Dennis Archer has had a legendary career, as a lawyer, then as a judge on the Michigan Supreme Court and as mayor of Detroit from 1994 – 2001, and he was the first black head of the ABA. He is currently Chairman Emeritus at Dickinson Wright, a Detroit law firm, in addition to multiple Committee and Board Roles.
With such an extensive resume it was hard to know where to start this podcast, and impossible to cover his whole trajectory. So we focused on three areas – his upbringing, his time as mayor and his insights into diversity in the profession. We started by charting his birth in Detroit, MI and his childhood in Cassopolis, MI and his path to law, which was paved by time as a special ed teacher. Dennis felt law was a calling and he loved to practice, and quickly saw, and maneuvered around the obstacles to lawyers of color seeking to advance in the profession at that time.
His journey ultimately saw him appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court and then step down to run for mayor. His tenure in that position saw historic levels of investment flow into the city and we reflect on what he feels his biggest achievements of that time were.
Finally we turn to the issue of diversity in the legal profession and how far we have yet to come in terms of representation, the gates of opportunity and support systems. It is a sobering – yet motivating – set of reflections.
This series was made possible by the kind support of GuyLaine Charles and Charles Law PLLC, a law firm based in New York City, representing clients in the negotiation of a wide range of financial trading agreements