Justice Elizabeth M. Welch joined the Michigan Supreme Court on January 1, 2021. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, she counseled nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals on labor/employment law matters and represented her clients in arbitrations, administrative agency matters, and litigation. Justice Welch also handled abuse/neglect matters (pro bono), worked as counsel to a criminal defense law practice, counseled nonprofit organizations on board governance, and served as local counsel for municipal clients on litigation related to the opioid epidemic. Justice Welch is a trained mediator and volunteered for many years with the West Michigan Dispute Resolution Center.
Justice Welch received her law degree from Ohio State University, where she served as Research Editor of the Law Journal and graduated from Penn State University with honors magna cum laude in 1992. After law school, she practiced labor/employment law at large law firms located in Louisville, Kentucky, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, prior to starting her own law practice. She also published many articles in academic and industry publications, including serving as a Chapter Editor for The Developing Labor Law treatise.
Justice Welch served as a Trustee for the Grand Rapids Bar Association and is a past board member for the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan – Western Region (where she also served as President).
Justice Welch is currently Vice President of the Steelcase Foundation and a Trustee of the Grand Valley University Foundation (where she serves on the nominating committee). She has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations.
Justice Welch devoted a large amount of her time the past 15 years to public education advocacy in Michigan. Beyond having served as Vice President and a Trustee on the East Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education, she worked with leaders across the state to engage and train community members to be advocates for local public schools and regularly worked with legislators on public school policy and legislation. She also served on the School Finance Research Collaborative (a statewide coalition of education stakeholders who commissioned a study to determine the true cost of educating a child in Michigan).
Justice Welch served on the Grand Rapids Mayor’s Task Force in 2013 and 2016, which was charged with examining and improving local elections, and oversaw large-scale voter protection efforts in West Michigan in 2016 and 2018.
Justice Welch was recognized as a Grand Rapids Business Journal “40 Under 40” Business Leader (2009) and received the Women Lawyers Association – Western Region’s Outstanding Member Award. She has received several awards in recognition for her public school, conservation, and other community work.
Justice Welch and her husband Brian Schwartz have four adult children. Their oldest son is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and their other three children are all in college.