Each year, the Ethics Committee issues Informal Opinions in response to requests from lawyers and judges for advice as to prospective conduct. During 2002-2003, the Ethics committee issued three such opinions. Five other opinions are currently in the review process.
The Ethics Committee has sponsored and produced the State Bar's Judicial Campaign seminar in the year preceding the general election and will again be doing so in November 2003. At the last session held in before the 2002 election, over 140 judicial candidates attended to learn and discuss ethics issues surrounding judicial campaigns. The speakers covered the Campaign Finance Act, Secretary of State elections information, as well as the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct.
This past year, the State Bar of Michigan, together with the Ethics Committee, the Attorney Grievance Commission and the Attorney Discipline Board, has established an Ethics School program, which acts as a diversion program for individuals who have had "minor" grievances filed against them with the Attorney Grievance Commission. Eligible respondents are given the option of attending the one-day Ethics School program and, if it is successfully completed, the grievance will be dismissed. The first Ethics School was held in Lansing on May 8, 2003.
Review of ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct
This year, the Ethics Committee has devoted substantial amounts of time and energy in reviewing the new Model Rules of Professional Conduct enacted by the American Bar Association. First, a subcommittee of the Ethics Committee was assembled to thoroughly review each proposed rule and to compare the model rule with the existing Michigan rule. After the subcommittee completed its work, the full Ethics Committee then thoroughly reviewed each proposed rule and recommendation from the subcommittee and then compiled a recommendation on how the ABA Model Rules should be amended for adoption in Michigan. At the time this report is prepared, the Committee is finalizing all of its recommendations it will forward the recommendations to the Representative Assembly for consideration, once the committee has competed its work.
The State Bar of Michigan produces and maintains one of the finest legal websites in the United States. The Ethics Committee is proud to be an important part of that excellence. This website now contains all the Formal and Informal Michigan Professional and Judicial Ethics Opinions, as well as the Opinions of the Attorney Discipline Board, with an internal search option. Several articles on topics concerning ethics and professional responsibility are also available on a "point and click" basis. New material is added constantly, and the website also contains instructions and forms for how to submit a Request for an Ethics Opinion.