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Barbara A. Ruga

Of Counsel
fax +1 616.608.1165

Barbara Ruga counsels employers on labor and employment issues by negotiating public school contracts and handling unfair labor practice charges, fact-findings, and other employment litigation. She advocates for prevention through education by providing employee training programs to clients and public school organizations.

Barb is a highly sought-after presenter, regularly delivering employment seminars and training programs statewide to employers and their associations, notably the Michigan Association of School Personnel Administrators, the Michigan Association of School Boards, and the Michigan School Business Officials, among others. In addition, for over a decade, Barb has been a frequent lecturer for the Michigan Negotiators Association – presenting at their semi-annual conferences, periodic training institutes, and singlehandedly conducting their winter mini-series across the State.

A past president of the Michigan Council for School Attorneys, Barb has been recognized by her peers as a leader in the school labor negotiations field through the prestigious Harlow Claggett award, received in 2007 for her contributions to public school labor negotiations, and has been asked to speak at national school conferences, the National Council of School Attorneys and the North American Educational Negotiators Association. Also, Barb was named Grand Rapids’ 2016 “Lawyer of the Year” for Education Law in the 22nd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Only a single lawyer in each practice area in each community is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year.”

In addition to her legal practice, Barb has been involved in the legal community, as past chair of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, a member of the Judicial Evaluation and Character and Fitness Committees, and former trustee of the Grand Rapids Bar Association.

In 1984, Barb authored and edited the first edition of Wrongful Discharge Cases In Michigan for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). Barb continued to author and edit articles and books on employment litigation through 1999. In 1991, she co-authored the Michigan Business Formbook and authored and co-authored its supplements for eight years. In 1996, Barb co-authored Michigan Law of Damages, Second Edition, and wrote chapters in its supplements through 2001. She has also taught several ICLE courses.


J.D., cum laude, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1977
B.A., cum laude, University of Michigan, Michigan, 1973


Named among The Best Lawyers in America® – Education Law by Best Lawyers (2013-2024)

Best Lawyers Lawyer of the Year – Education, Grand Rapids (2016)

Harlow Claggett Award (2007)

Leading Lawyer

Super Lawyers – Michigan


Grand Rapids Bar Association

Michigan Negotiators Association

Michigan & National Council of School Attorneys

State Bar of Michigan

State Bar Licenses