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Mary Beth Kelly

Mary Beth Kelly, Retired Justice, Michigan Supreme Court

Case Manager
Sarah Nevins
T: 313-209-8851
F: 313-872-1101
150 West Jefferson, Suite 850, Detroit, MI 48226


Mary Beth Kelly, Retired Justice, Michigan Supreme Court, joins JAMS as a 16 year veteran of Michigan courts, including serving on the Michigan Supreme Court from 2011 to 2015. Prior to joining Michigan’s highest court, she served as Chief Judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court for three terms, where she remains the only woman in history to hold the position. In private practice at a major Detroit firm, Kelly concentrated on commercial litigation, often in the class action context.

Kelly’s JAMS practice focuses on mediation/arbitration of complex, business/commercial matters and employment disputes. Her time on the bench provides unique expertise in the family law arena, particularly in high asset disputes which may involve business valuation issues. JAMS clients also look to Justice Kelly’s appellate experience for unbiased, confidential case evaluations, allowing them to fine-tune arguments for matters on appeal, reassess settlement options, manage client expectations—and ultimately proceed with heightened confidence and a winning strategy.

ADR Experience and Qualifications
Ms. Kelly has extensive experience as an advocate, judge and arbitrator in the following areas:

  • Administrative Law
  • Antitrust
  • Appellate
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Employment
  • Energy
  • Family Law

Representative Matters

  • Administrative Law
    • Arbitrator in a dispute concerning the construction, supply and maintenance of an energy contract.  Authored acclaimed dissent in Detroit Edison Company v. Department of Treasury, 498 Mich 28, (2015) (Analysis of energy industry in Michigan and tax consequences); Found a city nuisance demolition ordinance comports with substantive and procedural due process in Bonner v. City of Brighton, 495 Mich 209 (2014) (authored).
  • Antitrust
    • Litigated many antirust and trade class action matters; authored important trade opinions, including LaFontaine Saline v. Chrysler Group LLC, 496 Mich 26 (2014) (Rejecting argument for geographical limitations in new markets based on letter of intent).
  • Appellate
    • Regularly consults and evaluates appeals; participates in mock arguments for all levels of appellate practice.
  • Business/Commercial
    • Arbitrated and mediated various commercial and contractual disputes, including: arbitrator in a breach of contract action concerning the provision of financial services for banking institutions; arbitrator in dispute between OEM and supplier; arbitrator in real estate dispute; mediator in dispute between OEM and supplier.
  • Employment
    • Facilitated an employment dispute concerning a university and an employee. Authored landmark employment decisions, including Henry v. Laborers’’ Local 1191, 495 Mich 260 (2014) (Whistleblowers’ Protection Act claims preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and must be tried before the National Labor Relations Board); Whitman v. City of Burton, 493 Mich 303 (2013) (Plaintiff’s motivation not relevant under Whistleblowers’ Protection Act); and Hamed v. Wayne County, 490 Mich 1, (2011) (analysis finding no respondeat superior liability for sexual harassment under Civil Rights Act)
  • Family Law
    • Settled and mediated hundreds of cases while presiding over a domestic relations state court docket.  Particularly qualified to evaluate high asset estate and business valuations.
  • Government/Public Agency
    • Facilitated numerous disputes, including disputes with bargaining units, over funding and other public issues.
  • Honors
    • Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, University of Michigan-Dearborn, 2015
    • 2006 Law Dragon 500 Best Judges in the Country
    • Vista Maria’s Child Advocate of the Year, 2004
    • Distinguished Leadership, Arab-America Anti-Discrimination Committee, 2004
  • Memberships & Professional Activities
    • ABA Regional Co-Chair, Women in Dispute Resolution (WIDR), 2018
    • Chair, Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, 2015-Present
    • Member, Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) (Advises the President and Congress on matters related to juvenile justice), 2016-2018
    • Director of the Board, Vista Maria, an organization that serves at-risk girls, young women involved in human trafficking and youth in child protection or juvenile justice systems
    • Member, Law School Advisory Board and Dean’s Advisory Board, University of Detroit-Mercy Law School
    • Co-Chair, 21st Century Practice Task Force’s Modernizing and Regulatory Machinery Task Force Committee, State Bar of Michigan
  • Member, Bodman PLC, 2015-2016
    • Vice-Chair, Litigation and ADR Practice Group
  • Justice, Supreme Court of Michigan, 2011-2015
  • Judge, Wayne County Circuit Court, 1999-2010
    • Chief Judge, 2002-2007
  • Partner, Commercial Litigation, Dickinson Wright, 1987-1999
  • J.D., Notre Dame Law School
  • A.B., University of Michigan-Dearborn

Counsel Comments

    • Ms. Kelly was “one of the most effective chief judges in the history of the Michigan Court System.” 

      -Former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice
    • “Ms. Kelly is smart, effective and gets to win/win quickly.” 




Practice Areas

  • Administrative Law
  • Antitrust/Competition Law
  • Appellate
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Employment
  • Energy/Utility
  • Family Law


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This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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