit event April 22

Wayne State University Law School has announced honorees for the 2015 Treasure of Detroit, which will pay tribute Wednesday, April 22, to alumni who have made a lasting contribution to the practice of law.

The honorees are:

Chokwe Lumumba, Wayne Law Class of 1975, being honored posthumously as a longtime civil rights activist who was mayor of Jackson, Miss., at the time of his death in 2014

The Miller family:

• Father –  Bruce A. Miller of West Bloomfield, Wayne Law Class of 1954, general counsel for the Metro AFL-CIO in Detroit and founder of Miller Cohen PLC in Detroit

• Son – E. Powell Miller of Rochester Hills, Wayne Law Class of 1986, CEO of The Miller Law Firm PC in Rochester

• Daughter – Ann Lydia Miller of Waterford, Wayne Law Class of 1989, partner in The Miller Law Firm

• Daughter – Elizabeth Dot Miller of Royal Oak, Class of 1986, bachelor of fine arts, Wayne State College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, bookkeeper at Miller Cohen PLC

• Mother – Edna P. Miller, Class of 1958, master of social work, Wayne State School of Social Work, being honored posthumously. At the time of her death in 2006, she was an associate professor emeritus in the School of Social Work.

Also at the Treasure of Detroit event, Wayne Law Assistant Professor Kirsten Matoy Carlson of Grosse Pointe Park will receive the 2014 Donald H. Gordon Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The Treasure of Detroit has been Wayne Law’s premiere event to honor the brightest lights in the legal profession and to celebrate the growth and success of the law school. This year, the awards ceremony will take on a new form, with free admission, a strolling buffet, live music and a cash bar.

The event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at in the Prentis Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave. Free tickets are available at law.wayne.edu/treasure2015 or by calling 313-577-0300. Registration is required by Friday, April 10. Attendees will have access to the museum’s first-floor exhibitions. Business attire is recommended.

Chokwe Lumumba decided early in his life that he could bring change and best serve the civil rights movement as a lawyer.

Born Edwin Talliaferro (he later changed his name to embrace his heritage), Lumumba was one of seven siblings in a family living in a public housing project on Detroit’s west side. He attended Detroit’s St. Theresa High School, where, encouraged by his mother, he began to be active in political protests. As a teen, he was deeply inspired by the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and the writings of Malcolm X.

In 1969, Lumumba entered Wayne Law – one of only a few dozen new African-American students that year. He took a break from his studies to spend time in Jackson, Miss., which was then a hotbed of civil rights activity and where he became active in the controversial Republic of New Afrika. He returned to Wayne Law in 1973, and, after earning his degree cum laude, he practiced in Detroit for 10 years.

Lumumba remained active in the civil rights movement and the community and defended many high-profile, controversial activists in court. In 1988, he moved back to Mississippi, where he continued to be a civil rights leader and to defend other activists. Before being elected mayor in 2013, he worked as a public defender in Jackson, representing indigent clients, and he founded community organizations, including the Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition after Hurricane Katrina.

Lumumba recently was honored by the Detroit City Council, which is adding a second street sign to Warren Avenue, naming it for him.
Bruce Miller served as attorney for the Labor Hall of Fame and is general counsel for the Metro AFL-CIO in Detroit. His law firm, Miller Cohen PLC, solely represents workers and labor unions – never employers or businesses.

Bruce grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was a civil rights advocate even as a high school student in the early 1940s. When race riots broke out in his school lunchroom, he formed the Brotherhood Club – the first interracial club in the school. He went on to form the Interracial Youth Committee, an organization that spread to many schools throughout New York City.

After stints in the Merchant Marine and the U.S. Army, Bruce studied at Olivet College. There, he quickly organized a student strike over the firing of a popular professor. The effort failed, and Miller left Olivet and moved to Detroit, where he got a job at the Hudson Motor Car Co. He saved enough money to attend Mexico City College, earned his bachelor’s degree and applied to law school with the goal of becoming a labor lawyer.

He was admitted to Wayne Law, earned his degree and has enjoyed a long career as a labor and civil rights attorney.

As attorney for the Detroit Branch NAACP, he was successful in protecting citizens from police abuse; caused the first agreement for goals and timetables at First Federal Savings and Loan Association resulting in the first integration of the downtown banking community; outlawed the notorious Poindexter Homeowner’s Ordinance, which was designed to segregate the city of Detroit; and won many other fights in the struggle for civil rights.

