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Wayne Law celebrates faculty, alumni, receiving State Bar of Michigan awards

September 10, 2012

Several Wayne State University professors and alumni will be honored as part of the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) Annual Meeting Sept. 19 in Grand Rapids.

Distinguished Professor Robert Sedler will receive the John W. Reed Michigan Lawyer Legacy Award. This award, created in 2011 and named for former Wayne Law Dean John W. Reed, is presented to a professor from a Michigan law school whose influence on Michigan lawyers has elevated the quality of legal practice in the state.
For more than 50 years, Sedler has been educating law students. The last 36 of those years as a professor have been at WSU, where Sedler is a revered member of the Academy of Scholars. Membership in the academy is voted on by faculty members, and is the highest academic honor that can be bestowed on a professor by university colleagues.
He has earned many awards over the years, and Sedler, who has published extensively and still travels abroad frequently representing the Law School, is often sought out by the media for his comments and insights as an expert on Constitutional law. He also has litigated a large number of important civil rights and civil liberties cases in Michigan and elsewhere.
But it’s the work of “professing,” as he calls it, that still gives a thrill to the honored educator.
“I love being a law teacher,” Sedler said. “I love teaching my classes and engaging in extensive research and publication. It is a great pleasure to me to see the successes of so many of my former students. I am very glad that I made the decision to become a law teacher and am happy to be at Wayne State.”
When he started teaching law in 1961 at St. Louis University, the classroom composition was very different than it is today, he said.
“There was one African-American student and no women in the law school,” Sedler said. “Law school was a white male preserve, and the white maleness of the law school was, of course, reflected in the legal profession. Notions of equality came slowly. I began to see the change at the University of Kentucky in the late 1960s, and by the time I came to Wayne State in 1977, the law school was fully diverse in all respects. As a result of that diversity, which was due in no small part to affirmative action, the legal profession is fully diverse today. Today, law students reflect the diversity of American society.”
The SBM also will honor three Wayne State alumni: Judy B. Calton, the Hon. James H. Fisher and the Hon. Willie G. Lipscomb Jr.
Calton, a partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, will receive the SBM’s Unsung Hero Award. A 1986 graduate of Wayne Law, she was associate editor of the Wayne Law Review and is now an expert in commercial law, bankruptcy and reorganization.
Judge Fisher, retired from the 5th Circuit Court, will receive the SBM’s Michael Franck Award. He graduated from Wayne Law in 1976.
Judge Lipscomb will receive the Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award. A 1970 graduate of Wayne State, Judge Lipscomb received his bachelor’s in psychology before attending law school at Notre Dame. He retired from the 36th District Court in May.
Assistant Professor Christopher Lund will receive the Wayne Law 2012 Donald H. Gordon Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award is named for former Dean Donald Gordon, who served from 1975 to 1980, and includes a $1,000 stipend. Lund’s principal academic interest is in religious liberty. He has represented a wide variety of groups and causes. He has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union defending the rights of Christian parents to homeschool their children, and for a diverse coalition of religious groups supporting the freedom of Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  He regularly advises church-state groups regarding litigated cases and pending legislation. He is a past chair (2009-10) of the Law and Religion Section of the Association of American Law Schools.