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State Bar of Michigan Member Advisory

February 7, 2014

SBM Opposes Voluntary Bar Legislation; Asks for Michigan Supreme Court Review

The State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose Senate Bill 743 (SB 743) in a teleconference meeting on February 6. Senate Bill 743, calling for voluntary membership in the State Bar of Michigan, was introduced on January 23 by state Senator Arlan Meekhof.

President Brian Einhorn and Executive Director Janet Welch informed Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. and his fellow justices of this decision in a letter sent to the court on February 6. In this letter, SBM leaders state that SB 743 raises questions about the operation of the State Bar as a mandatory organization that are most appropriately addressed within the judicial branch of government, pursuant to the Supreme Court's exclusive constitutional authority to establish practice and procedure for the state's legal system under Michigan Constitution Article VI, Section 5. SBM leaders ask the Michigan Supreme Court to initiate a review of how the State Bar of Michigan operates within the framework of the Supreme Court of the United States' ruling in Keller v State Bar of California.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mandatory Versus Voluntary Bar Status

  • Do lawyers in voluntary bar states pay anything to practice law? YES
  • Does a mandatory bar deliver value to its members that a voluntary bar can't? YES
  • Are the State Bar of Michigan's public service and access to justice programs better than what voluntary bar states can provide? YES

Supreme Court Oversight of the State Bar of Michigan

The Rules of the Michigan Supreme Court direct the State Bar of Michigan to aid in promoting improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence, in improving relations between the legal profession and the public, and in promoting the interests of the legal profession in Michigan.

"We value the reputation the State Bar has established as a national leader in pursuing these purposes for nearly eight decades," said SBM President Brian Einhorn and Executive Director Janet Welch in the letter. "We know that our continued effectiveness depends on the confidence of this Court and our membership in our adherence to our core mission and to the constitutional boundaries defined by the Keller decision and the Michigan Supreme Court. Our decision-making in carrying out our duties to our members and the public is grounded in such adherence, and we believe that a structured conversation on this subject undertaken under the auspices of the Supreme Court will fully address the questions raised by SB 743."

Member Advisory is an electronic publication of the State Bar of Michigan.

    State Bar of Michigan
    306 Townsend St.
    Lansing, MI 48933-2012
    (517) 346-6300