When One Special Legislative-Staff Career Ends, Another Begins

WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Bob DeVries recently received a rare, special, and entirely fitting tribute to the end of a decade-long legislative-staff career.  In politics, timing is everything, and Bob had the benefit of impeccable timing.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich give speeches in tribute to Meekhof's departing Chief of Staff, Bob DeVries.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich give speeches in tribute to Meekhof’s departing Chief of Staff, Bob DeVries.

Ten years ago, Bob was a senior at Grand Valley State University, looking for an internship. His father connected him with Arlan Meekhof, who was preparing to run for state representative. Meekhof won the campaign with Bob’s tireless support, just as Bob was graduating. Representative Meekhof then hired Bob for his legislative staff.

Four years in the State House led to six years in the State Senate. During the last two years, Senator Meekhof was Senate Majority Leader, making Bob his Chief of Staff. The role gave Bob staff responsibility for the Senate budget and staff, not to mention a central role in advancing legislation through a Senate and House under the same party’s control, with a same-party governor.

Bob matriculated at the law school in the middle of his 10 years working in the legislature, and persevered over the next several years to earn his law degree. Bob also married Jackie with whom he had three beautiful daughters, with a fourth child on the way.

The law degree strengthened Bob’s research, drafting, reasoning, and advocacy skills, along with improving his understanding of the legislative process, law subjects, and legal issues. Bob’s chief-of-staff role for a state senate majority leader also gave him the opportunity to travel to a national conference, expanding his network.

While deeply appreciative for Bob’s legal skills and acumen, Senator Meekhof, in his tribute to Bob on the Senate floor, emphasized Bob’s outstanding character.  The tribute also included a rare and glowing acknowledgment by an appreciative representative from the opposing party.

Bob’s next career step is with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., where he will represent corporate, community, and professional-association clients advocating their public interests in Michigan and beyond. In politics and in life, timing indeed means a lot, but character is everything.

nelson millerBlog author Nelson Miller is the Associate Dean and Professor at WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus. He practiced civil litigation for 16 years before joining the WMU-Cooley faculty. He has argued cases before the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, and United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and filed amicus and party briefs in the United States Supreme Court. He has has many published books, casebooks, book chapters, book reviews, and articles on legal education, law practice, torts, civil procedure, professional responsibility, damages, international law, constitutional law, university law, bioethics, and law history and philosophy. 

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