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Dennis W. Archer


2003 - 2004

Dennis W. Archer, former Detroit mayor and Michigan Supreme Court Justice, became the immediate past president of the American Bar Association after its annual meeting in Atlanta in August 2004. Archer, an African American, was the first person of color elected to the highest office of the association.

Archer served two four-year terms as mayor of the city of Detroit (1994-2001), and was president of the National League of Cities in 2001. After leaving the mayor's office, Archer was elected chairman of Dickinson Wright PLLC, a 200-person, Detroit-based law firm with offices in Michigan and in Washington, D.C. He sits on the corporate boards of Johnson Controls Inc., Compuware Corporation and Covisint, and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Archer earned his Juris Doctor from Detroit College of Law in 1970. He began practicing law thereafter, working as a trial lawyer and a partner in several Detroit firms, and serving as associate professor of the Detroit College of Law and adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School.

In 1985 Gov. James Blanchard appointed Archer an Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. He was elected to an eight-year term the following year. In his final year on the bench, Archer was named the most respected judge in Michigan by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Archer has long been active in the organized bar. He has served as president of the Wolverine Bar Association in 1979-80, the National Bar Association in 1983-84, and the State Bar of Michigan in 1984-85. He is a Life Member of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and the National Bar Association; a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers; and Life Member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference.

Archer has achieved national, state and municipal leadership positions despite humble beginnings. Born in Detroit, he was raised in Cassopolis, Mich., and took his first job at the age of eight, as a caddy for a local golf course. Archer held a series of odd jobs, working his way through college and law school. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Western Michigan University, and then taught learning disabled children at two Detroit public schools from 1965-70, while he earned his law degree from Detroit College of Law.

In 2000, Mayor Archer was named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine. He received an Award of Excellence and was named 1998 Newsmaker of the Year by Engineering News-Record magazine, a sister publication of Business Week. In addition, Archer has been named one of the 25 most dynamic mayors in America by Newsweek magazine; one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine; and one of the 100 Most Powerful Attorneys in the United States by the National Law Journal.

Archer is married to Judge Trudy DunCombe Archer of Michigan's 36th District Court. They have two sons, Dennis W. Archer, Jr., and Vincent DunCombe Archer, both of whom are graduates of the University of Michigan.