Ann Routt believes that people in all income brackets deserve quality legal representation. She is the deputy director of Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM,) and currently serves on several boards, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Livingston County and the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan. She served on the Howell Public Schools Board of Education for a term, including two years as president.
Routt says, “My family is my priority, but we’ve always impressed upon our kids the importance of giving back to the community and helping those who are less fortunate.”
Tell me about your job and what exactly you do.
LSSCM is a nonprofit law firm that represents low-income persons in civil matters. We cover 13 counties from six offices. We also provide representation statewide to migrant and settled-out, meaning outside of court, farmworkers through our office, Farmworker Legal Services. We formed several other specialty statewide programs: the Michigan Poverty Law Program (MPLP) that provides training and case support for all of the legal services programs and other community organizations; the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center; the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative and Michigan Legal Help (self help website-www.MichiganLegalHelp.org).
Why is it important for you to do the job you do?
I wanted to find a career where I could help people and try to make a positive change in my community. The law has provided me with the opportunity to work in collaboration with others to try to achieve social justice.
How did you get to this point in your career?
When I graduated from college, I thought I would go into business and pursue my MBA. I worked for two years in New York City doing economic research with Alan Greenspan’s firm, Townsend Greenspan. I didn’t want to just study the economy and its impact on our society; I wanted to try to improve things and work with people to change their lives. I very quickly figured out that I wanted to actively engage to change systems, to change policies so that we could have greater social and economic justice. While in law school, I clerked for the legal services state support office and met an amazing group of advocates dedicated to helping people achieve justice and change their lives. I had found my path.
You were honored with the Champion of Justice Award by the State Bar of Michigan in 2013. Why do you think you were chosen and what did receiving the award mean to you?
I really see this as a recognition of the tremendous work of our program, and not just what I have been able to do. When I started with the program, we were a four-county legal services office. We have been able to grow and create programs that have addressed emerging and unmet legal needs in the state. Our director, Bob Gillett, has led us through these changes. He is a great mentor who has developed a strong team of advocates. I am proud to be a part of that team.
Tell me about your background, where you grew up, and when and why you knew what you wanted to do as a career.
I grew up in LaPorte, Indiana, and was the third of four daughters. My dad was a blue collar worker and loved to read. Both he and my mom impressed upon all of us the importance of education, but also the values of supporting and helping others. Tell me about your family and how they factor into your career.
I am married to my best friend, Michael Foley. He is the director of the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund. It is the program that funds child abuse prevention programs around the state. As you might guess, our shared values helped bring us together. We have two daughters, Maura and Emma, who are impressive young women in their own right. I’m very proud of both of them.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I like to read and spend time with family. We love going to Tigers’ games and I’m a big fan of college basketball. I love to travel, but haven’t been able to do as much as when I was in college and a young adult.
What are your goals?
I want to spend quality time with my immediate and extended family, I want to be a trustworthy friend, and know that I have had a positive impact on the world.