- Role of the Grievance Committee. As part of the State Bar reorganization, the role of this special committee has changed. When the reorganization is completed, the Grievance Committee will become part of the new Professionalism Standards Committee of the Board of Bar Commissioners. Part of that Strategic Plan will be the new Ethics School. A new Professionalism Center will also be part of the new reorganization.
The drivers of the reorganization will be: achievable objectives; better managed finances; and more focus by the Board of Bar Commissioners
With the new reorganization, the role of the Grievance Committee will be task orientation, as requested and directed by the Board of Bar Commissioners. The Committee will also retain the role of providing new ideas to assist the Attorney Grievance Commission, Discipline Board and the Judicial Tenure Commission in accomplishing their statutory duties.
- AGC and ADB. Many "low-end" cases are now resolved in an admonishment or "closed with a caution" to the involved attorney. It is hoped that the new Ethics School will provide an additional vehicle for diversion of less serious offenses
A recent review session with the Supreme Court revealed that the Court looks at the discipline system as a method to improve competence. The consensus of the Committee was that competence should be viewed as a broader objective, and one achieved by several means, including continuing education and a possible future bar certification program, in addition to the sanction of the discipline system
Future rule changes are being explored, including possible expansion of discovery during AGC/ADB proceedings
The budget of AGC and ADB will be under continued stress. The Committee pledged support to AGC and ADB for reasonable budgetary changes, including control of expenses. In addition, more aggressive implementation of diversion programs, and use of alternative dispute resolution for "civil disputes" (eg, fee and file disputes) should also be emphasized.
- Proposed Amendment to MRPC 1.5. The Committee approved a proposed amendment to MRPC 1.5 and its Comment to add new provisions to the rule clarifying that any determination of "unreasonableness" must take into consideration all of the factors recited in MRPC 1.5(1), and not just time and rate. In addition, the amendment would clarify that an otherwise valid and compliant fee agreement should control the terms of the fee arrangement. This is in accord with MCL 600.919. The addition to the Comment would clarify that a "non-refundable retainer" is permissible. Other additions to the Comment would clarify other aspects of the rule.
The recommendation and proposed amendment and Comment has been sent to the State Bar of Michigan Standing Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics for review and forwarding to the Supreme Court.