Strategic Plan 2017-2023 logo

Activities Supporting the Strategic Plan

Find out more about the State Bar of Michigan's Strategic Plan.


Goal 1: The State Bar of Michigan provides resources to help all of its members achieve professional excellence and success in the practice of law and in service to the public.

Click on each of the strategies listed below the goals to see a list of State Bar of Michigan activities supporting each.

  • Young Lawyers Section (YLS) Programming
    • Every bar year, the SBM Young Lawyers Section (YLS) hosts a series of educational and networking events designed to help new lawyers become practice ready.
  • Mental Health & Wellness Focused on New Lawyers
    • The 2016 Hazelden/Betty Ford, ABA CoLAP research indicates that attorneys experience mental health and substance use concerns at higher rates than the general population and are most vulnerable to substance use disorders, depression and anxiety in their first 10 years of practice. Studies draw similar conclusions for law students. LJAP conducts outreach explaining these findings and methods of coping to new lawyers, including presentations to law students, bar applicants, and new lawyers; facilitation of peer monitor networks to allow attorneys to connect with other attorneys recovering from mental health or substance use disorders; and On Balance podcast episodes.
  • Tips & Tools for a Successful Practice Seminars
    • The Tips & Tools seminar offers practical information provided by seasoned lawyers and staff on how to ethically manage and improve the efficiency of a law practice. This seminar is beneficial for any attorney opening a new office or looking for information to improve their office procedures.
  • Lawyer Trust Accounts Seminar: Management Principles & Record-Keeping Resources
    • The Lawyer Trust Accounts Seminar provides practical information on the ethical management of lawyer trust accounts. This seminar is beneficial for new and seasoned attorneys who are establishing trust account management procedures.
  • Mentorship
    • The SBM Mentoring Center connects interested participants in mentoring relationships that align with one or more of the three principles identified by the mentorship workgroup as critical to success:  a local-community focus, a practice-area focus, and/or a project-based focus such as a pro bono matter. In addition, SBM staff continues to support and promote local mentoring programs throughout the state, and the mentoring that occurs within SBM sections, by promoting these opportunities among both potential mentors and mentees, working directly with YLS, the Senior Lawyers Section, law schools, the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DIAC), and the Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE).  SBM staff also shares information about mentoring and strongly encourages mentoring during Section Leader Orientation, Bar Leadership Forum, and other events, and through electronic communications.
  • Professionalism in Action
    • Professionalism in Action (PIA) was first endorsed by the State Bar in 2009 under the leadership of then-SBM President Edward Pappas and has become an integral part of orientation programming at all five Michigan law schools. PIA brings together students and practitioners to thoughtfully consider the purpose and scope of professional standards and civility. 
  • Character & Fitness Presentations to Law Students
    • When requested, the Character & Fitness (C&F) staff and committee members give presentations to law students to provide information regarding the character and fitness investigative process and the applicable standards and rules.
  • Promoting the State Bar’s Relationship with Michigan Law Schools
    • ​The SBM Law School Deans Committee provides a forum for law schools to come together to discuss issues of mutual interest.
  • Ethics Presentations by Staff Counsel to Law School Students
    • Staff counsel presents basic ethics seminars to law students at the request of law school professors or law school groups.
  • Practice Management Resource Center
    • The Practice Management Resource Center (PMRC) provides resources to its membership and staff on an ongoing basis to assist them with being practice ready, maintain their practices, and keep current with all aspects of practice management and technology, thereby maintaining professional competence and development. Sample resources include a practice management helpline, dedicated website, digital library, Michigan Bar Journal (MBJ) column, national podcasts, webcasts/webinars, seminar presentations, voluntary and mandated (AGC/ADB) onsite consultations, newsletters, and social media interface.
  • Substantive Legal Education Provided by SBM Sections
    • Every bar year, SBM sections publish substantive educational materials, both in print and online, and host a series of substantive educational seminars, both in person and online.
  • Upper Michigan Legal Institute
    • The mission of the Upper Michigan Legal Institute Work Group is to provide input on developing the education content of this annual legal seminar especially targeted to the practice needs of northern Michigan practitioners.
  • Pro Bono Trainings
    • The Tax Pro Bono Program was created in partnership with the Justice Initiatives Committee, SBM Taxation Section, and Michigan’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) to provide more opportunities for tax law attorneys to provide pro bono legal services and increase the number of low-income clients able to get pro bono legal help with federal and SOM tax issues.
  • En Banc Articles for Michigan Bar Journal (US Courts Committee)
    • ​Each year, the United States Courts Committee drafts an article detailing the en banc decisions of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Handbook on Local Practice in the Eastern District of Michigan
    • The Eastern District of Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association published the Handbook on Local Practice in the Eastern District of Michigan (aka “Survival Guide”), which is a guide on federal practice aimed at new practitioners or those who do not regularly practice in federal court.  SBM, through its US Courts Committee, has partnered with the ED FBA to help promote the resource to its members.
  • Civil Discovery Rules (Resources)
    • ​The State Bar of Michigan proposed widespread changes to the civil discovery rules with the goals of making the process less burdensome and costly, and increasing the public’s access to Michigan courts. Once the Michigan Supreme Court adopted these changes, the State Bar of Michigan focused on educating attorneys on the new rules.
  • E-Journal
    • ​Through the e-Journal, the State Bar of Michigan offers summaries of the latest opinions from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Sixth Circuit, delivered to attorneys five days a week. The summaries, which are organized by practice area, are timely, accurate, and easy to read. E-Journal editors summarize thousands of cases each year to help Michigan attorneys stay current on case law. In addition to email updates, there is also a searchable database which serves as an invaluable research tool for attorneys at firms of all sizes. As of November 2021, the e-Journal has 16,000 subscribers. The State Bar regularly receives feedback from attorneys about what a valuable resource the e-Journal is.
  • Michigan Bar Journal (editorial content)
    • Through the Michigan Bar Journal, the State Bar of Michigan offers informative and timely articles and columns to support attorneys’ continuing professional development. SBM publishes eleven issues of the Bar Journal each year, which are delivered to attorneys both in print and digitally.
  • Practice Management Resource Center
