The ABA Medal is the highest honor granted by the ABA to attorneys who dedicate exceptionally distinguished service to the cause of American jurisprudence. The first medal was awarded in 1929 and other recipients of the medal have included Thurgood Marshall, Oliver Wendall Holmes, Felix Frankfurter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O'Connor, William Brennan, David Boies and Thedore Olson.
Archer is Dickinson Wright chairman emeritus and has served as a Michigan Supreme Court justice and mayor of Detroit.
Archer served as the first African-American president of the ABA in 2003. He has also previously served as president of the State Bar of Michigan, president of the National Bar Association, president of the Wolverine Bar Association, president of the National Conference of Mayors and president of the National League of Cities.