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Carl E. Ver Beek is Recipient of State Bar's Highest Honor

August 11, 2014

Varnum attorney Carl E. Ver Beek is the recipient of the State Bar of Michigan's Roberts P. Hudson Award, considered the highest award conferred by the State Bar. The award will be presented on September 17 in conjunction with the State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.

The Hudson award is presented periodically to commend one or more lawyers "for their unselfish rendering of outstanding and unique service to and on behalf of the State Bar of Michigan and the legal profession, which has been given generously, ungrudgingly, and in a spirit of self-sacrifice. It is awarded to that member of the State Bar of Michigan who best exemplifies that which brings honor, esteem, and respect to the legal profession."

"We couldn't be more proud, or less surprised, by this honor for Carl." - Tom Kyros

"We couldn't be more proud, or less surprised, by this honor for Carl," said Tom Kyros, Varnum's current executive partner. "The description of the Hudson Award is tailor-fitted to him.  He has been a role model and mentor to many of us at Varnum, and we believe the firm reflects his good spirit and fine character."

Ver Beek has been recognized for his dedication to the legal profession and to his community by various entities. Among the honors he has received are the following:

  • Trustee of the Year-Leading Age Michigan (2013)
  • Hope College Distinguished Alumni Award (2007)
  • Michigan Health and Hospital Association – Special Recognition (2007)
  • Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan - Distinguished Service Award (2004)
  • Hope College Second Century Club Annual Outstanding Services Award (2001)

In his professional career, Ver Beek has been honored as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (1997), has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for more than 30 years, and has been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell with an AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest possible.

Upon graduation from the Indiana University School of Law, Ver Beek has practiced labor and employment law for more than 50 years, serving his entire career in his native West Michigan at the Varnum law firm. His career includes collective bargaining for manufacturing, health care, education and religious employers in both the private and public sector. He has negotiated hundreds of union contracts, tried hundreds of arbitration cases under union contract procedures, and arranged numerous NLRB elections by agreements or through NLRB proceedings.

He has mediated and/or arbitrated hundreds of cases for the National Center for Dispute Settlement, Michigan Employment Relations Commission, American Arbitration Association,  Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), The Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan, and the National Arbitration Forum.

In addition to a long and distinguished career representing his clients, Ver Beek's dedication to the advancement of the legal profession includes a significant contribution of time and talent to the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan, and the Grand Rapids Bar Association, with a particular focus in the area of ethics and discipline matters.

Ver Beek's dedication to the advancement of the legal profession includes a significant contribution of time and talent to the American Bar Association as well as state and local bar associations.

Ver Beek's involvement in so many organizations, both professional and nonprofit, are a testament to his curiosity, intellect, hard work and affable nature. While there was a clear expectation for a young lawyer in the 1960s to serve the community in addition to practicing law, few attorneys' involvement grew as intensely as Ver Beek's.

Ver Beek served on the Council of the ABA Labor and Employment Section (1998 - 2006) and the Council of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section (2003-2008). He also  served as a chair of the Committee on the Law of Collective Bargaining and Arbitration of the ABA Labor and Employment Section. He served as one of two employer members of the ABA Task Force on Due Process Protocol for Alternative Dispute Resolution in the non-union sector in 1995-96. He was a founding member of the Professionalism and Ethics Committee of the ABA Labor and Employment Section and as liaison to the ABA Committee on Professionalism and Ethics. He also served as liaison from the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section to the Dispute Resolution Section.

Ver Beek served the State Bar of Michigan Committee on Character and Fitness for ten years (1985 to 1995), chairing the committee for two years. He was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the Attorney Grievance Commission from 1999 to 2005, serving as chair of the Commission from 2002 to 2005. He has also served on the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board from 2008 to 2014. Thus, he has served for 22 years in the professional ethics process for attorneys in Michigan.

Throughout his legal career, Ver Beek was a frequent speaker at the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) and American Bar and State Bar meetings. He served as an adjunct professor for Michigan State University, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, from 2001 to 2003. Ver Beek has been an Honorary Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers since 1997. He currently serves on the Cooley Law School Professional Advisory Committee.

Community Involvement
As extensive as these professional affiliations are, they are surpassed by his outstanding record of community involvement.

One of Ver Beek's passions is the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, which he has served and continues to serve in many capacities (including chairman of the Board of Directors) for more than 25 years. He has also served the Michigan Chamber of Commerce as a member of the Board of Directors for  ten years and its Health and Human Resources Committee for 20 years.

In July 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Ver Beek to a four-year term on the Michigan Board of Nursing Home administrators, responsible for determining entry level requirements and discipline standards for nursing home administrators in Michigan. Ver Beek was selected to represent the general public.

Many of Ver Beek's volunteer activities are humanitarian in nature. He  currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors of Holland Home, the largest nonprofit continuing care retirement community in Michigan. He served on the Executive Committee of  the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Hope College, for 16 years. He has served Bethany Christian Services, the nation's largest adoption agency, in various roles for more than 40 years. He served for eight years on the Board of Trustees of The Jellema House, a treatment program for men with chemical dependency problems. For the past ten years, he has served on the Faith Hospice Board of Directors (serving eight years as chair). He is currently chair of Health Net, a nonprofit which assists individuals in the use of health care resources. He is on the Board of Making Choices Michigan which assists individuals in advance-care health care planning. He continues to serve on several other nonprofit organization boards.

A Passion for Health Care Issues
After a 50 year career of representing employers, Ver Beek remains passionate about health care issues, in which he was immersed as part of his collective bargaining practice and other employer representation. He is a strong advocate for reform (particularly Medicaid reform), and his essential philosophy is that individuals must take responsibility for their health, including helping to pay for health insurance.

"If you don't pay for something, you don't value it," he noted. He continues to speak to service organizations and other groups about health care issues.

Ver Beek has been equally dedicated to the Reformed Church in America, for which he has served on national, regional and local committees, councils and task forces too numerous to mention, extending back to 1964. He continues to serve his home church in various leadership capacities as he has for the past 52 years.

Ver Beek's service does not end at the Board of Director's level. He has volunteered as a reading tutor at a local elementary school, for many years he sang in his church choir and performs in the church's hand bell choir. Through his activity in The Rotary Club of Grand Rapids, Ver Beek is a champion of the STRIVE Program at two local high schools.

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