The State Bar of Michigan has successfully sued a Michigan man for practicing law on behalf of Michigan residents because he is not a lawyer and is not authorized to provide legal services. The action was brought by the State Bar in fulfilling its mandate from the Michigan Supreme Court to investigate and prosecute cases involving the unauthorized practice of law.
The Wexford County Circuit Court on August 30, 2004, permanently enjoined David Steelman, doing business as Sovereignty Unlimited, of Blanchard, Michigan from preparing legal documents and giving legal advice to Michigan residents. Steelman told Michigan residents that he could represent them in their legal matters. He gave them legal advice and drafted legal documents for them, charging hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars for work that was ineffective or never completed. Steelman is not an attorney and does not claim to be a graduate of any law school.
"We're glad that we have been able to take a step to protect Michigan residents from disreputable actors who take advantage of people experiencing legal problems. The money that the Michigan residents lost when they paid Steelman could have been used to retain a licensed Michigan attorney who could have provided them with effective legal assistance" said Scott S. Brinkmeyer, President of the State Bar of Michigan.
In addition to ordering Steelman to repay his clients the sums they gave him, the Court prohibited him from holding himself out as an attorney or leading others to believe that he is authorized to provide legal services, drafting legal documents, giving legal advice and acting as a representative or intermediary for other persons regarding their legal matters.
Established in 1935, the State Bar of Michigan is composed of more than 36,000 members who serve Michigan citizens. All practicing attorneys and judges must be active members in good standing. The purpose of the State Bar, as set forth by the Michigan Supreme Court is "to aid in promoting improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence, improving relations between the legal profession and the public, and promoting the interests of the legal profession in this state."