    • ​The Practice Management Resource Center (PMRC) provides resources to its membership and staff on an ongoing basis to assist them with being practice ready, maintain their practices, and keep current with all aspects of practice management and technology, thereby maintaining professional competence and development. Sample resources include a practice management helpline, dedicated website, digital library, Michigan Bar Journal (MBJ) column, national podcasts, webcasts/webinars, seminar presentations, voluntary and mandated (AGC/ADB) onsite consultations, newsletters, and social media interface.
  • Mental Health & Wellness for Lawyers
    • ​As evidenced by The Report of the National Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the well-being of legal professionals continues to be at risk. The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being recommends that each jurisdiction bring conversations about lawyer well-being into the open, emphasize the importance of this issue, and commit to culture change.
  • Michbar.org (for members)
    • ​Through michbar.org, the State Bar of Michigan offers numerous important resources for attorneys and the public alike (see also: Goal 4, Strategy 4). To maintain professional competency, attorneys can access resources such as the Michigan Bar Journal, e-Journal case summaries, news items, and ethics opinions. Michbar.org also houses practice management resources and the online resource directory.
  • Support to Sections
    • ​Every bar year, SBM leadership and staff promote and support the work of SBM’s 44 sections and Michigan’s 120 affinity bars. There are 40 practice-area SBM sections (e.g., Business Law, Family Law, Probate and Estate Planning) and four demography-based sections (Judicial, Law Student, Senior Lawyers, and Young Lawyers). Affinity bars are organized into three types:  geography-based (e.g., Delta County, Detroit, Ingham County); practice area (e.g., Federal Bar, Intellectual Property, Municipal Attorneys); and demography-based (e.g., Black Women Lawyers, Michigan Muslim Bar, Wolverine Bar). Sections are self-supported through voluntary section dues and governed by their own section bylaws and elected councils. The SBM provides infrastructure, information, communication tools, and consultation to sections.
  • Limited Scope Representation (LSR) - LEAN/Continuous Improvement
    • On the recommendation of the 21st Century Practice Task Force, SBM pursued amendments to the Michigan Court Rules and Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct to clarify and encourage attorneys to offer limited scope representation (LSR) to provide lower-cost legal options for low- and moderate-income people. The Michigan Supreme Court adopted the proposed rules on September 20, 2017, effective January 1, 2018. In response to the rule change, SBM engaged in extensive outreach to attorneys promoting the rule change and offering educational opportunities to attorneys in Michigan, including a LSR Toolkit.
  • Affordable Legal Services Delivery Models
    • Workgroups of the Affordable Legal Services Committee are developing modest means, limited scope, flat fees, non-profit, sliding scale, and online dispute resolution (ODR)/alternative dispute resolution resources.
  • Practice Management Resource Center
    • The Practice Management Resource Center (PMRC) provides resources to its membership and staff on an ongoing basis to assist them with being practice ready, maintaining their practices, and keeping current with all aspects of practice management and technology, thereby maintaining professional competence and development.  Sample resources include a practice management helpline, dedicated website, hard copy and digital libraries, Michigan Bar Journal (MBJ) column, national podcasts, webcasts/webinars, seminar presentations, voluntary and mandated (AGC/ADB) onsite consultations, and social media interface.
  • COVID-19 Resources for Attorneys
    • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SBM prepared numerous resources to help attorneys navigate the practice of law remotely.
  • SOLACE (Support of Lawyers/Legal Personnel—All Concern Encouraged) Program
    • SOLACE is a program coordinated by SBM that helps deliver meaningful and compassionate support to members of Michigan’s legal community and their immediate families in critical need because of a recent, sudden, catastrophic illness, injury, or event. Without regard to income or assets, all Michigan judges, lawyers, court personnel, paralegals, legal assistants, legal administrators, law students, and their immediate families are eligible to request help through SOLACE. The help provided to members of Michigan’s legal community in need is completely voluntary and based entirely on the goodwill of other members of the legal community that are willing and able to help.
  • Michigan Bar Journal (non-editorial content)
    • Through the Michigan Bar Journal, the State Bar of Michigan has the opportunity to promote greater member engagement in several ways. The Bar Journal itself is consistently rated as one of the most valuable SBM benefits—a value of which members are reminded monthly with each new issue. Given its popularity, the Bar Journal also serves as an important mode of communicating with attorneys about other benefits available to them, as well as updates about other members of Michigan’s legal community.
  • Bench-Bar Dinner
    • The State Bar of Michigan hosts an annual Bench-Bar Dinner which is organized by the United States Courts Committee. The committee invites members of the federal judiciary and more recently members of state judiciary to come together to discuss the intersection of state and federal judicial issues.
  • Committees
    • Each bar year, SBM staff promotes and markets opportunities for members to serve on SBM committees. Candidates indicate their interest in committee service through an online application process. Candidates are selected and appointed to SBM committees by the SBM President-Elect.
  • Work groups
    • Work groups have a narrowly defined task and are short-term appointments that often reflect an unanticipated need or opportunity not evident during the annual planning of committee work. Work groups may be formed at any time within a bar year, often on recommendation of a committee to the president, in whom the bylaws invest the authority of appointment.
  • Bar Leadership Forum
    • The BLF is an invitation-only event held annually for bar leaders that include the BOC; section chairs and chairs-elect; and bar association presidents, vice presidents, and administrators.
  • SBM President Events & Outreach
    • Every bar year the SBM president travels around the state to represent SBM and participate in events hosted by affinity bar associations, sections, and law schools. In addition, the president plays a substantial role in most SBM annual events, including 50-Year Golden Celebration, Annual Meeting, Bar Leadership Forum, New Lawyer Orientation, Professionalism in Action, SBM awards, Section Leader Orientation, and the Upper Michigan Legal Institute. Finally, the president represents the SBM at many national meetings and programs hosted by entities such as the American Bar Association, the Great Rivers Conference, and the National Association of Bar Executives, among others.
  • Race and Justice Forum
    • SBM hosts an ongoing virtual Race and Justice Forum for Michigan lawyers, affinity and local bars, and justice system stakeholders. The purpose of the forum is to stimulate conversation, advance knowledge, foster understanding of different perspectives, brainstorm solutions, and showcase opportunities to learn or help. The forum also has a resource page that includes resources recommended by participants.
  • Member Directory and Resource Directory
    • Through the online member directory, the State Bar of Michigan offers a way for attorneys to easily locate contact information for other members. The online member directory and its enhanced member profiles also serve as a member benefit by helping potential clients locate (or verify) SBM members. Additionally, SBM curates an annual resource directory, putting important contact information for various bodies across the state in one convenient place for members.
  • Brunch for Bars
    • See description under Goal 3, Strategy 6.

