MAJ Pacesetter: Jon Marko


Grand Rapids native Jon Marko joined the Michigan Association for Justice early in his career.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Marko)

By Michigan Association for Justice

For as long as he can remember, attorney and Grand Rapids native Jon Marko wanted to be a lawyer.

“As a little boy, I remember watching lawyer TV shows and movies and thinking it’s the coolest profession,” said Marko. “You get to help people, all while sticking it to the man. I was always being told by teachers and authority figures to use my inside voice because I was too loud; to not argue with opinions that I didn’t agree with; and to always follow the rules, even if they didn’t make any sense. These traits that got me in so much trouble when I was younger help me be a better attorney today.”

Marko joined the Michigan Association for Justice early in his career because his boss told him that he should get involved in the organization and paid for his membership.

“I quickly learned that membership is invaluable with the community, networking, list server, and collaborating with your brothers and sisters on the plaintiff’s side. Now I encourage all of my associates to join MAJ and I pay for their membership. I guess it came full circle. Membership is important because the defense bar is better at organizing and toeing the company line. They have the same big money clients, and generally larger, more corporately-structured law firms. We generally have smaller firms and single clients. When we are done with a client’s case we go on to the next client. MAJ helps us organize and unite behind a common cause and values.”
Marko, who currently serves on MAJ’s Executive Board, also contributes monthly to Justice PAC.

“Just look at what we were able to accomplish together in the last election cycle through the members’ generosity and organization. We now have the best (and most fair) Michigan Supreme Court in my entire legal career.

Ten years ago that was a pipe dream for all of us.”

Marko’s most satisfying case was a five-week employment discrimination case in Genesee County that led to a record-breaking civil rights verdict from an all-white jury.

“I never knew until they read the verdict whether my clients were going to get justice or not.  The defendant had never offered a single dollar during the entire 3-year life of the case. The defendant re-victimized my clients throughout the entire case and trial. When we went to case evaluation, the ‘plaintiff’s’ case evaluator, a career employment lawyer in Flint, laughed at me when I asked for a seven-figure award and told me that I would never be able to obtain a result like that in Flint.  After it was all over, I sent him a copy of the verdict with a letter thanking him for misevaluating the case so badly. I’ve made a career out of taking the tough cases ... Some of these civil rights and employment cases take 5 or 6 years to finish. On every single case there is a motion to dismiss and appeal.”

As for his interests outside of the practice of law, Marko said: “The law is a jealous mistress, but I love traveling and often ride my bike to commute from my home to my office in downtown Detroit.”


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