The following FAQs will help you understand upcoming changes to the printed April Directory.
Q1: Why is the State Bar moving from print to online directories?
A#1: First, the change affects member contact information only. Unless you opt out, you will continue to receive the April Resource Directory in the mail every April—which will contain all the information that members tell us they find most valuable in the printed directory, i.e., contacts and other information regarding the courts, other branches of state and local governments, and lawyer association listings.
A#2: Printed member information is inaccurate and out-of-date. The last time the State Bar printed member directory information, such information (new name, change in membership status, new contact information) concerning over 19,000 members had changed as of the publication date—19,000 members is over 42% of total membership! By contrast, the online directories are constantly refreshed with up-to-date information.
A#3: SBM members are losing interest in print directories. Every day our online directories receive over 12,000 hits, while more than 16,000 State Bar members have already opted out of receiving any printed directory.
A#4: Print directories are expensive. Moving away from printed member information (which is inaccurate and out-of-date as soon as it's printed) will save the State Bar tens of thousands of dollars, due to rising costs for paper, printing and postage—and these savings will go to offset any future dues increase.
A#5: Online directories are more accurate and more robust than print directories. The online member directories, both ReliaGuide and Classic, available on the SBM website, offer two quick, easy-to-use, up-to-date and accurate ways to access all of the information found in the print directory. In addition, the ReliaGuide directory is more robust and offers more information than can be found in any print directory.
A#6: Online directories have virtually zero impact on the environment.
A#7: Online tools are the future (and the present). Increasingly the Internet is used to meet challenges facing the legal profession, from connecting clients with lawyers, establishing lawyer-to-lawyer referrals, connecting law students with clerkships, internships and jobs, to helping lawyers at their desks with scheduling and avoiding conflicts of interest. The 21st Century marketplace is online, including the legal marketplace.
Q2: What if I don't like using the online version, or find it confusing?
A#1: The SBM will also provide the online directory in a format to allow flipping through the pages on your computer as if you were looking at a printed book. (See e.michbar.org, "Alphabetical Roster.")
A#2: You are always welcome to call the State Bar's toll free number (800) 968-1442, and SBM staff can look up information for you.
Q3: What if I can't access an online directory through the internet?
A#1: You are always welcome to call the State Bar's toll free number (800) 968-1442, and our staff will look up information for you.
Q4: Does this mean that the State Bar plans to stop printing the Bar Journal and making it exclusively an online product?
A: No. The Bar Journal will continue to be printed and mailed to members who prefer to receive it in the mail.
Q5: When I go to the SBM website and click "Start Searching Directory," it takes me to the ReliaGuide directory. Where can I find the Classic version?
A: After you click "Start Searching Directory" on the SBM website, just scroll down slightly, and on the right side of the page you will see a box that says "Click below to access our Classic Directory." Simply click that box, and you will pull up the Classic version of the online member directory.
Q6: What if I'm searching for a member online but don't know the exact spelling of the name?
A: Both the ReliaGuide and Classic versions of the online member directory have "starts with" search functionality. This means you can enter the first letter or two of a name in either the first name search box or last name search box, and the directory will bring up an at-a-glance list of members whose names "start with" those letters.
Q7: I used to think the printed member directory was the most valuable benefit of paying my State Bar dues. What are the benefits now that the printed resource directory will not include member contact information?
A: Every state requires annual dues or fees in exchange for the privilege of practicing law in that state. This is the case with most of the learned professions. As has been true for years, Michigan continues to rank among the least expensive states in which to maintain a license to practice law. In addition to this relative affordability compared with other states, membership in the State Bar of Michigan provides access to an array of services and benefits, descriptions of which can be found on the Member Services page.