Aaron Burrell

Aaron Burrell

Education: JD, Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School; MS, administration, legal and political systems, Central Michigan University; BA, University of Michigan
Company Name: Dickinson Wright PLLC
Industry: Law
Company CEO: Michael C. Hammer
Company Headquarters Location: Troy, Michigan
Number of Employees: 860
Your Location (if different from above): Detroit, Michigan
Words you live by: “All things work together for the good.” –Romans 8:28
Who is your personal hero? There are many: my grandfather; father; Barack Obama; and Dennis Archer
What book are you reading? Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
What was your first job: Clerk for the Muscular Dystrophy Association
Favorite charity: My church: Greater Grace Temple
Interests: Making music, reading books, exercising, and watching sports and movies
Family: I married my high school sweetheart, Ericka. We have been married for 10 years. I have one son, Ari who is 1 year old, and a dog named Bubbles.

The True Essence of the Practice of Law

As an attorney and partner at a major law firm, I feel a responsibility to advance the cause of justice and ensure that individuals of all backgrounds receive an opportunity to thrive and succeed. As a prior co-chair of the Equal Access Initiative of the State Bar of Michigan, I sought ways to ensure that the doors to the courthouse were open and accessible, irrespective of an individual’s means. As co-chair of diversity for Dickinson Wright PLLC, I am working to provide meaningful inclusion for diverse lawyers and staff members at all levels of law firm leadership. And I have ensured that I devote a significant part of my law practice to advancing, as the Lawyer’s Oath requires, “the cause of the defenseless or oppressed,” and ensuring that marginalized individuals receive the same rights as others. I feel that is the true essence of the practice of law, and I take that obligation personally.

I commend others to use their platforms to do two things: (1) help those who may require assistance; and (2) support the next generation of leaders. As leaders, you have an obligation to identify problems, offer effective solutions, and put a framework in place to prevent problems from arising in the future. That framework applies to your obligation to assist those who scripture describes as the “least of these.” Do not use your platform to benefit yourself alone; assist those who you may be uniquely able to help.

Finally, as leaders, you must be committed to supporting the next generation of leaders. You stand on the shoulders of individuals who paved a way for you. It is now your responsibility to do the same for others. As black leaders, it is of the utmost importance that we use our position to ensure meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion in our environments. True progress in this space will not happen without the voices of those who have broken through and achieved a level of success. From your seat, you are in the best position to change culture, adopt inclusive policies, and make the journey less challenging for the next generation.