Finding the Licensed Attorney in Michigan
We know that consumers use the Internet to find goods and services. They buy books, electronics, and clothes online, secure in the knowledge that the goods can be returned if they are the wrong color, not quite what they wanted, or are defective.
Services such as legal services, however, simply can’t be sent back for the cost of shipping. Using an improperly drafted will or contract or a power of attorney created by an unlicensed attorney can be life changing. How can a consumer be assured that the lawyer contacted is licensed and in good standing?
When consumers search for “Michigan Attorneys” they will be directed to the SBM Member Directory and sites such as AVVO, FindLaw, Lawyers.com, or LegalMatch.
Generally, the sites follow the same format. Consumers type in their geographic location and the legal service they seek. What pops up is a list of lawyers and law firms that meet the criteria. The seeker can then click on a profile or a website to learn more. Some sites provide client reviews. The AVVO site highlights an AVVO rating ranging from 1-10. LegalMatch claims all its lawyers are pre-screened and in good standing with their state bar association. Others include links to state bar associations so that the consumer can go to the site and check the lawyer’s status.
Only the SBM Member Directory prominently highlights at the top of every active member’s business card and profile that the lawyer is “Active and in Good Standing.” A consumer can immediately be assured that the lawyer is a professional, licensed attorney bound by the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC). While the consumer may not be familiar with the MRPC, the 90-plus page document setting the standard of legal ethics and professional responsibility for Michigan Lawyers, lawyers know it well. Only those who follow the rules are “Active and in Good Standing.”
Should a lawyer be sanctioned or disbarred, the result of that discipline is posted to the lawyer’s profile on the State Bar Member Directory. Consumers and lawyers using the SBM Directory can be assured the information they find is current, reliable, and authentic.
The Internet is here to stay. Consumers will use it at some point to find a good or service they desire. The legal world is not immune. It is vital that the legal services provided to the consumer be professional, reliable, and competent. A complete profile created by the member lawyer and including the statement “Active and in Good Standing” provided by the SBM Member Directory assures the consumers that they will receive legal service provided by a licensed attorney.
You can protect prospective clients from the unscrupulous. Use and recommend the use of the SBM Member Directory to find competent lawyers licensed and in good standing in Michigan.
Roberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section Newsletter.
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