 


Goal 2: The State Bar of Michigan champions access to justice and builds public trust and confidence in the justice system in Michigan.

Click on each of the strategies listed below the goals to see a list of State Bar of Michigan activities supporting each.

  • Legal Resource & Referral Center
    • The Legal Resource and Referral Center is the online point of information for anyone seeking legal assistance. The objective is to have one central place that houses all the information available, making it much easier to locate. It is on the State Bar of Michigan website and is the landing page when someone clicks on Find Legal Resources on the SBM home page. It currently provides information and connections to attorneys through the Lawyer Referral Service, Self-Guided Attorney Search, Modest Means Program, Self-Help Resources (which provides information about Michigan Legal Help), Legal Aid Resources, and Legal Information Resources.
  • Attorney and Administrative Staff Lawyer Referral Portal
    • The attorney and administrative staff lawyer referral portal is a key component/module in the development of the overall Lawyer Referral Service platform. It is the portion of the platform that moves much of the process from a manual tracking and reporting process to an online and automated process that results in much greater efficiency and capacity for lawyers and administrative staff.
  • Online Lawyer Directory
    • The State Bar of Michigan has long held a directory of member lawyers online. This directory contained the information that is required to be public so that lawyers could be located and contacted as necessary. Beginning in 2013 the State Bar of Michigan began working with CloudLaw (formerly ZeekBeek), a public-benefit corporation, to develop an online member directory that allowed lawyers to create an enhanced profile that could be searched and viewed by the public. The enhanced profile directory is intended to provide an online presence for lawyers through the SBM to allow them to control their online reputation, promote their credibility to the public, and allow a resource for the public to find and verify lawyers in good standing. More than 7,000 SBM members have enhanced profiles in the member directory.
  • Lawyer Referral Service
    • The Online Legal Resource and Referral Center is an online portal designed to make lawyer referral convenient, efficient, and address problems experienced in the past of low numbers of consumer contacts. The Referral Center allows call center staff to process referrals and attorney panel members to manage their panel membership online. In addition, the Referral Center is coordinated with and aided by Michigan Legal Help. FY 2020 saw the expansion of automated data reporting, and of limited scope practice areas and Modest Means lawyer referral offerings, and the initiation of new collaborations with legal aid, law school clinics, and local bars. Early in the period of COVID-19 emergency orders, the State Bar created a Pro Bono Helpline for Frontline Responders, and a Rapid Response Helpline for COVID-19-related legal matters.
  • Michigan Legal Help
    • Beginning with the formation of the “Solutions on Self-Help (SOS) Task Force” in 2010, and SBM’s “Solutions on Self-Help” summit in 2012, SBM has been an integral part of the planning and development process for MLH. While MLH is not an SBM program, SBM has been critical to its ongoing success, including having a representative sit on MLH’s advisory committee.  In addition to SBM, MLH receives financial support from the Michigan Supreme Court, Legal Services Corporation, and Michigan State Bar Foundation.
  • Limited Scope Representation (Resources for the Public)
    • On the recommendation of the 21st Century Practice Task Force, SBM pursued amendments to the Michigan Court Rules and Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct to clarify and encourage attorneys to offer limited scope representation (LSR) to provide a lower-cost legal option for low- and moderate-income people. The Michigan Supreme Court adopted the proposed rules on September 20, 2017, effective January 1, 2018.
  • Index of Materials Intended for the Public
    • The SBM publishes, at michbar.org and/or in print, a variety of pamphlets, booklets, videos, web links, and other materials intended for the lay general public, rather than lawyers, law students, judges or court staff.  Some such materials are Michigan-specific, others national in scope, and they cover a wide range of topics—from how to find a lawyer, to understanding jury service, to the Open Meetings Act, and a clearinghouse of tribal courts. In addition, the Public Outreach and Education Committee (POEC) maintains an index of such materials.
  • Client Protection Fund
    • The Client Protection Fund maintains a website with information, applications, rules, and links to additional resources.  Moreover, it provides information to the Attorney Grievance Commission, Attorney Discipline Board, and courthouses.
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law
    • The SBM’s Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) web pages provide information regarding the UPL and permanent injunctions obtained against unlicensed individuals who have engaged in UPL. UPL staff provides information to the Attorney Grievance Commission, Attorney Discipline Board, courthouses, attorneys, community centers, and the public.
  • Consumer Tips & Alerts
    • The Consumer Tips & Alerts webpage alerts the public to the risks of using unlicensed individuals for legal services and provides information on where they can find legal resources to help them resolve their legal problems. The information on this page is drawn from content on the UPL web page. When the UPL web page is updated, the content on the standalone web page is also automatically updated.
