Thursday Profile: John M. Barr

By Jo Mathis
Legal NewsJohn M. Barr, the senior member of the Barr, Anhut & Associates law firm in Ypsilanti, is a graduate of Michigan State University and the University Of Michigan Law School. He began his law practice in Ypsilanti in 1959, and has been Ypsilanti’s city attorney since 1981, while also representing Lodi Township and other municipal organizations.
Barr’s expertise includes estate planning, probate, corporation and business law. A former commissioner on the State Bar Board of Commissioners, he is a past president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys (life member) and the Michigan Municipal League Legal Defense Fund. 
Barr, who was once again named a “Super Lawyer” recently, has received many awards over the years, including the State Bar of Michigan Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award in 2012, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce this year.
Barr taught business law at Eastern Michigan University and is a frequent lecturer on legal matters.  He and his wife, Marlene, have three grown children, including attorney son, Karl, who has been with the firm 12 years.
Residence:  Ypsilanti.
My mother always told me... “A good reputation is hard to get but easy to lose.”
What is your most treasured material possession?  A small gold ring.  But never love something that cannot love you back.
What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  “Don't go to law school if you want to make a lot of money.  Do go to law school if you want a life of intellectual stimulation, doing good and helping people.”
Favorite local hangouts:  I don't hang out anymore, but I enjoy concerts, plays and Haab's restaurant.
What is your proudest moment(s) as a lawyer?  Admission to the bar and the "not guilty" in my first murder trial.
What is your happiest childhood memory?  My first bicycle for Christmas.
Which things do you not like to do?  The business aspects of running a law office.
What would surprise people about your job?  Practicing law is not work; it is a calling that can give great satisfaction.
What’s your greatest achievement?  59 years of marriage and 54 years of law practice.
At Thanksgiving dinner, would you rather talk politics, religion or the weather?  Politics.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  “It is time to get real.”
What one thing do you wish people knew about your work?  The law is a helping profession.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?  Require world peace.
Must-see TV:  We do not have cable and do not watch TV unless it is the Michigan-Michigan State game or a special program of interest.
Who is your favorite character of fiction?  Buck in "Call of the Wild."
Favorite movie:   “The Maltese Falcon.”
What's the best advice you ever received?  “Forget a teacher's certificate and go to law school.”
What place won't you return if you can help it?  Mexico City.  My wife and I spent a semester there our junior year.  It was then 1 million and a wonderful city of eternal spring.  When we returned 25 years later, it was 17 million and a mess of pollution.
Favorite law-related movie:   “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Favorite place to spend money:   Congdon’s hardware store, Ypsilanti.
What is your motto?  The famous line in President John F. Kennedy's speech:  "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what can you do for your country."
Where would you like to be when you're 90?  Upright with my wife and family on a cruise ship.         

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