Ethics Opinion Search by Topic

This Index includes:

  • All ethics opinions released from October 2, 1988, through the present
  • Formal ethics opinions interpreting the former Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility
  • Judicial Tenure Commission Advisory Opinions
  • Michigan Supreme Court cases involving lawyer and judicial discipline
  • Essays and articles from the Michigan Bar Journal

Opinions interpreting the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct are denoted "R" for formal opinions and "RI" for informal opinions. Opinions interpreting the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct are denoted "J" for formal opinions and "JI" for informal opinions. Formal opinions interpreting the former Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility are denoted "C". Advisory Opinions of the Judicial Tenure Commission are denoted "A/O". Articles published in the Michigan Bar Journal are cited "[volume] MBJ [page] (date)".

Copyright held by State Bar of Michigan, All Rights Reserved

Notice to Lawyers:
State Bar of Michigan ethics opinions are advisory and non-binding in nature. This index is a complete historical catalog. Some of the listed ethics opinions, though not expressly superseded in subsequent ethics opinions, may be nonetheless outmoded or no longer sound due to subsequent changes in case law, statutes, or court rules. Practitioners are urged to thoroughly research all sources to determine the current validity of any given ethics opinion.

Common Citations

The following citation abbreviations are used in this Index.

"A/O" Opinions issued by the Judicial Tenure Commission interpreting the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct
"C" Formal ethics opinions interpreting the former Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility
"CI" Informal ethics opinions interpreting the former Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility
"J" Formal ethics opinions interpreting the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct
"JI" Informal ethics opinions interpreting the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct
"MBJ" Michigan Bar Journal, monthly publication of the State Bar of Michigan
"R" Formal ethics opinions interpreting the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct
"RI" Informal ethics opinions interpreting the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct
"Op" Opinions interpreting the former Canons of Professional Ethics or the former Canons of Judicial Ethics.

Search by Opinion Number or Keywords

Click here to use the "quick find" by opinion number or to search the full text of our ethics opinion collection.

Index

For the researcher's convenience, this list is provided to show the topics used for indexing authorities in this volume.

Abuse of Judicial Office

Administration of Justice, Conduct Prejudicial to

Administrative Agency Practice

Administrative Duties of Judicial Officers

Administrative Hearing Officer

Admission to the Bar

Advancing Funds to Client

Adverse Parties

Advertising

Advice to Client

Advice to Third Person

Alcohol Abuse

Alternate Dispute Resolution

Ancillary Services

Appeals

Appearance of Impropriety

Appointments

Arbitration

Association With Nonlawyer

Attorney-Client Privilege

Attorney-Client Relationship

Abuse of Judicial Office

Abuse of contempt power

  •  Matter of Hague,
  •   412 Mich 532 (1982),
  •   In Re Seitz,
  •   441 Mich 590 (1993),

Advancing business interests of others

Advancing personal interests of others

Family relationships influencing judicial judgment

  •  Matter of Tschirhart,
  •   420 Mich 1201 (1984),

Humiliating Chief Judge Pro Tem and other court personnel

  •  In Re Seitz,
  •   441 Mich 590 (1993),

Improper termination of public defender contract

  •  Matter of Bennett,
  •   403 Mich 178 (1978),

Jury records used for judges election mailings

Perpetual recusal due to animosity toward advocate

Vulgar and discourteous behavior while serving as judge

  •  Matter of Frankel,
  •   414 Mich 1109 (1982) in Re Seitz,
  •   441 Mich 590 (1993),

Administration of Justice, Conduct Prejudicial to

Abuse of contempt power

  •  Matter of Hague,
  •   412 Mich 532 (1982),
  •   In Re Seitz,
  •   441 Mich 590 (1993),

Accepting and soliciting bribes

  •  Matter of Jenkins,
  •   437 Mich 15 (1991),

Disobeying orders of higher court

  •  Matter of Hague,
  •   412 Mich 532 (1982),

Humiliating another judge and other court personnel

  •  In Re Seitz,
  •   441 Mich 590 (1993),

Improper disqualification of advocates

  •  Matter of Hague,
  •   412 Mich 532 (1982),

Irascibility and irrational behavior

  •  In Re Crowell,
  •   379 So2d 107 (Fla 1979),
  •   In Re Seitz,
  •   441 Mich 590 (1993),

