“Lawyer Trust Accounts: Management Principles and Recordkeeping Resources” Set for Tuesday, June 25 in Detroit
Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2013; 1:30–4:15 p.m.
Location:University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, 651 W. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, Room 226
Cost: $50 for lawyers, $25 for non-lawyers
Register: Online or by mail/fax form PDF before June 20
No “walk-in” registrations will be accepted.
View the Agenda & Faculty PDF
This half-day seminar will feature presentations on how to ethically manage lawyer trust accounts, and effectively use forms, checklists and other recordkeeping resources. The seminar is open to lawyers and their staff, and is an excellent way to learn more about Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 and 1.15A.
Participants will receive practical information as well as materials prepared by the presenters: SBM Professional Standards Investigative Counsel Danon Goodrum-Garland, SBM Professional Standards Service Counsel Nkrumah Johnson-Wynn, and Attorney Grievance Commission Senior Associate Counsel Rhonda Pozehl.
For more information contact Karen Spohn with the State Bar of Michigan Professional Standards Division at (517) 346-6309 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Effective Date of Changes to Judicial Campaign and Fundraising Ethics Rules Made Earlier
By order entered May 1, 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court has altered ethics rules related to fundraising for judicial candidates, whether incumbent judges or lawyers. While reinforcing the concept that judges cannot directly solicit funds, new language addresses a judge's receipt of funds. Additional language clarifies the types of activities associated with noncampaign-related fundraising events in which judges ethically may participate. A modification of MRPC 8.2 cross-references language in the Code of Judicial Conduct applicable to lawyers who are judicial candidates. View the Order. By order entered May 29, 2013, the Court made the rule changes effective August 1, 2013, instead of September 1, 2013. View the order changing the implementation date.
New Opinion Addresses Lawyer's Reference to Former Status as Judge
In RI-362, the Professional Ethics Committee discusses a lawyer's reference to a past judicial opinion, including the years the position was held, in communications subject to scrutiny under the ethical rules.
New Opinion Addresses Lawyer Candidate for Judge Appearing in Opponent's Court
In RI-361, which addresses the facts presented in JI-138 from the lawyer's perspective, the Professional Ethics Committee has rescinded RI-52 and concluded that a lawyer who represents a client before the judge for whose bench the lawyer is an announced candidate must disclose that candidacy to the client. In order for the lawyer to continue to represent the client, the lawyer must determine whether his or her judicial candidacy triggers any obligations under the general conflicts of interest rule and, if so, proceeding accordingly.
New Opinion Discusses Lawyer Contact with Former Employees of Another Party
Informal opinion RI-360 addresses circumstances under which a lawyer representing a party may directly contact a former employee of another party not known to be represented in the matter in order to conduct an interview.
New Opinion Reconsiders Attorneys Fees in Escheat Claims
In RI-359, the Professional Ethics Committee modifies RI-193 in part in concluding that a lawyer may charge a contingent fee in representing clients seeking to obtain funds escheated to the State of Michigan, and that, like hourly or flat fees, it is subject to scrutiny for reasonableness.
New Opinion Discusses Waivers in a Concurrent Client Conflict Situation
In RI-358, the Professional Ethics Committee reviews what is ethically required for a lawyer to determine if she can limit the scope of representation to another client to accommodate conditions placed on the granting of a waiver of conflict of interests by a current client.
New Judicial Ethics Opinion Discusses When a Candidate Appears Before the Judge Whose Bench is Sought
In JI-138, the Judicial Ethics Committee discusses a judge's ethical obligations when a lawyer who is an announced candidate for the judge's bench appears as an advocate before the judge. While the judge is not per se disqualified from presiding in the matter, so long as the judge ethically can discharge the duties required by the applicable Canons and finds no basis that requires disqualification. The judge should disclose to the parties the lawyer's candidacy and proceed, unless a timely motion to disqualify is granted.
Out-of-state attorneys seeking to appear in a Michigan case or proceeding, whether before a court, administrative tribunal or agency, or arbitration proceeding, must comply with Michigan's pro hac vice rule. Lawyers seeking temporary admission should review MCR 8.126, MCR 9.108, and Rule 15 of the Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan to fully understand the requirements and procedure. Every lawyer seeking admission under the pro hac vice rule subjects himself or herself to the jurisdiction of Michigan's attorney discipline system.
