The Legal Aid Committee met 6 times during 2002-2003 and conducted work between meetings by email. The Committee's primary purpose has been to review and submit comments on proposed legislation, court rules and resolutions to the Public Policy Committee of the Board of Commissioners or the Representative Assembly.
The Committee members respond to policy items sent to it by the Bar, and also identify additional issues that may merit review by the Committee itself or the Bar. The Committee reviews the proposals with special attention to how they would affect the ability of low-income persons to access the courts, obtain counsel, and have their legal problems addressed in an effective and efficient manner.
During the past year, the Committee has reviewed over 25 pieces of legislation and proposed court rules as well as several proposed resolutions and policy changes that have been before the Representative Assembly or Board of Commissioners. On most substantive issues, the Committee seeks input from relevant Legal Services Task Forces. The committee submitted written comments or recommendations on 14 items. The Committee submitted written and oral testimony to the Michigan Supreme Court on two Court rules.
In addition to reviewing the proposed rules and legislation that come before it, the Committee is currently studying several problems concerning temporary guardianships. The Committee has developed a position paper and proposal for a court rule change which has been sent to several other Bar entities for their comments. The Committee is also studying the questions of whether non-lawyers who offer assistance on immigration matters should be regulated in order to avoid the unauthorized practice of law. The Committee is also reviewing the proposed changes to the Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility.
The Committee sends a representative to the Access to Justice Task Force, Justice Initiatives Coalition, and Open Justice commission.