Public comment by judge about arrest and acquittal

  •  Matter of Tschirhart,
  •   420 Mich 1201 (1984),

Recusal in order to negotiate employment

Unauthorized practice of law, duty to prevent

Administrative proceedings, lawyer's truthfulness concerning professional status

Agreement not to report misconduct

Appearance of collusion between parties

Contacts with presiding judge off the record

Copying presiding judge on substantive matters

Inconsistent testimony of client

Negotiating settlement with represented party

Pretrial discovery proceedings, lawyer's duty to reveal false nature of evidence

Rejecting court appointment

Substantive contacts with presiding judge off the record

Withdrawal as next friend when sued by ward

Administrative Agency Practice

City attorney acting as hearing officer

Confidentiality of consultation under agency program

Contacting employees and former employees of opposing party in workers' compensation case

Duties of nonlawyer advocates

File data not in official record

Government program advocate

Interference with advocate's independent professional judgment

Judge representing or consulting for party

  •  A/O 10,

Lawyer appearing as nonlawyer representative of party

Lawyer's duties when employee legal assistant appears on behalf of parties

Lawyer's spouse elected to municipality

Lawyer's truthfulness as to professional status

Legal assistant appearing on behalf of party

Nonlawyer advocates held to lawyer ethics rules

Nonlawyer assistance to party

  •  C-239,
  •   RI-103,
  •   State Bar of Mi v. Galloway,
  •   124 Mich App 271 (1983),
  •   422 Mich 188 (1985),

Nonlawyer representative before agency

  •  C-239,
  •   RI-103,
  •   State Bar of Mi v. Galloway,
  •   124 Mich App 271 (1983),
  •   422 Mich 188 (1985),

Person appearing on behalf of party disclosing lawyer status

Prejudice to case when hearing officer exposed to data outside the official record

Administrative Duties of Judicial Officers

Administrative Hearing Officer

File data not in official record, effect on disqualification

Grievance filing necessitates recusal

"Issuing support order—subsequent representation"

Law practice by

Letterhead showing public office

"Matters" affecting ability to negotiate employment

Negotiating employment with firm which is a party before hearing officer

"Personal and substantial" participation in matter limits private practice

"Personal and substantial" participation in matter results in disqualification

Presiding in cases in which employee of law firm's client appear

  •  In Re Schlossberg v. State Bar Grievance Bd.,
  •   388 Mich 389 (1972),

Preventing unauthorized practice of law

Recusal when officer files grievance against lawyer

"Representing client—issued support order"

Tainted by access to data outside the record

Withdrawal from case to negotiate employment

Admission to the Bar

Character and fitness determinations

  •  75 MBJ 682 (Jul 1996),

Discipline imposed when admission misconduct discovered

  •  Matter of Del Rio,
  •   407 Mich 336 (1979),

Duty to report law student misconduct

False information submitted to admission authority

  •  Matter of Del Rio,
  •   407 Mich 336 (1979),

Imputed disqualification of hiring firm when transferring from nonlaw employment

Pro hac vice admission for a particular matter

  •  70 MBJ 1074 (Oct 1991),

Recertification

  •  Yashinsky v. Board of Law Exam'Rs,
  •   539 Nw2d 378 (1995),

Reporting law student activity

Representing bar applicants while serving on admissions committee

Unlicensed graduates

  •  71 MBJ 1061 (Oct 1992),

Advancing Funds to Client

Advancing client proceeds from operating account

Advancing court-imposed fines and costs

Agreement with venture capital company

Allocating attorney fees to class action clients

Attorney fees allocated to class action clients

By lawyers employed in legal service organizations

Charging lien

Departing lawyer's responsibility for

Disbursement from operating account to avoid trust account

Financing costs via loan

Fines and costs advanced by law

Indigent client

Living and medical expenses to indigent client

Loan from third-party vendor

Referring client to third-party lender

Security for court costs for indigent client

Venture capital company advancing funds

Adverse Parties

Client contact with opposing party

Complaining witness in criminal case contacted by defense attorneys

Contact with former corporate employees

Contact with lower level corporate employees

Contacting by letter with copy to lawyer

Copy of letter to lawyer

Counseling client to contact opposing party

Defense attorney contacting complaining witness

Duty to reveal assistance of pro se litigant without appearance is limited

Interviewing employees of corporate party

Judge presiding in unrelated matter in which party opponent appears as advocate

Lawyer as witness for

Prosecutor not allowing complaining witness to talk with defense attorneys

Public defender may ethically establish separate offices to represent defendants with adverse interests

