The People’s Lawyer

Last Fall, former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley released his autobiography The People’s Lawyer: The Life and Times of Frank J. Kelley, the Nation’s Longest-Serving Attorney General, written with Jack Lessenberry. For those who have had the pleasure of knowing Frank Kelley, you will recognize his storytelling style immediately. For the rest of the population — and in particular those who do not yet know his legacy in Michigan — I hope that you will read this book. It is “living history” in the truest sense of the term.

Born in Detroit on December 31, 1924, Frank Kelley not only lived through an important time in our state and nation’s history, but was also instrumental in helping to shape that history. During the 37 years that Frank Kelley served as Michigan’s Attorney General, he transformed that office from a political stepping stone into a state entity that worked for the people, crusading for consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental regulation. He served with five Governors, and describes in vivid yet never boring detail the separation of powers between these elected offices.

This book is as rich as the history that Frank Kelley has lived. For those who are interested in Michigan’s legal history it is a must-read. But it is as a call to service that I most highly recommend it. Frank Kelley gives practical examples of how he managed a political career that spanned nearly four decades without even the whiff of a political scandal. These are lessons by which we all can benefit from learning.

He ends the book by writing, “You may not realize it, but old men have dreams, too, and here’s mine: that some young person will read these words and think: Wow. This guy spent his life in public service…. And he helped make people’s lives better.”

Buy the book here

Read about the Eternal General here — an article that mentions Frank Kelley’s service to the Society’s Board of Directors since 1999

Listen to Frank Kelley’s oral history here

Frank Kelley is shown here presenting the Society’s Law Prize to a student at the MSU College of Law in 2012.