Corrigan honored for public service: Former Supreme Court justice now leading state's Department of Human Services


 By Steve Thorpe

Legal News
Maura Corrigan, director of the Michigan Department of Human Services and former Michigan Supreme Court justice, has been honored by the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association (DMBA) with its annual Dennis W. Archer Public Service Award.
Each year, the DMBA Foundation presents the Archer Award for outstanding public service to a member of the legal profession from the metropolitan Detroit area. The honoree will have established a career dedicated to the betterment of the profession and the community.
This year’s gala was held at the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Proceeds from the event benefit the DMBA Foundation’s Access to Justice and public service programs.
Speakers included Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr.
“I now call her ‘Director Whirling Dervish’ because she is a force of nature, sweeping aside all impediments to helping the children and families of Michigan she loves,” he said. Referring to their many years of friendship, Young also said, “She is as gallant and true in private as she is in the public square.”
Upon receiving the award, Corrigan said, “I am just truly so honored. I feel extremely fortunate to have become a lawyer.”
Referring to her current job leading the Department of Human Services, she said, “The job I have now is the toughest job I ever had and I’m thrilled to go to work every day.”
Corrigan began serving on the Michigan Supreme Court in 1999 and was chief justice from 2001 to 2005. After graduating with honors from Marygrove College, she went on to the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law. She was a law clerk on the Michigan Court of Appeals, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor and an assistant United States attorney, ultimately becoming chief assistant U.S. attorney. Corrigan became a partner at the Detroit law firm of Plunkett & Cooney in 1989. Appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1992, she became chief judge of that court in 1997.
Governor Rick Snyder announced Corrigan’s appointment as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services in January of 2011, saying at the time “Justice Corrigan’s unwavering commitment to children and families and her unstoppable determination make her the ideal person to lead this agency out of its difficulties.”
The Department of Human Services is Michigan’s public assistance, child and family welfare agency. The agency directs the operations of public assistance and service programs through a statewide network of more than 100 county departments of human service offices.
Dennis Archer, for whom the award is named, served on the Michigan Supreme Court and was mayor of Detroit from 1993 to 2001. He later served as president of the American Bar Association, becoming the first African-American president of the organization.
For video of this event, visit and click on “videos.”