  • A Lawyer Helps—Inspiring Stories/Website
    • The A Lawyer Helps (ALH) program recognizes Michigan lawyers who make a difference to improve the lives of Michiganders. ALH stories give real-life examples of lawyers who provide pro bono legal services to help low-income individuals and families, make financial donations to support nonprofit legal aid programs, and give back to their communities by participating in community service programs. ALH stories also increase public awareness of legal issues that can affect their lives and the legal and other community resources available to help the public handle those issues.
  • Law Related Education
  • Michigan Disaster Legal Services for Midland-area Flood Emergency
    • Michigan had a declared disaster on July 9, 2020 in Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland, and Saginaw counties as a result of a dam failure on May 16, 2020, resulting in heavy flooding. The State Bar worked with FEMA, Lakeshore Legal Aid, Michigan Advocacy Program/Legal Services of South Central Michigan, SBM Young Lawyers Section, Red Cross, National Disaster Legal Aid Online, Dykema, Bodman, Miller Canfield, and Honigman to assist Michiganders impacted by the flooding disaster.
  • Legal Clinics & Events Calendar
    • Provide Michigan attorneys an easily accessible calendar of upcoming legal clinics, events, and other pro bono opportunities. The Legal Clinics & Events Calendar provides details about pro bono opportunities including location, date/time, anticipated time commitment, availability of training/mentoring for pro bono attorneys, and contact information.
  • Pro Bono Partner Programs
    • Partner Programs are an important part of Michigan’s access to justice community, working together to ensure the delivery of high-quality legal services to a diverse population of low-income clients. Each listed partner program has certified it maintains a pro bono program that follows SBM’s policies regarding pro bono service and other established criteria. Most partner programs offer training, mentoring, ongoing support for pro bono attorneys, and professional malpractice insurance.
  • Pro Bono Programs–Qualified Domestic Relations Order Referral Program
    • SBM, in partnership with the Family Law Section, launched the QDRO Program more than 20 years ago to help low-income individuals obtain a QDRO and get the retirement benefits they are legally entitled to receive. The benefits received can help pay for housing, food, medical care, and many other basic living expenses. Since the QDRO Program’s launch, more than 400 low-income clients have had QDROs & EDROs drafted by pro bono QDRO drafters. The number of referrals to the QDRO Program continue to increase year to year. In addition to the benefits provided directly to low-income clients needing QDROs drafted, this program enables legal aid organizations to focus on the divorce, custody, and/or child support issues, while having someone with expertise in QDROs handle a portion of a case, on a limited scope basis. The QDRO Program only accepts referrals from Michigan’s legal services providers.
  • Pro Bono Trainings–Tax Pro Bono Program
    • The Tax Pro Bono Program (Tax Program) was created by SBM, in partnership with the Taxation Section and Michigan’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). The Tax Program provides pro bono opportunities for attorneys with varying degrees of tax law expertise to help low-income clients dealing with federal and state tax issues.
  • Pro Bono Programs–Patent Pro Bono Project
    • SBM, in partnership with the Intellectual Property Law Section, launched the Patent Project 2014, to provide pro bono assistance to low-income inventors wanting to obtain a patent.
  • Pro Bono Programs–Malpractice Insurance for Pro Bono Program
    • SBM, in partnership with the Intellectual Property Law Section (IPLS), offers professional liability malpractice insurance coverage to individual attorneys that do not have their own coverage. The Malpractice Insurance for Pro Bono Program offers malpractice insurance coverage through the CIMA Liability Protection Program for Legal Services Professionals and Public Defenders and provides up to $1,000,000 of coverage for each claim.
  • Legal First Responders: Leveraging Pro Bono to Help Human Trafficking Survivors
    • Human trafficking is a growing epidemic in the United States and around the world. Michigan ranks above most other states in the number of human trafficking cases reported each year. With the number of human trafficking survivors growing each year, action was necessary to help survivors leverage the law and address the legal consequences of their exploitation. In early 2019, SBM President Jennifer Grieco (2018-2019) assembled a team of dedicated volunteers and subject-matter experts to recruit and leverage pro bono attorneys to help survivors of human trafficking. The team consisted of SBM, The Joseph Project, Lakeshore Legal Aid, D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, and the Oakland County Bar Association.
  • ALH Pro Bono Honor Roll
    • In 2019, SBM launched the “A Lawyer Helps” Pro Bono Honor Roll (Honor Roll) to recognize Michigan attorneys and firms providing pro bono legal services. Michigan attorneys providing 30 or more hours of eligible pro bono legal services in a calendar year and firms with attorneys on average providing 30 or more hours of eligible pro bono legal services in a calendar year were eligible to appear on the Honor Roll.
  • Annual Spring Pro Bono Workshop
    • Every year since 2009, the Spring Pro Bono Workshop (Workshop) has been the must-attend event for Michigan’s access to justice community and is attended by non-profit legal services providers, law firm pro bono coordinators, in-house counsel, staff, and others interested in increasing access to justice for all. The Workshop offers best practices and the tools necessary to successfully create, expand, and manage pro bono programs.
