Who We Are

Wolverine Bar History

The Wolverine Bar Association is an active affiliate of the National Bar Association The Wolverine Bar Association was established by a number of African-American attorneys during the 1930’s. It was organized to coordinate the energies and talents of the increasing number of African- Americans admitted to practice throughout Michigan. From its inception, the Wolverine Bar Association assumed a leadership role in community and political activities. The role continues to be paramount in its endeavors today.

The roots of the Association are in the Harlan Law Club, which was founded in 1919 by several attorneys in the Detroit area who were excluded by local bar associations throughout the state. The club’s name was selected in recognition of the late United States Supreme Court Justice John M. Harlan. Justice Harlan was dedicated to the goal of equality of treatment under the law for all in our society. His philosophy was exemplified in the dissenting opinion of the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court Case of Plessy v. Ferguson. The Wolverine Bar Association replaced the Harlan Law Club and expanded its influence from Detroit to the entire “Wolverine” state.

It was the dissent in the Plessy case that espoused that the law should be made to protect the rights of all individuals and should be made applicable to all on an equal basis. The Wolverine Bar Association, like its predecessor the Harlan Law Club, is a powerful mechanism by which African-American attorneys in Michigan address the unique and distinct needs of their community for legal service, representation, and protection.

The goals and ideals of equality and dedication to the community have not significantly changed from those of the founders of the Harlan Law Club nearly 80 years ago. With many association members in judicial positions on the State and Federal bench and over 800 practicing attorneys statewide, the organization is continuing to meet the challenges and concerns of the present and future and renewed vigor and determination.

Mission and Goals

The mission of the Wolverine Bar Association is to be Detroit’s representative of the legal profession, serving the public and the profession by enhancing the legal system and promoting justice, professional excellence and respect for the law.

The Wolverine Bar Association seeks to promote equal justice and equal access under the law:

To serve the needs of our members.
To support and improve the justice system.
To provide leadership on major issues affecting the profession and the community.
To raise and maintain the professional and ethical standards of conduct of the Bar.
To promote meaningful access to justice for all persons regardless of their economic or social conditions.
To promote diversity within the legal profession.
To promote responsibility for public service by the profession.
To build and maintain a strong financial and organizational infrastructure to carry out the goals of the Association.

WBA Officers 


Diane Hutcherson

Robbie Gaines

Macie Gaines
(Interim) Treasurer

Jessica Mills                 Secretary                       

WBA Board of Directors


Allen Venable

Imm. Past Pres. 

Trek Carethers Deja Davis Angela Enoch Charity Dean
Choi Portis Alexis-Smith Scott Paige Stiger  Judge Craig Strong

WBA Past Presidents


Donald Hobson Willis Graves Chester Smith C. Beth Duncombe
Harold E. Bledsoe William A. Bell Samuel C. Gardner Wynne C. Garvin
Hon. Dennis W. Archer Edward W. Peterson Hon. Louis F. Simmons, Jr. Francis Dent
Samuel L. Simpson Judson B. Powell Perceival R. Piper Hon. Myron H. Wahls
Fred K. Persons Edward F. Bell Ernest Richards Hon. Craig S. Strong
William B. Daniel
George R.
Charles Pierson
Willa Mae King
Elliott S. Hall Stanley R. Kirk Hon. Sylvia A. James Myzell Sowell
Sharon McPhail Charles R. Scales, Jr. Hon. Victoria A. Roberts Saul A. Green
Kenneth L. Lewis Leslie T. Graves Camille Stearns Miller
Darwyn P. Fair
John E. Johnson, Jr. Reginald M. Turner, Jr. Etta L. Lipson Julie A. Gibson
Hon. Linda V. Parker Alison R. Nelson Kenneth T. Watkins Sheila Y. Walker
Kelvin W. Scott Linda D. Johnson Hon. Cylenthia L. Miller Aretha L. Glover-Bohannon
Lionel C. Sims, Jr. Diane Hutcherson David B. Cade Sherrie L. Farrell
Michelle A. Carter Brandy Y. Robinson T.L. Summerville Niesa Trent Fagan
Ronda L. Tate-Truvillion Chantez Pattman Knowles Randal M. Brown Jehan Grashara Crump-Gibson
Alexander Simpson, II Jerome Crawford Terrence J.L. Reeves

Khalilah Spencer 

Kim L. Ward

Allen Venable

Deceased Past WBA Presidents


Hon. Donald Hobson

Willis Graves Chester Smith Harold E. Bledsoe
William A. Bell William A. Bell Hon. Louis F. Simmons, Jr.

Samuel C. Gardner

Wynne C. Garvin

Edward W. Peterson

Francis M. Dent

Judson B. Powell

Perceival R. Piper

Hon. Myron H. Wahls

Fred K. Persons

Edward F. Bell

Ernest Richards

Willa Mae King

Myzell Sowell

Kelvin W. Scott
Kenneth L. Lewis