Join an SBM Committee–From Wherever You Are

June 9, 2020 

The application window is now open for lawyers to make their mark on the State Bar of Michigan by joining a committee or work group.

Lawyers who wish to apply for either an appointment to a committee or a work group assignment during the 2020-21 bar year, which starts October 1, 2020, should fill out the volunteer application here

Volunteering with the State Bar is a great opportunity to protect the public, better the legal profession, and network with other lawyers from across the state. There’s no need to drive to Lansing to participate, you’ll be able to attend all meetings remotely.  

Committee opportunities include: 

Professional Standards 

  • Character and Fitness: Review applicant files flagged for further evaluation by participating in formal evidentiary hearings and making written recommendations; present files during formal hearings to the standing committee as State Bar counsel. Note: This application is for the Standing Committee, which operates separately from the District Committees.
  • Client Protection Fund: Review claims and recommend reimbursement of clients from whom lawyers stole money. 
  • Judicial Qualifications: Evaluate candidates for appointment to judicial vacancies and report in confidence to the Governor.
  • Lawyers and Judges Assistance: Advise on SBM policy on assistance to law students, attorneys, and judges experiencing mental health or substance use issues, and on prevention and mitigation generally.
  • Professional Ethics: Prepare written ethics opinions, articles, and other resources to guide Michigan attorneys on professional conduct; recommend amendments to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC); review and make recommendations on proposed amendments to the MRPC; and recommend and support programs and education related to professional ethics.
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law: Propose and support outreach programs to educate the public and the legal professional about the unauthorized practice of law (UPL); review and make recommendations concerning alleged UPL matters. 

Public Policy 

  • Access to Justice Policy: Analyze and make recommendations for positions on proposed legislation, court rules, and other policies for the effective delivery of high-quality legal services in Michigan, equal and fair to all. Make recommendations regarding collateral civil consequences of criminal convictions and issues of adequate representation for adults and juveniles in the criminal justice system.
  • American Indian Law: Facilitate relationships between sovereign tribal courts, state courts, and federal courts and promote relationships between the American Indian community and Michigan attorneys. 
  • Civil Procedure and Courts: Review proposed court rules and statutes for civil practice in the courts and make recommendations for improving administration, organization, and operation of Michigan courts. 
  • Criminal Jurisprudence and Practice: Review proposed court rules and statutes for criminal procedure and practice in state courts and make recommendations for improving the operation of criminal law and procedure for fair and efficient criminal justice. 
  • Justice Initiatives: Advise on the implementation of programs to benefit underserved populations including the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQA people, juveniles, domestic violence survivors, and those with special needs, and on pro bono programs; work to increase resources for civil legal aid programs. 
  • United States Courts: Collaborate with the federal judiciary and attorneys regarding proposed federal rule amendments and seek to enhance the quality and efficiency of the federal courts and promote the public’s understanding of the role and functions of the federal court system. The committee serves as a liaison between the Eastern and Western District Courts and makes recommendations concerning the administration, organization, and operation of the courts. 

Communications and Member Services 

  • Awards: Recruit and review nominations, and make nominations for major SBM awards. 

  • Michigan Bar Journal: Provide editorial guidance for the Michigan Bar Journal, including theme issues and the review of unsolicited articles. 
  • Public Education and Outreach: Improve the public’s understanding of the legal system.

Implementation and Innovation 

  • Affordable Legal Services: Evaluate and recommend innovative practices to provide low-cost legal services and expand affordable legal services for persons of modest means. 
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Develop tools, strategies, and programs to improve and support diversity and inclusion in the legal profession in Michigan. 
  • Online Legal Resource & Referral Center: Advise on the development of Online Legal Resource and Referral Center and Lawyer Referral Service program. 

There is also an ongoing opportunity to participate in short-term, intense work groups focused on specific tasks. These form throughout the year whenever there’s a need.

Anyone interested in joining a committee or work group should fill out the volunteer application here right away. Applications close on July 30 and appointments will be announced in mid-September.