  • John W. Cummiskey Award
    • The purpose of the Cummiskey Award is to foster awareness of the need for involvement of the private bar in delivering legal services to the poor, by giving public recognition each year to a Michigan lawyer who has made a significant pro bono contribution to this effort.
  • Pro Bono Month
    • For the 12th year in a row, SBM sponsored Pro Bono Month in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Pro Bono Month celebration, a national recognition of pro bono activities. Pro Bono Month highlights the need for pro bono and is a time to recruit more pro bono volunteers, increase legal services to the poor, mobilize community support for pro bono, foster collaborative relationships, and recognize and publicize the pro bono efforts of Michigan’s lawyers.
  • Implicit Bias Trainings
    • Nationally acclaimed speaker Kimberly Papillon presented bias training that explores the neuroscience behind decision-making and our personal implicit biases.
  • Face of Justice Program
    • Modeled after the National Association of Women Judges “Color of Justice,” program, the Face of Justice pipeline program seeks to expose more children and students to the legal profession by offering education, networking, and mentoring opportunities. The program has been held in Detroit and Lansing, reaching over 250 students.  With the pandemic forcing the program to shift to a virtual format, the program has been able to broaden its geographic reach to the Detroit-metro area and the Upper Peninsula.
  • Critical Conversations Seminar Series
    • A seminar series developed by the State Bar of Michigan’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee that aims to raise awareness about aspects of the justice system that disproportionately affect certain groups.
  • Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation as the Focus of the Affinity Bar Summit
    • The Affinity Bar Summit is a yearly event that allows bar associations to gather and discuss pertinent diversity and inclusion issues. The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) component comes from the W.K. Kellogg TRHT program being presented across the state.
  • American Indian Law Committee—Tribal-State-Federal Judicial Forum
    • AILC serves as liaison between the Forum and the SBM and serves as an avenue for the forum to put into action the recommendations of the forum. Attends forum meetings.
  • Representative Assembly Committee on Diversity
    • Amendment to the RA Permanent Rules of Procedure to make the Representative Assembly Committee on Diversity a permanent standing committee with the following jurisdiction:
      The Committee on Diversity, consisting of eleven (11) members, not more than two (2) of whom shall be members from the same judicial circuit, and no more than three (3) associate members, shall ensure meaningful diversity and inclusion in the ranks of the Representative Assembly; make proposals and craft policy that will enhance diversity and inclusion in the greater bar community; and make appropriate recommendations to the Representative Assembly.
  • Justice for All Commission
    • On January 1, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court, through Administrative Order 2021-01, created the Justice for All Commission, which is committed to providing 100% access to Michigan’s civil justice system. The Commission is working from the Justice for All Task Force’s Strategic Plan, which incorporated input from a wide range of stakeholders to inventory various aspects of the civil justice system and to identify gaps and barriers to people accessing the civil justice system. The Michigan Supreme Court named the State Bar, along with the State Court Administrative Office and the Michigan State Bar Foundation, to lead the Commission.
  • National Mock Trial Competition
    • The Public Outreach and Education Committee (POEC) assisted the Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE) in its successful effort to secure the bid to host the national finals for the High School Mock Trial competition.  The MCCE was awarded the bid in late 2018, and the event was originally scheduled to be held in Kalamazoo in early May 2021. Due to COVID, the 2020 National Championship was cancelled. Thus, Michigan will host the 2022 national finals. Efforts by the POEC included an enormous number of volunteer hours and persuading the BOC to pass a formal resolution endorsing the MCCE’s bid.  The POEC will continue to lead the SBM’s work with the MCCE on the national mock trial championships through the May 2022 event and beyond.
  • Pipeline Program Guidebook
    • Publication created to highlight pipeline programs across the state.
  • “Who Should You Trust” Seminars
    • When requested, members of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Department provide seminars at local community centers. Moreover, UPL staff provides information and pamphlets to community centers.
  • Liberty Bell Award
    • The Liberty Bell Award, bestowed by local bar associations, often in connection with Law Day activities, honors outstanding citizens who are not lawyers or judges but nonetheless contribute substantially to civic life and local efforts to provide law-related education to the public.  Each year, the SBM Awards Committee selects from local winners a winner of the statewide Liberty Bell Award.
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law
    • The SBM’s unauthorized practice of law (UPL) web pages provide information regarding the UPL and permanent injunctions obtained against unlicensed individuals who have engaged in UPL. UPL staff provide information to the Attorney Grievance Commission, Attorney Discipline Board, courthouses, attorneys, community centers, and the public.

