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Miller Canfield Attorney Stan Stek Wins Michael S. Barnes Award in Recognition of Pro Bono Service

October 5, 2017

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that Stanley J. Stek has won the Michael S. Barnes Award in recognition of his long history of providing pro bono services.

Selected for his support and commitment to the Pro Bono Program at Legal Aid of Western Michigan (LAWM), Stek has been providing pro bono support to the organization since 1997. He frequently handles civil and domestic litigation matters, for which there is a great need among LAWM clients, and for which Stek is uniquely qualified as the deputy leader of the Miller Canfield’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group.

The award is named in memory of Michael Barnes, who was a partner in the firm of Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge and who was a strong supporter of pro bono services. He was the first recipient of the John W. Cummiskey Award, given annually by the State Bar of Michigan in recognition of pro bono contributions. Barnes died at the age of 44 of complications from juvenile diabetes.  Legal Aid of Western Michigan (LAWM)) established the award in 1991 to honor exemplary contributions to the provision of free legal services to the poor and elderly in Western Michigan.

During the entire history of the award, Stek is only the third attorney to have donated more than 1,000 hours of service to LAWM.

“Stan’s commitment to improving communities and the lives of people around him is remarkable,” said Miller Canfield CEO Michael McGee. “All of us at the firm admire Stan for his work and his commitment and are tremendously proud to call him a colleague and a friend.”

In addition to the pro bono work for LAWM, Stek regularly gives his time to organizations that support the greater good in west Michigan, such as Integrity Educational Services, a non-profit that Stek helped establish to provide services for specialty charter schools, particularly those operating in a  strict disciplinary setting and serving at-risk students. He serves as chairman of Lakeshore Regional Entity, the quasi-governmental agency established to administer public behavioral health funding for people with mental illness, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities throughout seven counties in west Michigan.

Stek also serves on the board of directors for Network180, which is the Community Mental Health Agency for Kent County serving people struggling with substance use disorders, mental illness and disabilities. One of the thrusts of the organization’s recent work is to develop new strategies for the integration of behavioral health and physical health at the provider and funder levels in order to provide better service, achieve better outcomes, and to do so at a lower cost.

Stek had as a young man considered a career in academia, but said he preferred dealing with real people in challenging situations as well as the intellectual challenge of the law, making the legal profession a natural choice.

“I got into this profession to make a difference,” Stek said. “If I don’t use my skills and experience to make a difference in people’s lives, I’m missing what I was called to do. In my judgment serving others is at the core of what it is to be human. So I go out and find places to serve.”

Stek has served on, and in some cases founded or co-founded organizations that include: Home Repair Services of Kent County; Jubilee Jobs; Kent County Community Action Board; Association for Public Justice; Historical Commission for the City of Walker; Citizens Advisory Commission ; Wedgwood Christian Services, ACSET (an employment training entity in seven counties); Kent County Senior Millage Allocation Committee, neighborhood associations; his local school board, and others; and currently serves on the Kent County Board of Commissioners.

“The decision to honor such a man is not hard when the list of his extraordinary contributions to several city, community, regional, neighborhood agencies and municipalities is so long,” said Paul Abrahamsen, Pro Bono Program Director for the Grand Rapids office of Legal Aid of Western Michigan.

Stek will be recognized at a special event hosted by LAWM on Oct. 26, 2017 at The B.O.B. in Grand Rapids.

LAWM provides services to low-income people in a 17-county area. There are more than 686,000 west Michigan residents who are eligible for the organization’s services. With only 35 staff attorneys, the organization relies heavily on the work of attorneys in the private bar to help provide pro bono services. For more information about Legal Aid of Western Michigan, visit lawestmi.org.