Powell Miller, a member of the Wayne Law Board of Visitors, earned a bachelor of arts from Georgetown University in 1983 before graduating third in his class from Wayne Law, magna cum laude, in 1986. He was named to the Order of the Coif and was an editor of the Wayne Law Review. After graduation, Powell joined the Detroit law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, where he was elected partner in 1990. In 1994, he formed his own firm.

Powell has been named one of the top 10 lawyers in Michigan for six consecutive years, from 2009 to 2014, by Super Lawyers Magazine. In 2010, he was the sole recipient of Best Lawyers’ Lawyer of the Year in the category of Bet-the-Company Litigation – Detroit Area. He was recognized as one of the top 100 lawyers in Michigan in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and he has been named as one of the Best Lawyers in America every year since 2005.

Powell has been retained by many Fortune 500 and other clients to represent them in litigation throughout the country. He recently won a trial in a high-profile, multimillion-dollar lawsuit on behalf of a Fortune 100 automotive supplier. In fact, he has never lost a trial – with 11 consecutive victories, including verdicts in excess of $23 million. He also has obtained in excess of $1 billion in settlements over the past few years.

Powell is a supporter of the Detroit Urban Debate League, a nonprofit that supports the creation of debate programs in underserved high schools; University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy; Joe Niekro Foundation, which is committed to aiding in the research and treatment of aneurysm patients and families; and Charlotte’s Wings, a nonprofit that is dedicated to supporting ailing children in southeast Michigan through donations of new books to the children and their families in hospital and hospice care.

Ann Miller has been recognized for the past two years as a Michigan Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine. She earned a bachelor of arts from University of Michigan in 1986 and went on to graduate fifth in her class, magna cum laude, from Wayne Law in 1989. There, she was named to the Order of the Coif and received a Gold Key Award for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average during the 1987-88 academic year. She also earned American Jurisprudence Awards for attaining the highest grade in the courses Torts, Constitutional Law and Conflicts of Law.

After law school, Ann worked as a pre-hearing attorney at the Michigan Court of Appeals and then as an attorney specializing in labor-employment law and employment discrimination. She has co-authored several articles that have appeared in the Michigan Bar Journal and other publications.

Ann concentrates her practice on all types of business and commercial litigation, including labor-employment law, employment discrimination and overtime and minimum wage issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Elizabeth Miller began working in picture framing after graduation, eventually rising to become district manager overseeing multiple units doing more than $1 million dollars in business. She then moved on to become a manager for big box retail, where she became known as the “fix it” manager who would turn around stores that were facing difficulties. Her proudest achievement in that role was mentoring many employees into management positions.

Elizabeth works part time as the bookkeeper for her father’s law firm and takes care of her 5-year-old son, Aiden.

Edna Miller had taught at the Wayne State School of Social Work for more than two decades.

Born Edna Powell and raised in York, England, her family home was severely damaged in a German air raid during World War II. She often related stories to her children about gathering around the radio to hear Prime Minister Winston Churchill rally the country with his speeches.
After earning degrees in English literature and social work from the University of Leeds, Edna immigrated to the United States in 1951. She earned a master of social work from Wayne State in 1958 before returning to teach in 1964.

Edna also worked at the former Lafayette Clinic in Detroit, where she helped establish a Child Crisis Center. Later, she was appointed to a commission to rewrite the State of Michigan’s mental health code.

Kirsten Carlson focuses her research on legal advocacy and law reform, with particular attention on the various strategies used by Indian nations and indigenous groups to reform federal Indian law and policy effectively.

A National Science Foundation Law and Social Science Program grant is funding her research project, “Legal Mobilization, Rights Claims, and Federal Indian Policy Reform.” She incorporates her research into her classes.

At Wayne Law, Carlson teaches American Indian Law and Civil Procedure. She is faculty advisor to the Native American Law Student Association and serves on the State Bar of Michigan Standing Committee on American Indian Law.

Prior to joining Wayne Law in 2011, Carlson advocated nationally and internationally to protect the rights of Indian nations as a staff attorney at the Indian Law Resource Center. She led the center’s advocacy efforts to restore criminal jurisdiction to Indian nations to end violence against women in Indian Country. Carlson also has been a visiting research scholar at the University of Ottawa and a visiting associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Carlson earned a bachelor of arts degree in international studies from Johns Hopkins University, a master of arts degree with distinction in Maaori studies from the University of Wellington, New Zealand, and her law degree cum laude and a doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan. Her articles have been published in the Michigan Law Review, Georgia State Law Review, American Indian Law Review and Michigan State Law Review.