 


Goal 3: The State Bar of Michigan maintains the highest conduct among its members, and initiates and advocates for improvements that facilitate accessible, timely justice for the public.

Click on each of the strategies listed below the goals to see a list of State Bar of Michigan activities supporting each.

  • Character & Fitness
    • The Character & Fitness (C&F) Department processes and investigates applicants seeking admission to SBM, in accordance with Rule 15 of the Rules Concerning SBM. The C&F Committee investigates and makes recommendations to the Board of Law Examiners; this work is accomplished with the assistance of SBM staff and the C&F District Committees (DC).  When invited to do so, the C&F Committee and staff members give informational presentations to law students regarding the character & fitness process and applicable rules.
  • Pro Hac Vice
    • The State Bar processes pro hac vice applications for out-of-state and foreign lawyers seeking to appear before a Michigan court, administrative tribunal or agency, or arbitration proceeding.
  • Collaborative Review of Judicial Ethics Handbook
    • Beginning in 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court, SCAO, JTC, SBM, SADO, MIDC, and judicial representatives on behalf of the MJA, MPJA, and MDJA are working together to review drafts of a judicial ethics handbook written by the Michigan Judicial Institute (MJI). The handbook will consist of Supreme Court opinions, JTC opinions, and SBM judicial ethics opinions to provide ethical guidance to judges on the bench. The guidance will focus on JTC complaint topics and provide legal precedent as to how those complaints were decided either by the Supreme Court or by the JTC and provide legal authority judges must abide by when handling an ethical issue. Chapters of the handbook will be organized by the Michigan Canons of Judicial Conduct and chapter reviews by the editorial committee will occur when chapters are disbursed by MJI.
  • Lawyers & Judges Assistance
    • To protect the public from misconduct caused or exacerbated by untreated mental illness or substance use disorders of a lawyer, the Lawyers & Judges Assistance Program (LJAP) monitors lawyers and judges with grievances in which the conduct is related to a mental health or substance use diagnosis.  Monitoring agreements are established for such individuals that hold them accountable to establish mental and emotional well-being so that they are again fit to practice.
  • Runners & Cappers Workgroup—Cavanagh
    • A work group was formed by Justice Cavanagh to assess ways to address attorneys’ using agents to unethically solicit prospective clients, such as those who have recently been in an accident or injured. The work group includes representatives from the Attorney Grievance Commission, the Attorney General’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state and local law enforcement, the Michigan Association for Justice, and SBM.
  • Professionalism
    • The Professionalism Work Group was appointed in January of 2019. Its purpose was to prioritize and implement recommendations issued at the October 2018 Promoting Professionalism in the 21st Century Summit, which are set forth in the Summit Report. In December 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted SBM-proposed Professionalism Principles. The Work Group has continued its efforts to promote professionalism among attorneys in Michigan.
  • Ethics Opinions
    • The Professional Ethics and Judicial Ethics committees are authorized to issue ethics opinions concerning the propriety of professional conduct of lawyers or judicial officers. The ethics opinions are made available to SBM members through the online service accessible on the ethics web page. Staff members of the Attorney Grievance Commission and the Attorney Discipline Board act as liaisons to the Professional Ethics Committee, assisting the committee in selecting and drafting ethics opinions that provide guidance to Michigan attorneys in how to handle ethical issues. Moreover, these entities can point to informal, nonbinding ethics opinions as persuasive when making determinations regarding the administration of grievances.
  • Client Protection Fund
    • The Client Protection Fund reimburses clients who have been victimized by lawyers who violate the profession’s ethical standards and misappropriate funds entrusted to them. Attorneys pay an annual fee to the Fund. The Client Protection Fund Committee reviews claims and makes recommendations on reimbursement, which the Board of Commissioners ultimately approves or denies. SBM staff research claims and engage in subrogation efforts against respondents to recoup money paid out by the Fund. Client Protection Fund staff regularly communicated with the Attorney Grievance Commission and Attorney Discipline Board to facilitate claims and ensure effective means of transmitting information.
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law
    • As part of its duties to protect the public, the State Bar of Michigan is empowered to prosecute the unauthorized practice of law (UPL).  The SBM UPL Committee reviews complaints and makes recommendations to the Board of Commissioners on complaints that SBM should prosecute. SBM also has a number of resources available, including the UPL web pages provide information regarding the UPL and permanent injunctions obtained against unlicensed individuals who have engaged in UPL. UPL staff provides information to the Attorney Grievance Commission, Attorney Discipline Board, courthouses, attorneys, community centers, and the public.
  • Judicial Qualifications
    • The State Bar of Michigan Judicial Qualifications Committee assists the Governor’s Office in evaluating candidates for possible appointment to judicial office when judicial vacancies arise.
  • Legal Resource Partnership with Michigan Supreme Court
    • Partner with the Michigan Supreme Court for legal resources, including Westlaw accounts and Michigan Court Rule books.
  • Ethics Helpline
    • The ethics helpline is available to judges and lawyers seeking a confidential informal advisory opinion from a staff attorney regarding an ethics issue pertaining to the inquirer’s prospective conduct.
  • Tips & Tools for a Successful Practice Seminars
    • The Tips & Tools Seminar offers practical information provided by seasoned lawyers on how to ethically manage and improve the efficiency of a law practice. The seminar includes segments on general ethics, fee agreements, conflicts of interest, and the attorney discipline system.
  • Lawyer Trust Accounts Seminar: Management Principles & Record Resources
    • The Lawyer Trust Accounts seminar provides practical information on the ethical management of lawyer trust accounts.
  • Ethics Rules and Guidance
    • Work with the Professional Ethics and Judicial Ethics committees to review the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct and Michigan Canons of Judicial Conduct to determine if updates are needed, using the ABA Judicial Canons and Rules for comparison.
  • Ethics Opinions
    • The Professional Ethics and Judicial Ethics committees are authorized to issue ethics opinions concerning the propriety of professional conduct of lawyers or judicial officers. The ethics opinions are made available to SBM members through the online service accessible on the ethics web page.
  • Ethics Articles and Opinions Available Online
    • Improve the search engine used for researching ethics opinions interpreting the MRPC and MCJC.
  • Ethics Trainings and Presentations
    • SBM staff participates in several trainings concerning ethics and unauthorized practice of law.
  • Task Force on the Ethics and Regulation of Legal Services Marketing
    • The Task Force was formed to review and make recommendations to revise the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct concerning attorney advertising and online legal services marketing, particularly in light of advancements in technology and the emergence of the online marketplace. As part of its review, the task force was challenged to consider essential consumer information in the advertising of legal services, fee sharing, Lawyer Referral Services, search functions involving special designations and certifications (e.g., limited scope representation), ratings, client reviews, advertising and marketing programs offered for use by lawyers and non-lawyer legal services providers, and expanded access to legal services funding (e.g., nonlawyer ownership) and lending (e.g., third-party litigation funding).
  • Ethics Opinions
    • The Professional Ethics and Judicial Ethics committees are authorized to issue ethics opinions concerning the propriety of professional conduct of lawyers or judicial officers.  The committees review ethics opinions promulgated by the American Bar Association and other states to determine if similar guidance should be provided to Michigan lawyers.
  • Changes in the Legal Profession and Changes in the Legal Marketplace