MCR 8.126 provides that an out-of-state attorney is permitted to appear and practice in no more than five cases in a 365-day period. For the privilege of practicing in Michigan, the out-of-state attorney must pay a fee of $125 for each motion filed. That fee is payable to the State Bar of Michigan, 306 Townsend St., Lansing, MI 48933, and should be sent to the attention of the Finance Department, with a notation that it is a pro hac vice fee being paid on behalf of the out-of-state attorney, and include that attorney's name and address. The State Bar will provide a letter acknowledging receipt of payment within three business days from receipt of payment.
A Michigan attorney who is associated with the out-of-state attorney must file the pro hac vice motion, to which must be attached a current certificate of good standing from a jurisdiction where the out-of-state attorney is licensed and eligible to practice; an affidavit by the out-of-state lawyer verifying certain information set forth in the rule pertaining to licensure, disciplinary history, and verifying a current familiarity with Michigan court rules; and a copy of an acknowledgment letter from the State Bar of Michigan evidencing payment of the required fee. The Michigan attorney must attest that he or she has read the affidavit, has made a reasonable inquiry concerning its contents, believes the out-of-state attorney's representations are true, and agrees to ensure that the procedures in the rule are followed.
A copy of the motion and attachments must also be submitted to the Attorney Grievance Commission by mail to Attn: Pro Hac Vice, Attorney Grievance Commission, 535 Griswold, Suite 1700, Detroit, MI 48226 or by e-mail to ProHacVice@agcmi.com. The Attorney Grievance Commission must, within seven days of receipt of the motion and affidavit, notify the tribunal, the Michigan attorney, and the out-of-state attorney whether that out-of-state attorney has been admitted in Michigan in the past 365 days, if so, how many times.
For additional questions regarding this process, call the Attorney Grievance Commission at (313) 961-6585 or e-mail questions to ProHacVice@agcmi.com.
View the Court Rule PDF
For additional questions about how and where to file the fee, contact Carol Peterson at the State Bar of Michigan by phone at (517) 346-6377 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Informal Opinion RI-355 reviews ethical requirements in sharing office space with nonlawyers when the lawyer's presence is by appointment only and not consistently in the same office.
- Informal Opinion RI-356 discusses whether a lawyer can ethically refer a client to a third-party lender to finance payment of the lawyer's fees in which the lawyer would facilitating future automatic debits to the client's account.
- Informal Opinion RI-357 concludes that a lawyer representing a client in a dispute concerning distribution of a trust res may not ethically acquire a security interest in funds to be received from the trust to secure payment of attorney's fees when the trust account is the subject matter of the litigation.
- Informal Judicial Ethics Opinion JI-137 discusses the ethical implications when a judge serves as the host of a commercially-sponsored program, concluding that Canons (1), (2), (3), and (5) are implicated.
The State Bar of Michigan is pleased to provide this service to our membership to assist Michigan lawyers in researching ethics inquiries free of charge. This service provides the full index to Michigan ethics opinions, both professional and judicial, with links to all ethics opinions released since October 1988.
There are four ways to search for Michigan ethics opinions using our online service. If you know the opinion number, click on Quick Find by opinion number and enter it in the "get opinion" box. If you would like to search the text of the ethics opinions, click on Search full text of ethics opinion collection and insert key word text in the search criteria box. If you would like to search for ethics opinions by subject matter click on online index to review the topic index and tables of opinions. If you would like to search for ethics opinions interpreting specific rules of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) or specific canons of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct, click on Opinions interpreting MRPC or Opinions interpreting MCJC to review the tables of opinions.
If you would like to request a written ethics opinion regarding a particular issue, click on written Ethics Opinion to obtain instructions for submitting your written request.
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.
Members may contact the SBM Ethics Helpline at (877) 558-4760 to receive an informal, advisory opinion from a staff attorney regarding an ethics issue pertaining to the inquirer's prospective conduct. This number is reserved for lawyers and judges only. Staff counsel will not advise on past conduct of the inquirer, the conduct of another attorney or judge, on questions of law, or hypotheticals. The opinions of staff counsel are non-binding and advisory only.