Scope of corporation "party"

Settlement discussions between parties

Advertising

City employees displaying campaign signs

  •  A/O 57,

Criticism of sitting judges

Criticism of existing law

Discussing position on political or legal issues

Endorsement from sitting judge

Incumbency, inference when not fact

  •  A/O 51,
  •   A/O 104,

In political party ad book

Listing in non-approved directories

  •  C-209,

Literature at political candidate's event

Misleading campaign ad placing decision-making blame

Name recognition

Picture in robes when not incumbent

  •  A/O 51,

Placing advertisement in nonjudicial candidate's literature

  •  A/O 20,

Pledges in judicial campaign

Political candidate's literature at judicial candidate event

Political endorsement of judge's candidacy

Space donated in nonjudicial candidate's literature

  •  A/O 20,

Sponsorship of youth sports team

"Strict sentencing philosophy" slogan

Academic credentials

"Affiliation" must be defined for clarity

"Affordable" services

Ancillary services

Announcements sent to former firm's clients

  •  RI-49,
  •   76 MBJ 84 (Jan 1997),
  •   69 MBJ 154 (Feb 1990),

Areas of practice

Bankruptcy specialty designation

Booth outside co-sponsored seminar

Computer technology

Consultation charges

Coupons for legal services

Credentials of lawyers

Direct mail

Discounts for special services

Donation of fee for charitable service

Dual professions

Duty to review referral service marketing plan

Failure to remove lawyer listings from phone directory after discipline

  •  In The Matter of Freedman,
  •   406 Mich 256 (1979),

Fee information

Firm name as part of franchise

Firm name including historical building where firm located

Firm name including out-of-state lawyer

Firm name including retired shareholder

Firm name inferring multiple offices

Firm name, PLLC designation

Former judge status, description of

Free legal seminar

Group advertising plan

Internet use

"Law Offices" inferring more than one office

Lawyer communications regarding "specialties"

  •  70 MBJ 72 (Jan 1991),

Lawyer named “Super Lawyer” may advertise it

Lawyer Referral Service vs. advertising

lawyer's name not required in ad

Letter regarding lawyer's services in "newcomer" packets

Listing on out-of-state firm website for referrals as advertising

Marketing by independent contractor

Misleading ads

Misleading ads, inferring more than one lawyer

Name of lawyer in group ad

"No fee unless recovery"

"Of counsel" relationships

Office presence without staffing

Patent law practice

Prosecutor's appearance as public official in pro bonocase

Public official in law firm

Referral service participation

  •  70 MBJ 146 (Feb 1991),

"Specialties"

Status as former judge

SuperLawyer

Telephone directory listings after discipline imposed

  •  In The Matter of Freedman,
  •   406 Mich 256 (1979),

Television ads

Third party advertising lawyer's services as incentive to members

Trade name

Welcome Wagon participation

Unassociated lawyers

Advertising lawyer discount as incentive for membership

Ancillary services

Announcement of nonlawyer appraiser joining law firm

Appraiser employed at law firm

Chamber of Commerce advertising lawyer discount

Church advertising lawyer discount

Duty to review advertising

Lawyer discount used as membership incentive

Insurance customers

Recommending services of particular lawyer

Telephone listing separate from law firm prohibited

Advice to Client

Alternate dispute resolution options

Arbitration clause in fee agreement

Asking for appointment as personal representative

Discharge of lawyer

  •  74 MBJ 822 (Aug 1995),

Duties owed when assisting pro se litigant

Duty to advise of judicial candidacy

Duty to advise on ADR options

Initial consultation triggering disqualification

Lawyer fiduciary making legal decisions for ward

lawyer's nonlaw business agent

Legal services staff reduction

Limited by lawyer's contract with presiding court

Limited by third party payor of fee

"Living will" and health care directive information presented at seminar

Not to discuss litigation with adverse party

On advisability of arbitration clause in fee agreement

Pursuit of cause of action for minor

Representing client on unrelated matters when client is fugitive

Successor counsel's conduct

Advice to Third Person

Advising interested persons to seek independent counsel

Corporate employees not to discuss litigation

Duty to convey offer to resolve through

Negotiating settlement with opposing party

Parent consulted when representing minor child