Michigan Lawyer of the Year: WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Tracey Brame

Every year, Michigan Lawyers Weekly accepts nominations of worthy attorneys to be considered as Michigan Leaders in the Law. Based on their accomplishments, service and experience, they select 20 to 30 attorneys to be designated Michigan's Leaders in the Law. Those nominees then select from among themselves the one attorney that truly epitomizes leadership, that personifies the qualities that all of us aspire to demonstrate, the ideals that compelled all of us to attend law school. Think of it: 30 alpha dogs that all want to be recognized as the leader of the pack.

WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Tracey BrameThis year there is a full slate of 30 attorneys who were recognized Monday evening as Leaders in the Law. Fully half of them are partners at the most prestigious firms in Michigan; five of them are the managing partners of those respected firms.

Our own Grand Rapids Associate Dean Tracey Brame was selected as the Lawyer of the Year by this group, which, by a quick swag based on their bios, have almost one thousand years of legal experience, collectively. 

The reasons are simple: her bright, shining social conscience is a beacon for all to follow and her life of service an example for every lawyer. 

Dean Brame is passionate about criminal law and criminal defense, she has a strong disposition for advocacy work and feels there are far too many African Americans in prison who did not receive the appropriate legal representation. She began her career serving those who cannot afford legal representation, in Detroit, in Washington DC, and in Western Michigan.

WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Tracey BrameShe has continued to steadfastly believe that the law must be applied equally to all, including the indigent and dispossessed. In her first year at WMU-Cooley, Dean Brame, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Bar Association, opened the Access to Justice Clinic at our Grand Rapids campus, and she currently serves as director. Staffed by students under faculty supervision, the Access to Justice Clinic offers free legal services to low-income and under-represented residents of Kent County who face barriers due to their criminal history and seek expungement of their convictions.

In turn, Brame’s commitment to offering pro bono services has inspired her students to also give back to their community. To date, under Brame’s leadership, the Access to Justice Clinic has helped 100 individuals get their criminal records expunged.

Her leadership includes serving as president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and as President of the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, an organization for mothers dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty; past president of the Floyd Skinner Bar Association, which provides a support system for African American lawyers, law graduates, and judges; as a board member of LINC Community Revitalization Inc., and the Kent County Defender Office; and as co-founder and current leader of Cub Scout Pack 3206 and Scout Troop 258, giving young children in the city of Grand Rapids a comprehensive scouting opportunity.

One of the most important qualities for any leader, at any level, is selfless service. On Monday, the Michigan Bar recognized that Tracey Brame represents that leadership more than any other lawyer in Michigan.

Dean Tracey Brame's acceptance speech can be seen below: 


Please take a moment to, (1) thank Tracey for her leadership, service and deserved recognition and, (2) resolve to follow, even exceed, her example.

Thank you, Tracey,

BG (ret) Michael C.H. McDaniel
Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School Associate Dean, Lansing Campus
Professor & Director of Homeland Security Law Programs