    • The legal profession and the legal marketplace are undergoing significant changes. Bar associations are at the center of trying to sort out those changes and facilitate the path forward for lawyers and the public.  Drivers of those changes include technology, regulatory reform, consumer behavior, the cost of legal services, affordability, and access.  Tracking the changes throughout the country and the world in these areas and bringing them into the conversations and projects locally has helped Michigan keep the future in the forefront of its strategic initiatives and be a recognized leader in the futures arena.  The ABA has developed an ongoing collection of resources to help all bar associations stay informed of initiatives throughout the country.
  • Demographic Information
    • Since 2007 the Research and Development team of the SBM has produced a detailed report of the demographics of SBM members. The detailed information in the report includes tables that incorporate age, years since joining the bar, race/ethnicity, gender, occupational area, law school, and geographic area. This information provides a useful picture of the current membership, allows for trends to be identified, and offers a look at what the future membership will look like based on likely trends. This information is very useful in planning by the bar as a whole and by sections.
  • Integrated Technology Work Group
    • The Integrated Technology Work Group was formed to promote collaboration and share information with the justice partners of the State Bar of Michigan, State Court Administrative Office, State Bar Foundation, Michigan Legal Help, and Legal Aid.  The group meets at least six times each year to share information about initiatives and give status reports about current and future projects, and seek input from the group.  The value of this group is that it has allowed these partners to solve problems and work on projects collaboratively. Its collective work has strengthened the work of each individual partner and has resulted in service to the public and to lawyers. The group has met more frequently to respond to changing legal needs through the pandemic.
  • Interim Administrator Program
    • To protect clients, the Receivership Work Group worked with members of the Attorney Grievance Commission to propose that the State Bar implement an Interim Administrator Program (IAP), to transition the responsibility for orphaned practices from the Attorney Grievance Commission to the State Bar of Michigan. The IAP would require attorneys in private practice to designate another Michigan-licensed attorney or law firm to serve as their interim administrator should the attorney become unexpectedly unable to practice law. In such a case, the interim administrator would be responsible for temporarily managing or winding down the attorney’s practice, including staying proceedings when necessary, returning client property, and assisting clients with finding a new attorney.
  • Payee Notification Legislation
    • To protect clients from the rare instances when a dishonest attorney steals settlement funds, SBM is proposing legislation that requires an insurer to issue a notification to both clients and their attorney when insurers issue settlement payments.
  • Michigan Indigent Defense Commission
    • The State Bar of Michigan has a long history of advocating for improvements to Michigan’s indigent criminal defense system. The Bar’s efforts contributed to the passage of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) Act (PA 93 of 2013). The Bar continues to support improvements in the law, the development of standards for effective local indigent defense systems, and for full funding of indigent defense.
  • Legal Aid/LSC Funding
    • The State Bar participates in an annual lobbying event in Washington, D.C. to advocate for continued funding of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The State Bar has organized a delegation of Michigan attorneys each year to meet with each Michigan congressional office to educate staff and members of Congress on the importance of LSC funding to civil legal aid in Michigan.
  • Remote Lawyering Proposal—RA Position 04/2021
    • Proposed amendment to the Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5 to allow for remote lawyering:
      Should Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct (MRPC) 5.5 and its accompanying commentary be amended to allow lawyers to remotely practice the law of a jurisdiction in which they are licensed to practice while physically present in Michigan, even though they are not admitted to practice in Michigan.
  • Proposed Access to Court Records Court Rule—RA Position 09/2021
    • Proposed amendment to Michigan Court Rule 8.119(H) to grant access to court recordings to any person seeking access that has a special interest warranting access and/or receipt of the court record, including a party or representative of the party.
  • MRPC Humanitarian Exception—RA Position 09/2020
    • Proposed amendments to MRPC 1.8 to permit lawyers to provide modest financial living assistance to indigent clients.
  • Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct—RA Position 04/2020
    • Proposed amendments the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct 2(F) to prohibit judges from being members of organizations that practice invidious discrimination.
  • Rule 6.110 of the Michigan Court Rules—RA Position 04/2020
    • Proposed amendments to mirror MCL 766.12 and set forth the protections for criminal defendants.
  • Attorney Vacation Rule—RA Position 09/2018
    • Proposed amendments to MCR 8.128 to provide a mechanism for attorneys to secure periods of leave for vacation or other purposes.
  • Civil Discovery Rule Amendments
    • The State Bar of Michigan Court Rule Review Special Committee was tasked with reviewing and revising the Michigan Civil Discovery Rules with the goals of making the process less burdensome and costly, and increasing the public’s access to Michigan courts.
  • Consistent Fee Waiver—RA Position 04/2018
    • Amendments to MCR 2.002 to help ensure that fee waivers are consistent across courts and increase efficiency in the fee waiver determination process.
  • Indian Child Welfare Act Appeals—RA Position 09/2017
    • Amendments to MCR 3.993 to provide clearer direction to courts on the orders that are appealable by right to the Court of Appeals under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC §§ 1901-1963, (ICWA) and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act, MCL 712B.1-41, (MIFPA).
  • Reply Brief Rule Amendments—RA Position 04/2017
    • Amendments to MCR 2.116 and 2.119 initiated by the Civil Procedure & Courts Committee to allow parties to file reply briefs for motions for summary disposition.
  • Retired and Former Judges’ Titles—RA Position 04/2017
    • Proposed amendments to Rule 7.1 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct to clarify the titles that former and retired judges may use when they enter private practice as a lawyer.
  • Character & Fitness Fee Increase—RA Position 09/2016
    • Amendments to Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan to increase the fee for character & fitness investigations from $225 to $375 and increase the late application fee from $100 to $175.
  • Client Protection Fund Rule Changes
    • Proposed addition of Rule 20 of the Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan to streamline and clarify processes related to the Client Protection Fund.
  • Review and Recommendations Regarding Legislation and Proposed Court Rules Amendments
  • Ethics Rules
    • Work with the Professional Ethics and Judicial Ethics committees to review the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct and Michigan Canons of Judicial Conduct to determine if updates are needed, using the ABA Judicial Canons and Rules for comparison.
  • Brunch for Bars
    • Brunch for Bars is an annual event focused on membership-based organizations and the issues surrounding competition for the limited time of professionals, generational differences in calculation of "return on investment" volunteering, and continual relevance in a rapidly changing professional environment.
  • Input for Michigan Supreme Court Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
    • In 1988 the Supreme Court Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts in Michigan was amongst the first entities in the country to study race and ethnic bias in the courts. It recommended that the Supreme Court create a permanent authorized body to address racial and ethnic fairness in the courts. The court acted in 2021 to fulfil that recommendation. The Supreme Court authorized a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee with the plan to establish a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission in Michigan. At the Judicial Conference where the commission was announced, input was solicited from all stakeholders.

