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July 2020

Only a few days remain if you want to apply to serve on an SBM committee for the upcoming bar year

Volunteering with the State Bar of Michigan is a great way to help shape the future of the legal profession, protect the public, and network with other lawyers from across the state (even remotely).

If you're interested in joining a committee or work group for the 2020–21 bar year, please fill out the volunteer application here right away. Applications close on July 30 and appointments will be announced in mid-September. The bar year starts October 1.

Committee opportunities include Character and Fitness, the Michigan Bar Journal, Justice Initiatives, and many, many more. You can see the full list here.

Introducing a resource page on race and justice

Race and Justice ForumAffinity bars, local bars, and other justice system stakeholders are working together, through an ongoing virtual Race and Justice Forum hosted by SBM, to advance conversations about race and justice to advance knowledge, foster understanding of different perspectives, brainstorm solutions, and showcase opportunities to learn or help. This initiative includes collecting resources on relevant events and materials available to Michigan lawyers who are interested in this topic. Those resources, which will be updated regularly, can be found here.

Watch out for scammers impersonating SBM

Michigan lawyers should be on high alert, as scammers are impersonating State Bar of Michigan leadership in an effort to collect gift cards. The emails usually have a subject line of “STATE BAR of MICHIGAN REQUEST” and are sent from an email address that is clearly not associated with SBM.

The State Bar of Michigan will never contact you to ask for gift cards. If you receive such an email, you should not reply. We are working with law enforcement to stop this scam. Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission for recognizing scam emails and more information about scams involving gift cards.

Here’s what other lawyers are checking out from the SBM Downloadable Library

SBM Downloadable LibraryAs a Michigan attorney, you have complimentary access to the State Bar of Michigan Downloadable Library, which features a wide variety of e-books and audio books. Not sure where to start? Here’s a sampling of some titles that have been popular lately:

The library contains more than 750 titles, and we’re always looking to add more. If there’s a title you’d like to see added, please let us know by emailing

Highlights of the July 2020 Michigan Bar Journal

SBM Downloadable LibraryThis month’s issue of the Michigan Bar Journal focuses on municipal government law. Highlights include:

From the SBM Ethics Committee: Lawyers have ethical obligations to understand technology, including cybersecurity

The latest opinion from the SBM Ethics Committee concludes that “[l]awyers have ethical obligations to understand technology, including cybersecurity, take reasonable steps to implement cybersecurity measures, supervise lawyer and other firm personnel to ensure compliance with duties relating to cybersecurity, and timely notify clients in the event of a material data breach.”

Read the full ethics opinion on cybersecurity here.

Don’t miss these offers from SBM Preferred Partners

Race and Justice ForumLawPay, the industry standard in online payments, has a special offer available for Michigan lawyers: Open a new account by July 31, and receive 3 months with no monthly fee—plus a $100 credit toward processing fees. Find more information about the LawPay offer here. LawPay was built with input from bar associations and their ethics committees to ensure all payments are processed in compliance with attorney trust accounting rules.

MyCase is offering a free webinar about safeguarding your law firm against further disruption. Find more information, and register for the July 30 webinar, here. Host Niki Black will cover:

  • Short-term considerations to get you through the current pandemic
  • How to reopen safely and prevent future infections and closures
  • The ethical and practical importance of disaster planning
  • The technology you need in place to “future-proof” your firm

MyCase also has made the following resources available to Michigan lawyers:

We’ve added a new feature to this newsletter to help you stay up to date on news from the Michigan Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office. If you have any feedback, or suggestions for other things you’d find useful in this newsletter, please email SBM’s Director of Communications, Elizabeth Couch, at

Update from the Michigan Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office

The MSC updated its guidance on face coverings in trial courts

Michigan’s judiciary has responded to the pandemic with a willingness to innovate and adapt to quickly changing conditions to ensure that public health and safety remain the priority. One condition that has changed is expert guidance regarding the wearing of face coverings in public spaces.

The Michigan Supreme Court has received feedback that not wearing face coverings is having a worrisome impact on the public’s view of our courts. Furthermore, a National Center for State Courts survey found that 70 percent of respondents said they would be more comfortable in a courthouse if courts enforced social distancing, checked temperatures, and required everyone to wear masks.

To respond to these concerns, the MSC has updated its Return to Full Capacity Guide directing judges and court staff to set an example by wearing face coverings in public spaces at all times when social distancing is not guaranteed. The document also includes further guidance on cases where local public health conditions are deteriorating.