Long-serving professor enjoys challenges of mediation


A Detroit native who makes his home in Grosse Pointe Farms, George Roumell Jr. is a regular globetrotter and has traveled throughout Europe, China, New Zealand, Egypt and Morocco, and to a number of South American countries.

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

For almost six decades, George T. Roumell Jr. has taught labor and arbitration law at Michigan State University College of Law (formerly Detroit College of Law).

More than 3,500 students have taken his courses and some went on to fame including Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Robert Colombo Jr.; trial attorney Geoffrey Fieger; former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer; Dan Downey, who became a judge in Texas; and a slew of judges on the federal court bench in Detroit, among them Lawrence Zatkoff, Patrick Duggan, Marianne Battani and Bernard Friedman.

“I enjoy teaching because I enjoy meeting the future lawyers of Michigan and the country,” Roumell says. “It’s fun to meet former students and see their progress in the profession.”

A senior partner with Riley and Roumell in Detroit, Roumell started teaching in the mid ‘50s.

After clerking for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Edward Sharpe, he became a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Levin, and — at Levin’s urging — taught legal research and civil procedure at the University of Detroit School of Law.

When Dean Charles King approached him in 1959 to succeed a departing labor law professor at DCL, Roumell jumped at the opportunity.

He has seen a lot of growth and changes at MSU Law over the decades.

In 1959, the night program was a strong and vital part of the Law School, he noted.

In those days, courses were more limited, concentrating on traditional common law subjects along with some specialties such as labor law and antitrust law.

“Today there are more specialized courses and the curriculum has expanded, with topics such as Alternative Dispute Resolution — not taught in 1957 – added,” he said. “Also, today’s MSU Law student body has a more national representation than in 1959 when students mostly came from Southeastern Michigan.”

In addition to devoting years to teaching, Roumell is a generous benefactor to MSU Law and a scholarship was established in his name.

His own student days were spent at Harvard Law School, as he headed for a law career in the footsteps of two uncles: Stephen T. Roumell, DCL Class of ’31, and Judge Thomas Roumell.

It was a far cry from his family roots in the restaurant business.