      In July of 2021 the court enlisted the assistance of SBM staff to convene a virtual meeting of over 20 stakeholders from entities around the country to learn from their experiences establishing similar bodies to engage in the work of improving the justice system.

 


Goal 4: The State Bar of Michigan structures itself to achieve its strategic goals in a responsive and cost-efficient manner.

Click on each of the strategies listed below the goals to see a list of State Bar of Michigan activities supporting each.

  • Operation, Structure, and Governance of the State Bar Task Force
    • In September of 2018, the Board of Commissioners and Representative Assembly passed a resolution to create the Task Force on Operation, Structure, and Governance of the State Bar to examine whether changes in the structure, governance, and scope of operation of the State Bar of Michigan are advisable, and to make recommendations concerning specific changes.
  • Strategic Planning
    • SBM’s current Strategic Plan is for FY 2017-2023. The reviews the State Bar’s efforts in achieving strategic plan goals and develops metrics to measure the effectiveness of those efforts.
  • COVID-19 Response Team
    • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SBM staff created a COVID-19 Response Team to create a reopen plan to help ensure that SBM staff have the resources they need to work remotely and remain physically and mentally healthy during the pandemic.
  • Workgroups
    • Work groups have a narrowly defined task and are short-term appointments that often reflect an unanticipated need or opportunity not evident during the annual planning of committee work. Work groups may be formed at any time within a bar year, often on recommendation of a committee to the president, in whom the bylaws invest the authority of appointment.
  • Restructuring of Budget to Address Anticipated Needs
    • Ongoing fiscal management
  • Improvements in Fiscal Management and Fiscal Position
    • Ongoing fiscal management
  • Michigan Bar Journal (costs)
    • The State Bar of Michigan regularly evaluates the costs and revenues associated with the Michigan Bar Journal to make sure our flagship publication is of the quality members deserve, while also responsibly using resources.
  • Planning for License Fee Increase
    • A subcommittee of the Finance Committee was created, including the Finance Committee chair, executive director, and CFO, to look at the need and timing for a fee increase.
  • Professional Management of Trust Account
    • SBM maintains a Retiree Healthcare Trust Fund to pay for qualified employees’ healthcare premiums upon retirement.  This trust was previously internally managed by Mr. Horsch, the former director of finance.  Upon Mr. Horsch’s retirement, the trustees transitioned to have the funds professionally managed by Charles Schwab.
  • Discontinuation of Annual Meeting
    • In 2018, the Board determined that NEXT Conference/Annual Meeting should be redesigned to better allocate SBM resources in line with the goals established in the Strategic Plan. The Board voted to reduce NEXT Conference/Annual Meeting to its core elements, as framed in the Supreme Court Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan. These elements include the swearing-in of new officers, the inaugural meetings of the Representative Assembly and Board of Commissioners, and the presentation of the State Bar’s annual awards. As a result, beginning in 2019, the Annual Meeting events no longer include the Solo & Small Firm Institute, the vendor hall, receptions, or section annual meetings.
  • Technology Audit
    • A technology audit was conducted by Plante Moran from February–April 2019 to obtain an independent and objective analysis of five key areas of concern relative to the technology environment of the SBM: IT infrastructure, IT resources, IT staff continuity and access, IT application development, and member and public interfaces and testing processes. Fiscal 2019-2020 was the first full year for implementing the audit recommendations.
  • Technology Enhancements
    • Implement iMIS events module to replace Aventri and to serve as a storefront. Build a feed to SCAO that provides attorney name, P number and email address to be used for the MFILE system. Continue to enhance the LRS portal to allow 24/7 consumer access. Building templates to assist with the HTML versions of the Michigan Bar Journal and Resource Directory on the SBM website.
  • Online License Renewal and Payment Process
    • Continuing to improve the license renewal process by upgrading and thoroughly testing the member area e-commerce website prior to license fee payments.
  • Certificates of Good Standing (COGS)
    • The State Bar transitioned to online Certificates of Good Standing. Members of the bar were required to fax a completed form with payment information to receive a COGS since e-commerce is no longer functioning. Many members no longer use or have fax machines, especially solo practitioners. There was a great need for online processing both for members and to create staff efficiency.
  • Emails to members
    • Through emails (both newsletters and one-off “e-blasts”), the State Bar of Michigan regularly communicates with members, keeping them informed about programs and benefits available to them, as well as news and information relevant to the practice of law.
  • Member Benefit Brochure
    • The SBM publishes and circulates, and posts online, a brochure entitled, which is organized under the following five headings:  Tools for the Practicing Lawyer, News & Information You Can Use, Building Your Law Practice, Networking & Professional Development, Serving the Public Interest.
  • Social Media
    • Through social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram), the State Bar of Michigan regularly communicates with attorneys and members of the public to build awareness of bar programs and initiatives.
  • Michbar.org (for public)
    • Through michbar.org, the State Bar of Michigan offers numerous important resources for attorneys and the public alike (see also Goal 1, Strategy 2). To build awareness of bar programs and initiatives among the public, the website contains pages targeted to a general audience about the Lawyer Referral Service, legal aid, the Modest Means Program, self-help guides, and more.